Rental organizations with multiple locations have many specific challenges when it comes to managing each location. Many issues can be avoided with the proper planning and communication.
Here are some things to consider if you’re planning on increasing your revenue by acquiring your competition or opening up another rental location. Read another post with Tips on Managing Multiple Rental Locations.
Create a consistent experience.
You’ve heard no man is an island, but neither are your multiple locations. Building a consistent brand and customer experience across multiple locations calls for an organized communications and management plan with clear guidelines. This is especially important if you have taken over a competitor or opened up in a new location in a different geographical region. One company who struggled with this problem was successful after they convinced someone from head office to move to the new office for two years until the new culture was finally able to flourish.
Communication is king.
Effective communication between multiple locations requires a frequent and proactive approach with full transparency and accountability. A good idea is to have a communications plan, which will define an appropriate frequency for meetings. For example, monthly conference calls between all locations and bi-weekly calls with each location individually will help you keep on top of any upcoming challenges or issues. Keep your staff engaged with regular email updates containing important company wide announcements, introduction of new staff members, and timely information on new guidelines.
“Fail to plan” generally turns into “plan to fail”.
You have probably heard this phrase before but it is still the maxim that defines success. Expecting success without a carefully executed and comprehensive plan is like ripping up $100 bills and throwing them into the wind. Make sure you have determined the metrics that define success for preset periods such as the first quarter, second quarter, initial year, etc. Your managers should be compensated based on these metrics.
Get to know your unique clients.
Not all clients can be treated the same as each location will have clients with unique needs, which must be factored in when making decisions on equipment, pricing, and related services. Different business models and geographical regions will potentially produce very different customer models. A rapidly growing city will likely need different equipment than an older city in need of refurbishment. Your firm may have specialized in industrial projects while the acquired location may have been known for its wide selection of tools.
One integrated system.
Instead of waiting for monthly or quarterly financial reports from multiple locations, choose a single system with real-time data to manage the overall financial health of your organization. Newer software systems can easily produce dashboards or automated reports to allow you to easily keep on top of trends with the ability to drill down to details, if needed. An integrated, SQL Server database will allow you to obtain the information you need to manage the unique aspects of your business. It is unlikely a new system will give you a competitive advantage but it can result in significant processing efficiencies and allow you to define and refine the unique processes you need to stay ahead of your competitors.
Standardize the rental fleet.
While it is expected that the organization may have a different mix of equipment at various locations, it is important to standardize the classification and pricing of equipment so your employees will easily be able to determine what is available at each location. As you know, the profitability of a rental firm is increased with each percentage point improvement in utilization, assuming you haven’t given the farm away on your pricing structure or are incurring high maintenance costs. Being able to easily rent equipment from alterative locations, especially when that means you don’t have to source equipment from competitors, can be a huge boost to productivity.