As early as 1995, experts at Stanford University noted that computer technology was changing the way the construction industry did business. They projected that technological innovations held promise for substantially speeding up the rate at which buildings are constructed, for improving the quality of construction and even for reducing costs.
Technology has changed rapidly since 1995 – most notably in our ability to quickly obtain data, collaborate and implement decisions in an on-line world. Both construction pros and those who serve them have embraced these changes.
The equipment rental industry is no exception. As one of the largest construction and industrial equipment rental companies in North America, RSC Equipment Rental is developing and implementing a range of technologies to help its customers improve their back-office efficiency.
The common thread in these initiatives is a focus on the customer's return on investment (ROI) from rented equipment. Whether a machine is owned or rented, construction professionals will enhance their bottom line when they constantly challenge their ROI and the business decisions that affect it. Even small improvements can make a big impact when implemented across an entire company and used over an extended period of time.
Click Your Way to Equipment Optimization
Renting equipment online may seem like a natural – consumers commonly do it for rental cars – but the construction industry is just now beginning to embrace this business practice. From the standpoint of back-office efficiency, there are numerous benefits.
Time savings is one of the primary benefits. When RSC Equipment Rental developed and launched RSC Online(tm), a service available at www.RSCRental.com, the company worked with its customers to determine the functions that would most benefit them. That included time-saving features like being able to search and quickly identify the right piece of equipment, to schedule deliveries and pickups, and cancel orders. These online functions can take the place of manual tracking, record-keeping and other time-consuming activities within the construction company's back-office. Saving time is the key.
Accessibility to critical data from multiple locations is also a significant benefit. Construction companies can enhance their equipment ROI by using RSC Online(tm) to quickly and efficiently call equipment "off rent" when they finish with it. An advantage of renting is that you only pay for the asset while it's in use. Once the job is done, the construction company benefits by quickly getting it out of the way and back to the rental company.
Finally, reporting is a significant benefit of online rental transactions. RSC Equipment Rental built RSC Online(tm) to help users proactively manage and track rental account information. It can provide them instant access to up-to-the minute information by account, project or equipment, allowing them to more effectively utilize resources, schedule projects, and manage expenses.
In seconds, a procurement manager can pull up all of the records for equipment his or her company has on rent from RSC and see how much of its expenses are from equipment rental – helping him or her understand the ROI for a job, a market, a geographic area, or by numerous other fields.
Custom reports can also be pulled to help procurement managers and other construction professionals better understand their ROI.
No More Stamps
Online bill payment is a natural for business consumers. But what about businesses?
There is an increasing body of evidence that companies of all kinds can improve their back-office efficiency by moving more of their accounts payable to online transactions.
According to Christine Koncal, a San Francisco consultant in the financial services industry and chief marketing officer at the payment technology firm Nietech, Inc., efficiency is driving online bill payment in the business-to-business world.
"It is universally recognized that it is quite expensive to cut a paper check, especially in larger businesses," she said. "It takes labor and time, making online bill payment a very attractive alternative.
"Online bill payment can also help companies better predict their cash flow," she continued. "This is especially important when the transaction is not a regular one, such as office rent, but rather driven by other events. This would be the case with equipment rental for construction projects."
RSC launched ePay(tm) in 2006, becoming the largest company in the equipment rental industry to offer online bill payment. Like other industries, the construction industry can now use electronic payment to enhance back-office advantages.
Payments with the ePay system can be made using debit and credit cards, as well as demand deposit (DDA) checking and savings accounts. Customers can use a live chat button on RSC Online to ask questions during a transaction. Or, as is always available to RSC customers, they can pick up the phone and talk to a live RSC Customer Care rep 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And, they still have the option of paying by check!
The Power of GPS
Nothing slows a job like not having the necessary equipment at the time you need it. If you're the one charged with rental equipment fulfillment, you know this well, and do what you can to make sure that a delivery isn't delayed.
Equipment rental companies, including RSC, have offered assistance in this area by beginning to deliver equipment on trucks equipped with global positioning systems (GPS). This allows RSC to more precisely tell its customer where their equipment is and when it will be delivered. RSC is also using it to improve efficiency in delivery truck route planning.
Individually, each of these technology advances helps construction pros. But collectively, they have a cascading effect that can improve back-office efficiency and ROI.
Ellen Steck is vice president of e-business and marketing for RSC Equipment Rental, a leading provider of equipment rental services for the construction, industrial/petrochemical, manufacturing and governmental sectors in the United States, Canada and Mexico. For more information, visit www.RSCrental.com.