The upswing in the economy is anticipated to have a ripple effect throughout the rental industry in 2004, and will undoubtedly affect the way end-users acquire rental equipment. The American Rental Association (ARA) asked rental dealers and industry experts to identify the latest rental trends and offer predictions for 2004.
Increased equipment purchases by rental dealers. Roughly 42 percent of 700 rental dealers surveyed by ARA report that they plan to purchase more equipment in 2004 than in 2003. The improving economy and tax relief legislation are driving the turnover of aging fleets. The anticipated renewal of federal transportation legislation influences predicted turnover; demand for rental equipment should increase upon passage of this legislation.
Slight increase in rental rates. Rental dealers predict rates will inch up this year, perhaps by as much as 5 percent, although this is varied by region. Rental-industry consultant Dan Kaplan of Kaplan & Associates predicts that rates could go up as much as 7 percent.
More focus on professional training of rental dealers and employees. Rental dealers are putting a priority on service that goes beyond simply service with a smile. An ARA survey of 500 rental dealers found that 55 percent of them plan to spend more on employee training this year. This training focuses on a multitude of topics, from product use and safety to telephone techniques.
Increased staffing of rental operations. In the same survey of 500 rental dealers cited above, 70 percent of the respondents plan to hire more employees this year than in 2003. Roughly 61 percent said they would hire more full-time employees, and 34 percent predict hiring additional permanent part-time employees.
Increased use of theft-prevention systems, especially GPS. ARA Insurance Services reports that theft continues to rise both from rental yards and from jobsites. As GPS prices decline and units become easier to install, more rental dealers are electing to use this technology not only as anti-theft devices but also as a way to monitor equipment usage.