Are You Sophisticated?

More structure, planning and professionalism will speed you to more profitability.

Rental businesses that become more sophisticated tend to grow faster and healthier. Many rental companies are in need of a more formal, structured way of operating. I'll refer to this as "sophistication."

Some rental business owners and operators are frustrated with having some of the same expensive and profit-robbing problems happening over and over again. Some of the hassles of the rental businesses can't be helped. Some of these frustrations, however, can be corrected with the right planning and formal structure. Some recurring hassles can't be completely eliminated but their frequency can be greatly reduced.

Some rental companies, for example, are far too free-wheeling and employees are able to "do their own thing" when it comes to how they handle the affairs of your company. Some flexibility in how things are handled is warranted, of course, but too much can cause enormous problems and can make your business only marginally profitable. If this sounds like your rental business, then it's time for your business to become more professional. There needs to be more structure. I have helped a number of rental companies develop specific-to-their-company "Employee Handbooks" to spell out to employees what to do, what not to do as well as other written policies and procedures to address this need. Equally important is the formal training needed to change the employee's behavior. Change is difficult and employees need to be adequately trained so all will be doing things the same, professional way. They also need to know, in black and white, what the boundaries are and the consequences (both positive and negative) of their actions.

There are many other ways to make a rental business more sophisticated, and planning for the future is an indispensable ingredient for all of them. Some of you have told me that you know that your business is in dire need of better planning and more structure. Also, some of you are aware that you need outside professional help in these areas. Sadly, many of the rental business owners who are in the greatest need of better planning and sophistication mistakenly think they have no room for improvement.

The process of better planning and getting truly organized begins with an outside expert to help with an objective audit and evaluation of the company, practices, personnel, etc. It doesn't help much to do just a little organizing - and it is not a do-it-yourself project.

It's likely that every aspect of your business would benefit from the exercise to get more organized. The result will be a smoother running, less stressful and more profitable business. I have found that many of the most successful rental business owners and operators have a strategic plan for the future and continually seek more formal ways to become more sophisticated. The challenge is making the commitment to go through the process and then follow the right path.

Remember, the Band-Aid approach to bigger problems rarely helps very much. The changes that will be needed, of course, will depend on the individual rental company. Every rental business has its own unique characteristics, strengths and needs.

Again, it's important that the entire staff be educated about the new direction, the benefits of better planning and more structure, and their role.

It's so important to the health, growth and future viability of your business to have a more formal, structured way of operating the business. Even if you are about to enter your busiest season, making your business more organized sooner rather than later will allow more immediate enjoyment of the many benefits.