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Using Big Data to Better Understand Your Rental Customer

September 1st, 2016

By: Kevin Wilson

According to recent estimates, the business world is producing more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day and it is doubling every two years. While the amount of data is impressive, what it represents is “an opportunity for actionable insight, an opportunity to create value, an opportunity to effect relevant and profitable organizational change.”

Data is critical to business success today, especially in an industry such as ours with so many moving parts and where making the right decisions requires actionable, relevant information. It’s important because competition has eliminated the proverbial “low hanging fruit,” which means we have to take our game to the next level to better understand customers, and to identify new opportunities and challenges. To be successful in this environment, knowing where the opportunities are and which problems to tackle can’t be a guessing game.

When it comes to data, our industry has a number of key challenges:

  • Collecting data from our distributed locations,
  • Ensuring the accuracy and normalization of the information,
  • Aggregating and determining how to take action upon it, and
  • Using the data to execute strategic business decisions.

Often these challenges vary in scope based on the footprint of the rental company in question. If you’re a large organization with many branches and a significant IT infrastructure, you may suffer from data overload, or quantity over quality. There may be so much information that your organization suffers from data paralysis. You don’t know where to begin, how to find the “quality” data or whether your collection is accurate or complete.

In some medium and large organizations, even those that have embraced IT practices, legacy processes are common. Many companies are limiting their access to quality data because they have not completed their transition to technology-based fleet management or they continue to use paper-based tickets. Their salespeople may also be “holding equipment” in the system or their maintenance staff is not updating after-rent inspection statuses in a timely fashion. On the other end of the spectrum are smaller companies that often suffer from a paucity of data.  They don’t have the systems or standardized processes to collect it, and their staff is too busy running the company to take full advantage of the data they have. In addition, their staff might not have the skills needed to fully analyze the data and take effective action.

When it comes to data intelligence, the equipment rental industry is still in its infancy. We see the results starkly when compared with other large industries where data-driven processes are more commonly and widely used. Demand-based pricing, for example, is unevenly deployed in our industry. In contrast, the airline industry has done this since the 1980s. For most equipment rental companies, fleet planning is done annually, whereas other industries do it much more regularly.

The equipment rental industry is going through a technology evolution. Many of the processes that were completed with a handshake, over the phone or on paper are now moving online. This is true of both back-of-house and internal processes, as well as the customer service and sales process.  When we look at customer-related data, this shift online introduces an opportunity to grow the amount of high quality customer data available to the business from websites or mobile apps. This will also add new challenges for some companies, as they will need to add an entire new competency to analyze and wrangle the flood of data coming from online activities, and then incorporate it into their overall enterprise data collection and analysis. This is not a trivial concern.

At the same time, knowing your customer is crucial! Not all rental customers are right for your business, and finding and retaining those that are should be a critical priority for your rental company, be it big or small.

BigRentz helps our rental company partners by sharing our technology and the distilled-down, actionable business intelligence (not just “here’s some data!”). Among our most popular offerings is our automated lost rental data. We inform our partners about rentals that we tried to give them, but were declined for some reason. Our platform is purpose-built to record everything. We can tell you down to the branch who declined the rental, when, the value of the rental, and even give you a call recording of the conversation! This type of data is incredibly valuable for fleet planning. No matter how frequently you do it, you need to factor in market demand. BigRentz can help you understand that.

Beyond your own lost rentals, we can provide guidance on rentals that we sent to other companies in your area instead of to your business, and why. Our nationwide footprint gives us a unique vantage point to recommend equipment purchases that rental companies should consider or how to meet local or regional demand. Some of our partners have opened new branches or started carrying entirely new lines of fleet because of opportunities we’ve shared with them. At BigRentz, everything starts with the data. Our platform is continually generating new data that we use to improve. We also make our business intelligence available to you so that together we can grow your business… and you don’t have to become a technology company to benefit.

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