The Hire Industry needs to innovate
The hire industry has been slow to innovate, particularly with its adoption of new technology. Suppliers frequently complain of customers not wanting to pay for innovation. The other week I was reading that in 10 years’ time we’ll all be travelling to work in driverless cars while eating breakfast and reading our newspapers. Most people will find this hard to believe. More believable is that in 10 years’ time, unless the hire industry makes a conscious effort to innovate, we’ll be doing pretty much what we’re doing today.
For too long the hire industry has focused purely on rates without considering value for money or the total cost of hiring equipment for project work. Indeed, the only innovation that hire companies have brought to the market in recent years is a lowering of hire charges. And for those that haven’t got any other ideas or ways to offer value this might be an obvious way to compete. However, with equipment and labour costs increasing every year this is a recipe for disaster. In turn this means that the majority of hire companies don’t have the funds to invest and innovate. The end result is a malevolent stagnation of the market that benefits neither suppliers or customers.
As the world around us changes at a frightening speed we can ill afford to rest on our laurels. Technology now affects almost every part of our lives and the pace of change is only likely to accelerate in the future. In my early career I remember a senior colleague saying to me that when we hired something to a customer we should never remind them of the off-hire date. In most cases customers would forget about this and would happily continue paying hire charges even when they weren’t using the equipment. After all, hire equipment is pretty low down on the list of priorities for most customers (why else would anyone order equipment at 5.00pm for urgent delivery at 8.00am next day? I apologise if I have just given away a trade secret of several hire companies who operate this way and see no reason to change.
However, if the hire industry is to evolve we need to change. We need to help customers get the best possible value from their hires. If equipment is not being used we need to inform them proactively and help them off-hire it. Yes, our revenues on a given job might be a bit lower, however, we will save money for our customers and they will be more likely to use our services again as a consequence.
Technology can help improve productivity, reduce operating costs and reduce risks for customers. For example, telehandler hirers can use technology to identify latent periods of the day where attachments can complement tasks being performed. This saves having to hire in other equipment. Technology can be used to notify customers of impending damage or equipment failure which not only saves costs but reduces downtime. Similarly technology can be used to improve safety. And with fines for non-compliance being increasingly punitive, none of us should ignore opportunities to make our workplaces safer for colleagues.
Naturally, none of these things forego the basics: Make it easy for the customer to deal with you; deliver and collect the right equipment at the right time; make sure the equipment doesn’t break down and then send a correct invoice. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, technology can also help with these things as well.
Ardent Hire Solutions is at the forefront of innovation in the hire industry. Not only are we using technology to provide unique services but we are challenging the hire industry to find better ways of doing things. If you are interested in learning more about our company and how we can help you then we would be delighted to speak with you.
Chief Executive Officer, Ardent Hire Solutions