The Funny Page: Lonely guys
By Steve MilcikFeatures Business Intelligence
As we recover from the holiday season and put our minds towards the year that will be, the word on the street is still grim regarding the economic crisis that has plagued us for so many months.
As we recover from the holiday season and put our minds towards the year that will be, the word on the street is still grim regarding the economic crisis that has plagued us for so many months. Of course, I’m currently facing my own recession as my lovely and often dangerous wife Sophie has completely depleted my credit card shopping for her own Christmas gifts. I wonder if I can get in on that Bush bailout? Still, having no money to leave the house has given me a lot of time to catch up on my reading, and I see some dark clouds on the horizon, along with some silver linings for the rental industry.
The bad news is, yes, the global economy is still in trouble. There are small recoveries followed by setbacks, and no stability is forthcoming anytime soon. It will end, eventually, but until it does, everyone and every business will feel the effects. People are scared, and are holding tight to their wallets. In Sophie’s case, she has a death grip on MY wallet. They say a successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. I am a complete and utter failure, it seems. The secret of a happy marriage still remains a secret to me. My definition of marriage is that it’s an expensive way to get my laundry done.
So, back to the economy. You’re probably asking yourself “what silver lining?” at this point. Simply put, when people are too scared to buy but still need to get things done, they turn to renting. The U.S. and Canadian governments are tossing billions of dollars at infrastructure improvements to stimulate the economy. Construction companies who get these contracts will still need to provide the services, but will probably not want to buy the additional equipment they need. They will rent their heavy equipment, maximizing their revenues. The same goes for home-owners. Small-time contractors may suffer, but rental stores will benefit from the influx of these new do-it-yourselfers. Of course, people will still get married, so party rental stores should see steady business as well.
Still, rental store operators will have to be smarter and more efficient in the new economy. They’ll have to look closely at their inventory, and be cautious about additional spending. They will have to improve their market presence without increasing their advertising costs, and make sure their customer service is above the rest to keep their clients. Much of this can be accomplished through the use of rental management software (hint-hint) and by maintaining strong ties with their suppliers. Strong negotiation skills are needed to make sure you get the best products at the best price, ones that will turn over quickly and generate a solid ROI. Your suppliers can help guide you to the products you need, so use them and their knowledge to better your own business.
One of the best places to do this is at the CRA trade shows. Surrey, Saskatoon, Toronto, St-Hyacinthe and Moncton will all host their annual shows, and these are events that should not be missed. Remember, the economic situation has affected us all, and we, your suppliers, invest dramatic amounts of money and time to come and exhibit at these shows. If we cannot see our own ROI, then, of course, we must re-examine whether we will return the following year. My company, Orion Software, will be doing more than 25 shows worldwide this year, and that represents a large part of our advertising budget. If there is no return, then shows need to be cut. Many of my brother and sister suppliers are in the same boat. Plus, we get real lonely out there with no one to chat with.
So…come to the shows. Make the effort to spend a day on the floor, meeting with the suppliers and cutting deals on the spot. Show special pricing still exists, and this is a great opportunity to purchase the stock you need. Financing arrangements can usually be made to help you get the product you need now. Even if you don’t buy immediately, dropping by our booths and thanking us for supporting the industry is almost as good as a signed PO. Almost. While you are there, remember that every night at the show usually involves some fantastic networking opportunities, where you can meet friends, old and new, and learn from each other. For example, last year I learned that drinking nine shots of tequila before dinner was a great way to get to know my toilet better. You can’t learn that from a book!
Every year, our Royal Highness Queen Mandy Maeren and her crew of regional volunteers put a lot of effort into making these shows a success. Knowing the Queen as I do, I would suggest that it is not in our best interests to disappoint her. She can be a cruel and vindictive monarch, and there is no more dangerous and fearful time than when she sees a show floor empty. Hearing her scream “off with their heads!!” will send most suppliers scurrying for cover, and my own personal demon rears its ugly head when she follows up with “bring me Milcik: let the floggings commence!”
So…while the economic forecast still calls for rain, you can make your own sunshine by coming out to the CRA show in your area. Not only will you learn new things while supporting your industry, association and suppliers, you will save me from having to explain to Sophie just how I got those whip marks on my buttocks. Again. ■
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