Revisiting Your Software

Oct. 1, 2014

This month’s cover story takes a look at some of the latest updates and new programs offered by veteran rental software suppliers to the rental industry, and some newcomers as well.

At a Rental Show a couple of years back, I devoted a whole morning to visit software vendors to see their latest offerings, and I was tremendously impressed by how much their products had improved over the years. At one particular booth, I was shown a functionality that had existed for a couple of years that I found impressive. I asked, “How many of your users use this feature?” I was told probably about 25 or 30 percent. I asked the same question at a different booth about another excellent feature and heard a similar answer.

I don’t think those answers are unusual. There have been studies on this topic by major software providers in other fields that show their typical users utilize a relatively small portion of the functionalities available to them. This is understandable. Not everybody is a software or technology “geek” and most people don’t have time to devote to studying these possibilities, even though certain features might save their companies time and money and improve efficiencies in different areas.

Having looked at a lot of the software offerings available in the rental industry, I want to suggest, or challenge, the rental companies reading this to take another look at the software possibilities that are available to you with the software you are using, whether its Wynne Systems, Texada, Orion, Solutions by Computer, Rental Result, Baseplan, Point-of-Rental or whatever. I’d say there’s a pretty good likelihood that if you take a bit of time to really look at what you have available, you’ll find something that can benefit your rental company that you’re not using.

So consider this a challenge! Check out the features on the software you’re using and if you find something that benefits you and adopt it, let us know and we’ll tell other readers about it.

Who’s dating who? Wasn’t that always a big topic back when you were in high school or college? The rumor of the day or the week was always being talked about on schoolyards and campuses. Well, you get a bunch of rental people together and the topic of who’s buying who always seems to come up. And if somebody from one rental company happens to meet with somebody from another, or visit their facility for some reason, the rumors explode. I could never begin to tell you all the rumors I get asked about regularly.

Most of these rumors never get beyond that beer in the bar, but even so, there’s been a pretty good amount of M&A activity in the rental industry recently. Just on the pages of this issue you can read about three acquisitions by Sunbelt Rentals, one by Blueline Rental, two acquisitions of crane rental companies, Neff Corp. filing for an IPO and that was not all that was going on in the rental world.

Are we coming into a period of increased M&A activity? I get asked this question often, and the answer could very well be “yes,” but time will tell.

I want to once again remind those of you who follow this type of information that twice a week RER comes out with a newsletter called RER Reports and you can subscribe to it for free at

And on a sad note, I have to call attention to the passing of one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure to know in this industry, Tom Madden of Madden Sales, and you can read a bit about Tom on Page 14. Tom worked for Stone Construction Equipment for nearly 20 years before starting his own rep business, primarily calling on rental companies in the western United States. I wrote a feature story about manufacturers’ reps a few years back and I spent a day in the field with several reps and thoroughly enjoyed a day I spent with Tom visiting rental centers in the Salt Lake City area.

Tom had a special rapport with his customers who all seemed to regard him as a personal friend. When he recommended a piece of equipment to them, it was evident that the customers felt it wasn’t just coming from a salesman hawking iron, but rather a friend recommending something he believed in. I don’t think he ever represented a line of equipment unless he felt that way about it, and that’s something that made Tom special. For those of you who knew him, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.