Make It Happen

The time for complacency is over; struggling rental businesses must create new ways to drive revenue

Despite some reports from the media touting an end to the recession, we are hearing little on the street to that effect. In fact, a few of you have reported business is still drastically down, with no signs of improvement expected until the spring of 2010 at the earliest.

It can be so disheartening. We are all ready for an economic turnaround and it can't happen too soon. What can we do while we wait it out? The answer is likely to be different for every business, but one thing is for sure, something has to be done. There's an old saying that goes something like, "If you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting." So, if you don't like what you're getting, you better try doing something else.

But what? Again, there is no easy answer, but there are examples we can look toward for inspiration. In this issue's Eye on Rental column, Dick Detmer tells the story of a rental center in Montana that decided, in response to the economic slowdown, to get involved in providing emergency services nationwide as a way of generating income. The company's willingness to look outside of the box and take some calculated risks might have been what prevented this previously small-town rental business from going belly up.

While the example Detmer uses in his column is rather extreme, you might be able to achieve a similar effect with a more modest approach. Maybe it's a matter of finding a new niche of customers to serve by heavily promoting a product line you already carry. Possibly you could gain some new customers with a small investment in some light equipment or consumable supplies. Whatever the solution might be for your business, the point is to avoid sitting back and letting the uncontrollable forces that do unfortunately affect us actually break you. Early on in this crisis, many people took the "this too, shall pass" approach and proceeded to sit back and wait for things to change. But it's gone on for too long now and the time for complacency is over. If rental businesses are going to survive - and thrive - we all need to get creative and devise new ways to drive revenue.

Much like the construction and rental industries, print publishing has seen it's share of challenges since the economy went south. We simply can't rely on the old models to see us through anymore. You'll notice we are trying to find new ways to reach our audience through our website and eNewsletters. And while that's all good, it is not the only answer. We need to constantly take a fresh look at our readers and ask ourselves what they want and how they want it. We are trying our best to do this and you should too. Ask your customers what it is they want and if you listen carefully, you just might discover a fresh perspective that makes all the difference to your business. We wish you the best of luck.