Access, Lift & Handlers Magazine recently interviewed Kara Longmire, Co-President/CEO of Alert Management Systems for an upcoming issue. See questions and answers below.
What is the most-requested feature access and telehandler rental companies seek out with rental software?
Heavy equipment operators must adhere to strict safety standards for OSHA. A unit can be pulled for service for OSHA inspection at the end of the rental, and then automatically be returned to Ready to Rent status when the inspection is successfully completed. The fleet is completely up-to-date with relevant records retained. OSHA requirements aside, rental operators need to track maintenance needs, track when the equipment is unavailable during maintenance, and automatically return the equipment to Available when the maintenance is complete. This task is easily accomplished with rental software.
Heavy equipment rental operators also have assets with any number of attachments. Associating a specific attachment with an asset automatically tracks the attachments for each type of asset. Rental orders can be correctly completed easily using this feature.
Telematics and GPS tracking are an often-requested feature in this market as well. Owners of expensive machinery like to know where it is and how often it’s being used! Not only does this safeguard assets, it ensures that maintenance is being performed at the proper intervals. Having that information integrated into rental software is a huge bonus and is standard.
There’s been a massive shift over the last handful of years to all things digital. Despite that, there are still paper-pushers and whiteboard users. How do you convince these companies to start utilizing rental software?
We always tell people that we want to replace stamps, highlighters, and magic markers! Once we show our clients how much more efficient they can become, and an easier way of doing things, adoption is easy. Rental operators understand how much money being inefficient costs and we work with them to help reduce their touch-costs. Every minute someone isn’t working on something that their software can do is a minute they can be doing something else to make money.
How much money can a rental company approximately save by implementing digital solutions to its business and fleet?
The number can be potentially astronomical. For example, implementing E-Commerce enables a company to allow their customers to place orders without any help from their staff at all. Alert’s new Job Costing feature is saving rental operations money because they’re immediately able to tell how profitable a job is that they’re working on. Even implementing a rental software package for the first time ensures correct rate calculations, including fees such as damage waiver and taxes. Nobody likes to leave money on the table and having a system do calculations ensures that rental stores can focus on making money instead of worrying that they’re not billing accurately.
Rental software can track equipment utilization and location, aid in preventative maintenance, and provide assistance with safety and service – do users want all the features and benefits or do they cherry pick certain options? Explain.
Alert users do want all these features, but we make them available as they see fit. A small renal operator with only a few units has different requirements than a multi-location business with hundreds or thousands of assets. However, rental software is easily scalable and systems that work for one user work the same for hundreds. We work with our clients to ensure that they’re using every feature they need and we enjoy watching them implement new features as they grow.
What’s a recent feature you’ve introduced and why?
Alert has introduced several new features recently, but two of the most popular have been Rain Days and Job Costing. Rain Days allows the rental store to credit time back to their customer when they haven’t been able to use the equipment they’ve rented because of inclement weather. Job Costing shows the profit (or loss!) on a job, calculating revenue and expenses associated with the rental. The Job Costing worksheet for a particular job can be approved before execution so that management ensures an acceptable level of profitability. Our new integrations to SmartEquip and Rouse Analytics have been very popular also.
What’s ‘next’ for rental software? Any major developments on the horizon?
We continue to innovate new features all the time! Alert just wrapped up our 34th annual Alert User Conference where our clients voted in enhancements they’d like to see. We committed to nearly 2 dozen new efficiencies. While we’re working on those, we keep our eyes on the bigger landscape of technology and are moving more towards mobile applications and making more things automated. Our clients are also seeing a lot of great technology out there and we’re creating ways to integrate to it. For instance, we’re enhancing our integration to Zoho CRM and have completed interfaces to SmartEquip, Rouse Analytics, GearFlow, Vizion360, Approval Code, and CardConnect.
What is a trend you’re experiencing in the industry?
We’re seeing the rental industry embrace technology more than ever before. Our clients are more and more interested in having their websites integrate with Alert, either via Web Requests or E-Commerce. Our Sign & Rent feature is also gaining popularity – rental is ready to go paperless!