Many business owners believe a rental ERP is “out of their league.” Whether a single or multi-location business, they don’t think they need the functionality or the expense of a designated software system. After all - they've been managing just fine with spreadsheets, paperwork, and point solutions so far ... right?
Some rental operators also resist change when purchasing rental management software. Changing systems often means changing processes. A prime example of this is back office functionality: if you’ve been managing your invoices with QuickBooks® or other off-the-shelf applications ever since you started your business, you may not want to move to a rental software system that makes you move away from these third-party packages for your financials. But, if you’re looking to advance your business and streamline everything from operations to accounting, there are many benefits to turning to a rental ERP (enterprise resource planning) software system.
What is a Rental ERP?
An ERP rental system is a suite of integrated applications specifically designed to manage your entire rental business and fully integrate the front and back ends of your operation. It harnesses the seamless flow of data to deliver value in the form of extreme business efficiency.
Ultimately, a rental ERP system can help you streamline your business processes to make your company more efficient. This can deliver value in several different ways:
Centralizing your data – An ERP allows you to manage your entire rental process, end to end, on one platform. All your data is in one place - from the quote all the way through invoicing, equipment maintenance, and fixed asset management. Accounts receivable, accounts payable, and the general ledger are all unified. Having a central repository for data makes it easier to collect, access, and manage information across all areas of your rental operations. At the same time, you’ll have more visibility into data for all stages of the rental process, including purchasing, quoting, reservations, rentals, repairs, maintenance, parts, billing, and collections. Ultimately, this lets you make more informed decisions to increase revenue and profitability in the long run.
Speeding up operations – An ERP system eliminates repetitive processes and manual touches on your most common workflows. This, in turn, reduces the amount of time it takes your team to do their jobs. It makes better use of your resources, particularly personnel. Since all the moving parts of your business “talk” to each other, you can reduce frustration, speed up your rental cycle, increase profitability, and deliver better service to your customers.
Improving accuracy and reducing discrepancies – With an ERP solution, everything flows downstream in real time. Here's an example: if last week’s purchase order specified a $20,000 equipment purchase, and today’s vendor invoice shows $21,850, you can spot - and fix- the discrepancy immediately because your Purchasing and Accounts Payable efforts are fully integrated. A rental ERP provides better visibility into every aspect of your business. It also helps you reduce human errors; because you don't have to manually enter data into different systems over and over again, there's a lower likelihood of mistakes.
Improving collaboration – Many rental companies use Excel® and other spreadsheet programs to sort and analyze their data, but these platforms are limited in terms of allowing any type of collaboration. If your procurement team is working on one spreadsheet, your A/P team may not have access to the most recent updates. In contrast, a rental ERP lets you collaborate in real time. What happens at the rental counter is immediately visible in the back office; updates from your delivery drivers are viewable by your maintenance team. (Of course, you'll want to use security levels to make sure employees only have access to the right data, but this is easy to set up when you first start using the software.)
Helping you scale your business – ERP technology is an all-in-one solution, which gives you a "single source of truth" for everything you do. You set up your business processes however you'd like them, and your software makes sure those processes are adhered to 100 percent of the time. If you change your processes as your business grows - and you almost certainly will - you can easily adjust them in your rental ERP. You can even add third-party software integrations to do even more with your existing software suite. And, as you add more locations or employees, introduce new rental inventory lines, or even explore dealership sales, a fully scalable ERP will support your growth.
Think of it this way: even a small rental company is sitting on a mountain of data. From vendor invoices and warranty documents to customer information and jobsite data, you have many moving pieces to keep in order. A rental ERP solution doesn't just help you keep that data organized; it helps you turn it into actionable information. It's the "easy button" to becoming more efficient and making better decisions for company growth.
Choosing the Right Rental ERP
While a rental ERP can be more expensive than point solutions, the significant gains in efficiency, accuracy, and reporting far exceed the cost. In fact, most of the customers who use InTempo's rental software earn more than 2.5x the rental revenue per location than customers who use other solutions. That ROI is hard to ignore.
Of course, choosing the right ERP is critical to the success of your project - and not all solutions are created equal. Some rental software companies claim to offer "all-in-one" ERP systems, but getting all the features requires an upgrade to a larger package or still require the use of third-party accounting software. If you're thinking about taking your business to the next level with a rental ERP, be sure to thoroughly explore all your options and consider how they'll work in real-life applications.