The key to any successful rental business is keeping the customer happy. That's no different when it comes to crane rental. And there's no quicker way for a customer to become dissatisfied than when he experiences downtime, so that's when a well-planned field-service program can make all the difference in the world to the success or failure of a crane rental business. Coincidentally, that often means small cranes will play a crucial role in servicing big cranes.
According to the Associated Equipment Distributors Rental 2006 Study, 68 percent of rental companies perform their own routine maintenance, and 65 percent do their own major repairs. Eighty-three percent of manufacturers that sell directly to rental companies expect that the rental house, not the dealership, will perform their own maintenance. These days, customers fully expect rental operations to do field repairs when equipment breaks down, so that means the remaining 32 percent of rental companies who don't are falling behind the curve.
Connelly Crane Rental Corp. is just one example of a company that has realized the value that field service brings to their customers. Connelly Crane has been a family owned and managed business since 1943, and they've used some form of field service since the beginning.
"The whole key to crane rental is response," says Mike Connelly, president of Connelly Crane. "When our customers rent the crane, they expect it to be running, and our field-service program helps make that happens for them."
Connelly Crane, which has grown to about 65 employees and is based in the Detroit area, acted on the recommendation of a fellow Michigan dealership, Wolverine Tractor and Equipment Company, and turned to Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. (IMT) to help develop their field service program. Connelly has two IMT Dominator mechanics trucks, one they purchased used a while back and one they bought new only a few months ago. Meyer says their whole team of mechanics has been very pleased with the new Dominator I mechanics truck with a 3820 telescopic crane mounted to the truck body.
"That Dominator has really helped us so much with our response time and has carved a niche for us," says Chet Meyer, operations manager for Connelly Crane.
Bud Herman, head mechanic with Connelly Crane, says they mostly use the Dominator I to go out in the field and get their rental cranes up and running as quickly as possible. Because of the nature of crane rental, it isn't a viable option to go to the local pickup dealership and throw some tools in the truck bed.
Connelly Crane's mechanics trucks are responsible for maintenance on about 75 cranes, including boom trucks, telescopic forklifts, rough-terrain cranes, tower cranes, all-terrain cranes, conventional and hydraulic truck cranes and conventional crawler cranes ranging from 8- to 365-ton capacities. When one of those cranes goes down and requires some heavy-duty repair work — more than a toolbox could do — that's where the telescopic crane comes in.
The IMT mechanics truck with its 38,000 foot-pound crane does everything from pulling outrigger jacks and beams, transmissions and clutches to removing the crane's engine so the field mechanic can repair it right there on the jobsite. They also use the crane to install new cables on the large cranes as well as to handle routine tire repairs. Connelly Crane's Dominator I mechanics truck is also equipped with an IMT hydraulic air compressor, work decks and tool drawers.
"This has been an excellent truck for us and our customers. It's so versatile," Herman says. "And IMT has made the crane a lot more versatile, too. It operates a lot easier than other cranes we've used in the past, and it's really easy to get it into tight spaces to do repair work. You can slow it right down to do that detail work, so it's really nice."
Why field service?