Build More Rental Business Through Relationships

Rental companies can learn a lot from the great salespeople at companies that supply their products to rental companies. Let's focus on the relationship building between your staff and your customers.

Rental Company Relationships - Building More Business
@Monster Ztudio -

To: Jonathan                                                                                      Page 1 of 4


Eye On Rental

“Relationships with Equipment Suppliers  

– and Your Customers!”

(only a working title)


            By Dick Detmer


After returning from this year’s ARA trade show, I have been thinking about all of the people I saw there. It’s always great to see so many friendly faces, both company owners and suppliers, and I had the pleasure to talk to many people. It struck me in particular this year that there are a lot of parallels between the people selling equipment to rental companies and those who are destined to rent it out later. The relationship between good salespeople and their customers is universal – and we can all learn a lot from some of the sales professionals who work on behalf of the suppliers to rental companies!


Know your products.


When talking with one salesman at the trade show about a new product his company was offering (which appeared to be a less expensive alternative to a product I’ve recommended for years) he was able to tell me clearly what niche it filled, why the product I’m familiar with is still a great option, and also what new product was in the works that would combine the strengths of both.


It was very informative, and absolutely the same kind of conversation I hear from highly trained rental salespeople recommending equipment to customers. Make sure your sales team knows not only what equipment you have and its “features” but also why an item is going to benefit your customers.


Don’t be pushy.


While this one speaks for itself, it’s always a relief when you don’t have to defend your choice not to pursue or purchase an item, and the suppliers at the show know that. In a conversation with one vendor this year I heard him make the surprising suggestion that his product may not be a good fit for certain kinds of rental businesses. It wasn’t that the product was bad, simply that he recognized the strengths of it and where those would be useful – as well as where they wouldn’t.


Luckily rental businesses stock far more products than this salesman’s single offering, so it would be rare that your salespeople would be recommending they don’t do business with you. Make sure your sales team knows how and what to recommend to customers, and that they also know when to stop.




The suppliers at the show may be frequently seen looking over numbers and sales forms with prospective customers, but they’re even more likely to be spotted demonstrating their products. While this is certainly going to attract more attention to their booths, it’s also a great opportunity to teach clients how to use the equipment and show off features. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how valuable is their time spent hands-on with a new product?


The same principle holds true for your rental customers. How happy will they be if they rent an item based on its impressive capabilities and spend half their time trying to figure out how to use it? Your employees can transform a frustrating experience into a pleasant one for customers and keep them using the items they rented rather than looking for help on their phones.


Build Relationships and Be Loyal


There are certainly a number of other lessons to be learned from talented supplier sales personnel whether at a trade show or when they visit your company. I remember learning in my early years of working in the rental industry the importance of building relationships with the men and women who represented the manufacturers. I remember the genuine interest and helpfulness of these salespeople who came to our rental company to help us become more successful.


I also learned the importance of being loyal to trusted suppliers of great rental equipment. With so many suppliers competing for the capital you have available to invest in inventory, sometimes it is tempting to switch manufacturers because it costs a little less. Sometimes the wait times for products necessitates switching. But quality (and service) does matter in operating a successful rental business and often great quality requires a higher price for you to pay for your rental products. So, reward your chosen suppliers with your loyalty through continued purchases whenever possible.


END (of April issue)


Call out blurb: “The relationship between good salespeople and their customers is universal – and we can all learn a lot from some of the sales professionals who work on behalf of the suppliers to rental companies!




Possible continuation of a somewhat related topic (for the May issue) due in a little over a month (4/11/24) What do you think?


See next two pages


            Title (for the May issue) could be Part II of the April issue title but probably slightly more geared to “Building More Rental Business Through Relationships” or perhaps  “Relationships – One of Your Distinguishing Characteristics” What do you think Jonathan?




As I indicated in my April 2024 RENTAL column, the sales personnel for the suppliers of rental equipment and related products can make a huge difference in deciding which supplier company gets the order. In fact, some of them are so great at all the tangible and intangible ways they can help you to become more successful with their products that a wise rental business operator often doesn’t entertain the thought of working with a competing supplier. These salesmen and saleswomen certainly deserve applause for their exceptional work and provide inspiration as role models for rental company employees.


There are so many lessons that can be learned from great salespeople at companies that supply their products to rental companies. Additional lessons can also be learned from their parts and service personnel.  They play an indispensable role in their company’s success. Great suppliers know the importance of their parts, service, office, and shipping personnel. These skilled professionals help make the rental products they provide to rental companies even more rentable, and profitable. One can tell by their attention to detail and their shared sense of urgency that these individuals really care. They are often the unsung heroes behind the scenes and certainly deserve recognition for their contribution to the effort as well.  


Here are just a few additional thoughts and opinions concerning relationship building between your staff and your customers:


Ø  Certainly, part of the recipe for even greater success is having a strong culture of relationship building that differentiates your company in your market area. And to a large degree, some of the main ingredients include having great product knowledge, being a great teacher, and having sincere empathy for your customers.


Ø  Stress that every team member is involved in growing the company, and therefore everyone is a salesperson. Certain positions require far more intensive rental salesmanship training of course. When I train rental company counter personnel, for example, I always stress the importance of using proper and helpful closing and building the order techniques that I have developed – and not to be a “pushy” salesperson. Also, your team should be trained to stress the “benefits” not just the “features” of your equipment. Done properly, the sales training can greatly increase rental income and at the same time builds the customer relationship – which leads to more repeat business).


Ø  The strong, positive relationships your staff develop with customers are a key reason why customers should be doing business with your rental company instead of going to a competitor. I believe that having a well scripted and powerful mission statement that accurately describes your company’s mission can be helpful. Also, I believe you should consider having a written list of your company’s core values posted in your lunchroom. These statements, many dealing with building and maintaining super-positive relationships with your customers, focus your team’s attention even more in the direction that will lead to greater success for your company. They help to identify and promote the distinguishing characteristics between your rental company and the others in your market area. It can also be a valuable addition to your website and other marketing tools.


Ø  Don’t just say “Customer Service” is your rental company’s distinguishing characteristic. This should be better defined, not only for potential customer consideration but also for use in promoting the ultra-service culture to your staff.



Customers certainly have choices of where to rent so it’s wise to place additional focus on what could be one of the most visible and memorable advantages of doing business with your company. So, don’t rest on your laurels. Make your company’s customer relationship strength even stronger. Maintain this competitive edge with appropriate reinforcement of your team’s training. Also, instead of assuming that your customers and potential customers are well-aware of this distinguishing advantage of doing business with you, be sure to have your team continuously demonstrate it.