Canadian Rental Association
CRA PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: September 2014
By Marc Mandin
Fall is just around the corner, so you are probably getting busier as the days get shorter and people start needing to add temporary lighting and generators to their wish lists.
By Marc Mandin
Fall is just around the corner, so you are probably getting busier as the days get shorter and people start needing to add temporary lighting and generators to their wish lists. I hope the summer treated you well, leaving you optimistic approaching another winter season. For those of you into heater rentals, I bet you are getting geared up for another winter of slugging it out in the great frozen north. With the extra challenges winter brings, it is a great time to ask yourself about your level of customer service. What better time to truly test your level of service than when you face some of your toughest challenges?
How does your customer service fare when the cold delivers sluggish engines that need help to start, nasty road conditions and cold, grumpy customers? I know we all think we give great customer service but do we really? In conditions we cannot control? Granted you can use the cold weather as a great excuse for why you just could not provide the equipment to them when they needed it. But will that keep them coming back to you? It might work if it is, in fact, a rare occurrence at your store, but if each little thing that comes along hampers your ability to look after your customers on their time schedule (not yours) they will try to find someone who is free of this limitation.
Customer service is mostly about attitude and training but these can be difficult to control as well, because they are completely reliant on the human factor. Planning and being prepared are entirely under your control, however, and can go a long way to making those harsh winter (fall, spring, and summer) days just a little easier to deal with.
Some simple things that can eliminate headaches include planning to replace the tires on your delivery vehicles in the fall so you have great winter tires to get you safely to and from your customers when you need to. Another good idea is putting block heaters on all equipment you will be using in the winter season and remembering to plug in at least one of each of those items you seem to rent every morning. You can always plug in a second one as you prep the first. If you have the luxury of heated inside storage, keeping some equipment not adversely affected by condensation inside overnight is one step better, but few of us have that much space.
Park your equipment so you have access if you need to boost it. Skid steers look better backed into lanes for storage but have you ever tried starting them when you can’t even open the back door? Been there. I once had to move 20 pieces to get at those loaders with the telehandler so we could bring them inside because they were not plugged in. I don’t even want to calculate what that cost but I learned the hard way!
I think we should start a book titled Mistakes I Have Made and pass it around from store to store. It would grow quickly if we all were honest and would not only provide some great entertainment but serve as a first-class learning tool for all who read the finished product. We have all made some rookie mistakes and learned to do things better. If you make some time to think about all of the things that could go wrong and then put your solutions into action before things happen you will be ahead of the curve. Your equipment will be better prepared and your team will be better prepared to provide the level of service you want for your customers. Is it hard to put extra washers on your compressors for the hoses, or O-rings on equipment which constantly loses them? Do you upsell fuel filters to your customers in the winter to capture water in fuel before it kills your unit? I realize there is that little qualifier that they have to actually know how to replace one, but I do have a couple of customers that do.
If you can think of a problem, I know you have a solution and all you have to do now is figure out a way to help reduce the down time in advance if possible. Down time is poison to your customer and extremely costly to you. If you have not done so yet, take the time to calculate what an exchange actually costs you. Once you do I know you will agree it is well worth your efforts to try to bring your equipment down time under control. You may not eliminate it but every minute you save stays in your bottom line.
For those of you in Ontario, I hope I am not too late to encourage you to support one of the four candidates running for election as your national Canadian Rental Association director. I look forward to working with the fine candidate you choose to step into that role on the CRA board of directors. I would also like to welcome James Morden to the CRA executive as the incoming Region 10 director. I know James will represent us well in our interactions with the American Rental Association.
Please keep checking the CRA website for updates on all current and upcoming events with the CRA. We will be running our video competition once again this year. Details will be posted on the website.
Remember to take advantage of our public relations resource — free to all members! Nathalie can help you contact Chris and put together a promo to advertise an upcoming event at your store.
In closing, I would like to remind all members that February may seem a long way in the future but the 2015 ARA Rental Show is quickly approaching and now is the best time to book your rooms to make sure you are locked in and taking advantage of our limited time special pricing. The hotel of choice for the Canadian contingent is the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. You are invited with open arms to the Canadian Hospitality Evening held at the hotel on Sunday, Feb. 22. I look forward to swapping rental adventures with you there. If you have not received any information yet, please contact Nathalie or Jenna at our new head office: 1-204-223-0992, or drop in to 1100 South Service Road, Suite 217 in Stoney Creek if you are in Ontario.
Marc Mandin is COO of 4-Way Equipment Rentals in Edmonton and national president for the Canadian Rental Association.