Canadian Rental Service

Canadian Rental Association
CRA President’s Message: October 2011

Marketing is something that is talked about and read about a lot. It can be very complicated (especially if it is your career and you have to justify it to some corporation) or it can be quite simple if you are just trying to figure how to make more bucks with the bucks you have tied up in inventory.


September 23, 2011
By Wayne Beckett CRA president

Marketing is something that is talked about and read about a lot. It can be very complicated (especially if it is your career and you have to justify it to some corporation) or it can be quite simple if you are just trying to figure how to make more bucks with the bucks you have tied up in inventory.

I do a fair bit of travelling and anywhere I go I always check out the local rental stores. If it is during business hours then I stop in and drive through the yard. I always look at the store from a customer’s perspective and try to make some mental notes on how it is marketing itself to potential customers driving by.

The first thing I look for is whether I can tell it is a rental store when I drive by. You would be surprised how many operators must assume everyone knows who they are and what they do. Simply parking equipment near the road is not enough. You should assume the opposite of what you hope: nobody knows who or what you do. If you do more than just rent, such as sell other equipment, or if you cannot display too much stuff out front, then you have to put up some big but simple signs. Make it clear and easy for people to make the connection when they drive by or drive in.

Now that you have the drive-by customer’s attention, make sure your equipment is displayed well and is clean. If you have competition close by this is where you can lose a new customer. Think if you were shopping for a used truck and went to a lot with good selection but the trucks were not clean and some were in a state of disrepair. Would you keep driving? Yes, you would. Rental equipment is like that because it is used, so you need to make it look as good as possible. If it needs repairs then get it out of the lineup of rental-ready stuff and make sure people do not think you would actually try to rent it to someone.

Then there is the inside of your store. You have managed to get the customer to come in: do not blow it now. The same rules apply here; the only difference is now you have to dazzle them with your award-winning customer service.

That’s about it, now the cycle starts all over again. You clean it, service it and put it back out for rent.

In my new position with the company that bought our store, I have to get our other stores to be the best they can be. My bosses keep telling me that in order for my store to have done $2 million in rentals in a town of under 3,000 people, I must have done a good job of marketing my rental equipment. Assuming they are right, I’d like to share some of my ideas with the rest of the industry.

Marketing is as much about equipment display and customer service as it is about putting ads in the paper or on radio or having a good website. There is a lot of marketing going on while your doors are closed, too. If you have a decent lot to display some of your larger equipment or large windows, show off what is inside your store. It is hard to measure, but rest assured that your customers are checking you out while you are not there. That’s marketing.

We just recently started using the CRA Ready-To-Rent tags and they truly are a great thing. I wish we had done it years ago. Now we know that when we go to rent out an item on the shelf and it has a green tag on it, all you have to do is show the customer how to use it and give it to him or her. There is no more guessing whether it has been serviced or maybe just put on the shelf by the customer because that is where he got it from. The item number, serial number, licence plate number and/or hour meter reading will be on the tag for you to transfer to the contract, as well as who did it if you should need to follow up.

The nice thing about the service part of marketing is that it costs very little money. It can sway a new customer or even an existing one to go to the competition if it is done poorly, so step back and look at your store from a customer’s point of view both during business hours and after. Make some notes and talk about it with your staff so they also see the need to do it right.


Wayne Beckett works for Flaman Sales & Rentals in Moosomin, Sask., a small community of 3, 000 and has been involved with the CRA for 25 years. He can be reached at 306-435-4143. So that’s my lesson in marketing 101. Now do your homework because there will be a pop quiz to follow!


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