CRA PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: June 2014
By Marc MandinCanadian Rental Association
If we believe even some of what is dominating the media within our industry of late we can all expect some growth in our businesses over the next few years.
If we believe even some of what is dominating the media within our industry of late we can all expect some growth in our businesses over the next few years. The wise rental operator plans ahead to be ahead of demand rather than constantly complaining about missed opportunities because he or she is out of stock. Now that trade-show season is over, you need to assess all of the new equipment you have seen, think whether you can afford to build your fleet, and then make some tough decisions. Guess who your best ally is now? Depending on cash flow or bankers can be risky. Some long-time rental operators would suggest your best allies in the long term are your suppliers.
To a certain kind of rental operator (let’s call him Joe Rental), suppliers are the lifeline that keep customers coming through the door. He believes that the value for his dollars spent do not always come from pricing alone. He values quality and knows that customers will associate poor quality equipment with him, not with the suppliers. To provide reliability to his customers, he needs the same from his suppliers. Do you think like Joe Rental? If so, you should ask yourself if your current suppliers are reliable, dependable and around for the long run. If not, consider how that will that impact your ability to be there for your customers.
Trying to keep all these factors in mind when you make your buying decisions can be quite challenging. Often, we make purchases we later regret because we were in a hurry and took the path of least resistance. If you are like some of my customers, you expect best quality, best price and best service from your suppliers. Have you decided which two of those three factors are most important to you? Once you have your priorities sorted, you have to decide which two factors your customers want the most often. The next step is to work on a partnership approach with your chosen group of suppliers. The game plan is to build both your business and that of your vendors around the priorities you have set out for your customers. This may include working with suppliers to arrange a repeat order schedule for commodity items so you never run out and asking if they can provide consignment agreements on hard-to-get products so you have them on hand when needed. Consignment equipment also tends to lead to sales when your customer comes looking to purchase rather than rent.
If you are new to a product line or investigating one, there is no better source of information than your supplier. Of course his product will be the best on the planet, but if you ask the right questions your supplier will share how he has seen other operators market and maintain the product. He may have the ability to give you and your staff hands-on training in the operation of the equipment. Many will be able to offer tips to pass on to your customers so they get the best bang for their buck when renting from you.
If your business deals with socially conscientious customers you will have to remember that your reputation may be judged on the labour practices of your suppliers. Checking out your suppliers is only a few clicks away for your customers, and they will vote with their dollars. You may want to do that research when considering a new supplier.
At the Canadian Rental Association, we think of our supplier members as absolutely priceless. Their unwavering support of our association over the years has helped keep us alive, literally. When we stumbled, they were there to help dust us off, encourage us, and keep us moving forward. No doubt there has been some benefit to them as well, but it is a strong partnership – one forged in the trust that we will work together in order to build a stronger future for all our members. The upcoming year holds a lot of promise for this partnership as we work together toward improving our future trade shows, expanding our combined role in educating the rental industry on how to make more productive use of their rental fleets, and toward supporting one another in growing our businesses. I would encourage you to ask your suppliers more detailed questions. They are a wealth of information that can help you improve the earning power of your fleet.
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