If there is one thing that all of the talking heads on television, leading economists and politicians from both parties agree on, it is a belief that the recession will end. When exactly recovery begins is a completely different question and the answer, for those of us in the equipment rental industry, will likely vary depending on your inventory mix, target customers and what part of the country you’re located in.
Hopefully many of us will start to see business improve before the year is out and have that momentum carry into 2010. Most of us already have made changes in our business plans this year, but are you preparing for whatever changes you will have to make next year? Are you ready for the uptick in business whenever it arrives? Do you have a plan for the purchase of equipment and products as business improves? Do you have financing in place or are you at least building relationships with financial institutions as well as American Rental Association (ARA) associate members?
Do you have good descriptions prepared for new employees when they are needed? Are you ready to adjust your rates for recovery? All of these questions are ones we should be asking ourselves while we have the time to work on business plans for recovery.
What segment of the equipment rental industry will improve first is another thought-provoking question. For example, one could make the argument that construction and industrial equipment rental will recover first as the stimulus money from Washington, D.C., makes it way to state and local economies.
Why not general tool rental? People are not necessarily buying new homes these days and many homeowners are spending money to remodel and fix their existing homes. That means more opportunities for homeowner and small contractor rentals.
What about party and event? While revenues for party and event equipment rental are off in many parts of the country, when money flow improves, there could be pent-up demand for celebrations. Maybe party and event will improve first.
While there is an argument for each segment of the equipment rental industry to come back first or stronger, we also should look at our individual situations. After all, each one of us should know our markets better than anyone.
However, don’t forget to look to ARA for help as we see signs of recovery. Those who work for the association are watching for hints from members as well as studying economic indicators to keep us informed through the variety of publications ARA offers its members. Look at the job descriptions available from the association and fit them to your needs. Don’t forget to check out the online member-to-member forum at www.ARArental.org to hear what is going on in the marketplace from your peers.
This could be a very good time to review the 2006-2007 Cost of Doing Business Report so that you can compare those results to the new 2008-2009 Cost of Doing Business Report due to come out in the fall, spot trends and see how you stack up with other rental stores.
Another new ARA member service is the Ad Maker, which is part of the online Know Marketing Guide. This special program allows you to insert your own pictures and text into a form to create a flyer or print ad that is ready to send to newspapers and magazines. Today, some of you might be more concerned with cash flow and meeting payroll, but it doesn’t cost you anything to plan for the future so that you can move quickly to advertise, find new employees or purchase equipment when the time comes.