Bill Whitehouse, chief operating officer, Kennards Group

Bill Whitehouse, chief operating officer, Kennards Group

Adopting a clear vision and understanding what customers want is the key to operating a successful rental company, the International Rental Conference Asia heard.
Bill Whitehouse, chief operating officer, Kennards Group, talked about the company's philosophy, and its willingness to adapt to change, insisting that sitting still would mean falling behind in a fast-moving industry, as it bids to become "the best rental company in the world".
The Australian company - which is expected to record revenues of AUS$330 million for 2016 - has undergone changes over the past 15 years, including its decision to specialise in six areas - lift and shift, concrete care, pump and power, rail, test and measure, and traffic management.
Whitehouse said that the company now operates four channels of contact, in the shape of its branch, a website, a call centre and its sales people.
He said that it's larger customers - civil and construction - still wanted to hold personal relationships with Kennards, meaning its sales people carried out an important role at the company. He added that its other customers - DIY (do it yourself), trade and medium businesses - preferred to use the company's website to rent equipment.
Kennards launched a new website three months ago - which is adaptable for smart phones and tablets - and Whitehouse said the company had generated AUS$800,000 worth of sales since its existence. He said that 50% of its customers who used the website were new, and had not rented equipment from Kennards before.
Whitehouse added, "Four years ago we introduced QR codes on our machines, which take our customers to a portal, where they can view videos on how to operate the machine, among other things."
Whitehouse urged rental companies to focus on quality, insisting it was the only way to ensure it customers would remain loyal to the company. He said, "We operate what we call QOM - quality of operations management. This means we make sure that our machines meet the quality expected by our customers, and we make sure our relationship with our customers is quality too.
"We have also introduced two robots to our company. This isn't to reduce our number of staff, but to make sure we become more efficient."
Whitehouse concluded his speech with a clear message to rental companies. He said, "Its so important that you understand your customers and their culture. You must always be aware of your market. Always ensure quality. Understand your customers' needs and behaviours. And always innovate."

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