– Like many industrial sectors, heavy equipment, truck and trailer sales and leasing is experiencing some major changes right now. New generations are taking over the organizational reins, customer preferences are evolving, and new opportunities are emerging. To seize these opportunities while meeting the needs of a new generation of owners and tech-savvy end customers, companies are pushing their Excel spreadsheets and QuickBooks-esque business systems to their breaking points. Specializing in heavy equipment, trucks, and trailers, these entities need robust, cloud technology systems
that provide 360° transaction and information visibility of customers and businesses across the enterprise—and across all locations—in real-time. In the absence of these insights about their own operations and their customers, business operators that rely on spreadsheets and point systems miss out on the chance to get and keep those customers for life.
Four Key Challenges
Whether they’re renting trailers out to e-commerce companies, leasing construction equipment to contractors, or providing equipment rentals to DIY homeowners, today’s equipment and vehicle rental firms are dealing with numerous business management challenges. Here are the top issues that are keeping them up at night right now:
- These are legacy businesses with “rich” histories. Whether they operate independently or as franchisees, most dealers have at least one thing in common: they were founded decades ago and are now being run by second- or third-generation owners. “Usually one generation started it, the next generation ran it, and then the sons or daughters took over,” Douglas Lecker, Advectus’ COO explained. “Back when the company was started, it made quite a bit of money and operated on fat margins.” In most cases, those margins were good because the price that dealers paid for their equipment was a secret. “Now anyone can use Google to look at invoices and do other research into base pricing,” said Lecker. “As a result, margins have shrunk quite a bit.”
- Their systems are siloed, manual, and not integrated. Historically, most were paper-dependent and relied on employees to key information into a system that other workers could access, review, and update. Not only did this take extra time, but it also resulted in a lot of data errors and an overall inability to gain a 360° view of the customer. Over time many of these companies switched to using whiteboards to track their activities and keep team members in the know. And even as they began to handle more processes electronically, these dealers’ systems remained largely siloed and unable to communicate with one another. This situation hasn’t improved much over the last few years. “Capturing the full customer experience and then updating it, reporting on it, and integrating it with a customer relationship management (CRM) system,” said Jim Justinich, Director, Implementations at Advectus Solutions, “is still out of reach for most heavy equipment dealers.”
- They have no customer or operational dashboards. Because their systems and processes can’t “talk” to one another, heavy equipment, truck and trailer dealers lack the customer and business dashboards they need to be able to make good decisions. For example, Lecker knows of a truck dealer that “can’t see anything that’s going on in his business, because there are so many platforms that are operating it.” None of these platforms are integrated, which means the dealer has zero visibility over how his company is performing on a daily basis. “Employees have to go into Excel, enter the information, and then print out reports,” said Lecker. “Not only is this a lot of extra work, but those reports don’t even help to paint a complete picture of the company’s operations.”
- Consumers are doing price and package comparisons online. As with many other business sectors, heavy equipment, truck and trailer dealers are trying to “do more with less.” And, competition for customers is increasing at a time when those clients have price comparisons and other information at their fingertips. “Someone buying a piece of John Deere equipment can easily see what Dealer A or B is selling it for, and what package deals it’s offering, ” said Lecker. “Dealers can’t just stick with their old systems. They have to innovate and put systems in place that help them adjust to this selling environment, prove their value, and operate more efficiently.”
Taking Dealers into the 21st Century
takes a holistic approach to improving dealer efficiency and profitability. Instead of getting service software from NAPA, a CRM from a best-of-breed software provider, and an accounting system from QuickBooks, dealers have everything they need on a single platform
. “We touch the whole operation,” said Justinich, “from sales to service to technicians, and everything in between.”
In return for their investment, dealers get an enterprise-wide solution
that helps them work smarter, better, and faster in a challenging business environment. They reduce manual processes, eliminate their spreadsheets, gain insights into their operations, and optimize customer relationship management.
“Once dealers see the system’s reporting capabilities and how much information they have on a single dashboard, they’re sold on it,” said Justinich. “We’re helping a sector that’s used to operating with really old systems and taking it into the 21st Century with technology.”