Getting involved offers business-building rewards
When Jake Bishop, CERP, was thinking of buying the Taylor Rental Center in Petoskey, Mich., about 16 years ago, he consulted with other rental operators who were members of the American Rental Association (ARA) and active in the ARA of Michigan. That interaction was so beneficial that he has remained involved, serving in almost every board position with his state association.
“They have been a good sounding board,” he says. “There are different faces and areas of rental represented in the ARA of Michigan, but we all share common problems. The interactions I have had with these folks have helped me think about my business on a different level and have provided a methodology of give and take on different issues.”
James Morden, president of Rentshop in Alliston, Ontario, Canada, first became involved with the Canadian Rental Association (CRA) Ontario back in 2001. “My father had been involved with the CRA Ontario since 1985 when he opened the store. I started going to meetings with him when I became more involved in the store. When the association was looking for an editor for the newsletter, I volunteered,” Morden says. “From there, I was encouraged to run for the second vice president. It was a good opportunity as I was just getting ready to take over running the store.”
Since then, Morden has served in all board capacities. His current position is chair of CRA Ontario as well as CRA Ontario director on the CRA board. These experiences at the local and Canadian national levels, as well as through the ARA’s Leadership Conference, “have helped me grow professionally and personally, and have helped me understand the industry better,” he says. “I’ve developed confidence and skills, and have had the opportunity to learn and share with businesses of similar size as well as learn from much larger shops. We’re all in the same boat. Sharing what works and doesn’t work is very beneficial. All of this has offered me good exposure and made me a better business owner.”
Trevor Kettrick, owner of A to Z Rentals in Spokane, Wash., agrees, noting that he has used many tips learned from peers who are involved in the ARA of Washington. “Getting different ideas of how to run your business always helps in the long run. If anything, it will help you to potentially not make the mistakes that my peers have made. The great thing about the rental yard is that we all have tried something and failed. If you can learn from others’ successes and failures, it will make you a better leader and also make your company better for your employees and customers,” says Kettrick, who serves at the president of the ARA of Washington.
Bishop says he learned a valuable solution to an issue from his ARA of Michigan colleagues. “Many of us have had the person who comes in to rent an item and then, after three weeks, decides he wants to buy that item from you. When talking about price, that person wants the three weeks of rental taken off the purchase price of the equipment. At one of our meetings, one of the guys downstate mentioned how this isn’t fair and shared how he has dealt with it. I took that advice and now tell everyone upfront that if they want to buy this piece of equipment, they have one day to decide. After that, it’s a rental and we won’t assume the risk. That gives the customer leeway and is fairer to us,” he says.
It’s all about learning, sharing and giving back, says Ron Brissette, president of Interstate Power Tools & Machinery d/b/a Interstate Rentals in Chesterton, Ind. As the new president of the recently reactivated ARA of Indiana, Brissette is eager to provide these experiences to rental operators in his own state.
“If rental operators can come to one general meeting and get something out of it, that will be great, because all of us on the board want stores to grow their businesses,” he says. “Learning, building relationships and mentoring — all are available when you get involved. The rental business is a different type of business. If you get involved, you might become fast friends with others in the industry. Plus, it’s nice to talk with someone from a different part of the state who is in the same business. It has helped me and I know it can help others,” he says.
Morden agrees. “There should be no hesitation to get involved. By offering you the resources and support as well as the ability to network — opportunities that you didn’t have before — you are given the chance to learn, develop and grow. It’s a benefit of membership that you should take advantage of because you profit from it,” he says.
When you receive new ideas from others, Morden says, not only are your perspectives broadened, but you also are challenged and that is a must if you want to grow your business. “If you’re not challenged, you’re not going anywhere. You’re stuck in a rut,” he says.
That’s why it is important “to just jump in feet first,” Brissette says with a laugh, noting that there is so much to gain if you just take the plunge.
Get involved close to home
To learn more about becoming involved in your state, local or provincial association, contact Ruth Bloom, American Rental Association (ARA) director of state, local and provincial programs, at 800-334-2177, ext. 268, or ruth.bloom@ararentalorg, or click on “State, Local and Provincial Associations” under the “Members” section of ARArental.org.