"Our rental system for a single-location currently starts in the range of $9,500, including training, etc." states Shea. "The business may then choose to buy ongoing support, which might run in the area of $1,000 a year. Other costs are negligible: backup media, contract paper, DVDs, etc. Labor costs are rarely a factor — it would be unsual for a small-to mid-sized rental business to need a dedicated system manager. So a system with ongoing support, amortized over five years, might cost the business about $3,000 a year. This is an incredible bargain for a mission-critical system that is the foundation of your business. It's well below the average IT cost for small business in general."
For his part, Shaffer at Point-of-Rental says, "For a typical single store with four terminals and two printers, including training, data entry of inventory and account customers, all hardware, operating system software and the rental management software package, plan to spend from $15,000 to over $50,000. Unlimited toll-free telephone support, including at least yearly updates, will range from $70 to $500 monthly, depending upon the software provider and the configuration. You should budget to replace your hardware every five to six years."
Gilbert at Orion notes that an investment in rental management software usually includes the software license, the implementation and training fees, travel fees, server and database server program purchase and continuous monthly fees.
"At Orion, our software is sold from $3,500, for a single-user installation, to $7,500 for a 10-user install. Complete, unlimited training is offered at a fixed cost of $1,250 for single-user setup, and $2,500 for up to 10 users... Maintenance fees, which include unlimited, 24/7 phone support, a toll-free line, and software updates, only cost $65 to $125 per month, depending again on the amount of users."
Michael Stilwagner, vice president of Wynne Systems, puts the cost in terms of a percentage of the business' revenue. "A company should budget 3 to 5 percent of revenue ongoing for IT to cover initial costs; hardware and software maintenance; human resources; and replacement of outdated software and hardware. The initial costs are typically 10 percent of annual revenue."
What about hardware?
Whether or not your company will need to invest in new hardware when you invest in a new management system depends on the existing IT structure within the business.
"If a rental business is converting from an existing system, certain hardware units may be compatible; most typically, printers and workstations," says Shea. "You would usually want to purchase a new server. There is a false cost savings involved in trying to hang onto older hardware. In our experience, we can usually utilize about 75 percent of the hardware when a customer converts from another Windows system to Enfinity."
Most manufacturers agree that printers are the most likely piece of equipment to be upgraded when implementing a new management system. "Most PC-based hardware that is less than two years old can be used with Point-of-Rental Systems Enterprise software," says Shaffer. "We do require laser printers and not ink jet or impact."
Stilwagner at Wynne agrees, adding, "In our recent experiences, printers and communication hardware are most often upgraded while the workstations do not need to be replaced."
Training is key
One of the most important components to the success of a management software system is the training. Some suppliers conduct regular training onsite, others require visits to their headquarters. Whatever the situation is, having your staff get on board with the system and feel comfortable with it is crucial to success.
"At Orion, we offer complete, unlimited training at a fixed cost," says Gilbert. "We know how much time is needed for successful implementation, allowing us to offer a fixed price for this service. Also, remote implementation offers three important benefits. First, it's easy to schedule a few, one-hour sessions per week without disrupting the daily operations of the corporation. You don't have the negative impact of dedicating three or four continuous days to a trainer, either at your store or at the vendor's [headquarters]. Also, these short training sessions allow users to understand and put in practice each new lesson in a seamless process. Finally, this method eliminates expensive travel costs and so much time lost."