Aggressive Marketing Drives Demand for Rental Company’s Compact Equipment
Owner analyzes different distribution methods, finds a good mix to reach customers
Brian Grant, owner of Grant's Rental in Bridgewater, Mass.
Everyone likes a bargain, particularly customers of rental centers. That's why during the past three years, when business has been slower than usual, Brian Grant used price-reduction coupons to build traffic for his Boston-area store. In doing so, he has been able to draw some conclusions about where best to invest his promotional dollars.
When it comes to compact equipment, there is no doubt that Grant prefers to invest in Bobcat® equipment. He currently owns four machines — two S175 skid-steer loaders, a T190 compact track loader and a 430 compact excavator.
"Over the years we have done very well with our Bobcat machines and attachments," says the owner of Grant's Rental in Bridgewater, Mass. "They are popular, easy to maintain, last longer than other equipment and very high quality. They're in, they're out, no problem for us. That's exactly what you want in rental."
Grant points out that the T190 has been a big help, mainly in generating early spring business. "The tracks enable our customers to get right to work, even when ground conditions are difficult," he says.
Brian Grant's Successful Marketing Strategies
"Instead of waiting for business to return, we decided to be proactive by advertising more than we had done in the past," Grant says. "The one constant in all we did was a discount coupon, generally 10 percent off of every rental. In doing so, we discovered that some methods are more cost-effective than others. The coupons get people in the door and we have been lucky in getting repeat business."
Two years ago, Grant mailed a two-sided printed card to all 8,000 names on his mailing list. Each quarter, cards that included the discount coupon were sent to 2,000 of the names. A software program allowed him to separate the list by market, such as contractors, landscapers, plumbers, electricians and homeowners. The mailings were scheduled to coincide with the heaviest rental use by the different market segments. As part of this program, Grant paid the Postal Service to verify addresses.
"The return of coupons from each mailing was about three percent," Grant says. "It brought in business, but the cost of printing and postage was high. Last year we cut back to a spring and fall mailing, 4,000 each time. It was still an expensive proposition."
Two locally produced publications distributed in his area allow Grant to reach as many homeowners as we wants. He typically signs up to advertise to about 50,000 residents in six surrounding towns. "Last year we purchased circulation farther out and gained some new customers," he says. "For about $600 per mailing, we gross about $4,000 to $5,000 worth of business. It's a good way to reach homeowners."
Excellent placement on Google — when prospective customers type in keywords such as "equipment rental Bridgewater, MA" and "Grant's Rental Season Specials," Grant's site will appear on the first Google page — has currently made the Internet the best value for Grant.
"Last year we had a gross income of $27,000 from the Internet coupons," he says. "The cost is less than $600 a year to maintain the site. We feature the same special rates all the time, just changing the photos each quarter."
The summer photos feature party rentals — canopies, popcorn, snow cone and cotton candy machines and inflatable items. In the fall, the emphasis is on skid-steer loaders and brush chippers.
"The Internet brings in new customers who usually turn into repeat customers," Grant says. "Typically, a spring visit for lawn and garden items is followed by graduation party supplies and then fall clean-up equipment
Rental coupon values
The coupon program promoted by Grant's Rental offers these everyday discounts:
- $10 OFF rentals of $100 to $150
- $15 OFF rentals of $150 to $199
- $20 OFF rentals of $200 to $499
- $50 OFF rentals of $500 or more