By Christian Wilkens
The world has changed radically after the covid 19 pandemic, the war in Russia and rising inflation rates. Technology advancements and global economic factors have acted as a catalyst for the digital transformation. It forces many companies and industries to redefine themselves, think strategically like never before, and streamline manual processes with technology. The companies that manage to adapt to the digital revolution will have a clear advantage in the future.
A new world after the Corona pandemic
With almost 2 years of full stop in the rental industry due to the global pandemic, many local rental businesses can once again open their doors to and welcome customers and look forward to a very busy season. But the customer behavior and their expectations for service have changed. While shops had to stay closed and most people were asked to be indoors, the world changed rapidly. In a short period of time, consumers have become even more accustomed to online shopping, ordering and booking online and do now expect the same digital experience at the local equipment rental shop.
An example; The pandemic accelerated the introduction of e-scooters and e-bikes into the rental market and the streets of every major city in Europe was flooded with new types of rentals and just like that, people got used to things just being smarter.
With digital competitors such as Donkey republic, TIER, VOI and Bolt etc, all of which have smart solutions for booking, reservation and payment and billing, the consumer has gained a huge expectation of the process of rental. Expectations from stores like your local bike, kayak or trailer rental business to give the same kind of easy- to-use and rapid customer service either via a smart app or intuitive website.
Loads of stores are now experiencing loss of revenue because customers now show a general lack of patience when waiting too long for a bike, or other equipment, to be handed to them at the store.
The need for a new strategy for old fashioned rental
The pandemic together with major developments in the sharing economy have forced many rental companies to think more about their position in the market, marketing tactics and considerations about streamlining vital operations.
It is crucial to develop your business at the same pace as the development occurs within your market. Perhaps you need to redefine your niche to grow your business?
This clearly underlines the need for companies to be ultra flexible and adaptable to large and small changes in their industry.
If you compare the rental industry with the airline industry, you see many similarities when it comes to development and the need to streamline operations in order to survive. The airline industry has already undergone some huge improvements when faced with the same challenges that the rental industry now has to deal with. Today we find it very unlikely to consider buying a plane ticket from a physical store anymore, but rather prepay through a website or an app.
Renting equipment should be as simple as traditional online shopping or like ordering an e-scooter on an app.
Do not spend hours responding to emails and phones calls
Many companies throughout Europe will probably recognise a situation when it comes to the huge and overwhelming amount of energy they put into each customer request and in the rental process itself. Having too many open lines of communications where potential customers can get in touch with the business owner and ask about everything, is often a bigger problem than what many would admit and is one of the biggest time wasters.
Do not spend hours every day responding to emails with the same repeated questions about renting equipment, availability, insurance, etc.
We bet that you can imagine this scenario from one of our many customers;
”In high seasons all the customers visit the store at the same time before lunch and want to rent a bike or other equipment, which is also returned at the same time in the evening. All this happens while the phone constantly rings and the inbox overflows with unanswered emails. ”
Another major time thief has to do with the actual delivery process, where customers have to physically enter the store and register on a piece of paper, pay and then get a bike. It is incredibly time consuming and it creates an unmanageable chaos.
This is one of the biggest challenges of old fashioned run rental businesses. You spend far too much time on manual tasks. It can be incredibly difficult to combine the workload that phone orders, spontaneous drop-ins and emails produce, if you do not have a system that can synchronize this and automate the whole process.
The time wasted on manual tasks could be spent on creating growth in the business and establishing better contact with customers.
Stopped getting five stars recommendations on Google
One of our big international customers rents out premium electric cargo bikes, both on a short and long-term rental basis. It is especially the tourists who spend a lot of money on expensive cargo bikes.
And with great prices comes great comes great expectations
The company had to carry out a digital transformation of their rental business in order to meet the high expectations of the consumer in regards to service and ease of ordering.
The need for new solutions and digitization of the rental process was finally confirmed when they started receiving three and four-star reviews on google. Something that deviates from the usual five stars. The reason for this was not due to lack of service or the quality of the equipment, but rather that people no longer accepted to wait long for getting their bike.
The only truly costly aspect here is doing nothing
A dream scenario for most rental businesses is a world where the consumer takes care of all the work around booking or using a subscription. That means:
- Searches and finds the store on the web.
- Searches and finds all necessary information about conditions, insurance and equipment on their website etc.
- Ordering exactly the equipment they need.
- Paying in advance
- Gets order confirmation and invoices by mail
- Even picks up and delivers items without required staff.
A dream scenario that many now have turned into reality with the collaboration with Sharefox. They hereby get a tailor-made system where the customer takes care of everything in fashionable online shopping style. A lot of customers especially enjoy the flexibility of the program.
”It’s a smart system where the customer does all the work himself and the possibility of additional sales when choosing equipment is an important game changer for future revenue.”
Strategic changes, especially in the direction of digitalization, within a company are sometimes linked with a very costly outcome. But it doesn’t have to be either a negative nor costly experience for that matter. It doesn’t take a master’s degree in coding to adapt Sharefox software to your current setup. With Sharefox all- in-one turn-key tools you are ready to start the transformation in very few steps. The only thing that will become truly costly in the end, will be keeping the status quo.
Sharefox grows and develops with you in whatever direction you steer the business. It gives you, among other things, a modern plug and play website with booking calendar and a well-structured product overview, as well as an intuitive admin tool where you as the owner have a full overview of inventory and his orders.
There will always be winners and losers when society undergoes changes that bring about fundamental behavioral changes. That is why you need to become super flexible and efficient,
which will ensure that you are prepared for new developments and trends in the rental industry.
What are you going to do now?
When you are ready… here are 4 ways we can help you expand your rental business!
- Do you want to grow your business today? Try Sharefox rental system for free – or book a demo and get a personal expert to analyze your company’s situation, come up with solutions on how you can streamline your methods and create a more profitable company.
- To learn more about the Sharefox rental system, read about trends and news for free, visit our blog or visit our resources section in the main menu. Here you can download guides and e-books that we also share with our customers.
- If you want to work with the circular economy and Saas and want to be part of the Sharefox team or find out why we are one of the fastest growing rental platforms in the rental industry, see our job postings here.
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