Canadian Rental Service

At Your Service: The lost art

By Russ Dantu   

Features Business Intelligence

Think about it – have you ever seen a business go under that gave exceptional customer service day in and day out? I’d love to hear from you if you have. More often than not, it’s a combination of poor service and increased competition.

I spent over 30 years in the rental industry working for a trade show decorating company. We rented everything you needed for trade shows: staging, portable power, tents and more. Sometimes we had enough equipment and sometimes we needed to rent from other sources to fill the order. Even when we had to rent from one of our rental partners, we were very selective because of the customer service we knew we would receive from some of the not-so-trustworthy companies. They may have had the right equipment, but if service was a constant battle we would go elsewhere. And yes, some of those companies did go under.

As for our customers, we rarely lost them because we made sure our superior customer service practices were consistent and made us stand out from our competition.

You owe it to yourself, your employees and your customers to make sure your customer service exceeds your customers’ expectations and blows your competition away every time. By following these three customer service nuggets, your business will have a decisive advantage over most of your competitors and you will enlist raving fans that will not only continue to rent with you but also recommend you whenever the opportunity arises.

The first concept is DWYSYWD – Do What You Say You Will Do. It comes from a book called “Leadership Excellence” by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. How many times have you had a promise or commitment from a supplier (or family member) and they let you down by not following through on what they said they would do? How did that make you feel? Were you wary of trusting them next time? By always doing what you say you will do, you will keep your customers (and family members) smiling. There is another version – DWWSWWD – that is the team version: Do What We Say We Will Do. Get your team onboard with this and it will be smooth sailing.


Next, treat customers how they want to be treated. Truly get to know your customers whenever you can. Find out as much about them as you can so you have a clear understanding of who they are, what they expect and how to keep them happy. The old saying is, “Treat people how you want to be treated.” This is so far from the truth and I wholeheartedly disagree with it. If you know your customer base are largely a meat-and-potatoes type of crowd, would you serve them caviar and champagne at an open house just because you like it? Exactly! Treat them how they like to be treated. Serve them burgers and fries or steak and potatoes – or vegan tofu salad if that is their thing.

Wow them. It’s about the experience every time your customer does business with you. You don’t have to have a barrel of monkeys, a red carpet and fireworks shooting off (unless that works for you) to wow your customers. What you do need to do is to provide exceptional customer service every time they enter your place of business or when you make a delivery. Always be professional, punctual, provide more than they expect and thank them. Here’s a quick test you can conduct yourself: for the next week, whenever you make a purchase somewhere, see if the business actually thanks you. What usually happens is, we purchase something and we say, “Thank you” and they say, “Uh-huh” or, “You’re welcome” even though we just spent our hard earned money with them. Does this make sense?

These customer service nuggets are just the beginning, and I plan to share many more in this space in the months ahead. But these three principles will get your business heading in the right direction: miles ahead of your competitors.

Take care of yourselves….and your customers!

Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. For more information, visit or email

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