Canadian Rental Service

George’s Corner: June 2012

By George Olah   

Features Business Intelligence

It seems almost everything in life is about expectations. For instance, purchase a pickup truck and you expect to be able to carry equipment. Install a trailer hitch on it and you expect your truck to pull the trailer.

It seems almost everything in life is about expectations. For instance, purchase a pickup truck and you expect to be able to carry equipment. Install a trailer hitch on it and you expect your truck to pull the trailer. Simple enough, you think. Except that these expectations can be based on assumptions and misplaced perceptions. A pickup truck cannot carry 18 skids like a 53-foot-long trailer can. Then again, it doesn’t cost the same either.

As a rental company, how many times have you had a customer bring back a rental product complaining it didn’t do the job they rented it for? The customer blames the product for poor performance. Worse yet, they blame the rental company for providing faulty equipment. All this occurs because of a misunderstanding as to what the equipment is capable of doing. So now you have a customer who is upset because he couldn’t complete his task. And you have put yourself in the position of having to justify why you still have to charge him for the rental product, knowing that he may walk away from your store. Not to mention that you will try to rent him another product to do that job and probably at a higher price. Or you may have to give him that more expensive equipment at a lower price just to keep him as a customer. Well, maybe.

It is absolutely essential for rental staff to quiz customers, even old ones, about what and how they are going to use the equipment. Qualify your customer not only as to his financial well-being but also for his product knowledge and expectations. This will help to obviate many potential future issues regarding perceived equipment performance and even breakdown. Don’t promise the customer something that the equipment is not capable of performing.

If your renter needs to haul large amounts of concrete or fill, make sure you know what his job is all about. Sure, a motorized 16-cubic-foot concrete dumper can haul more than a conventional six-cubic-foot wheelbarrow but it is no substitute for a 33-cubic-foot concrete buggy that can do the job more quickly and without straining the equipment beyond its design limits. Remember, it’s not about the money, it’s about the utility and completing a task safely, quickly and without any breakdowns. Neither side wants breakdowns.


There is no profit in that for anyone.

For those of you in the temporary construction heat rental business, how many times have you had a customer come back to you complaining that the 150,000 BTU heater he rented from you was a piece of junk because it couldn’t heat 10,000 square feet of building space? Was it his fault? Was it yours for not asking him if he used such heaters for particular applications like that? Or did you forget to ask him if he was properly trained to use such an appliance? You can’t always let a customer rent on a dollars per BTU basis. Most customers think they know budgets but they don’t necessarily know equipment limitations.

Customers, both regulars and walk-ins, rely on rental companies to provide the right advice, even if you must have friendly but necessary arguments with them on what to rent. Don’t assume anything. Don’t let arrogance get in the way. Most guys will not naturally ask for directions or advice – ask any wife if you don’t believe me.

Good customer service and relationships are founded on sharing information. In order to share information you must communicate with each other. Neither the customer nor you as the rental provider has the ability to read minds even if you have the latest iPad3 or BlackBerry 9900.

Drop the dumb male pride. Both sides must be willing to discuss what they don’t know. As for me, if I don’t know the limitations of any specific piece of equipment in my inventory I am not shy or ashamed to call the manufacturer directly and get the right advice. I want to make certain that I give my customer the best and latest information possible to complete his work on time and on budget. Not only is this good business sense but it is the key to the safe use and performance of equipment.

As a rental operator always expect the unexpected.

Print this page


Stories continue below