Webinar write-up

How technology can drive revenue growth in the rental business

Record360 CEO, Jesse Buckingham, hosted Franklin Equipment CTO, Harold Goings, for a discussion about how technology can drive growth in the rental business.

It was an in-depth conversation session that included topics ranging from key KPIs, process automation, the impact of new technology and rental inspection software on the rental business, and the importance of aligning sales, rental, and service to grow a successful business. See below for time stamps on specific topics.

“It’s really helped our recovery when it comes to customer damage.”
– Harold Goings, CTO, Franklin Equipment

Highlights

  • 2:35 – About Franklin Equipment
  • 4:30 – Managing Covid and 2020 challenges
  • 6:25 – Hiring challenges and material costs
  • 9:29 – Technology Tools for Rental, Big Data, KPIs
  • 14:01 – Franklin App Development
  • 18:22 – Thoughts on Sales vs Rental
  • 24:31 – How Franklin uses Record360 and its impact
  • 26:58 – Optimizing Rental Processes and Workflows
  • 28:35 – Damage costs before Record360
  • 30:27 – Operations before Record360
  • 32:20 – Ensuring team members follow operational policies and adhere to company ​culture
  • 34:31 – How the trend towards automation will impact and improve rental operations:
  • 37:19 – Equipment rental trends that give you concern
  • 40:20 – Franklin’s culture of innovation

Ready to see Record360 in action? Request a personalized product demonstration and learn how rental inspection software can transform your rental business.

Leadership and management in the rental business

 

Record360 CEO, Jesse Buckingham, hosted customers from Road Machinery for a “fireside chat” about success in the rental business:

  • Joel Cook, President and CEO
  • Jason Avery, General Manager of Rental

It was an interactive and conversation session that included detailed questions from attendees with thoughtful insights provided by Joel and Jason. They discussed topics ranging from key financial KPIs, the impact of new technology on the rental business, and the importance of aligning sales, rental, and service to grow a successful business. See below for specific topics and questions.

“Record 360, with the functions that it provides, was just a game changer for us.”
– Joel Cook, CEO, Road Machinery

Audience Q&A

Attendees submitted more questions than we had time to answer, but Joel and Jason offered great details and insights on the following:

  • 19:22 – Do you recommend a rental businesses get into the dealership model?
  • 20:47 – What is a benchmark to target for repair and maintenance expenses a percentage of revenue?
  • 25:22 – How do you cultivate is sort of mindset in the in the business to work together for the common good?
  • 28:30 – How do you select the right sales model for your company, and determine how much revenue rental should produce?
  • 48:24 – Do you self-insure or offer insurance through a 3rd party?
  • 49:42 – What is the percentage of total accounts receivable in rental business that would be normal over a 90 day period?

Other Highlights

  • 1:03 – About Road Machinery and introductions to Joel Cook and Jason Avery
  • 3:27 – Trends impacting leasing and rentals
  • 7:09 – Factors for consideration on the economy and whether rental will continue to grow
  • 11:02 – Keys to a successful rental operation
  • 13:23 – Scaling rental operations
  • 16:56 – Managing your fleet and customer expectations
  • 22:57 – Managing competing incentives and goals between sales, rental, and service
  • 24:24 – Choosing a sales model
  • 32:19 – Managing a customer base for sales and rentals
  • 34:53 – Core financial KPIs for rental departments
  • 39:25 – How to identify the right financial KPIs
  • 41:50 – The impact of technology and inspection software on a rental business
  • 45:14 – Using Record360 inspection software in rental
  • 47:00 – Customer example where Record360 could prevent paying for damages
  • 51:55 – What excites you and what keeps you up at night regarding the rental industry?

Ready to see Record360 in action? Request a personalized product demonstration and learn how rental inspection software can transform your rental business.

How to elevate your digital presence and grow revenue

 

Search engine marketing expert Josh Eliseuson and internet marketing strategist David McBee joined Jesse Buckingham, Record360 CEO, to discuss elevating digital presence and growing revenue through digital marketing in heavy equipment rental.

The discussion was for rental operators of all sizes looking to enhance their digital strategy and improve revenue from their website through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

They also discussed the strategies and tactics rental operators need to consider to better kick off their digital marketing strategy or improve what they have in place.

Below are the takeaways from the webinar:

  • What are the importance and benefits of being good at digital marketing? (6:36)
  • Why is there a significant difference between e-commerce versus rentals conversion rates? (11:18)
  • What are the major trends in digital marketing that rental operators need to know? (15:20)
  • What is the role of websites in rental operations, and what are the fundamental site elements? (18:47)
  • What is the role of social media in rental operations? (25:16)
  • How do you measure digital marketing return on investment (ROI)? (33:01)
  • What is Geofencing? (48:32)

Alignment of marketing strategies and customer buying habits

It’s important to match the right digital marketing strategy to the customer’s buying process. After all, effective marketing begins with having a good understanding of how customers want to buy and search for things.

People who want to rent equipment, for example, don’t necessarily do a ton of research on it. They can go straight to Google, type in their search queries, and get answers in milliseconds. If you played your cards right, your rental business could be the very first thing they see.

As David puts it, “Your business can be right there in front of a person who needs your products and services at that moment.” Jesse adds, “It’s about positioning yourself when there’s intent to buy.”

Building a digital strategy around your customers’ online search patterns puts your products and services right where your customers can find them.

Digital strategy tips and conversions

To give a bit more context on the impact of implementing a digital strategy, Josh shared some of the successes they’ve had working with several rental companies on their paid search campaigns. “We always like to track the number of calls that come from ads, the number of clicks, form submissions, and the products purchased.” 

He added, “If you use that data to chase down the keywords and ads or neighborhoods that are driving conversions, you can usually see a pretty big lift. So typically, the average lifts we see when clients come to us is about 50%.”

He further stated that if a rental company pays a dollar and five per click, they generally get an average conversion of 10%, which is a pretty significant ROI compared to ecommerce companies they’ve worked with where about half a percent of clicks turn into customers.

As to why there’s such a significant difference in paid search conversion rates between rentals and ecommerce companies, Josh believes it’s because “immediate need lends itself well to search marketing.”

Emergency vet, plumbing services, and equipment rentals are some of the best converting industries because they address immediate customer needs.

Jesse summed this up with “search marketing is most effective when you have somebody who is very close to making a purchasing decision so that your conversion rates end up being higher.”

Advantages and convenience of search marketing

One of the most significant benefits of search marketing is it lets you focus your advertising efforts directly on peoples’ buying intent.

It’s also easy to track your SEM performance and returns since you can determine how much you’ve spent and how many of your calls turned into conversions. This helps you decide whether to continue investing in your campaigns, making search marketing one of the best strategies many equipment rental companies can test out at a minimum.

While search marketing can offer excellent returns, other internet marketing strategies are also valuable for rental companies.

As David puts it, “It’s not to say that Google AdWords is the only strategy out there. It’s just that it’s one that we have found to be incredibly effective.”

So what are the major digital marketing trends that rental operators need to know?

Website fundamentals and ranking

COVID trends showed increases in rental companies’ equipment side, gaining about 20% more traffic than last summer because many people have been doing DIY and home renovation projects.

Another COVID trend showed massive spikes in internet consumption, which means people expect a better experience online, especially on websites.

David mentions, “A quality website that’s easy to navigate, has really clear photographs of your products and services, really good product descriptions, a good search feature experience, and most especially a good mobile experience, those things are a higher priority today than they have ever been.”

Rental operators need to understand the role of websites and the core site elements to provide an excellent user experience, starting with photos and videos.

For instance, you can upload one-minute tutorial videos of your equipment on YouTube then embed them on your website. The tutorial videos can give your customers a better experience on your site and help it rank better.

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) should also be front and center on your website so customers immediately know why they should choose you over your competitors.

Other website fundamental elements that help deliver a good user experience include business contact information, easy navigation, search functionality, trust factors, and content.

Josh added that “The single biggest thing you guys could do for your SEO rankings is more content on your site.”

Blogging, keyword optimizing your content and product descriptions, and posting content to Google My Business are some of the effective ways rental companies can publish more content and improve search engine rankings.

Jesse summarized this perfectly by saying, “The best way for rental operators to rank organically is for them to be writing really good content frequently for the keywords that they want to be ranking for.”

There is a vast opportunity for rental operators to stand out from competitors online because not many rentals are leveraging content to boost search engine rankings and website traffic.

According to Jesse, “For paid advertising, there aren’t a ton of people bidding on keywords right now, so you’re actually able to rank for things for pretty low costs. And similarly, from a content perspective, there aren’t a lot of great people that are sort of developing content on a consistent basis.” 

However, you don’t have to write all your content. Google has specific requirements about what they want a blog to look like, such as having 1,000 plus words, a bulleted section, and a certain number of keywords, which is why outsourcing to SEO experts can be an excellent solution.

What about the role of social media in rental operations?

Social media marketing

For David, social media is about “creating relationships online, so that when a person has a need, they remember you.”

While using paid social media ads is an effective marketing approach, you need to provide something that people would want to follow if you want to get the most out of your social media posts.

David said, “Your post should be E entertaining or E educational. You’ve got to give me a reason to follow you.”

Social media is about connecting and engaging with your audience to help build relationships. And those relationships will likely get you a sale a few weeks or months from now because a follower recommended your business.

Jesse added, “Marketing really is about humans connecting with other humans.” Building relationships allows you to add value to your audience by educating or entertaining them.

Social media is also a great channel to run paid ads because many people spend a lot of time on the platform, allowing you to get your ads in your target audiences’ news feeds.

You can also create custom and highly-targeted audiences to help tailor your ad campaigns to their needs.

So for people on, let’s say, Facebook doing projects regularly and those interested in home improvement, as Josh puts it, “you can layer in those audiences into the social media ad buy.”

Since this type of paid advertising isn’t solely intent-based, you can focus more on promoting your business as a whole and not just your products.

For example, your social media ad content can be about how rental equipment can help customers with their next project and lead audiences to your website.

Tracking advertising ROI

Now, how can rental operators measure digital marketing and advertising ROI?

An excellent strategy is to set up call tracking. Most people communicate with local rental operators through calls, so it’s crucial to monitor calls to determine ROI.

For instance, services such as CallTrackingMetrics, lets you put a piece of code on your website and identify which channels the calls came from (whether from Google Ads or Facebook), see who called, record, and score the calls in the dashboard interface.

You can also integrate this into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, allowing you to track which calls and leads end up as sales.

Another valuable feature of this type of service is allowing you to tie the call back to searched keywords, the ads your leads saw, and even the different types of audiences that performed best to help refine your digital marketing strategy.

As Josh puts it, “We can see what types of people are performing better, and then adjust our bids and our messaging accordingly.”

Geofencing

Another essential aspect of tracking ROI through the power of digital marketing technology is Geofencing. It allows you to see if a device at your competitors’ locations comes into your area.

So if you targeted 36 people by sending them an ad about your products as soon as they entered your geofenced location, you could track how many came to your store and rented your equipment.

Most geofencing technologies work like a bear trap where they can only show the ad to the person while they’re in the geofenced location.

To optimize your geofencing campaign, you can test how long you’d show the ad to your target customers. You can show it 30 days after they left the other location. (Sometimes ten days will do.) If it’s a car dealership, under four days is ideal.

Moving forward with digital marketing strategy implementation

While outsourcing your digital marketing can be an excellent option, it can take a bit of trial and error to find the best service providers to work with.

Josh’s advice is to “Make sure they don’t have a long term commitment, so you can try them out.” This allows you to check if your personalities work or if they can deliver meaningful results.

By committing to short term relationships with your agency or outsourcing partner, you don’t get stuck with them for a year or more and suffer terrible results if their services suck.

David added, “Make sure you’re outsourcing to someone who has expertise in the field that you want help with, or they have a staff that does, because a person who’s a great web designer might not know squat about SEO or paid search, and that the best paid search person in the world may have no clue about social media or geofencing.”

Jesse further added that “The benefits of outsourcing for this are really clear because there is such a depth of knowledge that is required to effectively navigate a lot of these (digital marketing) technologies.”

Digital marketing platforms, strategies, and tools are continually evolving. This means that hiring someone in-house with limited experience and skills would require a considerable learning curve to be abreast of the different technologies, platforms, and trends.

As Jesse puts it, “You may even spend a little bit more per hour to get somebody that is truly an expert, but you’re actually paying for the years of expertise that they’ve built up.”

You’ll get better results faster, and because digital marketing is ROI-driven, you can easily track and see which of your campaigns and marketing efforts are worth investing in because, according to Jesse, “the metrics will largely speak for themselves.”

What’s next?

Your digital presence has a massive impact on your revenue. Leverage the power of digital marketing by running SEO, SEM, social media, and other reliable marketing methods. Your rental company can generate truckloads of leads, sales and even nurture customer relationships effectively with the right marketing strategies in place.

Interested in learning more about Record360? Schedule a demonstration today.

How to use data to drive rental sales growth

 

Heavy equipment rental consultant, Mets Kramer, joined Record360’s CEO, Jesse Buckingham, for an in-depth conversation on using data to drive predictable rental sales growth. They also discussed how to grow rental sales by becoming a trusted advisor to your customers, as well as how to leverage technology (e.g., CRMs, Record360) to build loyal customers. Read on below for a summary of the key takeaways from our webinar, A data driven approach to rental sales growth.

Highlights

  • What are the benefits of becoming a trusted advisor to my customers? (8m 45s)
  • How can I leverage technology to remember key information about customers? (12m 40s)
  • How do I develop systems and processes to scale my rental business? (22m 34s)
  • What sort of data should I be tracking on my customers and their equipment? (25m 56s)
  • How do I get comfortable suggesting to my customers they should buy versus rent? (30m 30s)
  • Who should be in charge of collecting, and tracking, key customer data? (39m 27s)
  • How can I know when I’m buying software that my team will love and use? (45m 36s)

 

Building relationships of trust and loyalty with customers doesn’t stop with knowing their names, likes, and dislikes. As Mets put it, “you need to know your customers deeply to give them good advice.” Those in the rental industry know that they’re in the business of relationships and giving advice. To give the best advice you have to have a complete picture of your customer. As Jesse put it, “The core insight here is about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes so that you understand the context they’re operating in…that allows you to speak from a place where you know their interests and you’re no longer just the guy with the equipment you want to sell.” Having a deep understanding of the equipment your customers use, how they use it, and what they want to achieve are all prerequisites to becoming a trusted advisor.

Becoming a trusted advisor requires you to have lots of information about your customers, and their equipment, at your fingertips. This means you need technology (e.g., CRM, Record360) to overcome the brain’s limited capacity to remember things. Mets shared a story where “a young service supervisor would take calls all day, and I asked him ‘How do you remember to call that guy back later?’” The supervisor said to Mets, “Oh, well I remember everything.” Later that day the same customer called the supervisor, after not hearing back from him. The supervisor immediately remembered the customer, their issue, and the fact that he was supposed to call. The supervisor apologized for not calling back and resolved the customer’s issue. This is not an ideal customer experience. As Mets puts it, “A lot of customer information is tied up in peoples’ heads and peoples’ heads are not great at remembering everything.” To replace the fallible human brain with something more reliable, most rental shops and dealerships have implemented a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, like Salesforce. This is used to house critical customer information. When it comes to remembering things about a customer’s equipment, rental operators rely on an Inspection Management System, like Record360. Remembering what pre-existing damage was on a specific unit before it went out is difficult. Taking photos, video, and completing a digital checklist on a mobile device is simple and reliable. Technology enables you to become the trusted advisor your customers will rely on.

Developing strong systems and processes, like the ones mentioned above, are crucial when building a scalable rental sales team. Mets is a firm believer that, “you can’t build a growing organization around one person…if you want to grow your business you need to be repeatable and scalable.” Put another way, how can you take the best practices from your best employees and make them repeatable by everyone? Mets goes on to say that, “the entire point of putting information, systems, and tools in place for people is to replicate the success you’ve had.” If you’re an owner or manager with a key employee or two, you should be looking for ways to develop systems which replicate that employee’s success across your entire organization. That allows your business to be repeatable, and therefore, scalable.

The core insight here is about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes so that you understand the context they’re operating in…that allows you to speak from a place where you know their interests, and you’re no longer just the guy with the equipment you want to sell.

Now, what sort of data points should be tracking? For Mets, he always begins with understanding the entire ecosystem of the customer’s business. What is the job they’re trying to accomplish? What equipment do they have in their fleet? Once you understand their fleet and objective, you can apply that information to suggesting the best equipment to get their job done. Mets has found that salespeople can oftentimes just ask the customer for their fleet list. He says, “they’ll give it to you because they’ll assume you’re going to do something useful with it,” which you will. After collecting fleet data, Mets recommends tracking the following: residual values on the equipment, operating cost per hour, and disposition planning, among other things. Armed with this data, you can surprise your customers with expert insights on which machines they should be buying and which ones they should be renting. Your customers will appreciate you looking out for their best interest and will, in turn, become more loyal to your business. If you’re not tracking these pieces of data right now, then you’re leaving customer loyalty, and money, on the table.

This data will not only help your bottom line, but it will also help your salespeople. It positions your salespeople as experts and thought partners, as opposed to the person the customer calls when they need a new piece of equipment. You might have thought that focusing on data would erode the ability to develop strong relationships, but the opposite is true. Having this data on your customers allows you to provide valuable insights to your customers, which helps build trust, loyalty, and the relationship.

To wrap up, Mets discussed how to successfully implement new systems such as a CRM or Record360. I’m sure many people reading this have struggled to roll out a new piece of software to their team. How do you get buy in? How do you make the right choice when buying software? From Mets’ perspective it’s critical that you “bring your salespeople to the table in the evaluation phase.” You can make the final decision, though you should involve your sales team in the buying process. “If it attracts your salespeople then you’re onto a winning tool,” said Mets. Additionally, you need to have a mobile version of whatever tool (i.e., piece of software) you’re buying. “You’re out of the game,” if your software is not mobile.

In sum, Mets’ playbook for using data to drive rental sales growth hinges on how you use data to become a trusted advisor. First, you must choose a system, with your sales team, to house that key data. Next, you must curate that data over time (e.g., residuals on equipment, operating cost per hour) to produce expert insights for your customers. Finally, you need to bring these insights to your customers to help inform their decision making. By helping them make informed decisions with data, you’ve built trust, loyalty, and cleared the runway for future sales opportunities with that customer.

Interested in learning more about Record360? Schedule a demonstration today.

How to minimize exposure and bulletproof your operations

 

Leading rental law expert, James Waite, joined Record360’s CEO, Jesse Buckingham, for a conversation on rental contracts, damage waivers, and using tech to minimize the pain and cost of litigation. Read on below for a summary of How to minimize exposure and bulletproof operations. This insightful conversation draws on James’ 25+ years of experience in rental law.

Highlights

  • Why are bulletproof rental contracts so important? (5m 47s)
  • What are some of the most common gaps in rental contracts? (8m 28s)
  • What are best practices for collecting signatures on contracts? (14m 33s)
  • How can I use technology to reduce time and cost of litigation? (24m 30s)
  • How can I use Record360 to reduce my legal exposure? (26m 30s)
  • What are best practices for damage waivers? (37m 44s)

The conversation began with a question for James on the importance of having a bulletproof rental contract. From James’ perspective, rental operators are exposed to a wide range of legal risks (e.g., misuse, damage, valid signatures). These risks have to be “dealt with in very specific ways in order to provide the protections necessary…without those protections it’s anyone’s guess where things will land [in a lawsuit],” said James.

The law, “by default, will side with the lessee,” based on the Uniform Commercial Codes. This is why it’s critical that rental operators layer on the necessary legal protections in their rental contracts. Otherwise, disputes will be costly and typically end in favor of the lessee.

When James works with his clients, he sees a number of gaps in their current rental contracts that leave them exposed. James said that many people get their rental contract from “a guy down the street or a forms website, and they don’t really know where the contract originated.” He goes on to say that “almost none of them have all of the protections that should be afforded to an equipment lessor.” That’s why having a rental contract written for you by someone like James is an essential part of any rental business.

Whether it’s a rental contract from a forms website or from the guy down the street…almost none of them have the protections an equipment lessor needs

As the conversation turned to best practices for collecting signatures, James pointed out that, “like it or not, technology is taking over.” “One of the ways technology is helping,” he said, “is that equipment lessors can get documents to someone they know actually has authority to sign.” Previously, rental operators might’ve settled for having just anyone sign for the equipment. Now, operators can, and should, be more diligent with who they have sign for the equipment. This is a critical first step in minimizing exposure.

For James, it’s all about minimizing exposure for his clients. Getting a proper signature from an authorized signer is just the first part of the equation. He also encourages renters to use geolocation and date and time stamped photos/video to eliminate other questions. Being able to verify time, location, and condition of equipment “can save people thousands of dollars in legal fees” if a lawsuit occurs. Litigation is painful enough as is, that’s why James encourages rental operators to leverage technology (e.g., Record360’s inspection software) to “lower their legal bill.”

This is the core of James’ playbook for minimizing exposure and bulletproofing operations. It starts with him drafting a best-in-class rental agreement. Next, it’s on the rental operator to collect a signature from an authorized signer. Finally, rental operators need to diligently document their equipment with photos, videos, geolocation, and date/time stamps. This combination reduces exposure, increases odds of winning a lawsuit, and also accelerates the lawsuit. It’s a winning combination for any equipment renter.

Interested in learning more about Record360? Schedule a demonstration today.

How to scale your heavy equipment rental business

 

Record360’s CEO, Jesse Buckingham, was joined by Shaun Brown from Kimball Equipment and Ken Allen from Mammoth Machinery for a lively, informative discussion on How to 10x your heavy equipment rental revenue. Shaun and Ken have a combined 40+ years of experience in equipment rental.

They shared their wisdom and experience on topics such as developing a culture of customer service, overcoming hiring challenges, and growing revenue by leveraging technology.

Highlights

  • How do you start to scale a rental business? (5m 32s)
  • How can I develop a culture of customer service? (21m 3s)
  • How can I develop partnerships to grow revenue? (27m 35s)
  • How do I find good blue-collar workers? (30m 50s)
  • How can I grow revenue by leveraging technology? (36m 31s)
  • How do I bill customers for damage and preserve the relationship? (43m 52s)

Shaun and Ken were both adamant that revenue growth begins with an outstanding customer experience. Ken encouraged listeners to really ask themselves if “customer service is embedded in your culture and behavior…Is it in your culture from the yard guys all the way up to the owners?” This looks like responding to your customers’ needs and responding to them quickly. Both Shaun and Ken have seen this become an overwhelming differentiator in recent years. As Shaun said yesterday, “the start of the magic formula is giving your customers exactly what they need, as soon as possible.”

The start of the magic formula is giving your customers exactly what they need, as soon as possible.

With unemployment exceeding 10% in the U.S., you’d be surprised to hear the challenges rental operators are having when hiring new people. It’s gotten harder to find good, blue-collar workers. As Ken said, “nobody is growing up these days saying they want to be a diesel mechanic or a field service tech.”

So, how have Shaun and Ken still managed to bring top talent into their businesses? Shaun said it’s all about “culture and growth.” “The culture has to be somewhere people want to work,” and you need to “give people the chance to grow.” Ken added that “you have to adapt to today’s workforce,” and “Millennials and Gen Xers require flexibility in their schedule.” Culture, growth opportunity, and flexibility are what Shaun and Ken have relied on to bring in top-tier talent. In turn, this talent has become a cornerstone of their revenue-growth strategy.

Rental leaders like Shaun and Ken have also turned to technology to grow revenue. Whether it’s GPS tracking or modernizing their rental inspections, keeping their equipment in like-new condition has been critical to revenue growth. You can “build your brand by keeping your machines looking great,” said Ken. Ken says you can do this most easily by “improving damage recovery with technology.”

One component of this, for Shaun and Ken, has been Record360. Before Record360, they were using digital cameras with SD cards to photograph their machines. Now, their rental inspections are cloud-based, mobile, and easily searchable through Record360’s platform. Their techs can snap photos and videos on their phones and the photos are immediately available on Record360 for anyone in the office. Whether it’s Record360, GPS tracking, or a rock-solid RMS, great technology has now become table stakes for high-growth rental operations.

Interested in learning more about Record360? Schedule a demonstration today.