Industry Conversations with Dick Detmer

Dick Detmer, owner of Detmer Consulting and a regular columnist for Rental, discusses the biggest lesson he learned in 2020, trends he's seeing throughout the rental industry, and what his three wishes would be from a magic lamp.

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Questions answered by Dick Detmer, owner of Detmer Consulting and a regular columnist for Rental

What was the biggest lesson your company learned in 2020?

Perhaps the fact that the pandemic hit so many rental companies so severely, while so many rental companies went unscathed (and actually grew). It was almost like a tornado that rips through a city and demolishes certain streets, and the other parts of the same city are untouched. The lesson was understanding how many rental companies were unprepared to weather the severe financial storm caused by the pandemic. Some simply didn’t have the reserves, but considering the capital-intensive nature of the business coupled with enduring the worst economic disaster in 100 years, it is not that surprising.

What do you think is the future of the rental industry?

My view is that the future of the rental industry remains very strong and will likely gain momentum.

What is next in terms of innovation?

I think that innovation will continue on a number of fronts. In particular, I feel that there will be major advancements in improving the customer experience and the technology of rental equipment.

What are some trends you are seeing throughout the industry today?

I see a growing need for highly effective and efficient formalized (yet customized to their company needs) training for almost every position in a rental company. I believe that in a matter of months, or by early next year at the latest, there will be the worst shortage of quality applicants in the history of the rental industry. Coupled with full employment there is a steepening learning curve for employees working in the rental industry, partially caused by the much higher tech advances in an increasingly large amount of rental equipment. There is so much to learn.

Is there anything new and exciting on the horizon for you and your company?

One of the areas that gives me great satisfaction is assisting my customers in finding better and more systematic ways of operating their businesses. I plan to devote even more of my time to helping the smaller independently owned and operated rental businesses. It pains me to hear how some rental business owners work so hard and have so little to show for it after all of their effort. I really want to help them increase their income by establishing a more systematic approach to hiring, training, and every other critical aspect of their business.

You rubbed a magic lamp! What would your three wishes be?

  1. I’d wish for more people to view the rental business as a career choice.
  2. Higher rental rates to compensate smaller rental business owners for ever-increasing rental equipment prices.
  3. That more would view employee and management training as an investment, not just an expense.