Article contributed by John Mahlmeister, COO, Easy Ice
Foodservice equipment dealers and equipment rental companies have a long history of competition.
Most dealerships exclusively sell their products, including large back-of-house equipment like ice machines, walk-in refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers, etc. Dealers are locked into the buy vs. rent debate with equipment rental companies, the two groups pitted against each other despite having entirely unique benefits and disadvantages.
Why You Should Offer Rental Solutions as a Dealer
Possible Recession Now or Later Will Influence Operators to Rent More
By now, we’ve all seen economists predict a possible recession in 2023. Even if one doesn’t happen this year, recessions are an inevitable part of the U.S. economy. Sooner or later, we’ll experience one again, and when we do, the number of business owners wanting to rent instead of buy their kitchen equipment will rise. It’s a natural, logical instinct to conserve as much working capital as possible during times of economic uncertainty, especially for new businesses already at high-risk of closure due to lack of working capital. Adding rental solutions to your dealership could help your bottom line during recessions.
Some Operators Will Always Rent No Matter What – Stay Competitive!
Regardless of economic conditions, there will always be restaurant owners who rent some of their commercial kitchen equipment instead of buying, whether for financial or other reasons. If you want a chance to earn their business, don’t rely on the possibility of converting more of them from a rental to a purchase mindset. Be prepared to give them what they want! Offering customers rental solutions will guarantee extra business for your dealership, plain and simple.
How You Can Offer Kitchen Equipment Rental Solutions as a Dealer
So, you’re willing to consider adding rental solutions to your dealership. Here are 3 ways you can do it:
1. Offer In-House Rental Options
While this is the most obvious way to help your customers rent equipment, it’s also the most disruptive to your current business model. There are pros and cons to offering your own in-house rental equipment. On the upside, you can directly compete with third-party rental companies and make more money. You’ll also stand out in the dealer world, as most other dealerships continue to sell equipment exclusively. On the downside, creating a rental program requires a tremendous amount of capital, and running it efficiently involves committing significant financial and human resources to the program.
2. Refer to a Third-Party Rental Company
If you’ve been in business a while, you’ve probably already done this for customers who understand the value of a rental option for certain equipment. Having a reliable rental company in your corner for referral will certainly support good relationships with your customers, but it doesn’t net you any profit. Every piece of equipment your customer rents from someone else is a sale you don’t make.
3. Partner with a Third-Party Rental Company
How is partnering with a rental company different than referring customers to one? Simple. A partnership is mutually beneficial on the profit side. When you partner with a rental company, you don’t just send your customer to that company to rent equipment with nothing to show for it. Your rental partner buys the piece of equipment from you in support of your customer account! It’s a win-win-win situation: your customer gets what he needs in a way he’s comfortable with, you make the equipment sale, and the rental company gains new business.
Adding rental options to your kitchen equipment solution menu is an excellent way to increase revenue and successfully compete with rental-only equipment companies. The easier you make it for your customers to rent when they want to, the more attractive you’ll be compared to other dealers in your locale. If offering in-house rental equipment is too far a departure from the way you’re used to running your dealership, consider partnering with a rental company willing to buy their equipment from you. It’s the easiest way to help your customers rent while maximizing your dealership’s profit margin.
John Mahlmeister is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Easy Ice. Co-headquartered in Phoenix, AZ and Marquette, MI, Easy Ice is the national leader in the full-service ice machine subscription industry with warehouse and distribution facilities in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Denver. Since its founding in 2009, Easy Ice has rapidly grown the number of ice machines under management to over 30,000 units across 47 states. The Easy Ice commercial ice machine subscription programs include installation, cleaning, preventive maintenance, repairs, and backup ice. For more information, please visit EasyIce.com. Find them on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn