After purchasing the event rental division of A to Z Rental Center in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, owners Kim and Jeff Kim knew this was an opportunity to have new software, new processes and new procedures that would push their business ahead of the competition. Kim grew up in the rental business; her parents bought A to Z when she was nine years old. Jeff joined her from the IT consulting world, bringing his marketing and technology background to the company. With Kim’s affinity for numbers and Jeff’s creativity, the husband and wife team make Epic Rental & Decor the ideal place for customers to do business with.
Kim and Jeff understood that a solid online presence would effectively elevate their marketing platform. The Kims believe that a great website is a no-brainer for any relevant business today, but since everyone does business on their mobile phones, they realized that a mobile-optimized website and an online store would give them a clear advantage over their competition. In addition, they wanted a web-based rental management software for mobile accessibility on their end, enabling them to offer unparalleled customer support.
The Kims evaluated different rental management and inventory tracking software options, ultimately turning to Point of Rental Software. The Kims chose the cloud-based Essentials solution for its low cost and the appeal of not being tied down by hardware. The customer portal feature provides a virtual store where customers can view store inventory, pre-register as a customer with payment information, and use the shopping cart feature to get online quotes or make reservations. Store personnel can then contact them via email to convert quotes to reservations, suggest additional items, or give discounts. To reserve items, customers submit a secure deposit via the customer portal. With stored credit card payments, damages and follow-on charges can be collected. Once customers have registered, they can log in to update their payment information, view or cancel their reservations, or see their order history. Furthermore, the software offers automated customer notifications to send a variety of notices, including default notes, reminders, quotes, reservations, receipts, terms and conditions, discount offers, and electronic signature requests.
After implementing Essentials, the Kims have aligned their processes at Epic to facilitate web orders, which now make up approximately 30% of all orders they receive. Recognizing that customers want the ease of online shopping, Epic’s business model capitalizes on self-serve options available through the customer portal feature. “We find it very easy to manage,” said Jeff Kim. “When we get a new item, we can put it on the site in a matter of minutes. We upload our own images very easily; it’s pretty intuitive.”
“We didn’t need any training [to use Rental Essentials],” Kim Kim added. “It is very modern, and very user-friendly. Employees can go on the internet and play around with it at home since it is cloud-based; a nice training aspect.”
Using Google Ads and Analytics, the Kims take advantage of online marketing opportunities to drive web traffic to their virtual store. “Everyone wants the ease of online shopping,” said Jeff. “You can just go online and Google what you need, and a lot of people are doing that on their mobile devices. So the fact that Essentials is mobile friendly is very important. The web interface absolutely gives us an advantage in our marketplace,” he continued.
Google Analytics provides statistics for Epic which show patterns in web traffic including the time of day and how long people are staying on each webpage. The Kims have found that many of their customers shop in the evenings after store hours. “The fact that people can check availability and get a quote at any time is a great asset,” Jeff noted.
When customers choose rental inventory and create an online quote, Kim is automatically notified so she can immediately follow up with the customer via email. Because Essentials is web-based, Kim can easily log in from her mobile phone to check statuses or change reservation quantities. “I love that I can do that anywhere I am,” said Kim. “Also, we will get orders coming through at night, when we’re closed for business. It’s nice that I can just email them back right then, because we respond to every order that comes through, confirming the order and letting the customer know what times items are available for pickup. Being really responsive we think is very important at the customer service level. It’s also nice to know that there’s at least some way to get a hold of us after hours.”
Using Essentials’ reporting features, the Kims have seen both increases in orders and savings in man hours. During the midst of the Minnesota winter, Epic’s slow season, 77 web orders came through the customer portal where customers had self-served, including entering non-refundable deposits. Had those been phone orders, the amount of time it would have taken to enter each of the orders would have equaled 12.5 hours’ worth of phone time. The Kims anticipate even greater savings as they enter into the rental store’s busy season.
Kim reported that first-quarter earnings for the store were up approximately 30% compared to last year. “That is a pretty incredible jump for a first quarter and that’s our slow season,” she said, “so we think that’s a positive result which could potentially be the web interface, maybe the rebranding, and remarketing.”
Regardless, the Kims believe Point of Rental’s software has played a big role in the increase. “We knew the software would drive our process. It is much more efficient, and that’s what we were striving for—an efficient system.”