Earlier this year, SmartEquip reached the milestone of 3 million parts ordered using its system. What makes that particularly remarkable is not the number itself but that the company reached the 2 million milestone just a few months before, in October of 2008.
“The acceleration is just remarkable,” says SmartEquip founder and CEO Alex Schuessler. “It really started moving with fleet owners like Sunbelt Rentals saying to their vendors, ‘this program is good for you, it's good for us; we have to do this.’”
While Schuessler is almost embarrassed to admit it, the recession has been good for SmartEquip's business. “A lot of manufacturers and a lot of rental companies are laying people off,” he says. “So those companies need to be able to accomplish the same amount of work with fewer people. Our system gives them the opportunity to lower the cost of ownership of their fleets.”
While SmartEquip has been best known for facilitating parts ordering, the company is now facilitating the acquisition of whole goods and contractor supplies.
“A lot of companies, especially some of the large fleet owners, have started pulling back on warehousing in general,” Schuessler says. “So they're using a virtual warehouse that comes directly from the supplier to the branch as if they were getting it from one centralized location except that now your centralized location is your screen. So it really bundles it for you in a way that you can see it.”
From the beginning of its existence about six years ago, the challenge for SmartEquip was reaching critical mass among manufacturers as well as rental companies. Manufacturers would say, “when the rental companies are on board with the system, we'll join in,” and rental companies would say the same about manufacturers. Now that both sides have reached the critical mass needed to make the program work effectively, SmartEquip is only beginning to ramp up its research and development to offer more functionalities.
“By the end of this year, we'll be doing what's considered indirect spend,” Schuessler says. “Office supplies, paper cups, everything. Two of our larger fleet owners have set themselves the mission to go 100 percent ordering of everything through SmartEquip within a year.”
While SmartEquip presented a branch of Sunbelt Rentals an award at last month's Rental Show in Atlanta, Schuessler is not satisfied with the fact that most of the major national rental companies are now using the SmartEquip system. SmartEquip has long planned to make its system affordable for small independent rental companies, and will be launching, hopefully by June, a new version of SmartEquip's technology designed for smaller rental companies.
“It will be priced differently,” Schuessler says. “It will be priced more driven by the number of transactions you do with it. It will be more of an Orbitz model as opposed to an enterprise software model.”
SmartEquip's e-fleetPro system benefits fleet owners by integrating into the fleet or rental management system, creating streamlined, efficient processes for parts ordering, service support, purchase order integration, preventive maintenance and invoice reconciliation with fully integrated work order and purchase order functionality. Its e-DealerPro portal enhances business operations and profitability by providing more efficient parts availability and product support across multiple product lines. Standardizing delivery of up-to-date, real-time pricing and parts availability information as well as product support information across the dealer base provides savings and efficiency gains to manufacturers and dealers.
e-FleetPro benefits manufacturers by providing an electronic product support system integrating manufacturer parts and service information directly into the business system of the fleet owner, delivering serial-number specific parts catalogs and support data to service personnel when and where they need it. It also automates parts distribution while streamlining customer service and troubleshooting, eliminating ordering errors, contributing to higher fleet utilization and revenue.