Q: What questions should you ask before investing in rental management software?
A: Rental management software is an investment with the potential for a high rate of return. However, a basic, low cost system isn’t likely to yield the greatest returns of lowered operating costs and time savings. How do you avoid this common mistake? Here are five questions to ask when choosing to invest in a system.
1. Is the software scalable and will it support growth on every level?
The saying “What doesn’t help you, ultimately hurts you” is true when it comes to software. Certain software companies and packages may support your business now, but how will they do in several years? Software that doesn’t support company growth will ultimately be a detriment to your future. The ability to easily track information such as maintenance costs, missed opportunities and customer information can provide valuable information for managing costs and encouraging growth opportunities.
2. How often is the software updated?
A business will have limited capabilities if its software isn’t expanding technologically. Innovations surface daily, and if your software isn’t ahead of the technology curve, you’ll fall behind the competition. Before choosing a software company, research how the company has grown in the past. Has it shown innovative advances? Is it on the cutting edge of technology and has this been a consistent trend in its history? With an industry as complex as rental, you can’t perform at your best if your software is behind the times.
3. How customizable is the software?
Cookie-cutter software will not allow you to run your company to its full potential. There are features unique to individual markets, such as deliveries and setup crews for the event industry, automatic meter reading and updated billing on heavy equipment and service fees for portable toilets. One-size-fits-all software won’t allow your business to run efficiently if the feature set is designed solely for a general rental business. Being able to fully customize the software and add features as your company expands will allow you to keep operational costs low and dictate how you run your business.
4. What level of support does the company provide?
Have you ever called a company to receive help, been placed on a long hold, and then transferred to a call center where no one understands your needs? Having access to support when you need it is important, but having support how you need it is often overlooked. Look for companies with support team members who have behind-the-counter rental experience, extensive software training, computer expertise and rental knowledge.
5. How transparent is the company?
Many companies will say almost anything to secure your business. How can you distinguish between those who can stand behind their word and those who are only after your money? One suggestion is to ask for the full customer list. Any company can find a few customers who will sing its praises, but what about all of them? Asking for a full customer list will allow you to do your own research and determine how straightforward the company really is.
By Wayne Harris, CEO, Point-of-Rental Software, Grand Prairie, Texas.