Here are just a few opinions, reminders, and examples regarding what can be done in the next few weeks or months to prepare for the upcoming busier seasons:
- Make more precise equipment inventory purchasing decisions. Now is a great time to make an objective, in-depth analysis of your entire rental equipment fleet to determine your busy season needs. Just one example that is critically important for rental companies is to invest in keeping their rental equipment fleet fresh and looking great. The costs associated with growing and maintaining a “fresh fleet” are already high and getting higher. It is more important than ever to not make decisions “on the fly” and instead make decisions that are based on an accurate, objective analysis.
- Train employees to be better communicators. Employees need to know more than just a few simple basics to effectively recommend the equipment and accessories needed by customers. Employees shouldn’t just hope that customers know what they need and therefore don’t need any helpful information from rental company employees. You want your company to have the professional image of having very knowledgeable staff members; your company will tend to rent more and have fewer service road calls.
- Make the “customer experience” at your rental company even kinder and friendlier. Certainly, customers tend to return to rental businesses that have a kind, friendly, and helpful atmosphere. Use the upcoming months to make this part of the company’s culture.
- Remember the importance of the initial, formative first week or two of the education process. It sets the stage for all the other equipment and technical training to come. In my more than 50 years in this industry, I have trained thousands of rental professionals and feel that the proper initial introduction to the culture and systems of the rental company is vital. Rental companies that have solid systems and superior training tend to have the best results.
- Focus attention on what may be a neglected, but very important topic - the visual image of your showroom. This could be an excellent time to plan a moderate or significant showroom upgrade. Modernizing the visual image of your showroom should be done every 2-3 years. Remember, your showroom, regardless of size, sets the stage for the customer experience in addition to telling your story of your broad assortment of equipment, accessories, and related retail merchandise. If your design and implementation is professional, it builds confidence and more business. A rental company’s showroom’s visuals, signage, and store exterior presentation are important even if much of the equipment your rental company rents is delivered to customers. Also, take a fresh look at your trucks and trailers to be sure they help you build or sustain a super-professional image.
- Your slower season is the ideal time for training new people. Even in this very tight employment climate, most of my customers have discovered that some quality employees can still be found. Remember, some people in your community are looking for a more exciting position with a company that is not as monotonous as the jobs they currently hold. Without solid, trainable employees it is difficult to grow your business, so it is vitally important not to give up the quest. Stay positive and have many specific-to-your-company strategies to acquire, prepare, motivate, and retain the very best.
- When you do get someone with excellent potential be sure to prepare them for success and growth. If employees do not have a comprehensive orientation (including your processes and culture) and solid initial training, they won’t be very likely to grasp the joy of working in a rental company. Also, having a more organized, systematic way of doing things in various day-to-day business activities takes away some of the out-of-control, stressful, and extremely dissatisfying aspects of working in a rental business. Too often, people with good potential move on. Try to slow the revolving door of employees coming and quickly exiting.
- Also, be sure your supervisors are well-trained to excel in not only the technical portions of their positions but also the “people part” of their positions. Train them to become great leaders. In many cases, employees quit because of their supervisor, not the job itself.
- Create new rewards and other perks that your employees are not likely to receive elsewhere if they are ever tempted to leave your rental company. For example, have some well-crafted, specific to your rental company, performance-based incentives for your staff. I believe that performance incentives can be an important part of making work more interesting, can boost morale and retention – and can boost the company’s bottom line.
- It’s also key to your success that you involve your current team in as many of these endeavors as possible. They are a valuable resource and offer another perspective for planning and implementing the changes. Their intellectual investment in new projects can have a huge impact on their commitment to those plans’ success.
With as many opportunities as there are in the slower season, it’s important to have a prioritized plan. The busier seasons will be arriving soon!