Look Who’s Watching

watchingWell, I am approaching the six month mark of leaving behind the day to day operations of a Rental Business. During this time I have had the opportunity to visit many rental operations throughout the country, see several manufacturer reps, attend trade shows and catch up on reading  industrial publications. Being on the other side of the fence has given me a new perspective on issues that I once might have not given enough thought on.

First, we need to talk about big elaborate showrooms. Let’s face it, potential and existing customer habits have changed and evolved. Huge showrooms to display your wares are certainly impressive, but probably not necessary anymore. It’s a great feeling when I walk into elaborate showrooms, but after spending some time in them, you come to the conclusion of what is missing. Namely, CUSTOMERS.

In today’s fast pace world, clients have less time to visit brick and mortar establishments and are more than willing to accomplish task with the point and click method or just by picking up the phone. Although there are market where a showroom is a must, maybe it’s time to think about downsizing, or better yet investing in an outside sales force that can show your services and products almost anywhere.

Space is money. Are you better off filling that space with product that can be rented to produce revenue or display items that might draw a limited audience? I still agree there are those clients that need to come in and “kick the tires”, but that has to be balanced with the need for space.

More and more rental companies are opting for the Industrial complex model. Moving off major highways and high priced real estate locations to more cost effective properties that are still accessible but priced right. Usually these locations have better loading facilities and are much easier to layout efficiently. Showrooms are still present, but at a much reduced size.

Second, let’s review delivery vehicles. As I drive around, I have been paying special attention to the unique vehicles you all use. From 24’ box trucks, to Sprinters vans and flatbeds to tractor trailers. I have seen amazing body wraps and clever slogans painted on the sides. Delivery trucks are moving advertisements for you and then say a lot about your company.

What I have noticed in these vehicles will probably make your cringe. I have stopped at traffic lights and looked across or to the left or right and noticed in the cabs of these vehicles very visible through the front windshields, and noted the following items: The remains of a baloney sandwich from days gone by, piles of lottery scratch off tickets, risky magazines, empty soda cans, crumbled rental contracts, several days’ worth of t-shirts, jackets and caps. And assorted tent parts such as R-Pins and bungees.

I’m sure once these trucks return to base locations there are procedures to clean this up (hopefully), but is it really necessary that your trucks be treated like dorm rooms while your crews are on the road representing your company?

Third, I would like to mention trade shows. Walking around, I noticed that the manufacturers with the most traffic are the one that have the most new products and ideas. If you’re selling the same old thing, what is the draw to visit your booth? If you’re offering special pricing or discounts, that doesn’t require traveling. It can very easily be obtained via a phone order or internet sale, rather than attendees giving up their time to travel or  limiting there time to see other vendors that have new items worth their time.

Wake up manufacturers! Stop being content with what you have now. Survival will be based on how well you adapt to changing markets. New products are just one part of this. New markets must be opened and you must connect with today’s clients and their needs. Remember, as a manufacturer or vendor you have the ability and knowledge to shape markets and change customer needs and wants.

Finally, I would like to mention training. Many of you have employees that have been around awhile and are very set in there ways. When was the last time you updated or refreshed your customer service, telephone answering, computer knowledge and even CAD skills?

Your warehouse, delivery and back office people need training in safety, material handling, and driving and customer service as well. Don’t take this for granted. Training not only serves to make your company more competitive, it’s also a great motivator for employees. It shows your care enough about them and are willing to invest in their futures.

You can never go wrong with training. Its available, it’s generally economical and now is the perfect time of year when it’s quiet to do it.

Looking forward to visiting many more of you. Send me an email, be glad to come and say hello. We can do lunch or just hangout.

By the way, I have not mentioned any particular operations or vendors, but I do want to point out that everyone I have visited has rolled out the red carpet and made me proud to be part of the greatest industry on earth.

Until next issue, enjoy the holidays, stay warm and keep growing
I’ll be watching 

NOTE:  This Blog has also been published in the December issue of ARA of NJ RentalWorks

Published in: on December 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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Text my order please

Here is something new that can only happen in NYC.  Talk about an entrepreneur thinking out of the box. Well in this case out of the apartment.

An “underground chef” who calls himself “Ronnie” takes orders for grilled cheese sandwiches by text message, cooks his sandwiches on the stove in his brother’s East Village apartment, and then meets his customers on street corners.

He is selling the sandwiches  for between $5 to $7 depending on the type of cheese and bread or the addition of extras like bacon or jalapeños.

It started with just a few friends, but now Ronnie is grilling 40 sandwiches a day, he said — a volume he can barely keep up with.

His customers said they never knew they needed a “cheese dealer” until they took the first bite.

Now what is the key here that makes this so successful?  Well if you haven’t gotten it yet, its “CUSTOMER SERVICE” .  This is something we all crave  and when we find it we stick with it.

There is nothing new about a Grilled cheese sandwich, but what is innovated is the delivery approach.  This guy has made it as simple as you can get it.

I commend “Ronnie” on a clever idea and I suspect it won’t be long until franchises are available.  Possible name “TEXT MY SANDWICH USA”

Only hurdle for Ronnie is to get past the health inspectors.  For now this is an underground operation.  Once NYC gets a piece of this, the sandwiches most likely will double in price based on all the rules and regulation that will have to be met.

You can check out Ronnie’s Facebook page.

Cant wait to text my order next trip into the “Big Apple” or should I say the “Big Cheese”

Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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