With supply constrained and The ARA Show scheduled for Oct. 17-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, this is shaping up to be another unusual year. While it seems like October might not be the best timing, it may just be the perfect time to buy equipment to refresh your fleet for spring. If you wait until this winter to place your orders, you may miss the boat … literally.
The ARA Show also offers a great time to step away and work on your business. Here are the five key things you should try to accomplish this year in Las Vegas:
Secondary suppliers. While I’m a big believer in being very loyal to your vendors and partners, having relationships with secondary suppliers is still critical to your business. Sometimes things change, people change, products change or supply runs low. If you find yourself in the position where you need a secondary supplier but don’t already have established relationships, you will be at a disadvantage getting support from a new vendor.
Education opportunities. In addition to great education opportunities at the show, many vendors offer free or low-cost training for your team. This can be particularly valuable for service technicians and mechanics.
“We know that training is very important for our rental company partners and our Ditch Witch dealers are out there delivering the bulk of that training every day. To supplement our highly effective dealer training, the Ditch Witch Certified Training factory team also created online courses for core rental equipment,” says Scott Pevey, senior manager, marketing, Ditch Witch, Perry, Okla., and an American Rental Association (ARA) associate member director.
Make sure to ask your vendors about training and education opportunities. Then, of course, stop by the ARA Resource Center and check out what’s new in RentalU and this year’s driver training focus for ARA’s Clean. Safe. Essential. program for 2021-2022.
Customer experience. Many rental companies already were on a path towards the digitization of the customer experience before the world shut down during 2020. The last 18 months have only accelerated that transition.
Jake Pitman, director of operations at the Town at Trilith and a frequent renter, is excited about a more digitized experience. When asked how his perspective changed over the last year, he says, “While we still often call our sales rep directly, having access to things like equipment specs and availability online would streamline our operations and save multiple calls to our reps.”
Customers are looking for a better online experience, and The ARA Show includes many exhibitors that can help you with this transition. Make sure to visit your software vendors and see what they offer to improve the online experience for your customers.
Networking. Peer relationships and networking are the backbones of a strong association. “There is nothing better than learning from and being held accountable by your peers. They have been through the ‘fire’ of business ownership just like you. They know the wonder and possibilities of business management,” says Dan Crowley, CEO, Peer Executive Groups, Coopersburg, Pa.
It’s been too long since we have all been able to get together in 3D. Don’t miss the opportunity to compare notes about 2020 and your plans for 2021 and beyond. The equipment rental industry is strong, but it’s only getting more complex. Leaning on your peers and getting their input can help you skip steps and avoid mistakes. Crowley believes that “just because you are in business for yourself, you don’t have to do it by yourself.”
Debt and financing. Interest rates still are at historic lows, but with inflation increasing, we may not see these levels again for a while. Now is the time to reexamine your debt structure, take advantage of low interest rates and improve your cash flow. Ami Kassar, founder and CEO, MultiFunding, Ambler, Pa., will be in the ARA Resource Center at the show to assist members with complimentary debt reviews and recommendations. “The pandemic has clearly shown us that we must be ready for the unexpected and that cash flow is critical. It’s smart to review your debt structure to see if there are ways to improve cash flow,” Kassar says. One member already has taken advantage of this consultation from MultiFunding and found ways to improve cash flow by more than $125,000 a month.
If you plan ahead so you can get your equipment orders knocked out quickly, then you’ll have plenty of extra time to invest in these other areas that benefit your business. Don’t underestimate the return on investment by taking advantage of these types of strategic improvements. I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas.