Software technology for the rental industry has changed incredibly over the last decade. Rental businesses can now integrate their front and back offices; know exactly what's available for customers in the yard or at another branch; list equipment information, including products for sale, on the Internet; track deliveries; flag maintenance for equipment on remote sites; and so much more.
We've asked several suppliers of rental software to let us know what's new with their products as well as peer into the crystal ball to reveal what they believe will be the next big thing to hit rental software.
Solutions by Computer
Solutions introduced Enfinity, a Window-based rental management system, in 2005.
"We've continued to expand the capabilities of Enfinity," says Jack Shea, president of Solutions by Computer. "Most recently, we introduced robust software functionality for purchase orders and parts management. We also offer a very affordable, automated remote back-up service that encrypts and archives system data at a safe site."
Shea explains that this can be a lifesaver if your system fails in a natural disaster or fire.He notes that the company has introduced two new functions called E-Reports and Enlighten to the system as well.
"E-Reports is a customer-facing application that gives [rental store customers] the ability to track their account activity with rental businesses that use Enfinity," says Shea. "Enlighten gives rental business owners the ability to analyze data and view it in multi-dimensional, graphical form, to extract the most value from the analysis.
Developed in partnership with rental industry professionals and announced in 1993, Wynne Systems RentalMan software has several new features for 2008. Version X has enhanced the basic structure of RentalMan and includes new menu options, says Mike Stilwagner, vice president of Wynne Systems.
New and updated features include:
- Direct links to specifications located on intranet or Internet;
- Internet map provides directions to delivery addresses;
- Integration to vendors for electronic invoicing and payment. "This expands our offerings in conjunction with SmartEquip," says Stilwagner.
- Signature captures using credit card swipe pads. Signatures are now kept with every copy throughout the life of the contract.
- Integration of InfoManager, a business intelligence tool.
"We introduced many significant features in 2007," says Ray Bonestroo with Genisys Software. The AlphaRENTAL 7.2 GUI Edition was released in January 2007 and includes these enhancements:
- Genisys Mobile allows real-time access to data from any Windows Mobile-based smart phone (including the new iPhone). This can be used by outside sales staff, drivers, yard personnel and owners/management.
- New or updated interfaces to GlobalTRACS by Qualcomm; PartSmart; QuickBooks Pro; VSI-Fax and e-mail attachments of automatically created PDFs.
- Dispatch module schedules deliveries and pickups on each truck and for each driver (and even crew) for each date. This is also tied into the Mobile software.
- Easy-to-read graphs
- Web portal allows customers to see any open invoices and rental contracts, complete a rental equipment search, and reserve equipment.
Orion Software offers the Sirius Pro Rental & Inventory Management Software. "We invest over $150,000 annually to add new features and functionalities to Sirius Pro," says Steve Milcik, sales manager. "Along with the standard product updates, Orion has also added a stable of add-on modules to increase productivity and precision in rental organizations."
According to Milcik, these modules include:
- Preventive Maintenance for scheduling equipment maintenance in the future
- Contact Management which allows you to manage multiple contacts within the same organization
- Multi-location Management which enables you to manage multiple warehouses
- Credit Card Processing which allows for direct processing of credit card transactions electronically
- Electronic Signature which permits you to bring your business on the road
- Web Shopping Cart, a module that lets your clients shop when they want
"Point-of-Rental System's Enterprise software is updated yearly," says Bob Shaffer, president. The first version of Enterprise, the Microsoft Windows-based product, was introduced in February 2001; Revision 11 was scheduled for shipment in January.
The latest version "has hundreds of operational improvements and new features compared to the prior version," says Shaffer.
For example, Revision 11 supports printing simultaneously multi-color copies of laser printed contracts, attachment of files - such as event drawings or permits - to contracts, security enhancements such as increasing the number of levels of passwords, providing user definable delivery and pickup windows, ability to calculate ROI from replacement cost and an interface so that purchase orders can be created while writing a reservation, work order or internal repair order if the system anticipates shortages.
Revision 11 introduces an interface with GlobalTRACS by Qualcomm and adds enhancements to the Work Order and Map Router modules. "Construction-oriented operations should enjoy the ability to define blanket purchase order and job numbers as well as salesman and tax jurisdictions in the Job Site records," says Shaffer. "Many other enhancements were made specifically for party and multi-location operations."
In early February, Texada Software is introducing a new rental software concept - Systematic Standard.
"Systematic Standard enables the growing rental company, who often cannot afford the immediate upfront expense of buying their software, to rent our enterprise-level software instead of purchasing it," says Nigel Miller, president and CEO. "In bypassing the immediate upfront expense, a smaller rental business can reserve its capital for fleet investment."
Unlike an ASP model, the Systematic rental software is deployed on the client's premises, meaning their financial and customer data stays with them, and there is no reliance on an Internet connection to conduct business.
Also in February, Texada Software is moving to a three-tiered product structure that provides solutions to any sized rental business:
- Systematic Standard is for the small rental business. Software is pre-configured for ease of use, and comes with standard reporting capabilities. It's a "download-and-go" solution.
- Systematic Premium is designed for the mid- to large-size rental business. Software is configurable and comes with three modules. Additional modules, such as Portal and Dashboard are also available.
- Systematic Ultra, which is intended for the large multifaceted enterprise, features software that is configurable, customizable and fully extendable, designed to handle the complex business processes found in large corporations.