United Rentals spells out importance of major accounts

By Murray Pollok09 April 2010

Michael Kneeland, chief executive officer of United Rentals

Michael Kneeland, chief executive officer of United Rentals

United Rentals said it is increasing its market share with its largest customers and that these large accounts would build long-term profitability in the business even if rental demand falls again this year.

In an exclusive interview in the April issue of International Rental News (IRN), Mr Kneeland said its 1200 national accounts now accounted for around 24% of total revenues, up on the previous year.

"We know that we increased our share of wallet with our top 25 customers in 2009," Mr Kneeland said, "That tells us that even if rental demand declines again in 2010, we are building the right kind of customer base for long-term profitability."

The company added 233 large accounts in 2009 and said that 20% of the national accounts were brought on during the recession.

"From rates, to fleet, to customer mix, we are looking at our business very differently than in the past," said Mr Kneeland.

"Customer segmentation is a transformative strategy for us. We want to use our leadership position to our competitive advantage. That includes developing a defensible base of customers who value our geographic reach and depth of fleet."

Mr Kneeland said the customer base that fitted best with its growth strategy "tend to be national companies in the non-residential construction and industrial sectors, and large regional accounts."

The company said that targeting large accounts did not mean it was deserting smaller customers; "Smaller customers represent the potential to become larger customers with us over time", he told IRN, "But beyond that, Operation United [the company's recent strategy review] demands our best efforts in servicing customers of all sizes."

Read the full interview in the April issue of IRN. You can register to receive the free digital issue of the magazine at www.khl.com/subscriptions/free-digital

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