"I would estimate that most rental businesses use only about half the capabilities of their rental software system," says Jack Shea, president of Solutions by Computer. "Others push the limits in every area of functionality."
Whether your rental business falls to the "using just the basics" or "fully functional" side of the aisle, there's no doubt that automation of your rental operation is the best way to keep track of your assets. And why wouldn't you want to coordinate all your rental functions under one rental management system?
"The initial effort required to implement these functions is fairly intense," says Shea. "But that's also where the major payback is."
The basics of rental automation - inventory management, contract writing, accounts receivable, etc. - seem to satisfy the majority of rental businesses. The reasons for not using full optimization vary, says Ray Bonestroo with Genisys Software, "from not being fully trained on the software to just not realizing what they have and what its capabilities are."
He continues, "Capabilities of rental software have certainly increased in every area imaginable - speed, capacity, technology, reliability - over the last 10 years. While at the same time, the fileservers and workstations have gotten smaller, way more powerful and less expensive."
From the front counter to the repair shop to even your Internet presence, your rental management software can make your rental business more productive and efficient. Here's a look at how it can help.
"Relative to hand writing a contract, almost any counter system is a vast improvement because at least the customer can read the contract!" says Bob Shaffer with Point-of-Rental Systems.
In all seriousness, most software for the front counter is easy to use and fast. It allows you to do quotes, reservations, rental contracts, returns, exchanges, point of sale, reprinting, pick-up tickets and more from the same program. Some systems allow you to take care of more than one customer at the same workstation while running reports and more.
In this area, information is automatically harvested during contract writing to compute utilization for various time periods, update inventory counts and display who has what and even what jobsite it's on.
Multi-location businesses have even bigger challenges tracking inventory, so some software offers various daily reports to help rental businesses make the right decisions.
EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE & REPAIR
This area allows a system to let you keep track of remedial maintenance schedules as well as preventive maintenance. Some systems even allow you to enter maintenance instructions for "at your fingertips" reference.
Parts tracking for your maintenance shop is crucial for keeping repairs timely. A good system will let you know daily what equipment needs maintenance, what scheduled maintenance is due, etc.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT/RESALE
Again, this information can be harvested when contracts are written. "The real trick is to display this data so that it's easy to identify trends, whether good or bad," says Shaffer.
Return on investment computations should include not only actual or current purchase cost, but all the costs of parts and labor expensed to each piece of equipment during its lifetime.
A good system will track the maintenance costs of a piece of equipment and flag it when those costs are getting to be too large to support keeping it around.
"Some systems can also track return on investment several ways so that you can see, for example, if it makes sense to have so much of your inventory dollars tied up in a category of equipment that is not returning it's proportionate share of revenue," says Bonestroo.
Most systems have a built-in timeclock management program. Other features may include being able to click on a button on your counter system screen to display all employees clocked in at that moment.