Technology is changing the way we do business in the equipment rental industry. The era of tethered workstations to write up contracts or a face-to-face discussion and handshake with each transaction is gone. The rental industry has turned to technology to increase efficiency, save time and money, and capture the ability to meet and serve their customers however and wherever it is most convenient for them.
From sales to service, the internet and constant connectivity have changed how quickly we can do business—usually for the better. To that end, equipment rental companies need to keep up with the mobile technology tools available to them or risk being outsold by their competitors.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what mobile equipment rental software capabilities can help you grow your business and how you can take capitalize on this technology.
Emerging Technology Needs to Meet a Growing Mobile Workforce
Most equipment rental companies employ some type of mobile workforce. A salesperson traveling to various locations to discuss new business opportunities; a truck driver who needs photos to document equipment damage and capture customer signatures while picking up or delivering equipment; or a field service technician doing repairs or scheduled maintenance are all prime examples of the increasing need for such mobility.
To supply these employees or contractors with the tools they need to effectively do their job in the field, equipment rental organizations need to be able to support a wide variety of mobile technologies that still support centralized operations.
Each category of mobile worker might require different types of devices, such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. They may also need to work off-line when Wi-Fi or cellular connections aren’t available. In this situation, workers need to first complete the work, store the related information, and then submit or synchronize all the data when there is a reliable connection.
It’s important for your rental organization to be able to provide the best device and software application to each mobile worker, along with the most appropriate method of connectivity. Effective mobile technology increases worker efficiency, reduces errors, improves cash flow, and enhances customer satisfaction.
In addition, the adequate tools and ability to work on the go may mean the difference between a job well done or a nightmare of a day for your employees. With the bottom line, customer experience, and employee satisfaction on the line, it’s no wonder that the time to embrace mobile equipment rental software technology is now (or yesterday).
Avoiding Common Mobile Equipment Rental Software Mistakes
Mobile technology allows the steps and daily processes of each job to be streamlined and simplified but be careful not to fall into the ‘app happy’ trap. What does that mean? If you acquire a variety of bespoke, separate equipment rental applications that address only one operational area at a time, you may end up flipping between apps trying to equate apples to oranges, which hasn’t ultimately helped your company’s processes.
For instance, if you use a separate app for contracts, another app for service, another for finance, and a different one to manage your inventory and assets—you run the risk of negating any of the gains you should get from onboarding mobile technology.
Employing a variety of separate mobile applications introduces a series of problems around accurate tracking, cross-functional hand-off (sales to equipment delivery, for example), reporting, performance insight, operational visibility, IT management, and manual data entry across systems. And that is just to name a few.
Instead, it’s important to look at centralized mobile equipment rental software technology, such as a cloud ERP, that will cover all aspects of your rental business in one place while enabling inputs and productivity from all areas of the workforce from any device.
The amount of repetitive data entry and mundane administrative work dramatically decreases, while your ability to take advantage of market opportunities and improve margins increases when you’re using the right, centralized mobile software.
Serving Customers with Mobile Rental Portals
Along with technology tools for mobile workers, more and more rental organizations are investing in customized eCommerce portals and mobile rental apps to reach customers wherever they are and simplify rental processes on mobile devices. With just a few clicks, these rental portals make it easy for renters to search for, compare rates, reserve equipment, schedule delivery, and pay online for the equipment they need.
This online, self-service function also streamlines the process for customers to check equipment availability and book units from rental branches close to their jobsite at any time, without needing to research equipment far away or wait on the phone.
Having an effective rental portal in place means you can save time and provide better service to your customers. Employing this mobile equipment rental technology requires transparency in pricing, having easy-to-access rental policies, easy payment methods, and customers are looking for transaction speed and simplicity. Portals continue to evolve, becoming more sophisticated to accommodate the transaction needs of both the rental organization and the customer.
A mobile, online rental portal will also help your organization collect data on what equipment each client has rented from you in the past. This can help you personalize their future transaction experiences and specifically tailor what you offer going forward.
While convenience in digital transactions is the primary aim with mobile customer rental portals, consultations and person-to-person interaction will always still be required, so rental portals need to provide an easy way for customers to contact the rental store to discuss details of their equipment needs. Efficient mobile technology that includes these communication avenues will extend your ability to build trusted relationships with your rental customers and deliver excellent service.
Bonus tip! Invest in a high-quality company website for your equipment rental business. If your website is formatted to be easily viewed on a small smartphone or tablet screen, this means more chance of potential rental customers finding you and enjoying a high-quality, convenient online transaction experience. This scenario is especially valuable if they’ve already had a bad experience with your competitor’s complicated, user-unfriendly website that they cannot easily access on their smartphone.
How to Stay Competitive with Mobile Technology
Mobile equipment rental software and technology isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ anymore. The benefit of using a centralized, online, mobile rental system helps growing rental companies increase margins, improve efficiencies, meet customer demands, and stay competitive. The on-demand, anywhere capability is becoming nearly standard and necessary to thrive in the industry.
Mobile technology provides your rental organization with:
- The ability to capture photos, signatures, location stamps from anywhere
- An easy-to-follow electronic trail that eliminates the need for filing paper
- Easy-to-access rental contracts and other documents
- Real-time data recording without the risk of human error and inefficiency of repetition
- Improved equipment condition reporting and maintenance tracking
- Better on-demand data, dashboards, and analytics, for big-picture business decisions and planning
Adopting mobile technology into your business model allows your business to be more agile and, therefore, more valuable to your customers. When customers don’t lose money on late or broken equipment, and they can get the equipment they need from you, they will value you as the right equipment provider for their business. You won’t have to focus on simply offering the lowest prices because you can be a more desirable industry leader.
Overall, it’s important to adapt to mobile rental technology in this ever-changing industry. Embracing aspects such as the cloud, analytics, mobility, and the Internet of Things (IOT) will offer more efficiency and flexibility to extend your rental business capabilities and give you an advantage over competitors with outdated processes.
Embracing Technology: The Key to Surviving in an Evolving Industry
The pandemic changed the landscape of many industries; equipment rental was no exception. Rental suppliers had to pivot and adapt to survive and thrive in the evolving equipment rental market. With over 20 years working in the equipment rental sector, we are seeing that those who adopted mobile technology, self-serve eCommerce, cloud ERP technology, and centralized operational infrastructure solutions are the ones that have successfully weathered this storm.
At Open Door, we understand what it takes to implement the software your rental business needs to stay competitive, while maintaining that personal touch in your customer relationships.
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