Canadian Rental Service

Hope is not a plan: Things to do in the snow

By Adam Snook   

Features Business Intelligence

A new year brings a chance for new perspectives.

It’s that time of year again. Time to review what went well, and what went wrong in 2022 and how you can use that to make 2023 your best year yet. It sounds cliche, but a new year really is an opportunity for a new beginning. Especially in the rental industry, when it coincides with our typically slow(er) periods.

Winter should ideally give us time to think about the people we rely on to help run our business. Given the fact that your company is generally the single biggest investment you’ll ever have, you should be as picky as the market and money allows you to be. You likely didn’t marry the first person you met. Considering you’ll spend at least a third of your life (let’s be honest, more like half or more) at work you should enjoy the people around you. Especially since you pay them to be there. Are there better options out there for you and your company? It’s a turbulent time in some areas and with some companies right now.  Experienced people will be let go through attrition after acquisitions and some companies are downsizing. Is there that squeaky wheel in your employee roster that you’ve only held on to because you needed a warm body during the busy season? Now is the time to find better and more competent people.

What about your home away from home? I don’t mean the cabin, I mean where you spend eight to 12 hours, five to six days per week. Is your shop, showroom and/or office an inviting place to be? If you were a new potential customer or employee, would it be a place that you’d enjoy coming to? If your business is a retail-focused rental company, you really can’t overstate how important the appearance of your facility is. If it looks unmaintained and in disrepair the immediate thought to the customer is that your equipment will be the same, whether true or not. A fresh coat of paint and some updated signage aren’t expensive.

The same goes for your rental fleet. Your utilization won’t tell you all you need to know here. Does it show pride of ownership? Given the shortages and long lead times for new equipment, as well as the cost, no one is expecting you to compete with the Uniteds and Sunbelts of the world. However, people aren’t willing to rent unmaintained or rough-looking equipment either. It’s not just the time to make sure that everything works as it should, that’s a bare minimum expectation. 


What about any new lines of equipment or services? Give some thought to any possible expansion opportunities. While you’re thinking about new opportunities, think of new ways to reach out to new customers and re-engage with existing ones. A website is not enough any more. Social media is hands-down your most cost-effective way to reach new potential customers, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok. Start on it today. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, hire it out. Have you looked into radio advertising? It’s surprisingly cost-effective if you are in an area where you can target the demographics you’d like to engage with.

Take a look at your financing for the upcoming busy season. Whether its new equipment or growth capital for an acquisition, make sure you are ready for 2023. With interest rates at seven to eight percent, it definitely pays to shop around. Even look at your business banking relationship. Given the lack of competition that the big banks in Canada have, it can often feel like you have no choice. Now is the time to reach out to some regional banks or credit unions. Quite often they are far less cumbersome to deal with when it comes to financing. They understand the local markets better and you’ll generally get your answer a lot quicker as well.

2022 was a great year for a lot of us, and we should be grateful for that. That doesn’t mean that 2023 is guaranteed to follow suit. It may seem like you have a lot of time to prepare for the next busy season, but the reality is that April seems to come quicker every year. So what are you waiting for? 

Adam Snook is a co-owner of JustBins in Regina, Sask.

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