Overall, this rental experience was positive. The personnel I dealt with were friendly and helpful without being too slick and solicitous. The equipment worked great and while it wasn’t fancy or brand new, I would be happy to rent it again. My biggest criticism is of the outside appearance of the store. Many independent rental businesses have signage that’s drab or nonexistent, while the premises are unkempt and/or nondescript — not the most inviting. This can be a problem for DIYers who might be unsure about the task at hand and as a result, easily intimidated by businesses that look a little rough around the edges. Places like Home Depot and Ace Hardware capitalize on this by offering a well-lit, nicely decorated and arranged store which is comfortable and familiar to the do-it-yourself crowd. In short, if you want to capture this market segment, you need to pay attention to the visual message your store is sending to your customers.
Pressure washer… anyone?
By Jenny Lescohier, editor
his spring I wanted to tackle the job of power washing the vinyl siding on my house. I planned to rent a pressure washer and had picked a general rental business I’d seen on the side of the road in my area. I called the night before I planned to start the project and talked with a very soft-spoken employee who did nothing to engage me. I told him what I wanted to do and asked what types of pressure washers they had. He said they offered both hot-water and cold-water models. I asked which would be best for cleaning siding and he was noncommittal in his answer. I asked about the cost and size of the machines and based on his answers, I decided to go with the cold-water model. I let him know I drive a station wagon and would be working alone and was told I should be able to get the machine in the back of my car, but that I might need someone to help me get it in and out.
I got to the rental business, which, by the way, was very nicely appointed both inside and out. The signage was clear and inviting and the rental yard is well maintained. When I entered, however, I was not greeted by anyone, even though there was an employee at the front desk. I said hello and that I had reserved a cold-water pressure washer. He looked up my reservation and he and another employee wheeled out the pressure washer. The thing was huge. I knew right away it would not fit in my station wagon. What’s more, I was positive it would take more than my female neighbor and me to move it. I wound up leaving without renting anything.
It’s very important for rental companies to qualify their first-time customers. If a prospective renter expresses concern about whether a machine could fit in their car or whether they could move the equipment by themselves, it’s vital to be very specific about the size, weight and power of the machine being rented.
The staff at this rental business were not very engaging and the overall impression I was left with was that they really didn’t care if they got my business or if they could help me with my project, and that, in turn, did not make me want to return there to do more business with them.
It’s tiller time
By Eric Servais, publisher
My daughter and I decided to grow a vegetable garden. We chose the perfect spot in our yard, however, where we envisioned our bountiful harvest we currently had lawn. That meant I needed a tiller, so the next step was finding a rental center.
I began my search the same way we all do these days — I Googled it. This is where any business that relies solely on the Yellow Pages (print or digital) missed out. Very shortly, I was on a great website with a comprehensive list of equipment in fleet alongside pricing. With a quick phone call, I had my machine reserved and a pick up time set. The employee I spoke with asked me relevant questions and steered me to what he saw as the most appropriate unit. This particular business caters mainly to contractors and the weekend hours were limited to just two hours on Saturday morning. Though we made it work in the end with a pick up Friday evening and a drop off the following morning, this employee enthusiastically made it clear that they would be flexible if I needed them to be.
I swung into the drive on the way home from work, correcting myself after I swung into the equipment yard first. See, while the sign was visible (if extraordinarily plain) it was placed between two entrances with no clear indication where I was to go. The intended drive was essentially an alley to a poorly maintained parking lot. Seeing identical single unmarked doors into buildings on either side of the alley, I (incorrectly) chose the one where I saw some equipment and a couple of guys in what turned out to be the mechanics’ home turf. They directed me to the other door propped open with a tamper. Inspecting the entrance as I walked over, there was absolutely no way for me to recognize - on my own as a first-time customer - that this was the way in.