Being in the equipment rental business, you're likely familiar with the complexities of renting equipment, such as managing cross-departmental procedures and communication. Your business may have various teams, including operations, engineering, and finance, involved in interdependent processes, and a plethora of information is recorded and needed on a day-to-day basis.
To manage your operations efficiently, you've considered looking for an equipment rental software solution and began your research on which software to choose. However, we understand it could get a bit overwhelming with all the software options available, and you might be thinking to yourself — Well, where do I begin?
With over 17 years of experience in the rental market, we are often asked — How do I begin looking for a rental management software that's right for my business? You could be looking to change or upgrade your existing software or adopt a new solution altogether; regardless, knowing where to start would be helpful.
This article will provide you with the basic information you need to know on your journey to streamline and automate your rental operations and answer questions you might have about the specific features to look for in the rental software.
Before exploring the software features, it's good to understand why there's a need for a rental-specific solution, which could make your decision to choose a particular software vendor easier.
Why would you need a rental-specific software solution?
Despite the amount of data that flows in and out, many rental companies may still not have a unified system to store or access it readily — this could result in loss of critical financial and operational insights such as equipment performance overview, availability of the fleet, and status of each task in the rental process.
With digitalization impacting the rental industry, knowing these insights has become even more essential to understand the company's performance and future-proof the business, and rental software will help you with this.
Additionally, today's customers are looking to rent different equipment and expect flexible offerings as product-as-a-service with a widespread embrace of mobility and online offerings with dedicated customer portals. Rental companies are also actively involved in collaborations with third parties and are looking to scale up.
These changing demands have led to a shift in the rental companies' modes of operation, which must be managed through a well-defined system. One way to go about this is using highly reliable rental software that can handle complex industry-specific demands.
Now that we understand the need for rental-specific software, let's look at some of the top features to consider while searching for a solution that fits your business.
4 Features to consider in your rental management software solution
1. Software packages that are pre-configured
Considering the complexities of the rental industry, it may just not be possible to “plug and play” a rental software package. An off-the-shelf rental solution would not be the ideal fit. However, it would be good to find solutions that have industry- and business-specific templates as a first step. This way, you can trace the functionalities related to your needs and improve operational efficiency wherever possible.
For instance, some solutions focus primarily on the processes related to your equipment lifecycle management. With a rental-specific solution, you can go a step further and standardize ‘custom’ training processes for the IT department and end-users, contributing to efficiency by saving significant time, effort, and cost. Accordingly, you should pick those software solutions that offer you advanced technology coupled with pre-configured packages. Such solutions will invariably lead to quicker deployment, as the hassle of coding is out of the way, and the operations team could easily manage the software.
2. Software that offers maximum flexibility to address influential changes
The rental services industry has constantly been evolving over the years. While robust solutions offering strong quote-to-invoice or asset management features are helpful, they could be rigid. Therefore, it is imperative that the rental software also provides optimal flexibility whenever required — with options to add mobility, expand offerings, increase locations, strengthen collaborations, and move to different online channels.
Indeed, it can be quite challenging to foresee the new demands and exactly how the software solutions can address or mitigate them. However, a modular solution built on an open platform with a strong backbone of integration and access to information would be suitable. It can ensure that the foundation is stable with maximum functionality while offering flexible options to address any future changes, without disruption.
3. Software focused on providing high security and seamless integration
Dealing with high volumes of sensitive information is part of the equipment rental industry. There is a constant need to assure your customers that their data is secure — round the clock. Consequently, while ensuring security, the ease of information sharing (which is role-relevant) cannot be compromised. Therefore, your rental software should rate highly for role-tailored security, which allows easy information flow with the proper filtering.
The integration aspect of your software and ERP system must be another key consideration as the rental landscape is changing with portals, mobility apps, and Internet of Things (IoT) becoming essential. You need to have a rental solution that can address these integrations. A good way to go about this is by exploring software solutions that rate highly for the business system you use or are considering. When these parameters are of superior quality, it's indicative that the same attention is given to the software's security.
4. Software that enhances customer experience and innovation
The rental software you select must have potential for innovation, be it mobility, IoT, or a customer portal.
Mobility solutions can help you manage various types of equipment maintenance and customer documentation for field technicians working remotely. IoT can be leveraged to get your business a step closer to the unseen scenarios and track exactly when and how long your rented equipment is being utilized through metered readings. A customer portal allows your customers to view your listed products and data in real-time.
With your customers expecting more options to be available at their fingertips, a cloud-based software solution that embraces innovation would be desirable.
Handy tips to consider and key questions to ask
If your company has an ERP, such as Microsoft Dynamics, then you're a step closer to finding your solution as you can adopt a rental solution embedded into Dynamics 365.
The next step for you could be to check for software vendors that rate high on various factors, such as flexibility, structured access, security, and well-designed templates. They'll likely be the ones that can address your requirements effectively.
However, when evaluating various rental management software solutions on your table, we believe that a tipsheet can enable you to make the right choice of streamlining your business's operations and communications. The tipsheet will provide you with useful information such as:
- The main challenges faced by equipment rental companies
- The qualities you should ideally look for in the right equipment rental solution
- The critical questions you should ask prospective rental software vendors