Editorial: Welcome Russ Dantu
You’ll notice a change on the table of contents of this magazine. Our Legalese columnist, Deryk Coward, has pushed back from his keyboard after four years with the magazine. Deryk, a partner with D’Arcy and Deacon in Winnipeg, is legal counsel for the national Canadian Rental Association and over the years he has provided some very valuable tips on legal matters that concern every rental store. I want to thank Deryk for sharing his knowledge and recommend him very highly to anyone looking for legal advice from someone who really understands this industry.
By Patrick Flannery
In his place, I’d like to introduce Russ Dantu, a professional trainer, writer and speaker in the area of customer service. Russ is from Calgary, and he’s been helping businesses improve their customer service for 15 years. His new column is called “At Your Service” and will feature his tips, thoughts and stories from the front lines of business-to-consumer commerce in a myriad of industries. Russ is no stranger to the rental industry – he used to work in event rentals in Alberta. He started in the trade show industry in when he was still in grade seven in 1982 making $3.35 an hour. Russ worked out of Calgary for Stampede Display until August 2000 then went to Pro Show Services and was the branch manager. He took their stagnant $400,000 gross revenue to over $1.3 million in just over four years. Stampede Display was bought out by GES in 2004, but Russ stayed on until the fall of 2005. In his post-rental career as a customer service consultant and speaker, he has often spoken to towns and companies on the benefits of exhibiting and making the most of their trade show experience. All told, Russ brings 30 years of rental-related customer service expertise to this magazine.
Including a regular customer service column in this magazine is one of those ideas where, after you have it, you wonder what took you so long. The centrality of customer service to this industry is right in our title: Canadian Rental Service. After all, anyone can buy machinery, hang up a rate card and call themselves a rental operator. What defines the rental business and the people who drive it is the service we provide to customers. I’ve written or edited dozens of company profiles in this industry, and each and every owner says, when asked for the secret to their success, “Service.” I can say with confidence that every single one of you out there feels you are successful at least in part because you offer great, competition-beating service.
This is as it should be. Ask any professional athlete about his abilities and they will tell you that they have the potential to go out there and be the best in the world on any given day. That’s the attitude you need to have in order to compete in any area, whether it’s a sports field or a construction site. But the reality is, there is only one best-in-the-world and everyone else has room for improvement.
Communication is one area I know Russ will be addressing in these pages. Providing great customer service is about more than being willing and able to help. The customer has to know you are available and know what kinds of help you can offer. Waiting for the customer to ask for help is a landmine that rental staff step on all too frequently. Having helped the customer, believe it or not, you still need to communicate to let them know how you helped them, or all those efforts to build goodwill can go to naught..
I’m excited to have Russ’ contributions in this magazine. I feel confident that even customer service experts like you can benefit from some insight and discussion of such a critical subject area for your business. Please give Russ a read on page 26 and let me know what you think.