Canadian Rental Service

Editorial: December 2012

Patrick Flannery   

Features Business Intelligence

Scanning through my Twitter feed the other day, I came across a tweet from Raj Tents, a party rental outfit in California.

Scanning through my Twitter feed the other day, I came across a tweet from Raj Tents, a party rental outfit in California. Raj Tents was tweeting about its client’s event: a fundraiser for a local zoo. Apparently, Raj had rented the zoo a number of tents for its fundraiser, and now it was drawing attention to the upcoming event in the Twitterverse.

That was smart. Promoting your clients’ events helps make sure those events succeed. The more successful they are, the more likely the organizers are to do everything mostly the same the next time, including renting from the same shop. The more people at the event, the more eyes fall on your contribution and your logo and phone number. It is a great use of social media and shows your customer you understand modern communication. And the customer notices and appreciates the value-add. All this from taking less than a minute to bang out a tweet.

Making sure your customers succeed when they use your equipment must be a principle that applies in the equipment rental world, as well. Proper training is one obvious way to do this, as is taking care to fit the right equipment to the job. But could we go further? If you were renting heaters to a big highrise project, you might tweet a link to the owner’s website showing mock-ups of the completed tower and comment on how great it is going to look when it is finished. Or (with the owner’s permission) take a shot or two of a nice project a homeowner completed using your equipment and share it on Twitter or Facebook.

People talk about social media as if it is a new thing, but the core concept is, of course, as old as the hills. Take a look at incoming CRA president Jeff Campbell’s profile on page 12. There is a guy who is into the rental business and classic cars because they are, in his words, social. It is amusing to reflect that while today’s Internet gurus are bleeding from the ears trying to figure out how to “monetize” social media, smart businesspeople like Campbell have been making money using a skillful, social approach for centuries. I think social media changes the venue for the interactions that lead to good business, not the nature of those interactions or the foundations of business itself.


Instead of smoky back rooms at a bar, golf club or trade show, the interactions are taking place on a web page. But the interactions, if they are to be successful and profitable, must be the same, and the underlying business proposition must be sound.

Associations and trade shows are two more old ideas based on the same principle. If rental operators, even competitors, get together to co-operate and learn from one another, everybody does better and the industry gets a lift with its target market. It is an effect that goes beyond the direct benefits of insurance rebates and trade show deal-making. Like all such effects, it can be hard to quantify and the effect is more noticeable as more operators participate.

Maybe if more of us got involved in creating a positive business environment, as well as in doing the obvious things that directly help our own operations, we would see a powerful surge of energy and interest in the market.

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