Returning the Favor

Dealing with people is an integral part of the rental business. You are a solutions provider as well as a supplier of equipment, and providing solutions requires you to first identify what your customers’ needs are. This sounds simple enough. In fact, many of you might think you are doing a pretty decent job of it.

The truth is, everyone in business to serve the public in some way has room for improvement. A few of us on staff here at Rental Product News recently took part in a project where we rented equipment, posing as Joe Average, and reported back on our experiences. Across the board, the biggest complaint we had about our various rentals was the lack of questions asked by the rental employees. We’re not sure if it’s ignorance, laziness, time constraints or all three, but too many rental business employees are missing an opportunity to cement a customer’s loyalty by showing an interest in their concerns and then meeting their needs and then some.

Our columnist, Dick Detmer, sums the problem up very well in his Eye on Rental column on page 66. He tells rental businesses to work toward
“making it easy” for customers to do business with them. Often, it seems customers have to track down an employee, get their attention and then wind up doing most of the question asking. But it should be the other way around. Customers should be greeted and then made to feel welcome. They are doing you a favor by patronizing your business, after all.

All employees should be trained on the basics of greeting customers as they walk in and immediately asking if they need help. After that, asking a few simple questions can go a long way. From a practical perspective, it can speed up the process of serving the customer by cutting to the chase of what they need. But more importantly, a few simple questions can convey to the customer a genuine human interest in serving them. And when people feel like they’re being listened to and assisted, the seeds of loyalty are sown.

Let’s face it, rental businesses face a lot of competition these days. If it isn’t another equipment rental business down the street, then it’s the Home Depot, the local hardware store or any number of other businesses vying for your customer’s patronage. You’ve got to set yourself apart from your competitors by going the extra mile in serving your customers.

Ironically, from speaking with many of you over the years, it seems the majority of rental businesses already believe they are providing superior customer service. Relatively speaking, this is most likely true. But there is definitely room for improvement, if our recent rental experiences are any indication. The bottom line is to remember — and impart to your employees — your customers are doing you a favor, not the other way around.