Archive | June 2013

Equipment Rentals and the US Economy

One of the interesting things about working in our sector is that people look to our numbers to indicate the direction of the economy.  If “equipment rentals are up,” that’s usually taken as a positive sign.  This is because so many people look to housing starts as an economic indicator.  If there are more housing starts, more people will rent (or buy) equipment, and at least in our industry, that means more profit for us and for our clients.

rental-center-monticello-build-house-equipment-rental

But is that really true?  In the short term, yes.  But when you are talking about such big economic trends you have to speak in generalities.  We might get a better sense of the real picture from the other side of the looking glass.  Let’s, for example, think about how it might work for us here in Monticello, NY.  If we use housing starts to measure economic growth, what do we do with our excess housing inventory?  If there are more houses for sale that people simply don’t want to buy because they’d rather build their own (maybe it’s cheaper, maybe they want to customize, maybe they want to be closer to a new park and school instead of an older, more historic neighborhood) ultimately the small local economy is going to have to deal with that excess inventory.  Two things can happen here.  Either the market can have an adjustment to a lower price because of the excess inventory, or the neighborhoods in which there are a lot of homes for sale will begin to lose momentum (growth) and character (the “moss” that grows around a community).

In our industry, either of those scenarios still present opportunities for our sector.  For those who are dealing with flatlining home equity or don’t want the market rates to dictate the valuation of their house, there’s always room for improvement.  A new wing of the house, a new room, a new pool, a new garden – these are all things you can do with the help of new equipment.  If it turns out that flight to suburbs changes old neighborhoods or virtually obliterates them through evacuation, then there’s the possibility of redevelopment, which will still need equipment for demolition, leveling, excavation, and rebuilding.

In this little story we can see that if you use the simple metric of “equipment rentals up” = “economy on the rise” you might not have all the facts.  Sure, our industry and the homebuilding sector will do well, and anytime there is good economic news the consumer/taxpayer at large “feels” more comfortable (whatever that means) and makes purchases and investments and improvements based on that comfort and confidence.  But we think it’s always important to take those big, national narratives and translate them to our local municipalities.  We will only know how well we are doing by measuring how well the place we live is doing.  We often forget in the national thrum of news that 80% of most of our lives are lived under state and local laws, and so too, whatever big national trends are going up or down, there’s always an opportunity to reinforce or fight back those trends, depending on which side of the trend you are on (or want to be on).

So I asked you to look at the big national story through our local perspective.  I’ll be fair and go the other way with you.

If we say “equipment rentals are up” we are also talking about the new mega-trend of rentals.  Do you think of Netflix as part of that trend?  The trend that made you realize you can get mostly any movie you want within 2-3 days (sometimes immediately via streaming) so you don’t have to buy/maintain a library?  Or what about the new disruptor AirBnB, which allows people to turn that extra space in their home into cash by renting to people who like the idea of staying in a home instead of a hotel?  Even within the classic car-rental sector there has been a new niche developed: car-sharing a la ZipCar.  Each of these innovations continues to teach the population that ownership is still king, but that we can leverage that ownership to help everyone be smarter about how they spend their money and time.  And that’s an exciting thing to be part of.  And hopefully, something that you’ll think about when you hear “rentals are up” next time.

4 things to remember when renting a tent for your event

Some time ago we blogged about ways to make an outdoor event great.  Today we are going to step beyond that article to drill down a bit more specifically and talk about the tent component of your outdoor event.

Now, not everyone wants/needs/can afford a tent for their event.  This article is for those who have never done so and are considering it and want to be fully aware of everything that goes into tent rental and setup.  We hope these suggestions for things to remember will help you have a great event!

1.  Check your local ordinances!

Here in Monticello, NY, you may need a permit for your party tent, depending on your address and property size.  You can start by going to your local municipality’s website (like ours) and looking at the Frequently Asked Questions to see if that directs you to the right forms.  If those don’t help, just pick up the phone and ask your questions.  City staff are (usually) pretty friendly and ready to help, as long as you ask nicely!

You never want to get in trouble for hosting a great event.  It can definitely put a damper on things so before you get started on all the other planning start here first.

with side walls in place

2.  Shop around

Obviously we’d like you to rent from us, but we want you do so because you’ve heard good things about us and have done your homework.

Have you called local rental places and asked them about your event?  Were they knowledgeable and friendly?  How do they charge? Do they price match? (We do, plus we will beat by 10%!)

The number one thing that happens when we take calls like this is that we ask a lot of questions that our customers don’t necessarily know the answers to.  Before you call, know the answers to these bare minimum questions:

a.) What dates are you looking at? (do you have a backup date should weather intervene?)
b.) How many people do you need to be able to put inside? (this also relates to a conversation about table and chair rental)
c.) What will the outdoor conditions be like? (is the ground level/uneven; how’s the drainage)

20x30 white canopy tent

20×30 white canopy tent

3.  Consider the interior of the tent

The way that tents are designed today you can have rooms, anterooms, hallways, etc.  Since a tent isn’t a canopy, it has a center pole and framework and you can have very high ceilings, which changes the entire look and feel of the room(s).  What are you visualizing?  What do you want the rooms to look like?

Now, despite the flexibility you can have with other rooms, in the vast majority most tents, you can’t have restrooms.  You should figure out whether there are enough bathrooms on site or whether you should explore getting a restroom trailer or even portable toilets.

What do you want to do for flooring?  As we alluded to in the last point, are you dealing with uneven ground?  Usually a rental company can help lay some heavy plastic down on the ground in order to create a proper surface for a carpet or any other bottom surface you would like.

What about temperature inside?  Will you need fans?  Heaters?  How will you maintain those temperatures?

4.  Have a backup plan

All this good planning can go to waste if there is a natural disaster, bad weather, or an unexpected local event on the day of your event!  Make sure you have a backup for your event.  Even if your “backup” plan is to reschedule for another day in which all the other pieces could come together, you would still be ahead of 95% of all event planners, even the professional ones!

We hope that these things to remember assist you in planning your outdoor event, and remember we are always here to answer your questions about anything you have in mind about tent rental (and all the other components that go along with tent rental).  Just remember that before you call you should have some pretty solid ideas about your event (see above) so that when we ask clarifying questions you won’t be left thinking that you’ll have to get back to us.  Or, hey, you could ask us for ideas.  We are always happy to help!

Social Media and Your Business

So, a couple of our customers have seen our new(ish) presence on Twitter and Facebook and even Google+ and have asked why an equipment rental firm in Monticello, New York needs to be broadcasting our thoughts and ideas to the whole world.  “You’re a local business,” they say.  “Why worry about everybody else in the world?”  Fair question.  We’ll try to answer!

I suppose we would begin by saying that we have come to learn and understand that social media is just today’s buzzword for something that has existed for a very long time: word of mouth.  Is there ever such a thing as “too much word of mouth”?  Would you ever tell someone, “Well, thanks for telling me about that company, but I’ll never be in that part of New York, so you wasted your time telling me about them”?  Of course not!  This is because “word of mouth” is part and parcel of storytelling.  As humans, as social beings, we love hearing a great story, and just because that story is about a business doesn’t make it any less interesting.

Businesses like ours particularly thrive on word of mouth.  It’s our best and least expensive form of advertising.  We think the reason we’ve been in business all these years is because we do our best to help our customers and embedded within the very pricing of our products – we rent by the day, not the hour (so you don’t have to clock-watch, you can just focus on your work) – is the way we think about what you do.

john deere 200d excavator rental center monticello

What makes our business so fun (apart from getting to work outside often) is that we are renting and selling potential and dreams.  People come to us with an idea of clearing a space, creating a space, improving a space, or adding something entirely new.  The wheels of creativity are spinning and they are seeing something where there is currently nothing.  We get to help them explore that creativity and “paint” with our tools.  We get to help them develop that idea into something real.  Now, sometimes that means that we have to tell them that the idea is unrealistic and we try to conceive of a realistic way to execute their notion.  Other times we are so inspired by their work that we go home and do something similar ourselves (the advantage of owning an equipment rental firm is you get to use all the toys yourself!).

husqvarna rental center monticello

If you feel lost about this whole “social media” thing and you’re just an “old-school” business owner (like us), don’t worry.  It’s not that complicated.  It’s just word of mouth, put into the digital space, where it’s resident forever.  We ran into a great “intro to social media” podcast the other day that can walk you through some of these ideas that we took the time to learn ourselves.

And to circle back to the original question that started this post, which was why we “cared” about the whole world and not just the “rentable radius” around Monticello, New York, we hope we’ve answered it through some of what we’ve alluded to above, but in case we haven’t been totally clear, it’s because story-telling is not geographically limited.  We believe that social media is about sharing your stories, about being passionate about your brand and your customers, and about learning more about yourself and your industry.  Every single day.

If that means that, by our storytelling, we *happen* to reach the rest of the world, great.  But that wasn’t why we started blogging in the first place and why we blog weekly.  It’s because we love what we do and how we can help our customers and instead of being overwhelmed by the social media tsunami, we decided to step up, learn the languages of facebook, twitter, and google+, and share our stories beyond the walls of our store.  We continue to be humbled by the stories from our own customers – but now – also hearing the stories of other customers from rental centers far beyond our state.  It’s a way to challenge us to think in new ways to how we can always improve and serve our customers better.  And that makes all the “work” of social media worthwhile.

Three reasons to take a short break from your work and step outside

We’ll be honest.  Here in Monticello pretty much anywhere you turn on the compass, you’re going to run into a forest or possibly a lake.  The “Great Outdoors” is definitely on display here.  Additionally, being in charge of the Rental Center means that if we’re not outdoors with our customers or helping our customers or delivering to our customers, we’re outdoors working on our own business.  We’re blessed that way.  In fact, in a society that gives us more and more mobility (so many people are able to work from any location in the world) we are sometimes not cognizant of the fact that being outdoors isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity for that machine we call the human body.

We talk about equipment maintenance here, and as the sun shines this morning we thought we might take a variation of that theme and talk about human equipment maintenance via the outdoors!

Fresh Air

Now, we understand that some places don’t have the best air (see Exhibit A below)

equipment rental monticello new york

but apart from the really bad places, most times outside air is going to be healthier for you.  Why?

  • Being outdoors is itself a cue to “take a deep breath.”  As you take that deep breath, hold it, and then exhale, you feel better and often more relaxed.  Part of that is due to the influx of oxygen.  So much of the air we breath is “not-oxygen” that an intentional (and intense) intake of air, that happens to have oxygen in it, makes us feel better.  In fact, high oxygen levels have been known to enhance physical well-being and have been linked to better health.
  • Indoor air is recirculated.  Many of us work in offices, but the point is perhaps best driven home by visualizing plane rides, which recirculate a very compact amount of air.  Half of the air in an airplane comes in from outside (through the jet engines) and is cooled before being mixed with (get ready) our sweat, dead skin, gases, coughs, viruses, and bacteria.  Even those who aren’t “germophobic” might cringe.
  • To our first point, fresh air leads to more oxygenated blood.  More oxygenated blood leads to lower blood pressure and better circulation, as well as speeding the removal of waste from the bloodstream.  This makes  your body “flow” better and leads to easier and better sleep too!

Exercise

Now, some of you will see that word and get worried that we are advocating some kind of workout when you take an “outdoor break.”  Not at all.  We will tell you not to simply simulate your posture from indoors, that is, being seated in a comfortable position.  Take a walk, move around, move your limbs, stretch yourself.  Not everyone’s workplace/work area allows for this sort of movement, but within the space you can, you should try to move around.  There will be plenty of time to sit down for hours on end – take the time to move around and wake your body up.  You’ll go back to work with more energy!

Nature

As I’ve said above, not everyone lives in Monticello with lots of nature all around.  In fact, some of our readers may be looking at the picture we posted of the Los Angeles smogline and say, “Hey guys, that’s me!  What am I supposed to do?”  Fair enough.  We submit your break areas may not look like this:

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Or even like this:

equipment_rental_monticello_new_york

But whatever it may look like, you can enjoy the sunshine, the particular weather of the day, the flora and fauna around you, and that other part of nature – your co-workers!  Take the time to relax and get to know them.  Sometimes that can be hard, we know that!  But stepping outside for that short break is to refresh you from your work.  Part of that refreshment comes from breathing in good air and oxygenating your blood and clearing your head.  Part of that comes from walking around so that your limbs don’t think your only physical posture is sitting.  But one last part of that refreshment is stepping away from “work” for a moment and remembering individual people.  Asking about them and how they are doing and in that way you can gain insight, in some small way, as to why they work as hard as you do.