Optimizing Rental Facility Flow, Equipment Placement, Image and Emphasizing Efficiency

Columnist Dick Detmer explains how items such as facility flow, equipment placement and overall image can influence a rental company's efficiency.

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I am a firm believer in the huge growth and profitability power of an impactful and well-laid out showroom, an efficient warehouse and a production-focused service area. Investing in “efficiency” throughout one’s rental company can cause tremendous, sustained growth and profitability. (At times, only minor modifications are needed, so the investment in implementation can be small.)

Every equipment rental business is different, of course, but here are just a few thoughts and examples of some of the areas that are likely to yield substantial efficiency and “customer perception” dividends:

  • Proper facility flow is critically important. Speedily and safely getting “will call” customers in and out is highly valued both by your company and by customers. An important component of this is the proper placement of equipment.
  • It is difficult for a rental business operator to have an objective, outsider’s perspective on their own company, so it is wise to commission a comprehensive study of the efficiency and “flow” in and around your facility by an industry efficiency expert.
  • Freshen your fleet. There are so many opportunities to build a professional image, and keeping a rental equipment fleet fresh is just one example. Often, this means purchasing new equipment to replace the older, sometimes less reliable, units. It is wise to take an objective, in-depth analysis of your entire rental fleet. (I assist my customers approximately once a year with this very important activity.) The costs associated with growing and maintaining a “fresh fleet” are high and getting much higher. Keeping one’s inventory fresh has also been made extremely difficult by the equipment shortage from the manufacturers. However, customer perception (and perhaps fewer breakdowns) by maintaining a fresher fleet can be an excellent investment.
  • Speaking of “fresh,” take an objective look at your trucks and trailers to be sure that they look fresh, have professional signage, look sharp and are kept consistently clean. Remember, the customer’s perception of your delivery vehicles (and your delivery personnel) is likely to affect future rental activity.
  • Be certain your company is using the most efficient dispatching practices. Pay particular attention to the loading and unloading flow at your location for your delivered and customer pickup items.
  • The visual appearance of the exterior of your building(s) as well as the appearance of one’s rental fleet in the yard is very important. The customers’ first impressions can influence the degree to which potential customers trust your company to fulfill their needs. Even when a rental company delivers much, or most of the rental equipment to its customers, the professional appearance of the rental company’s facility is critically important.
  • Existing customers need constant reminders of your other equipment offerings that they either haven’t rented, haven’t rented in a while or may have assumed were unavailable to rent from your company. The customer will be observing the relative condition, breadth and depth of your rental fleet, as well as many other important factors including the knowledge and skill level of your staff and your processes and procedures. Some rental companies simply don’t do a good job of conveying the broad range of their company’s offerings at their facility.

Again, your quest for much greater efficiency should be comprehensive in my opinion. (Sometimes I find that there is efficiency potential even in the equipment wash off and prep area.)

The topic of “efficiency” has always been important, but for all the obvious reasons (including the tight labor market, ever-increasing competition and much higher costs of doing business), now is the time to place an even higher priority on this topic. More rental income and higher return on investment will be the result if the flow, placements, image and other changes are well thought out and properly implemented.