Canadian Rental Service

Prime time for rental

Patrick Flannery   

Canadian Rental Association

Local CRA members are banding together to donate equipment and time to a project aimed at increasing the rental industry’s profile in the public eye. It is a marketing exercise that could create a surge in demand for equipment rentals among homeowners.

BestWay Rent-All of Midland, Ont., has donated over $60,000 worth of equipment to the House of Bryan II set. Here, owner Randy Turner unloads Skyjack AWPs loaned by Rentshop.

Local CRA members are banding together to donate equipment and time to a project aimed at increasing the rental industry’s profile in the public eye. It is a marketing exercise that could create a surge in demand for equipment rentals among homeowners.

If you look at job descriptions, you might be forgiven for thinking sales and marketing are the same thing. Sales and marketing manager, director of sales and marketing, vice-president of sales and marketing – sales and marketing seem to have blurred together in the minds of many corporations to the extent that they are treated as the same activity. But they aren’t. Marketing is about creating demand. Sales is about fulfilling it.

The Canadian Rental Association seems to understand the distinction, and is taking some energetic action to help its membership with the marketing side of the equation. For many years, the association’s message was more geared toward the sales side. Keep your shop neat and attractive. Put on clean clothes. Answer the phones in a professional manner. Organize and streamline your billing and payment processes. All these messages were and are good advice, but they only help you once the customer is already standing in your store. The greater challenge is to get the customer thinking about equipment rental in the first place, and that is where Bryan Baeumler comes in.

Baeumler is the charismatic star of Disaster DIY and House of Bryan, two so-called reality shows on the cable DIY Network. Every week, over 200,000 Canadians tune in to watch Baeumler help some clueless homeowner renovate their home on Disaster. House of Bryan was about Baeumler’s demolition and rebuilding of his parents’ old house, which he was moving into. House has finished its run for the year, but House of Bryan II is being shot in Midland, Ont., where Baeumler is building a magnificent cottage on a beautiful northern lake. Both shows have audiences that rental store owners covet: middle-aged, well-to-do homeowners interested in renovating and upgrading their homes.

In February of this year, the CRA contracted Baeumler to make him its official spokesperson. The one-year agreement has Baeumler appearing in a series of short commercials on the DIY Network talking about the benefits of renting and advising viewers to use to find rental operators in their areas. He has also made appearances at some association events, and at the CRA booth at the ARA’s Rental Show.

As part of the agreement, CRA members near the Midland shoot are donating equipment for use on the show. Barrie Rent-All, Rentshop and SMS Rents have all been active in providing equipment, but Randy Turner of BestWay Rent-All in Midland has put forth a special effort to make sure rental equipment is featured prominently on the show. Baeumler’s crew often needs equipment on short notice and for indeterminate amounts of time. The worksite is an hour’s drive away from Turner’s shop, much of it over narrow back roads unsuitable for heavy trailers. Turner has to take the larger items to a sandy boat launch where they can be loaded on to a barge for transport to the site. CRA supplier members are pulling their weight, as well. Such companies as Kubota, Terex, Echo, Rentquip and Atlas Copco have loaned or donated equipment for the cause.

In return for all this effort and sacrifice, Baeumler is raising awareness about the benefits of renting. “One of our messages to people watching the show is, you don’t have to own everything,” he says. “If you do a reno once or twice a year and if you need bigger equipment especially, you can rent it. If you need a jackhammer that you don’t have, or whatever it may be, you can rent it. A lot of people now live in downtown areas and they don’t have storage for wheelbarrows and sledgehammers and jackhammers and that kind of stuff. It is so easy to go down and rent what you need and return it when you are done.”

Baeumler is also showing how construction professionals like him can use rental equipment to improve their bottom lines. “For us especially as a construction company that uses a lot of equipment, you can make a capital investment in that equipment,” he explains. “But then you are making an investment to maintain it, operate it, train on it and replace it and take the depreciation on it. Or you can rent when you need it so it is not sitting in a warehouse parked somewhere and you are paying for it when you don’t need it. Depending on the equipment and the application, renting larger equipment definitely makes sense for us.”

Maybe even more helpful than Baeumler’s direct comments are his experiences with rental equipment on the show. At one point in the shoot, Baeumler was using a rotary hammer to drill anchor holes in the natural rock on which the cottage is being built. Turner saw this and was able to point out that a rock drill would do a better job. He returned with an Atlas Copco rock drill, and Baeumler was able to get the job done much faster using far fewer bits. “That’s why you go rental,” Baeumler said.

Paul Everitt, CRA supplier director for eastern Canada, said he got the idea to find a celebrity spokesperson when watching TV after a national CRA board meeting where building rental awareness had been on the agenda. “Handing out coffee mugs with the CRA logo is not enough,” Everitt says. He knew he had to find a more powerful channel for the CRA’s message. Then he noticed that every show on the DIY Network was using equipment that was probably rented, but none of the stars were talking about where the equipment came from. He brainstormed ideas with Jeff Campbell, the Ontario director, and Jim Freeman, one of the partners in Rentquip. Everitt and Campbell then formed a committee with Penny O’Sullivan, Ontario CRA secretary and Rhonda Pedersen, ARA Region 10 director, to pursue the idea. Rentquip sells Milwaukee hand tools, and Milwaukee and Baeumler have the same PR agency, Birchall and Associates, so the connection was made. Everitt went out to the site of the House of Bryan shoot, had a long conversation with Baeumler, and found the DIY star very enthusiastic about the idea.

The CRA’s continued involvement with Baeumler will depend on the outcome of discussions at the national board meeting this fall. But whatever happens, marketing initiatives of this kind cannot help but raise the profile of Canada’s rental industry with consumers across the country.  

Print this page


Stories continue below