I've been vocal about the importance of the sales staff of rental companies continuing to market the services of your company and getting in front of customers as much as ever during this downturn, if not more. In my opinion, the worst thing a company can do is get into a “nobody's doing business so why should I waste my time and money marketing” type of mentality. All studies have shown that's the worst thing a company can do in any kind of business. Now more than ever is the time to be beating the pavement, getting out in front of customers and making sure that your customer knows that you are out there, vital and confident and going forward.
If you fold up your tents, if you don't get out and about to the job sites, your customer is likely to think you're no longer a player, no longer aggressively pursuing the business and sometimes that can be misconstrued to thinking that it's because you're not doing very well. That's a perception your competitors would love to reinforce, so don't give them any extra ammunition to use against you.
It may be true that you're not doing well, but you don't want to give the customer that impression. You need to be out and about on the jobsites as much as ever and you need to make sure your rental center doesn't start to give off a “business is slow” attitude.
You probably know very well what I mean by that, but let me take it a bit further and offer a couple of suggestions. When business is hopping, then, obviously, when customers come into your rental center and approach the rental counter, they see the counter staff busy. They are attending to customers, they are on the phone fielding calls and answering questions. While the last thing you want to do is make your customer wait, they can usually understand that you're busy, and tend to not mind waiting a minute while you finish with another customer or finish a phone call as long as it's only a brief wait. They're busy and don't have time to waste and they can understand that you are as well.
But often when business is slow, lethargy sets in and the customer can sense it. It's also demoralizing for the workers at the rental center and behind the counter. Time moves slowly, it's depressing and your counter people can let their anxiety and boredom show and affect their interactions with customers. Given the current economy, many are likely concerned for their jobs; days when the phone doesn't ring exacerbates that concern.
I think one of the best ways to combat this — and possibly help some of those staffers do something to keep their jobs and boost your marketing efforts at the same time — is get those counter people busy working on the phones reaching out to customers while they are waiting for that phone to ring or waiting for the next customer to come through the door. What about those people who haven't rented in a while? Good opportunity for the counter staff to give them a call, let them know you're still in business, let them know about new specials you've got coming up, let them know you appreciate the business they've done in the past and that you're there for them when they need something.
It's just very basic in business. When I get a flyer on the front door of my house from my local Thai restaurant that I haven't been to in a while, it can't help but remind me that my family likes Thai food and that we've enjoyed the food from that restaurant in the past. I'm reminded that it's still there and next time we're thinking of going out or getting takeout, that it's a good option.
Your rental counter staff can function the same way. If each person can call a certain number of customers in a week, chances are a few of them might be reminded about a job they might need to do, or be reminded that you are there and that you have served them well in the past. Or if you didn't serve them particularly well, you might have a chance to let them know you can do better.
And at the same time, by doing something to keep customers coming back, your counter staff helps foster a dynamic, energetic and positive attitude around your rental center, an optimistic feeling that reminds your customers as well as your staff that you're still there and in it for the long haul.