An important part of my business is observing what rental businesses are doing. Each year I invest heavily in the pursuit of keeping an “Eye on Rental.” I continually travel to rental businesses throughout North America to add to my repertoire. As many of you know, I take over a thousand reminder photos in and of equipment and party rental companies each year and have done so for well over 20 years. I have been told that my observations and expert analysis help to keep my customers and readers focused on the best and most current ways to grow their businesses. Almost all of my analysis is very specific to the company that hires me to analyze their business and to offer recommendations for improvement, but here is something every rental business entrepreneur should consider.
I purposely take a casual drive by rental centers to see them through the eyes of potential customers. I really think some rental business owners and managers need to pay more attention to the message the outside of their building is sending to potential customers.
Are you conveying the message and visual image you want to be conveying to customers and potential customers? Some of the exteriors of rental businesses I’ve seen are in need of a total make-over and are definitely hurting the viability and profitability of the rental company. Avoid giving a poor impression, or giving no indication at all of the type of business you are in. Often, there are very affordable changes that can be made to give a much more professional impression. Even your existing rental customers need to see that you are keeping up with a professional image. It is important to maintain the look and feel of success.
Some of you who have invested heavily in a first-class building and prime property with great visibility may not be diligent enough in monitoring what customers and potential customers are seeing. Even if your exterior signage and zoning laws are very restrictive, there is almost always something that can be done to enhance the appeal of your building and “yard.” Your building is a very expensive billboard that should be advertising your message of professionalism.
A case in point
There is a town I’ve visited recently where two event rental businesses compete across the street from each other. Were you to drive down the street multiple times you may be able to spot the second store, but there is no competition for which draws more attention, and there’s no question as to which you would hire for your own event.
The first store’s exterior exemplifies an upscale professional event rental business. The owners keep their two large street-level window displays updated, changing theme and style to the voiced pleasure of locals. The company also uses professional colorful lighting to draw in curious potential customers. The exterior signs are particularly effective at conveying what the company does as well as giving an indication of the professionalism to be found within.
The visual impact of the exterior is so striking that it’s easy to forget that another store waits across the street. Then again, looking at the somewhat sterile, colorless display of a few run-of-the-mill items in an upper-level window on the mostly blank building, it’s hard to imagine that this business could offer similar services.
Now, look at your own rental center. Take a picture, even if you know perfectly well what your store looks like. Even if you aren’t in event rentals at all, what about your building would entice newcomers to give you a try? What might scare them away?
We all have businesses we frequent because they’re convenient, friendly or “safe choices,” and places we might shy away from simply based on the people, location or outward appearance of the store itself. Find out what about your business is convenient or appealing and what discourages customers. Fix what you can and be prepared to continue making changes to stay appealing to customers. There is no such thing as a perfect business, there’s only what works well now.