Restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic have made maintaining relationships more challenging. No friendly handshakes, pats on the back or face-to-face conversations allowed, at least for a time. I can only hope social distancing is largely a thing of the past by the time this reaches you. But there’s a chance that it won’t be. And even if it is, relationships will have changed, at least short term. There will be a hesitation for many to go back to the way it was, and for those directly impacted, it might never be quite the same.
For others, long-distance relationships may be continued by choice. The rental industry is evolving, with transactions at some larger companies becoming increasingly impersonal. The ability to use a website or app from start to finish means no or minimal human interaction. That’s the way some companies and customers like it.
Yet, on the whole, rental continues to be a relationship business. Customers come to your store for reasons beyond the fact that you have the right equipment at the right time. They are looking to you and your staff to provide both the required tools and the expertise to ensure they get what they need when they need it. Successfully delivering on this expectation — plus a friendly, helpful attitude — positions your business to see customers come back time and again.
But how do you maintain such relationships during and immediately following a crisis such as the one we’ve been experiencing? Even if you’ve kept the doors open and maintained all or most of your staff, your volume of business has likely been impacted. You’re not interfacing with customers at the same level or rate as pre-COVID. And it’s safe to presume the slowdown will continue at least for a time even once stay-in-place restrictions have been eased. A return to “normal” won’t happen overnight.
This is where frequent, ongoing communication comes in. You don’t have to be face to face to communicate in today’s digital world. Websites, social media, email, e-newsletters, e-blasts all let you to “speak” to customers about your business, its services and its expertise on an recurring basis.
Get creative with the message. Share stories about your staff and their background. Post a blog with equipment selection tips. Feature videos on YouTube about specific equipment in your fleet. Share “how to” project tips on FaceBook.
Explore ways to bridge the distance and bring customers back in.