If there were ever a time to become more efficient and competitive, that time is now. The message is clear: Thanks to the economy and increased competition, if a rental operation is not lean, streamlined and efficient, your ability to compete is put in jeopardy
One important way to gain competitive traction is to take advantage of rental management software and solutions. Point-of-Rental systems Vice President Bob Shaffer puts it succinctly when he says, “If you’re writing 10 or more contracts per day, you’ll not be able to compete in today’s market unless you have a feature-rich rental management system.”
He asks rental house owners and managers these questions: “Can you hire a person for about one percent of your yearly rental revenue who will write up all your quotes, reservations, contracts, work orders, internal maintenance orders while pricing everything correctly, including damage waiver, taxes and other fees? This same person would also maintain both rental and sales item inventory control, keep all the reservations in his or her head to warn of overbooks, and provide delivery/pickup reports and optimize routing of your trucks.”
Shaffer says the answer to all the above questions is categorically no, that person doesn’t exist. “Comprehensive software, however, does, and it handles all the things you would expect and more, including providing marketing and analysis reports, time and dollar utilization, and a complete history for customers and inventory items.”
According to J.J. Shea, chief operating officer of Solutions by Computer, “All aspects of rental business management can benefit from software. The two main components of our software design are time efficiency and information accuracy. These touch every part of the transaction and customer relationship. For example, just the fact that the software eliminates manual errors in calculating late return charges has a positive impact on profitability, customer service, time spent on accounts receivable, and the dollar utilization of that asset.”
He continues, “If you drill down to specific functionality such as the ‘kitting’ of inventory items, delivery routing, management alerts, and dozens of other features, you will find similar cross-operational benefits.”
“In the rental business, return on investment as it applies to equipment and products has always been critical to profitability,” says Clark Haley, CEO of BCS ProSoft, publisher of Automated Rental Management (ARM). “This same important measure of ROI needs to be applied to their technology and rental management software, as well.
“For ARM, we’ve just added a whole series of web applications compatible with portable devices. This facilitates customer and salespeople access to a rental location and the tracking and picking up equipment among other front-office responsibilities.”
Haley, who notes his company’s rental management software is especially attractive to medium-size rental houses with one to 10 locations, emphasizes the importance of integrating a back office accounting solution with front-office renting. “Our partnership with Sage Software, known for its accounting software, is ideal for customers who want and need an integrated solution,” he relates.
Solutions by Computer has integrated its software with programs commonly used by rental operations, including QuickBooks and Peachtree for accounting and Party CAD for party rental planning. Shea says the company is constantly evaluating software programs that show potential as integration targets. “As just two examples, we’ve successfully integrated our rental programs with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems for customers who have large systems running other parts of their business, such as manufacturing. And our GPS integration allows real-time updates of meter readings while the equipment is active on jobsites. These readings are tracked by the software for billing and order processing.”