Rental price comparison website launched in the US

By Murray Pollok07 August 2009

Co-founders of RentalHawk.com, Robert Gray (left) and Mark Richter.

Co-founders of RentalHawk.com, Robert Gray (left) and Mark Richter.

Two US rental veterans have launched a price comparison website for equipment rental. RentalHawk.com, based in Los Angeles, California, has been created by Robert Gray, a former United Rentals sales representative, and Mark Richter, who has worked for Briggs Equipment, Diamondback Rentals and United Rentals.

The site allows rental customers to search for rental prices (daily, weekly and monthly) for equipment in a specified location. To rent an item, the website sends a message to the rental company and the transaction is then concluded between the customer and the rental company.

Mark Richter, RentalHawk's chief financial officer, said the website charges rental companies for listings - US$249 for 25 items of equipment at 10 specified locations - with no commission taken on rentals.

The site has been running for little over two weeks, and Mr Richter said that 27 locations have already been set up, although not all of these are being paid for, with some trial periods ongoing. Sunbelt Rentals and H&E Equipment are among those with locations on the site.

"We're seeing 150 people a day going through the site", said Mr Richter.

He acknowledged that not everyone in the industry is in favour of a price comparison site, partly because it focuses on price rather than service. However, Mr Richter said; "The internet is here to stay whether we like it or not - the rental industry is going to have to embrace it."

He argued that the website's ‘Talon Rating System' - which allows customers to rate rental companies after each contract - will emphasis the importance of good service; "It allows branches to excel over the competition. Did you service the customer better? That's the only way rental companies will survive. Some guys don't like the idea, but actually I think we are going to be your saviour."

Rental companies can list their equipment for each individual branch location and manage rates for that equipment in any city they choose to service. Each branch has control over rental rates in real-time.

"When we explain the concept of RentalHawk.com to equipment rental industry insiders, their eyes light up," said Robert Gray, co-founder of RentalHawk.com. "No one could believe that this sort of service didn't exist, that is, until now."

US rental consumers now have several online rental sites to choose from, including RentItToday and two European businesses, erento and Zilok, that are also operating in the US. However, these sites are more broad based, renting all sorts of household and leisure items, as well as heavy equipment.

RentalHawk's Mark Richter told IRN that a benefit of RentalHawk was its focus; "We're just an equipment rental site - we don't want to rent chocolate fountains. We just want to rent what's on construction sites."

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