Liam Stannard is chief technology officer at BigRentz online equipment rental platform. He discusses the future and how BigRentz can help the industry transition to the sharing economy. We had a chance to discuss his views with him. This is a edited version of the discussion and his presentation.
We are not a traditional rental agency. You can think of us as a virtual rental agency. We don’t have any assets. We rent to companies that rent space from us.
We are an online rental company and we know that strong partnerships with suppliers and partners is important. We are in this business to build a sustainable business. It is essential that everyone wins. Today we are proud to announce that we have more than 8,000 rental yards signed up from 1,500 rental agencies across the country as our partners. While we want to do an excellent job for our customers we also recognize the importance of giving our partners more control.
It’s all about technology, even if you don’t own a fleet, and finding the right angle for the customer and supplier, and then using technology to improve everyone’s lives.
Many of our customers may rent multiple times in the US, and might deal with many rental companies depending on where they live. Our recent development has included the ability to offer this type of customer a one stop shop where they can just make one phone call or click and have all their needs met.
We also provide virtual capex to our rental company partners. We are a national company with great insight into the market. Our rental companies might get a client who says, “Hey, I have a job in that area, can you help?” Perhaps they are a small player with no yard in the area. They would have to say no or call other branches, or even rivals, to get the equipment. The equipment search can be distracting. In some cases, the rental company may forget about the re-rent and leave the equipment at the customer’s site, despite having their own equipment available.
We provide data and information to our partners to assist them in making better decisions and to help them identify opportunities in the market. Because we are a tech company, we keep track of everything. Every phone call, every visit, all interactions. We then share that information back with our partners. This is a great way to plan your fleet, but it also gives you a wider view of the market, as we have offices in all 50 states and occasionally in Canada and Latin America.
Research shows that over a third (33%) of millennials don’t prefer doing business face-to-face. They prefer to collaborate online. While the relationship model that worked previously makes sense, decision-makers today have a different expectation.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1996) is currently the largest generation in the workforce. In just two years, they will make up 75 percent of the workforce. This is because millennials have a completely different relationship to technology than Boomers or Gen X.
Nearly 11 percent of all retail sales took place online last year. This translated into $340 billion. Analysts predict that half of all ecommerce will be done online within the next few years. When you think about millennials and technology, it is clear that they are eager to search online for what they need and they want it to be available right away.
What are you seeing in the future of the industry?
Stannard The trend is clear: our customers are moving online. Everyone, including their grandma, has a smartphone. Young decision-makers today expect and demand that they can find what they are looking for online. As an industry, our challenge is to meet this demand.
There is no one right answer. There is no one-size-fits all approach. This is something you have to decide for yourself. When you think about how to tackle online renting, don’t view it as a disruption of your business model. This is an opportunity to increase revenue, increase margins and find new customers. Online technology will play an important role in driving growth in our industry. Whatever it takes to get there, my customers and I are looking forward to meeting you online.