The economic news has been far from uplifting the past month or so. Credit is tightening, housing continues slowing and consumer confidence is on the decline. Companies that might have looked for an infusion of private equity are more likely to put those ideas on the back burner with riding out the storm the apparent sensible option for now.
Just before press time, the news broke that Home Depot sold its HD Supply Division for significantly less than the original deal, a pretty good indication that the buyout market is far from what it was a year ago, not to mention a lack of investor confidence in a company so tied to the residential market. And apparently United Rentals did not receive higher offers than agreed to with Cerberus Capital Management and it looks as though that acquisition will go ahead as reported.
With the current credit environment, a number of jobs that were on the drawing boards have been pulled back for now, and the ramifications of the housing slowdown will be felt in all areas of the economy.
So for rental companies, those management skills will be called upon and more sophisticated solutions are likely to be required over the next couple of years. If you aren't making use of all the benefits your software provides, now is a good time to take a look at what they have to offer. And while you probably aren't eager to consider significant capital investments at the moment, it might be a good time to invest in systems that can improve your efficiencies, whether in fleet management, asset tracking, dispatching, online parts-ordering, enabling customers to have more accessibility to their accounts, writing contracts on the jobsite itself, or some other area. Take a look at our cover story this month to see if there might be some solutions that can enhance your operations; no matter what the size of your operation, there are ways to improve.
Very possibly the ways to improve are right there on the systems you already have. I know I'm often amazed at some of the things my software can do. From conversations I've had with software providers, I've heard many of them say users call them and say, “if only your software had the capability of doing such and such,” and in fact the software already does that, but the user wasn't aware. So don't be afraid to ask the question — you might be pleasantly surprised by the answer.
How many of us read through the manuals of the computer systems we buy? Well, I'll speak for myself — I sure don't and I'm often amazed. “I didn't know I could do that!” I'm sure there are many capabilities your software has that you don't know about, just as there are solutions out there that you might never have thought about.
Improved technology will cost in the short term, but if utilized properly, can save large sums in the long term.
So, baseball fans, who's the most valuable player in the American League this year? Alex Rodriguez? How about the National League? Wide open at this writing, but typically the home-run hitters get those awards, along with the big contracts and headlines. But often if you ask the manager of that team who its real MVP is, he'll say it's some middle infielder who gets on base a lot, does the little things, plays great defense and is an emotional leader.
The same principal applies to a rental business. Who are the MVPs of your organization? Who have come up with the innovative, money-saving ideas? What counter person is the nerve center without whom your rental operation would run far less efficiently? What service technician has saved the day for you so many times through ceaseless dedication and an uncanny ability to troubleshoot mechanical problems? What truck driver's great ability to communicate with customers has inspired so many contractors and subcontractors to become regular customers?
I'd like to see more of those people covered in RER Magazine. We're going to begin a regular feature to honor the unsung heroes that make this industry what it is. We all know the long hours and hard work a lot of people put in without public recognition. Please send us your stories and we'll make sure credit is given. Start by sending me an e-mail to [email protected], or give one of our editorial staff a call to tell us about your unsung MVP.