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Interview with Alert Rental’s Kara Longmire: Custom Solutions

Kara Longmire, co-president/CEO, Alert Rental talks with RER about funding e-commerce solutions, helping customers design their own websites and custom integrations with telematics providers, enhancing mobility, and how users help innovation.

 

The pandemic led a lot more rental companies to become more serious about e-commerce. What changes have you seen among rental companies as a result?

Longmire: The rental stores we’ve been working with have been so creative with funding their e-commerce solutions! Many have been taking advantage of state and local grants, and we’ve been working on creative ways to finance necessary enhancements. We support our clients any possible way, which includes helping them achieve their technology goals however we can.

How have you developed your e-commerce capabilities to help your customers through this period?

Our e-commerce solution has been available for many years, and we’re thrilled that so many of our clients have decided to finally take advantage of this technology so they can meet their customers where they are. We have also continued to enhance our software even during the pandemic to provide our customers with up-to-date capabilities in e-commerce and other critical business areas.

What new capabilities, products and upgrades have you developed in the past year?  

We understand that a rental store’s strengths may not be in web design, so we’ve created Alert Web Assistant to help our clients launch a pre-designed website customized for their store. The rental store owns the domain and website – we do the design and integration. This isn’t just for Alert clients – we can help anybody launch a professional and attractive website that includes their rental inventory! For Alert clients, we have built in the technology to expand their Alert systems onto the web and increase their presence with options they choose. Examples are Web Requests where clients can build a quote online, Customer Portal for self-service including payments, and a custom e-commerce solution to do live web rentals if the rental store so chooses.

What have you done to improve your software’s integration with telematics systems and other integration with machine data?

Alert has been working with telematics companies for years, and as long as the telematics company adheres to the AEMP standard, the integration is plug-and-play. We are always willing to work with our clients to create a custom integration with their chosen telematics provider, or any other business-critical application.

What have you done to improve mobile capability in the past year? Is this more important than ever in the age of COVID and more people working remotely? 

We’ve been working with our clients and their IT firms to help them work effectively at home through secure VPNs. Alert on the Cloud (Alert’s hosting product) allows for workers to access Alert anywhere in the world through a VPN! In fact, our entire staff worked from home during the lockdown period of the pandemic, without missing a beat, because of this helpful tool. We were already fortunate to have developed and deployed our powerful paperless rental completion application in our Sign and Rent Application, which allows clients to sign for rentals on any device, as well as in the rental stores via tablets if the Alert user wants that capability.

 

What are likely to be the new trends/new directions in software in the foreseeable future?

We continue to work with our clients to innovate Alert software. Our best inspiration comes from their creative and entrepreneurial minds! We’re thrilled to be hosting our annual User Conference in person again this year, and we collaborate with our users to generate suggestions for upcoming enhancements. Our 2020 Alert User Conference was completely virtual and was so well received that we are incorporating a Virtual Track for clients who can attend from any device if they so choose for 2021. Looking toward the future, we think the trend towards initially less expensive subscription modeling – Software as a Service or SaaS – will continue, as will the ability to be increasingly mobile.

What new features have customers been asking for that will be important?

Our clients continually find new and interesting business intelligence to interface with. We’re always open to integrating our outstanding rental platform to anything that will help our clients be more efficient and profitable. The trends we’re seeing right now are for CRM (Customer Relationship Management), warehousing software, GPS truck routing (so many neat features for our users with our new integration to Fleet Up), and a very engaging CAD software called 3D Event Designer. Our integration is very exciting!

 

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