Interviews with Software Manufacturers; Expanding the Technology Ecosystem

July 18, 2020
Leading rental software manufacturers discuss new software developments; coming software trends; what features are under-utilized; software in the age of COVID-19; and more.


Martin Bestwick, inspHire;

Patrice Boivin, Orion Software;

Robert Gray, Wynne Systems;

Wayne Harris, Point-of-Rental Software;

Matt Hopp, InTempo Software;

Kara Longmire, Alert Management Systems;

Larry Miller, Sycor Americas;

Martin Roath, ZTR

What are some of the products and capabilities you have added in the past year approximately?

Bestwick: Only a few weeks ago we launched a brand-new cloud-based application, OnRent. OnRent was launched in the UK with the US to be introduced soon and is the next generation in rental management software that will drive efficiencies into the rental market. 

The launch of OnRent is a very proud moment for everyone at inspHire and the Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) group. When you log in to the product, you’ll see a program that’s been designed from the ground up, leveraging modern web technologies that deliver a rich, simple end-user experience. OnRent is fully optimized for working on any device, anytime, anywhere. 

OnRent has been developed over a number of years from a completely clean slate. This decision, while extending our development timeline, ensured we were able to give our customers the competitive edge that is essential in today’s economy. We’re fortunate to be in a position where we’ve developed three global rental solutions, from which we were able to draw experience: inspHire Office Edition, inspHire Corporate Edition and Current RMS (our product for the event industry which we separated from inspHire but have reunited under the KCS acquisition).   

We have customers of all sizes, ranging from single user sites to those with over 5000 people, accessing our systems each day. So, it’s safe to say we have learned vast amounts about the industry and our customers’ requirements, informing the features of our new product, OnRent.  

We have also enhanced our telematics functionality which magnifies the location of equipment, giving users full visibility and detailed information. With the addition of Google Maps, it is even easier to track and manage the location of your fleet. This clever technology links with 14 telematics providers including Trackunit, JCB LiveLink and CanTrack. This integration provides rental businesses with live GPS tracking, key equipment inputs, hours of operation, and meter readings. Additionally, further developments mean you can now automate the meter reading capture for billing or servicing, eliminating any manual efforts.

Boivin: We introduced a very simple Web portal that can be set up in less than two hours. In a period of social distancing like in normal times, offering a transactional web cart to your customers is definitely a must to grow your business. The problem that is often mentioned by rental companies is: “Where do we start? We don’t have the expertise and we don’t want to offer something that we can’t control.”

That’s how we came up with our web portal. Users don’t need to be expert in web design or online shopping carts. All they need to do is very simple. It’s all in the same Sirius e platform that they use every day. The branding, the image and text on the portal is all controlled within Sirius e. Users can decide which items they want to offer, add the specifications and there you go: a complete customer portal! They can add a link in their own website or offer the mobile app and suddenly, they have a transactional website! All this setup is free. Customers pay only per transaction. 

Gray: We’ve launched the Wynne Service Solution — an all-in-one service application that prioritizes work orders so service departments are working on the right thing at the right time. When you’re able to focus on what needs attention most, you improve equipment utilization and reduce the need for re-rents, all while increasing the productivity of the entire service department.

For service managers, Wynne Service Solutions prioritizes work orders based on upcoming reservations and equipment utilization, regardless of the work order type (major repair, scheduled maintenance, recapitalization, etc.). Managers then drag and drop assignments onto a technician’s schedule and add more techs if needed. The dashboard display gives managers a complete view of their department: who’s working on what right now, scheduled assignments in the future, and work still needed to be assigned.  

The mobile app allows technicians to spend more time servicing equipment than handling administrative tasks. In addition to getting a real-time view of their assignments, the app digitizes what used to be handled by forms: adding labor and parts to work orders, completing steps, tracking time per job and day overall. Speech-to-text greatly reduces the time needed to add lengthy internal and external notes. 

Harris: As far as products go, our Point of Rental One app is connecting companies’ teams via its internal messaging system while integrating all of our mobile apps. We enhanced eSign to make it independent of our software and added payment capabilities so that anyone in the industry can do contactless contracts during the coronavirus crisis. Our Trackunit integration allows Expert and Elite users to better serve their customers with a telematics-enhanced customer dashboard.

This year, we’ve implemented more than 150 user ideas into our software products via uInnovate, our dashboard that allows customers to make suggestions and vote on other ideas, quickly and easily. If you want to learn more about our upgrades and many others, we have approximately 100 pages of detailed notes you can find for this year’s releases within the system.  

Hopp: We are always expanding our integrations with other best-in-breed software providers. InTempo Enterprise offers rental, service, sales, and accounting capabilities. Then off that center “hub,” we build tight connections to CRM, dispatch, telematics, equipment management, banking, and beyond. By taking this approach, we eliminate development time while giving our customers access to the best software in a particular niche at a very reasonable price. Right now, we are teaming up with Trackunit to expand our existing integration, with the goal of helping our customers reduce downtime and take advantage of telematics data to service equipment more efficiently. And since untethering staff from the office is more important than ever, our mobile app offers key functionality including order creation, check in/out, document signing, equipment transfer, and beyond. 

Longmire: Alert is always a work in progress, and we release an upgrade every year. This year’s upgrade has tons of new features, mostly requested by our clients. We’ve just launched a Web Task Force to allow our clients to have quick and easy access to get websites up and running, without a link to the Alert software. We’ve enhanced our Purchase Order module, are releasing new functionalities to our Zoho CRM interface, and have added new GPS and credit card integrations to give our clients more functionality and more choices. 

Miller: Over the past year we have seen several clients wanting to leverage their investment in Microsoft Dynamics CE (formerly known as CRM). Many have expanded CE into full Field Service Dispatch solutions with preventive/predictive maintenance functionality. We are building out the integration so that field workers performing “rental” tasks (yard picks, PDI’s, delivery, return inspection) can utilize CE resources and mobile capabilities.

More clients are moving away from the traditional “portal” strategy to more of an “app” strategy. Our customers don’t want their clients to have to “go to their website”; but rather have a published app that their client can download and access quickly on their cell phone. Using Microsoft PowerApps, you can quickly build a custom app to provide the appropriate functionality for equipment availability and quoting.

The focus continues to be on “affordable customer service” and finding ways to manage a larger customer base/business volume with reduced staff. Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent can help with this. We have all gone to a website and had an “attendant” pop up asking, “How may I help you?” In most cases, there isn’t someone just sitting at a call center waiting for you to pop in. These are “chatbots” which is really a program that is waiting for some input and will provide responses to guide information or answers to the prospect. Microsoft Virtual Agents allows a “no code” application that you can build your question/response data set. Now with operational knowledge, you can build this out without the need for technical or IT intervention.  

Roath: Earlier this year, ZTR released five new products – all designed to enable customers to grow and evolve their digital strategies. ZTR expanded its product offering to include an exclusive new Data Brokerage service, the ZTR M7 advanced telematics control unit, T-series tags, Access Management, and the new ONE i3 interactive dashboard. 

What are customers asking you for now, or what are some of the trends in what they’re asking for?

Bestwick: Right now, customers want to maximize integration with machine data. They’re rethinking ways to use information from equipment to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, as well as improve onsite safety. We’re showing companies how they can use our rental software to monitor when people are letting equipment idle, and providing them with ways to increase activity and save money on fuel or electric. There are also features to highlight dangerous driving, as well as usage patterns from a company’s drivers and operators. Being able to access this information directly from your rental management system means all users can take quick actions based on data-driven insight.  

Every year brings with it a host of new trends and customer behaviours, but most recently we’re being asked by the larger providers for data connectivity to smaller hand tools and equipment. This is something we’re researching; how will it work, how will our customers use it and how could this development evolve in the future? We can see this functionality being extremely useful for tool rental and are keen to work with the industry on this new development. 

Boivin: Rental companies are looking at a solution for dispatching delivery trucks efficiently. So far, the generic solutions from other industries are not generating the expected results. The main thing about dispatch in the rental market that you need to know is that it is really unique. There is no other business that delivers and picks up equipment back and forth in a continually changing schedule like in rental. When we first attacked these complex logistic problems, we made sure that we understood deeply the way rental dispatch is done. The very nature of dispatching is controlling many trucks on a map in real-time but in rental, it’s all about managing a constantly changing schedule. That’s where Sirius e comes. It is complete visibility with three dimensions: the map, the calendar and the time, complemented with tools to help predict the delivery time.

Our success with the dispatch module has way exceeded our expectations. Many companies tried solutions from other industries and failed. Sirius e is tuned exactly for the rental market because it’s directly connected to the trucks, the reservations and the maintenance that all have an impact on the capability to deliver on time. For example, we continually reassess the time to deliver to inform customers of the expected delivery time in order to avoid customers waiting. We prioritize the deliveries and schedule the returns in a timely fashion. When things get tight, the dispatch closes for that period to avoid commitments that can’t be met. 

Gray: Recent global events have ignited a serious interest in contactless rental and mobile rental. The demand is how to utilize technology and infrastructure to protect the health and safety of essential workers and customers alike. We’ve had quite a few inquiries about integrations into RFID systems to enable more rapid handling of equipment and potentially after-hours pickup and drop-off, which not only speeds up the process, but allows users to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Third party integrations to all manner of systems such as CRMs, advanced payment systems and a variety of web applications is also top of mind, because it provides even more flexibility on how our customers are able to provide contactless, yet superior, customer service.  

Harris: Obviously, over the past few months the industry, and the world, has been asking for contactless technology. They want to connect safely with their customers and their teams. eSign + Pay has helped with a lot of that, but it’s mostly been about small improvements to the software over time that become things a business doesn’t want to live without. We’re implementing hundreds of user suggestions each year, most of which are focusing on making the software more mobile, more accessible, and really keeping everyone on the same page, regardless of where you’re working.  

Hopp: Our customers are focused on the things that can help them work more efficiently and increase profitability wherever they can. These themes have become more urgent in the last few months. They’re looking for mobility, which can have the added benefit of reducing physical contact among employees. Even something simple such as mobile check in/check out eliminates the need for our customers to come in close contact with their colleagues. There’s also more of a focus on service and equipment uptime, which gets to the heart of our integration with vendors like Trackunit and SmartEquip.

Longmire: Our clients are always finding clever software they want to integrate to, so that continues to be the trend. For example, we wrote an integration to Zoho CRM and our clients are now asking for us to include more functions in it. Right now, our clients are especially interested in tracking cost and profitability, so our newly developed Job Costing module has been a huge hit. Rental businesses can see how profitable they are on an individual job.

Job Costing is an effective tool for customers to track cost and profitability.

Miller: More customers are going Cloud. We began seeing this several years ago but this “cloud transformation” has been faster than anyone could have imagined. The improved level of performance, the higher levels of security and the lower overall cost, have combined to make Microsoft Azure Cloud the best economic choice.   

Roath: We see a greater focus on digitization in business, especially now with the magnitude of COVID-19 changes to which we are all adapting. Customers are keen to accelerate their digital capabilities not only to adapt, but to thrive. As we explore those opportunities, the direction we take naturally links to some of our new product offerings that support the market.

Our M7 ideally enables that digitization path because it gives customers the flexibility and power they need to change their processes. By capturing more data and integrating with the OEM machine controllers and rental software, rental companies can work smarter with tangible insights to service and support the machine.

Customers are looking to us to make installations easy for them too. By working with over 100 OEMs to deliver telematics-ready equipment into rental fleets and by offering installation services for retrofits, we take the pain out of the equation. Access Management solutions are also in higher demand as more customers focus on safe, controlled access to equipment.

We also see a lot of companies exploring IoT applications beyond the machine, expanding their technology ecosystem to include tracking of smaller items like tools, accessories and attachments. This gives them greater awareness and control of their total fleet inventory, reducing losses and increasing productivity.

And when you have access to all this data, it’s often important to have the ability to intelligently share it with customers and OEMs to derive value across the value chain. This is where our Data Brokerage service comes in. We have the trusted environment within our platform to enable those experiences.

Obviously different customers adopt new technologies at different paces, some faster than others, and companies have different priorities. But, in general, what are some the capabilities of your software that are under-utilized that you wish more companies would pick up on? 

Bestwick: Right now, customers want to maximize integration with machine data. They’re re-thinking ways to use information from equipment to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, as well as improve on site safety. We’re showing companies how they can use our rental software to monitor when people are letting equipment idle and providing them with ways to increase activity and save money on fuel or electric. There are also features to highlight dangerous driving, as well as usage patterns from a company’s drivers and operators. Being able to access this information directly from your rental management system, means all users can take quick actions based on data-driven insight.

Every year brings with it a host of new trends and customer behaviours, but most recently we’re being asked by the larger providers for data connectivity to smaller hand tools and equipment. This is something we’re researching; how will it work? How will our customers use it and how could this development evolve in the future? We can see this functionality being extremely useful for tool rental and are keen to work with the industry on this new development. 

Boivin: It’s definitely the web portal. The market is evolving quickly. We see many construction companies implementing complete web portals to order, request for off-rent or repair. They are more innovative than the rental companies that fear the e-commerce. When your customers are more advanced, it’s time to adopt the new technologies. 

Gray: One under-utilized feature that we encourage our customers to take note of is proforma invoices, which improve accuracy in billing. Our customers who use it really like it, but a majority of customers have only recently started to check this feature out.

Proforma invoicing is a critical tool for your customers who want one accurate invoice per month instead of multiple invoices. It consolidates transactions like rental returns, sales invoices and customer work orders into one simulation of an invoice. A user can make adjustments as necessary (with the exception to equipment and rental in/out dates) and the invoice will only make entries into the general ledger once the user has finalized the invoice.

Another feature we would encourage would be held returns. Normally, if a branch has equipment that has been returned, it needs to be processed in both the system and the contract before it can begin the scheduled maintenance forms (SMF) procedure. This could make the post-return process take a significant amount of time.

Withheld returns, the system, SMF processes, and the contract are independent of each other. So even if the returned equipment has not been processed in the system or updated in the contract, the equipment can begin the SMF process — the system and the contract no longer hold this back. 

Harris: There are a few things that everyone can benefit from. First of all, installing updates when they become available. It ensures you have the latest and greatest and that you’re not calling in or requesting features that are already in the system. Implementing online signatures and payments is big, especially now, but equally important is giving people the ability to reserve items online. Basically, you’re able to give customers full visibility into what you have available without them having to come into your store or showroom, which may or may not be open.

Event rental businesses that use Fulfillment find it a lot easier to see accurate counts at every step, as well as eliminating go-backs and equipment lost at customer sites. For equipment rental, our maintenance program and Inspection App make it easy to set up a PM schedule that notifies you when maintenance is due and complete the process in a completely paperless way.   

Hopp: Our software features a number of powerful service components, including maintenance steps. For every type of equipment, you can set up steps. For example, every 50 hours we do an oil change, every 200 hours we do an inspection. Then when a mechanic gets the work order, it automatically tells them what to do. Once again, this speeds up the process and eliminates the need for physical contact. Instead of having a mechanic write the work order on paper, then hand it to somebody who types it up and then gives it back to the mechanic, the whole process becomes streamlined. When you factor in our integration with SmartEquip, even parts ordering can be automated. With this integration, when you place an order, the P.O. is generated and the work order updated. The part is then added to your inventory, and the request is sent to the manufacturer. The part number, quantity, price, and cost are updated automatically from the P.O. 

Longmire: E-commerce traditionally has been underutilized in our industry, but during the current business environment more and more rental operations are realizing the value of webservices of all kinds and e-commerce is leading the charge. We’ve had full capabilities to do real-time reservations from the web for years, and only a small number of our clients had taken advantage of that technology. Now more stores are beginning to realize that it will pay enormous dividends by eliminating touch costs and driving more business towards an automated solution. The sales staff will still be able to provide excellent service for each order and talk to their customers if they wish, but allowing customers to self-service via the web reduces friction and makes it easier for customers to do business with the rental operation. We took our own medicine and just recently launched a brand-new website, making it easier than ever for rental businesses to find us and do business with us.

Miller: I would say mobility is the most frequently overlooked feature. Our solution comes out-of-the-box mobile ready, yet some clients feel that going mobile requires additional programming or IT assistance. All you need is a cellular or wi-fi connection and you are set to go.  

Roath:  ZTR has a very powerful set of API capabilities. We support the common industry standards like AEMP and ISO 15143, which customers use often. In addition, we offer a wide variety of application-based ONE i3 Business API options that enable tighter integration with customer business systems.

By putting more of the right data into the right place at the right time, it opens up more possibilities to enable new digital processes, further automate business processes, or provide visibility to information in places that it didn’t exist before. Some of these types of integrations take a bit more time, effort and coordination up front, but the payoffs can really be worth it! 

A lot of things have changed in the world because of the pandemic. What has changed in the rental industry, and how has your approach to software changed? Greater emphasis in e-commerce capabilities? Other changes? 

Boivin: With our Web portal, we encourage customers to do transactions completely without face-to-face interaction. Any customer that has Sirius e has a Web portal and it can be set up easily to respond to the new needs. For instance, we encourage customers to post on their door and website to download our mobile app to order online. Rental companies should not hesitate to open their web portal with features such as request for an off-rent or request for an onsite maintenance. In Sirius e, as soon as it’s received, the dispatch is initiated with alerts. Then, Sirius e automatically sends an email to confirm the expected time of arrival of a pick-up or a technician.

This is a very good way to develop this trust factor that will differentiate your business from other brick and mortar and that will get your customers attached and develop brand loyalty. You should also offer online payment of outstanding invoices and reporting. Your customers will appreciate that with your company they can control their costs and might give you more business for that reason. When they deal with paper from various people renting equipment, it’s hard to keep track of what they pay.

Gray: The pandemic has created a huge need for contactless rentals and required us to look at the software we have through a different lens. How can we take our existing functionality and use them to create a safe environment for not only our customers’ essential employees, but their customers as well? And through that, we found that contactless rentals can be achieved with little to no disruption to the typical operations workflow.

Our customer can make this possible using MobileLink and Customer Portal. MobileLink is our mobile app that can be used to perform check-in and check-out, amongst other things. Customer Portal is the online site where your customers can view contracts, quotes, invoices and schedule pickups.

In a case where a customer wanted to pick up equipment rather than have it delivered, a user at the branch can perform the check-out via MobileLink. Once completed, the customer is notified by email that their equipment is ready and when they arrive at the branch, the reservation can be converted to a contract. The customer can sign the contract through their own device via Customer Portal, without ever having left their car, making the entire process completely contactless.

For deliveries or equipment pick-up, the same process would apply in reverse: Customer scheduled pick-up via Customer Portal, pickup is scheduled and when the equipment returns to the branch, a user can perform check-in and the contract can be closed out and invoiced.  

Harris: Rental has always been a person-to-person industry with many contact points between staff and customers. The pandemic and the distancing between us creates challenges: How can we allow people to accomplish everything they normally would while limiting that contact?

Fortunately, we’ve developed many tools over the past several years to help rental businesses run remotely and paperlessly - we have mobile apps; we support online rentals, we allow for electronic signatures and payments.

But we also realized that not everyone has our software and would need at least basic tools, like the ability to get contracts signed and collect payments online, during this time. That’s why we worked to adapt eSign + Pay to be independent of our software and made it available for free for three months to anyone who wanted it.  

Hopp: The goal of any business in this industry has always been about operational efficiency and profitability. The pandemic simply has made the idea of “doing more with less” more urgent. Part of what we are doing is shining a light on features we already have. For example, as lockdowns began back in March, we shared a video on how to temporarily suspend rental contracts. A big focus now continues to be showing our customers how to leverage the software in ways that can enable them to work independently. Our reporting tool is a big piece of the puzzle—everyone in an organization can be on the same page in terms of metrics and tasks without running around handing off printouts. Mechanics or collections or management can look at a phone or large monitor to find out exactly what they should focus on each day. It’s all the information they need with no contact necessary. 

Longmire: The immediate changes we saw were how to help our clients conduct business as contactless as possible. To that end, we’re helping them get contactless payment terminals set up, and e-signing done quickly and inexpensively. Our clients are also seeing where there are vulnerabilities to having their servers on premise and more of them are moving to the cloud so they can have 24/7 access to their rental management software with a secure VPN. And as I mentioned earlier, e-commerce and doing business on the web are going to make it easier to do business while maintaining social distancing. 

Miller: Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen customers wanting to have more productivity in a remote setting, secure data access, and they’re looking for easier ways to meet/conference remotely. Document imaging and central data repositories have also been frequent needs.   

Roath: We see our customers responding to COVID-19, looking for ways to leverage technology to align with the ‘new normal,’ to align with customer expectations and at the same time, use the opportunity to explore new digitization opportunities.

We’re taking a partner approach with customers right now, to help them make business process changes related to the health and safety protocols that they may need. As they pursue digital transformation ideas, they can see how they can leverage data at a distance to enable operations or have the ability to remotely control a machine if needed. For example, if a new e-commerce initiative requires up to date run hours and utilization data to drive an automated invoice for a customer, it’s easy to see how a telematics solution would fit into that.

In terms of the pandemic, presumably visits to your software users have decreased? Have you improved or enhanced your online training capabilities? 

Bestwick: Since the beginning of the current crisis, we’ve increased our communications with our customers to ensure they stay connected, feel supported, and know we’re here for them. Our #StaySafeStayConnected campaign comprised weekly e-shots, weekly webinars, and half-day training sessions, to help our customers keep their businesses thriving and continue to get their jobs done through this difficult time. We provided information to help rental businesses work smarter and digitize their processes – from moving their software to the cloud to utilizing signature capture to keep on quoting – to work safely and effectively at a distance.  

Boivin: We had to be creative with more remote meeting than customers would like. But for Orion Software, it’s part of our DNA to work remotely. All our business is in the cloud and even our office remained in lockdown for two months without much of an impact. 

Gray: We’ve begun to incorporate virtual site visits as a way of replacing the traditional on-sites with customers. Having this capability to connect with our customers to best understand their operations and workflows has been instrumental during these times.

While not a reaction to the pandemic but certainly an enhancement to online training, we’ve released a new Service Desk portal to provide our customers a more robust knowledge base and customer service tool. Some how-to articles we’ve published recently have been written to educate our customers on “how to” utilize system functions to address some challenges they might be facing during these uncertain times.

Harris: We’ve always had online training as an option, and it continues to be an important part of our training process. In addition, we created 80 webinars over the past few months for those with more general training or re-training needs. We’re also nearing the release of our customer portal, which will allow users to log questions or issues through the portal directly from the application and manage the status updates as they are resolved. They’ll get real-time notifications through the process as we answer questions and resolve their issues.

Hopp: Our customers – independent rental businesses – are the backbone of our economy and it is a privilege to serve them. We are talking to them individually to find out their challenges and how we can help. Recently, we announced that Letty Broussard joined our support team. Letty comes with decades of rental experience. This shows our customers that even in these times full of unknowns, we are investing in their success. We’re also continuing to build out InTempo Academy, an online learning platform that offers video-based tutorials covering all aspects of our system. If any good has come from this pandemic, we’re actually engaging with our customers more than ever. They are out there every day trying to do their best by their own colleagues and customers.

Longmire: We’re completely revamping our online knowledge base and updating all of the content, including updating our training videos. Since Alert is so customized to each rental business, the best way to get training is still to schedule time with a trainer so they can walk you through your own system and have ample time for Q&A. (All via online meetings to accommodate both scheduling and social distancing/travel restrictions.) We offer this service at no charge and have had many clients take advantage of their downtime to schedule additional training.

We also send Weekly Help Desk Notes to our clients with a tip or trick they may not know about but find extremely useful. This is a hugely popular benefit of working with Alert and we’ve had clients on the software for 30+ years let us know that they didn’t know Alert did that! Other clients print them out each week and use them as a training manual. 

Miller: We are offering many more on-line training and implementation services than before. We are working on our first “full remote” deployment strategies, which we wouldn’t have considered two years ago, but today it is worth figuring out. 

Roath: Yes, like most companies, ZTR is digitizing its processes and using technology in place of face-to-face visits for collaboration and training. We have found the transition to be both successful and efficient.   

How has your software improved in making service personnel more efficient?

Bestwick: Absolutely – getting accurate information from the workshop is always a challenge. You can give your skilled engineers the time to do what they do best, with a system that saves time and helps them capture service information rapidly. Our software solutions give users a complete understanding of the full ROI of their assets, including the cost to run equipment – something that is essential when creating a future acquisition strategy, and trying to drive efficiencies.

Additionally, our mobile application automates the whole end-to-end workshop process. Whether repairing or servicing equipment takes place in the field or yard, our mobile app allows users to record time taken to complete a job, job location, pictures and signatures from site.  

Boivin: We already use exclusively cloud solutions to run our business. For our customers, we developed new mass mailing integrated within Sirius e to send invites to join the Web portal and do business online. 

Gray: The newly launched Wynne Service Solution dramatically streamlines how service managers and technicians approach their work. By eliminating cumbersome, paper-reliant processes and facilitating cross-departmental communication, the app increases wrench time to drive productivity.

Without complete visibility over their work orders and the schedules of their technicians, it's often difficult for service managers to maximize their capacity for work. Wynne Service Solution remedies this problem by automatically categorizing work orders by their degree of urgency. This saves managers considerable amounts of time while ensuring that high priority items don't go unseen. What's more, to accelerate the process of delegating assignments, Wynne Service Solution features a drag-and-drop screen where managers can place tasks along timelines corresponding to each of their mechanics. Once assigned a work order, technicians are automatically notified, eliminating any form of manual communication.

On the technician side of things, Wynne Service Solution allows mechanics to conduct many of their non-wrench related tasks solely with their phone. Everything from tracking punching in their attendance to ordering parts can be performed through the app. What's more, convenient functionalities like speech-to-text notes, the ability to view take and view photos, and real-time status updates eliminate distractions that previously forced techs to leave the service bay. 

Harris: Everyone’s more efficient when they’re well-informed. We’re continuing to make it easier for service personnel to see what’s happening in the company as a whole - where items are, what’s being worked on, what needs work next, etc. Customizable dashboards allow personnel to see everything on one screen. It’s easier to log labor information directly from a mobile device into a contract – you can clock in/out and convert it to billable labor. eSign + Pay allows counter teams to get signatures and have equipment ready to go before a customer even arrives at the store for pickup. 

Longmire: We took direction from our users, as we do each year at our annual users’ conference, and added things they asked for such as Work Orders to the Dispatch Dashboard. We also enhanced other features such as adding electronic signatures to the Work Order system to allow less contact with rental clients. Our clients are very creative and always have great ideas for how to get more out of their system and we’re in constant communication about how to make their dreams come true. 

Miller: We are continuing to build out the Microsoft platform strategy. No matter what Microsoft products you own, we should be able to leverage the functionality across the enterprise. Microsoft has made great improvements in the Common Data Model (CDM) which allows different MS products to integrate and share data.

Here is an additional example of how Microsoft’s products work together: Say I am working in my Microsoft Dynamics ERP system. I have security set up and I am one of the few people in the company allowed to view customer credit limits, for example. Let’s say I downloaded a customer list to an Excel spreadsheet that contained that restricted data. Now, I happen to send that spreadsheet to John, the service manager. John does not have the permissions that would allow him to see the customer credit limits when in the ERP. Will John now “see” the previously hidden data now in the spreadsheet? No. Because John was restricted from viewing the data in the ERP, John is restricted from viewing that same data in the spreadsheet.  

How has your CRM programs improved? How does it make your sales or rental sales personnel more efficient or productive?

Bestwick: Our CRM program isn’t just a hub of information that contains complete, centrally held data about customers and prospects. It’s now an insight tool, that tells a story about your customers and prospects to drive actions. With graphical sales funnels and pipelines, it’s never been as quick and easy to see how your rental business is performing. Use sales intelligence to transform your rental business and uncover actionable insight that is influenced by every touchpoint and interaction.

Developments to our CRM solutions have been focused around making rental and sales personnel more efficient and productive. We’ve wanted to give rental teams the tools to make their working lives easier, which subsequently improves the customer experience.  

Boivin: Our CRM continues to evolve as we increased the number of users by 10 times within a year. Customers are essentially asking features to better manage opportunities around projects or construction sites. They continue to insist on getting more details of real-time to the salesmen about availability. 

Gray: Wynne's Customer Portal product has received a number of enhancements this year, with most centering around the concept of expanding and improving customer-initiated processes.

Conveniently from their computer or smart device, Customer Portal users can now sign a variety of different contracts. This process is 100% e-sign compliant and automatically stores signatures into our customers' RentalMan ERP database. What's more, giving the option for customers to sign documents from anywhere allows rental companies to reduce in-person interactions between their staff and their customers. As rental companies adjust their practices in light of the current pandemic, we foresee this functionality proving especially useful.

We’ve also recently enhanced how Customer Portal can be modified in terms of look and feel. By uploading a single file, administrators can tailor the appearance of their Customer Portal instance to align with their corporate brand guidelines. Through this personalization, rental companies can enhance the user experience of their customers whenever they log in to Customer Portal.

By empowering our customers' customers with the ability to independently handle many transactions that previously required the involvement of rental staff, Customer Portal grants sales personnel more time to devote towards revenue-generating tasks. 

Harris: We’ve spent a lot of time ensuring our CRM is as simple as possible to read and understand, and that sales (and rental sales) people are able to see all the information they need on a single dashboard. They’re able to see what each of their customers have on rent, write up quotes and send them for signatures. All in all, it allows them to maximize their efficiency without necessarily having to be in the office.

Hopp: Our mobile app puts key customer information into the hands of salespeople wherever they are. And in terms of extended functionality, we integrate with leading CRM providers including Salesforce.  

Longmire: Alert has built-in CRM functionality that allows sales managers to keep an eye on the pipeline and manage the sales cycle from start to finish – from a bid to a commission. Our dashboards are filterable by location and by salesperson (among a plethora of other filters), so both a salesperson and a manager know what the activity is by date. However, some of our clients wanted to utilize an outside CRM system so we wrote an integration to Zoho CRM. Zoho and Alert trade information back and forth on customers, tasks, and contacts so a salesperson can keep as detailed of records as they like in Zoho, and Alert will be updated. Or vice-versa. This year’s enhancements include, among other features, the ability to track opportunities. 

Miller: Our marketing results have drastically improved. Attendance at our webinars has skyrocketed.