Editorial: September 2014
The Canadian rental industry is one of the best groups of small business owners in this country and I’m not just saying that because you (indirectly) pay my bills.
By Patrick Flannery
The Canadian rental industry is one of the best groups of small business owners in this country and I’m not just saying that because you (indirectly) pay my bills. Compared to those in the many other industries I have worked in and do work in, rental people are consistently more community minded, helpful to one another, engaged and interested in their businesses and working hard to make themselves and the sector better. Those qualities came through loud and clear in the reader survey we completed back in March. Many of you, without even a chance to win an iPad, took the time to respond and let me know what you think of this magazine. And you didn’t always just toss off one-liners saying “Good job,” (though I got lots of those, and am very grateful) you often gave longer comments with some great thoughts on how this publication could be improved. I want to thank everyone who replied, and respond to some of the common points that came up.
First of all, the responses were overwhelmingly positive. We got a number of very nice compliments on the magazine and the content and were thanked for the job we do covering the industry. The constructive criticism was just that and not general abuse. So I’m taking away the message that we are doing something right overall. The whole team here appreciates the time many of you took to say “Thank you,” and you can be assured that your encouragement inspires us to try even harder to provide an engaging channel for the trade.
Many party rental readers commented that there is not enough coverage of their field. I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion, the party and event rental business needs a magazine all its own. As far as content is concerned, there would be no problem filling a quarterly or even bi-monthly magazine with articles of specific interest to party rental operators. However, we have looked at this idea and never been able to make an economic business case for it. Our magazine relies on advertising to support it, and one way the party rental industry seems to differ from the equipment rental industry is in its relative lack of large, multinational suppliers with a) big marketing budgets, and b) the inclination to spend them in Canada. Instead, we have had to settle for making one issue per year – our March issue – our special event-rental issue and trying to cram all our great event-focused content into it. I’m painfully aware that it leaves all you party operators out of the other eight issues per year and all I can do is apologize and hope that I am getting enough general-interest material in so you still have some reason to read.
Business cases rear their ugly heads again when it comes to producing a French-language edition of the magazine, which is something we did receive a few requests for. The bottom line is, it costs almost as much to translate our English content into French as it costs to generate the whole magazine in the first place. To do this, we would have to show that we were getting additional advertising in the French editions sufficient to cover those costs. To date, no one has been able to show us that we would sell twice as much advertising in a publication aimed at francophone rental operators as we do in the national edition for the entire country. The sad fact is that economics forces us to miss including a huge and vital part of the Canadian rental industry in our national conversation. Maybe that is an example of why there are still two solitudes in this country.
One respondent asked for me to pass along any ideas for new revenue streams and to collect information on tricks and practices that others have found to work in their rental businesses. This is a terrific idea and I am going to look into ways to do even more of that than I already do. Another excellent comment praised our company profiles, but noted that sometimes they get repetitious with the subjects’ consistent invoking of service, quality and price as the drivers of their businesses. This respondent encouraged me to look for what makes each company truly unique and write about that, and I want to say to that person that this is exactly what we will try to do.