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  Manufacturing Insights   |   January, 2011
Equipment Rental Firms Alter Technology Solutions with SalesForce Automation, Opportunity Management, and Campaign Management
by Thomas R. Cutler
 

Managing the equipment life cycle through its useful life in the new and used fleet as well as the rental fleet is essential when ensuring the dealership receives the maximum financial benefit of every asset. According to Grant Skinner, Vice President of Equip-Soft, suggested, "With automated workflows and easily customized views to access this information the equipment life cycle aids in maximizing profitability."

The management of customer communication, workflow, and opportunity management means more in equipment rental firms. The ability to quickly access account history and contact information offline, integrate contact information to smart phones (Blackberry, Windows Mobile, or iPhone) device automatically is crucial. Managing relationships with customers by developing Sales Force Automation (SFA), Opportunity Management (OM) and Campaign Management (CM), must be quantifiable. Opportunity Management is a great way to ensure sales teams are spending time with key customers, and that a sales forecast is accurate.

Equipment dealers and distributors realize the increasingly competitive nature of their business, making it far more difficult to differentiate from other dealers. Many equipment distributors are looking to improve their bottom line through improved business efficiency; specifically, finding better ways to deal with vendors. Others are looking to grow their business by adopting additional product lines, or new geographies.

The fastest way that many equipment dealers are experiencing growth, particularly in expanding geographic reach, is acquisition. While capturing market share in this manner seems ideal, (if the price is right), the ability to integrate the technology solution of one operation into another, has often presented special challenges. A scalable implementation process is the only way to ensure that large, mid-size, and small equipment dealers are able to implement technology solutions without taking an eye off the business.

Skinner asserts that, "Rental equipment firms must manage their operations through complete management of short term and long term rentals, consolidated fleet management, instant availability of rentable equipment, easy setup of rental contracts and complete integration with Fixed Assets and Service Management. For efficiencies it is also important that technology solutions for rental equipment firms provide easy handling of re-rents, exchanges, and returns."

Fleet Management Technology

The key issue with fleet maintenance is keeping an optimum size fleet of assets running at the lowest possible cost for any given customer. Accurate up to date information about fleet operations and utilization provides a control mechanism for fleet costs as well as simplifying fleet maintenance. Ultimately, technology solutions must provide a deep understanding of fleet usage/utilization while minimizing or even eliminating paper work, a fundamental lean process.

Parts: Following the Profit

Beyond equipment sales, rentals, and leasing, the profitability often is in the ability to provide replacement parts in a timely manner. To better service customers, equipment rental firms must have the right parts at the right time. Effectively managing parts operations is accomplished with easy parts order entry, the ability to track inventory in real-time by branch/location, as well as track cross-references, substitutions, and supercedes. As part of continued process improvement, it is critical to identify dead stock, minimize on-hand inventory, optimize parts replenishment, and increase warehouse efficiencies.

Few software solutions are specifically designed for Equipment Dealers. Skinner suggested, "By leveraging the integrated Microsoft stack of technologies (Dynamics NAV, Dynamics CRM and Dynamics Mobile) combined with the dealer-specific enhancements that Equip-Soft has made to these products, SCMH is able to remove costs out of their operations, without having to worry whether or not the technologies can work together. With the addition of Dynamics CRM and Dynamics Mobile to the Equip-Soft product line, the efficiencies between the sales/service operations with the traditional dealer back office operations are seamless."



Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc, (www.trcutlerinc.com). Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of nearly four thousand journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com or 888-902-0300. See More Details.

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