Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Survival of the Innovators: The next generation of plant hire company

Nobody wants to be reminded about the bleak 2013 growth forecast in the plant and construction industries. But with yet another year of gruelling economic challenges lying ahead; plant hire businesses are compelled to rigorously scrutinise their strategies or face the very real possibility of going to the wall.

Recent predictions indicating plant hire businesses will cut capital investment by ten per cent during 2013, raise an important question: Does a cut in capital investment now ensure financial stability in the long term, or will it just keep the wolf from the door for another year? With fiercely competitive trading conditions that are here to stay, surely plant hire businesses must innovate to differentiate?
Plain sailing or choppy waters?
With increased capital investment firmly off the menu, plant hire businesses are starting to consider the use of mobile technologies as an alternative, with the aim of putting clear blue water between them and their rivals. By maximising existing resources, not only are they cutting unnecessary costs, but they are also discovering new opportunities to increase revenue – in way that is simply not possible using paper-based systems.
The sheer scale of documentation generated by the wide range of necessary processes leaves plant companies drowning in an ocean of paperwork, from which it is impossible to run a modern, proactive business and turns decision making into guess work. By facilitating the provision of reliable and accurate information on business activities to management, in real time using handheld devices, innovative enterprise mobility solutions are underpinning intelligent on-the-spot decision-making, in addition to building the bigger business strategy picture.
The Three Ps
People, processes and plant equipment: The plant hire company’s powerful trio of assets that are central to devising a robust future-proof mobility plan. The way in which these elements interact holds the key to a successful plant hire business that will not only weather the economical storm, but emerge from it fighting fit.
Empowering personnel with automated and logical workflow via a mobile device, not only ensures process adherence, it also increases productivity by reducing the administrative burden. Back in the office, management have immediate access to granular data that will inform specific asset utilisation tactics to achieve the most advantageous business outcome.
On the road to smarter sales
Reviewing the sales process is often a starting point when looking to capitalise on revenue streams. But with most rental arrangements for heavy equipment being agreed on the customer’s site, it is challenging for sales representatives to offer value-added services or viable up-sell propositions.
With a smartphone or tablet in hand, sales staff can generate tailored quotes immediately, specific to the exact needs of the customer, without needing to return to base and for a quote which will arrive days later. Transparent equipment availability details also make it easy for staff to offer alternative rental options, which offer benefits to both the customer and business.
Preserving your assets
If plant hire companies are looking to cut capital expenditure, reducing outlay on replacing equipment is essential. However, keeping on top of the maintenance of a large fleet of varied plant equipment is an overwhelming task.
So to support engineers in their vital role, intuitive workflow systems delivered on a mobile device ensure that no planned maintenance is missed, and any equipment servicing is carried out methodically. By safe-guarding the condition of assets in this way, breakdown call outs are dramatically reduced, along with any hefty related costs and the knock on delays caused for forthcoming rental contracts.
Taking stock
The equipment audit is a laborious yet necessary task to evaluate whether equipment should be sold off or retained. With access to detailed timely data relating to asset condition, value and yield, provided by innovative mobile technology; intelligence-based decisions about equipment sale can be made quickly, and depreciation rates can be factored into the rental of the asset and as well as any future buying commitments.
Undisputable evidence
Recovering equipment damage costs from customers is the root of many headaches for plant hire managers, with the finger of blame being pointed in all directions. Proving 'whodunit' without unequivocal evidence can be a long and painful struggle, and has the potential to sever business ties for good.
Mobile devices offer a reliable and efficient way of recording equipment condition at the point of delivery and collection, obtaining the customer’s signature there and then. With details of damage fed back to head office in real-time, an invoice can be raised immediately and accompanied with supporting evidence. This minimises disputes and ensures costs are recouped promptly.
A new breed of plant hire
With the threat of flat lining revenues, plant hire businesses need to embrace the shift in the plant hire business landscape, to stand a chance of securing the highly coveted rental contracts on offer, and crucially, attract returning business.
The transformative properties of innovative mobile technology adoption are putting many plant hire companies at a significant advantage, by giving them the foundations to offer more competitive leasing arrangements and excellent standards of customer care.

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