Telematics give rental store owners valuable information about their equipment, including where it is located, how it is being used, when it is due for service and more. While telematics is changing the equipment world, things can get complicated when data is provided in a variety of ways, across multiple platforms.
Several software companies — including Alert Rental, Colorado Springs, Colo., and TelematicsPlus, Lincoln, Neb. — are working to help rental operators make use of the telematics information they receive from their equipment.
“Alert integrates with any telematics company that meets the AEMP [Association of Equipment Management Professionals] standard. Meter information is updated on demand, during recurring billing and at ticket close. Clients who use Alert’s cycle-billing feature find that their customers appreciate being billed for overages during the rental instead of at the end. This also helps our clients get paid during the rental instead of at the end,” says Kara Longmire, an owner, co-president and CEO of Alert Rental.
“TelematicsPlus is providing rental companies with information that isn’t available any place else. Not only are we providing several telematics functions, like aggregating software and geo-fencing, but we also have built-in fleet analytics tools. These tools take the up-to-date information from telematics and then use our pool of used sales data to provide analytics on a customer’s fleet — things like current fleet values, future casted fleet values, depreciation calculators and more,” says Matt Sterup, sales manager – contractor department and product manager, TelematicsPlus.
One benefit to using software with telematics is having all the data pulled into one place.
“Many rental companies use several different telematics providers. Every one of these providers have different portals, with different types of information. The nice part of a uniform portal is you can access all of your fleet information in one place,” says Sterup.
“The reporting is uniform and consistent. And the ability to export information from one location provides ease of use for business systems as well,” he says.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic changed the world throughout 2020 and beyond, the need for businesses to run more efficiently and offer additional online services were seen across industries, including equipment and event rental.
“What we saw in 2020 was the need for more rental businesses to take their websites to the next level. Their customers need to be able to reserve their orders and do a multitude of other things online. Integrating their rental software to their website is vitally important to provide the best customer service possible, as well as have their website increase efficiency by essentially being another salesperson,” says Longmire.
When it comes to new trends in telematics software, Longmire says, “ironically, while it’s not a new feature to Alert, more and more of our clients are considering e-commerce (or real-time reservations) where they hadn’t seen the value in the past. Alert has been continuing our philosophy of partnering with other software to help rental operations be more profitable and efficient. New examples are a CAD [computer-assisted design] integration, a new GPS integration, new credit card integrations and BI [business intelligence] products.”
Sterup says telematics is becoming more and more prevalent every day. While the construction industry is further along, he says the agriculture and trucking industries are catching up.
“The biggest thing I’m seeing is how efficient telematics is making companies. People are able to stay on top of maintenance and down times. Companies are able to get more out of their equipment, with less effort than before,” Sterup says.
When choosing a software provider, Longmire says it’s critical for rental companies to have rental-specific software for a number of reasons.
“The rental industry is so unique, so an off-the-shelf package intended for ‘any’ business isn’t going to work well. Flexible rate calculations are an integral part of a rental business, as is specialized information regarding equipment, inventory tracking, utilization and ROI reports, complete, accurate, and on-time billing, integration to accounting packages, integration to websites — the list goes on and on,” Longmire says.
“An off-the-shelf package or an accounting package meant for any small business from a law firm to a hair salon just isn’t going to do the trick,” she says.