Due to the lack of suitable solutions or sheer habit, many rental business are unnecessarily relying on vast amount of manual work in their day-to-day. Automating the rental operations with software not only saves a significant amount of time but also lays ground for growing the business. Let's take a look what smarter rental management looks like.
Common bottlenecks slowing down rental businesses
- Inventory is managed in Excel
- Bookings and scheduling are done with a paper calendar
- Rental contracts are done on paper and stored in paper folders
- Different tasks are performed with several separate softwares which are not connected
- Customer information is not collected or stored
Yes, we know these battle tested methods surely works, but are they optimal and do they allow growing your business to its fullest potential? We dare to say no.
Even though you would get the job done with any of the above mentioned methods, in the long-term the opportunity cost of time starts to cumulate. All the minutes that you spend on filing rental contracts or searching for bookings from a paper calendar turn to hours and eventually days of wasted time that you could spend elsewhere - for something more productive. So, let's take a look how to start automating your rental management one process at the time.
How to automate your rental management?
We totally get that a starting rental entrepreneur comes along with lightweight processes and tools. However, once the customer base grows the processes that used to serve you well are likely going to become bottlenecks that hinders the growth of your business. Rentle helps rental businesses from the day one to automate and digitize different areas of rental business with potential the bottlenecks.
With a real ecommerce rental software you're able to automate the scheduling of online bookings through your website while offering customer experience light years ahead of the traditional email or phone booking.
With an online rental store your products are presented in a way that highlights the quality of your equipment and service. The best part is that all the bookings are automatically added to your rental management system without any manual work.
Rental software that is able to automate your inventory management and give you a real-time view of your available products at any location or sales channel is a huge advantage for a rental business.
In addition to calculating your products' availabilities, an important aspect is how you prefer to track your inventory: in bulk or with unique IDs.
Tracking your inventory in bulk is a good option when it is enough to only know how much products you have in total and how many of them are currently in use. The benefit of this method is that it is simple. However, bulk inventory won't allow you to track the usage of your individual products in case you might need that information for scheduling product maintenances, for example. Good products to be tracked on bulk are usually additional or complementary in nature. Often they are also less valuable and there's more items in stock in terms of quantity. Good examples are bicycling helmets, skiing poles, surfboard leashes, and so on.
Using unique IDs
Inventory tracking with unique product IDs includes many benefits. Despite of taking a bit longer to set up, it is worth to track at least your most important equipment with unique IDs. Here are the reasons why:
- Unique product IDs let you collect data on the usage of your individual equipment. This gives you a better starting point to evaluate when would be the optimal time maintain the equipment, sell the equipment forward, and whether the equipment has been a profitable investment for your business in the first place.
- Unique IDs allow you to use barcodes. It is much faster way to fulfill orders and check-in returning products compared to clicking computer.
- Unique IDs allow you to store specific data and notes for each individual item. This might be handy in your daily work and keeps the knowledge sharing in your company efficient.
Rental contracts and waivers
Rental contract is an essential part of a good and trustworthy rental experience. Rental contract protects both you and your customer from any unwanted events or accidents.
A major benefit with digital rental contracts and waivers is related to the storing of these documents. When the situation comes when you should have the document at your hand, trying to find a paper contract from your folder archives is a tedious task. Digital storing of your important documents relieves the pain of keeping your papers organized. Fortunately, most rental softwares have rental contracts included as an integrated part of every booking.
Whether you decide to have it on paper or in digital format, just make sure both you and your customer will have a copy of the rental contract.
Rental shops, who have a significant amount of walk-in customers want to speed up the process of serving walk-in customers in order to avoid queues and chaos in the store. This might be the case for very seasonal businesses that experience customer peaks during holidays, like ski and bike rental shops.
Filling in the customer details, fitting or trying out, and preparing the equipment are the steps where queues often forms. Of course, the shop space has a big impact on the art of possible in terms of what can be done to relieve the queues but here are a few ideas how to speed up the customer service in store.
- Have a separate pick-up station for people who have booked online. By preparing their equipment in advance, during the silent hours, you can schedule your own work much better and focus on walk-in customers during the busiest hours of the day.
- Add more check-in kiosks where people can fill in their details. With Rentle, you can turn every tablet device into a check-in kiosk. That's a great way to scale up the number of check-in kiosks whenever it's necessary.
- Split your staff's responsibilities. Assign specific tasks to your employees instead of one employee helping the customer out throughout the whole rental process. When you have one person helping out with the equipment fitting, second one adjusting the equipment, and a third one receiving the payment, the whole process becomes a whole lot of faster for both your staff and your customers.
Plan a dedicated flow for the returning customers. A good practice, for example, is to have a separate space or rack for returning products where customers can just leave their returned equipment. An employee should always confirm the equipment as returned.
If you use unique product IDs to track your inventory, it is possible to create a self-service-based return flow as you are able to track back and assign every returned equipment to its previous user. Something you might want to consider when it gets really hectic. However, having an employee to receive returned products is always better.
Receiving online bookings and payments in advance is one of the best ways to speed up your work and remove friction. Online payments are an integrated part of Rentle's online store.
The necessary evil of every entrepreneur, reporting, becomes time consuming job if you have to look for numbers from several different sources. Rental software like Rentle generates all the necessary reports you need reducing a significant amount of time you need to spend in the back office with the paperwork.
With the right toolstack, your days at work will become significantly easier. Thus, an investment to rental software should not be seen only as a cost.
We strongly recommend to start investigating the possibilities of automating your operations step by step. You’ll save a tremendous amount of time which you can use to develop your business and create unforgettable rental experiences for your customers.
Afterall, time is the most valuable resource we have, at work and in life in general, and time is what you buy when you decide to invest in rental software. So, work smarter.