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Six Questions You Must Ask Before Buying Rental Software

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If you’re planning to buy new rental software, it’s crucial to have a clear vision of your business’s needs in order to choose the right package. But this isn’t quite as simple as it may sound. If you buy rental software that falls short of your business needs, you can end up making a costly mistake that inhibits success. On the flip side, if you're armed with the right information going into the purchase process, you’ll be better able to choose a technology solution and vendor that enable you to run a successful operation. Here are six questions that can help guide you.

1. What does your business consist of?

Do you specialize in homeowner, contractor, party or AV rentals? Do you sell equipment in addition to renting it out? Do you offer repairs for customer-owned equipment? Maybe your business does just one of these things, or all three. Not all software options will accommodate all of these business models, so make sure you know what you’re looking for before you start researching different options.

Another important thing to think about: is your business walk-in based or is everything done by phone? Some packages are built for walk-ins but aren’t as good for phone reservations. When you see a product demo, make sure the software can do all the basic things you need it to. For example, if most of your customers call you to reserve a new piece of equipment, ask the vendor to show you how the software would handle that specific workflow.

Finally, if you're moving off of another system, don't assume other solutions you're considering do everything your current system does. Write down all of your requirements - even the ones you may take for granted with your current software - and make sure they'll be taken care of.

2. How might your business evolve over time?

You're probably buying new rental software right now because you've outgrown your current software - whether that's a starter-package ERP or a combination of point solutions. To avoid having to do this again a few years down the line, it's important to not just consider what your business looks like today, but also where you'd like it to be in five years.

Equipment dealership sales could be an avenue you may pursue down the road, and you might not even know it yet. But you would be in a tough spot if you chose software that doesn’t support sales but you wind up in that business. Or, maybe you have one store right now. Ask yourself if there is a possibility that you’d add a branch or buy out a competitor. If that’s the case, you’ll need multi-location capabilities. It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking about very specific requirements that matter right now, but it’s just as important to think about the future of your rental business and how it may grow over time. You’ll want software that supports, not hinders, growth.

3. What are your accounting needs?

Regardless of whether you need software that tightly ties to third-party systems like QuickBooks, or if you choose a rental ERP for integrated accounting, there’s one crucial factor: the software should be proactive in helping you produce revenue, instead of merely keeping history of payments in vs. payments out. If somebody is looking to rent a piece of equipment like a backhoe at a certain date and time, and the system says there’s no availability, then when will one be available? Or, alternatively, where is the equipment, and could it be made available? Maybe a tent is scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday morning for a Wednesday evening event because the truck will be in the area. Well, if somebody wants to rent the tent for a Tuesday afternoon event, you probably won’t want to miss out on that rental. The system should enable you to change the delivery scheduling, or at the very least, give you the information you need to make the optimal decision and avoid missed rentals. A system that gives you the right data - and that accommodates the unique accounting processes of the rental industry - lets you maximize revenue without adding inventory investment.

4. Are you getting a full or stripped-down version of software?

Some vendors offer “lite” versions of software. This means you can get up and running for a low price, but you don’t get all the functionality of the standard offering. Instead, you only get a small snippet of the software. If your business is very simple, a stripped-down system may be sufficient. But for most rental companies, lite versions fall short. At InTempo, you get all the same functionality, whether the solution is hosted at your location or in the cloud. Make sure you know exactly what features you are — and aren’t — getting with the software you choose. 

5. Are the vendors you’re looking at reputable?

First, do they have experience working with businesses that are similar to yours? Some software options were originally designed for specific industries and won’t fully support the way you do business (especially if you're in a unique specialty nice, such as dewatering equipment or oilfield equipment). Secondly, are they going to be around for the long haul? Vendors come and go, so longevity is an issue. There are a few major rental software companies, including InTempo, whose solutions have been around for 30 years or longer; these vendors can reliably be chosen as a partner for your long-term success.

6. What are your customer support needs?

First things first: does the vendor offer customer support that matches up well with your operating hours? If there's only an hour or two when your business is open and when support is answering calls, differing time zones may prove to be a problem. Second, what methods do you have to communicate? In addition to an 800 number, can you submit a ticket online? Are there self-help mechanisms? And, most importantly: Does the support team have deep experience in rental — will they get your business? And how responsive are they? As you get closer to choosing a vendor, you can ask for references and speak to customers directly.

No matter what your final decision is, your choice shouldn’t just be about the technology. Yes, the system absolutely needs to work for your business. But when you purchase rental software, you’re also committing to a relationship with a vendor. And you’ll want both to last a long time. So make sure you ask yourself all the right questions before you dive into the purchase process and do your due diligence throughout. As your business grows and becomes more efficient, you’ll thank yourself for doing the legwork.

Meet the Last Rental Software You'll Ever Need

Ready to find a system that gives you everything you need to run your business today and grow it tomorrow? Meet InTempo - an all-in-one solution for rentals, sales, service, accounting, inventory, maintenance, and more. To take a close-up look, request a demo here.

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