Equipment rental businesses are vastly different from their traditional retail peers. While most standard retailers sell a product and end that sales cycle, rental businesses are essentially selling time and recouping the equipment upon completion of that time.
This nuance in business model leaves rental businesses in need of differentiated software. Equipment rental software is the answer. It offers features for managing incoming and outgoing inventory, tracking customer rental histories and assisting in necessary equipment maintenance.
But not all equipment rental software is made equal. For example, some systems specialize in reserve online pickup in-store—but that model isn't a fit for all rental operations. Read on to learn about equipment rental systems and the must-have features.
In this guide, we'll cover:
What Is Equipment Rental Software?
Common Features of Equipment Rental Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Benefits of Adopting Equipment Rental Software
Market Trends to Understand in Equipment Rental Management
Equipment rental software is the backbone of a rental-based business model. While traditional retailers use point of sale (POS) systems, rental operations rely on point of rental (POR) software to manage their unique business needs.
Within these equipment rental management systems, equipment is catalogued into an inventory database, rental reservations are accepted and scheduled and equipment servicing and maintenance is managed.
Rental equipment software manages all points of the customer experience and operational processes of a rental-based business, as depicted below:
Rental Customer Experience
Rental Operations Process
These two images depict the basic touchpoints and interactions that customers have with rental businesses, from both their own perspective and that of the business. Rental equipment management software helps rental businesses achieve operational success at each of these touchpoints.
Equipment rental software provides users with the tools necessary to manage the front and backend of an equipment rental business. Key features include:
|Inventory management||Input equipment information. Assign equipment into kits if more than one piece is needed in rental. Monitor rentals to forecast future reservations. Analyze availability rate of specific equipment to determine if more should be purchased for rental.|
|Order tracking||Track existing rentals to ensure equipment is returned on time. Assign necessary fees for equipment returned late.|
|Availability schedule||Provide customers with availability information so they can plan accordingly.|
|Online equipment reservations||Enable customers to reserve and pay for equipment online. Increases customer experience with online convenience. Allows customers to book ahead to ensure availability.|
|Quoting and proposals||Generate price quotes and proposals based on equipment rented, duration of rental. Factor in insurance or any other specialized pricing.|
|Reporting and analytics||Record and analyze key performance data to improve operations. Determine equipment downtimes. Ensure quantity of equipment is sufficient.|
|Service maintenance||Schedule regular preventative maintenance for equipment to decrease overall downtime. Record any issues customers have with equipment for further inspection.|
|Customer management||Gather valuable customer contact and rental history information. Leverage rental history for targeted marketing and promotion. Enable loyalty program rewarding repeat customers.|
|Employee management||Manage employee performance to determine how many rentals individual staff members are generating.|
|Payment processing||Process rental equipment payment without the need for additional software. Offer payment plans for higher cost items. Record customer payment information to apply to future rentals.|
This section lists common types of buyers (e.g., common industries, business sizes, types of organizations etc.) and discusses the unique considerations of each.
Small business; rentals only. These buyers are looking for the basic features to support their rental business. They want to graduate from Outlook, manual spreadsheets and paper contracts, and want to add rental management software capabilities for forecasting availability and increasing customers.
Online rentals. These buyers are looking for an e-commerce platform that supports their rental model. They want customers to rent equipment from their inventory and then schedule a time to pick it up or have it delivered. For a delivery-based model, additional capabilities will be needed to support shipping (to the customer and back to the business).
Rentals and sales. These buyers operate a traditional retail business with an equipment rental component. They want a combination of rental and selling capabilities. They need a point of sale to support selling equipment and other products, as well as a rental reservation and booking system. Total inventory for these businesses will need to be categorized based on whether the product is able to be sold, rented or both.
Large/technical equipment rentals. These buyers are renting large equipment such as bulldozers and cranes. In addition to the common equipment rental management features, these buyers need a huge emphasis on the maintenance of their equipment assets. This includes predictive and preventative maintenance that ideally leverages data fed from sensors on the equipment itself. Contractual agreements will also need to be more detailed given the liabilities of the equipment due to the highly technical and costly nature of these assets.
Enterprise. These buyers work for large organizations. They may have multiple locations and/or equipment inventories they rent. They place a premium on integrating their data (inventory, customer etc.) so that they have a unified view of the overall business.
Regardless of which type of buyer you are, the many features of equipment rental software bring tons of benefits to help rental businesses achieve operational success. These benefits include:
Newfound organization. Many rental businesses will move to equipment rental management software from less efficient manual methods, such as spreadsheets, basic emailing for customer management and even paper tickets and contracts. Equipment rental software will provide incredible organizational benefits for these new adopters. Automating the tracking and availability of equipment, setting maintenance reminders and autogenerating customer communications will free up operators to spend more time training employees and checking in on customers.
Increased transparency. Equipment rental reporting tools give operators and managers unparalleled transparency and insight into their business. Specialized reporting dashboards offer a customizable view of the status on all equipment the company has. And such dashboards can be drilled down to account for filters such as equipment type, time since last maintenance and time until rental is returned. All of this combined enables rental businesses to make more informed decisions to propel their operations.
Decreased equipment downtime. Equipment rental software offers two distinct means of decreasing equipment downtime, thus enabling businesses to generate more money per asset:
Shift to online renting. This could be as simple as "it worked for the car rental industry," but there are more layers to the trend in equipment rental businesses offering online catalogues and reservation capabilities. The age for digital B2B commerce is here, so it's imperative that equipment rental business build their online presence.
Mobile. Providing mobile apps, or at least mobile-friendly websites, enables renters to quickly turn to your business to browse available equipment while in the field. And mobile customer portals to review current rental details and communicate with rental businesses offers a value add for renters while improving the chances of a business renting more or upselling equipment.
Internet of things (IoT). The innate mobility of rented equipment lends itself well to GPS tracking tools. And the extreme costs of operating these machines (i.e., fuel, maintenance etc.) makes onboard equipment monitoring sensors a beneficial and welcomed addition for renters. The combination of these tools and the many mobile and wearable devices typically used in the field by renters creates a healthy ecosystem of connected devices, also know as the internet of things (IoT). The monitoring prowess of the IoT, especially as it relates to sensors in rented equipment provides a great value add for equipment rental businesses that very soon will become expected from many industries that rely on said equipment to complete jobs.
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