5 Reasons You May Not Need Rental Software (Yet)

At RentMy, we’re privileged to serve rental businesses on 4 continents, spanning every rental products category you can think of.  For 15 years, we have helped startups to colleges & universities bring new organization and information to equipment rental businesses and their Customers.  Given the time we have been in business, we can spot almost right away if a prospective client should have other priorities over adding a rental management system to their business.

Here are the 5 telltale signs that a rental business should invest their budget in something other than rental software to help their business grow:

  1. Always custom pricing.  If your business prefers the “personal touch” when creating offers for Customers, no software will provide what you’re looking for.  Sure, rental software will help you know where your items are, but the main benefit of a rental software system made for online bookings is adding velocity to your business.  Velocity comes from consistency.  If you have a handful of products, let’s say, and the pricing or options or upgrades vary by every customer who checks out your website, you’re not going to get the volume of bookings you want.  Our best (in terms of rental revenue) Clients make it easy for Customers: standardized inventory, clear pricing, no more than 4 variant options for a given product (like size, color, style, brand) and standard upsells.  If you add too many “paths” for a Customer to take, he or she will get lost in the experience and simply give up.
  2. Side hustles.  Running a rental business takes actual effort.  Maintaining and servicing inventory, helping Customers with questions, and providing that “personal touch” that can never be automated fully.  Certainly some of these functions can be automated, like online reservations and reminders, but if you’re getting just a few orders per week (because you want your software to “just do it for me”, you’re going to lose interest, and your Customers will notice.  Side hustles are great when you’re willing to put in the work to make it a success, but an investment in rental software to help manage your business comes farther down the list of priorities.
  3. Too few products.  We have clients approach RentMy who are considering using our service for managing availability and booking for a rental house or a single item, like a golf cart.  Really?  There are tons of free plugins that essentially record a rental booking into some database that you can look up on your phone.  We find clients like these are so enamored with the idea of running an empire “one day” that they spend more on their chosen rental software than they could possibly earn from renting out their inventory.  Mind you, you don’t need thousands of items of inventory, but you should offer a broad enough selection to meet the typical needs of your Customers.
  4. Mom & Pop Businesses.  As the name implies, these businesses have just one or two employees, which is about the right number needed for keeping track of your rentals.  When there’s a need to communicate with front counter staff, delivery drivers, guides, accountants and more, only then does an investment in rental inventory software really make sense for most businesses.  
  5. Overly Niche Products.  Listen, we love niches.  Rental inventory management software is a niche (compared to traditional e-commerce systems), but there is enough opportunity in terms of rental industry Clients to make a market.  When we talk with a client with visions of serving a fraction of an already-small market, we usually offer to help with growing their market opportunity (through product extensions or redefining the market). For those that insist on offering local only (i.e., no shipping option), we usually recommend finding an alternate solution. So what do we mean by “overly niche”?   We’re talking about things like “I have a Thomas The Tank Engine sign for kids birthdays for ages 4-8 years old in the greater Amarillo area”.  Some kids are nuts about Thomas, but the number of Customers who could potentially want this item will not overwhelm the business with demand. Save your money and keep a notebook or a Microsoft Excel workbook open to manage these rentals.

Rental software can do great things for your business, but it’s not suited for every business that offers items for rent.  Wait until your business has real challenges keeping up with orders, knowing when your items are available and when they’re not, and keeping Customers updated with automated alerts and reminders.  Until then, invest in inventory (and servicing of that inventory).  When you’re ready for a system to take on the tasks that can be automated and provide the reporting you will need, do your homework to find the solution that works best for your rental business.


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