There are a lot of interesting aspects to Trico, our cover story subject this month and two particularly unique points occurred to me when I recently visited its south New Jersey headquarters and a couple of branches.
The Pustizzi brothers — Joe Jr. and Ken — and a number of Trico's managers talked about their willingness to do whatever it takes to make a rental successful. When a customer calls, Trico's prevailing attitude is “yes, we can” and later they can figure out the details. This is a great attitude for a rental company, and along with it a willingness to improvise, to give up one's personal pursuits after-hours or on weekends if necessary when a customer is in a jam and needs help. The Trico staff points out that if you pay careful attention to customers' needs, you can usually anticipate problems before they arise and therefore won't get a lot of weekend calls. If you are diligent about preventive maintenance, if “uptime” is a constant goal, you won't have a lot of breakdowns. But, as anybody in the rental business knows, things happen, so willingness to deal with breakdowns goes along with the preparedness and thoroughness required to prevent them from being frequent.
Not only does that “yes we can” attitude pertain to after-hours readiness, but the ability to find creative solutions to customers' problems extends to the point where Trico has made a reputation for itself in the environmental remediation market by being willing to fabricate machines and housings for them (see cover story on page 20.) Imagine saying to a supplier that you need a machine that can do such-and-such and they say, ‘Well, we don't have one exactly like that, and we don't know of any exactly like that, so we'll make one for you.’ That's the kind of business partner I'd like to deal with and if that solution costs, those are the kind of people I wouldn't mind paying.
So “yes, we can” goes a long way. But there's another word that Trico doesn't seem to mind saying. And that word is “No.” There needs to be a resounding “No” uttered far more frequently in this industry when customers ask us to sell or rent our services far too cheaply.
When some electrical contractors insisted on a lowball rate, Joe Jr. explained that that machine is really a dollar per minute per man and that customer had two men depending on it. “If it breaks down and nobody responds, or if you rent an unreliable machine, what is it costing you?” Joe says. “About a dollar per minute per man. So rate is not always the issue, it's the cost.”
So it's great to be quick to say yes, but equally important sometimes to just say no. Consider your own costs and consider what a broken-down machine is going to cost that particular customer. If you think about it in those terms and don't deviate from that standard, you won't be able to stop from demanding a decent rental rate.