Creating A One-Stop Shopping Experience

Add-on items can help multiply rentals.

How is your rental business viewed in your market area? Is it viewed as a "convenience store" or a complete rental center? These are very important questions to consider when many are making significant inventory purchasing decisions. Of course, you will use your missed rentals, utilization and other reports to help with the purchasing decisions, but it's wise to consider the answers to the above questions as well.

When selecting items for your rental business, answer this: "What items am I missing that would help the customer and help my bottom line?" The answer will depend on your unique market, your existing inventory, the training your employees receive and other factors that will help determine what makes financial sense to carry.

But, in the course of working with first-time clients, I'm noticing more and more rental businesses are missing rental items in their fleets that should be stocked to round out the "rental project approach" I preach. In some cases, many of their inventory departments are missing rental items that help to complete projects. In addition to identifying what "add-on rental items" are missing, it's important to find out what needs to be done to promote the rental of these items.

One possibility is that employees will need additional training to become better at suggestive selling add-on rental items as well as the related accessories and retail merchandise. Instead of just renting a solitary item to customers, it makes more sense to have employees become much more conditioned to view customer needs in terms of what add-ons will be needed to complete the project.

Here are a few questions that are important to answer:

  • How many times do your present customers rent or buy items to complete their projects from your competitors? It might be shocking to discover how often your customers are getting just one rental item from you and other rental items from your competitors the same day. It's possible that you even stock the items your competitors are supplying to your customer. So again, how do your customers view your company?
  • How familiar are your existing customers (as well as prospects) with the entire range of your offerings? Is it possible or likely that your employees are over-confident in their skill and success in promoting multiple rental items to customers?
  • Do you stock a wide enough range of items? Are you missing rental items needed to make your existing fleet even more successful than it is now? On the other hand, does it make more sense for your company to become more specialized in its offering?
  • Is your staff properly trained (beyond basic rental product knowledge) to take advantage of a more complete inventory and build add-on business? How does your training program differ from your competitors?

This subject of having the best mix of add-ons is related to the subject of making it easy for customers to do more business with you. But it's vital to remember that simply stocking the correct add-ons is useless if your employees don't know what to recommend and exactly how to recommend them.

So, make sure your staff is properly trained. One add-on rental item could be all it takes to make a frustrated one-time customer into a regular who would gladly recommend your business to others.

As everyone knows, every rental market area has its own unique characteristics so be sure to have an analysis done for your operation to help identify opportunities and the strategies that will help you to capitalize on them. Please don't just buy items "to give them a try."

Some of your slowest-moving rental items could start to really take off once they overcome the inertia of not getting the proper push and exposure. Remember, the goal is not just to get slow items to move faster but to make the fast items soar by having and promoting the key items needed to successfully, efficiently— and safely — complete projects.

Dick Detmer is a nationally recognized consultant, lecturer and writer and has 35 years of experience in the equipment rental industry. He is the author of "The Guide to Great Customer Service" as well as "A Practical Guide to Working in an Equipment Business." For consulting, on-site employee training or to order books, visit Dick can be contacted at or (309) 781-3451.