Wayne Walley, Editor-In-Chief of Rental Management Magazine interviewed Alert Management Systems for an upcoming article about rental software. See the entire interview below.
Rental Management Magazine: Howdo you define “rental” software?
Alert Management Systems: Alert defines rental software as software customized to the highly specific nature of the rental industry. Not only does rental software need to provide users with accurate billing, but it also needs to be able to track where inventory is, when it’s going to be used, when it’s coming back in, and a multitude of other industry-wide specifications.
RMM: Why does a rental company need rental industry-specific software?
Alert: A basic accounting software might be able to handle a very small rental operation with only a few units. Rental-specific software understands the unique nature of our industry. We deal with things other businesses don’t, such as damage waiver, turnaround time, and meter usage on heavy equipment. Rental-specific software will allow users to keep track of important metrics to the rental industry – ROI on individual items, maintenance records, and what items go in a kit.
RMM: What has happened to make it easier for a rental company to transition to rental industry-specific software or is this a difficult process?
Alert: Since Alert has been around since the 1970’s and brought thousands of users onto rental software, we have an entire process that is streamlined. We know exactly what data needs to be entered into the system, from GL codes to fixed assets, and we know what order to do training and implementation. We’ve recorded dozens of training videos and have them available on our website to make the training process smoother, and more convenient, than ever. Technology advances such as import/export and ODBC interfaces have made this process easier in recent years.
RMM: What advice would you give a rental company that is searching for rental software for the first time or looking to switch vendors?
Alert: If I was giving advice, I would encourage the buyer to think long-term. We at Alert value our relationships with our clients above all else, and everything we do is driven by this value. We’d also encourage rental software shoppers to find a software they can have a say in. Since the relationship is so long-term, it’s best to find software that is user-driven. Finally, plan and think about their implementation not based on their current number of stores, but how things need to work when they have 3 or 4 times that number of stores! Owners never think they will expand, but virtually all do at some point.
RMM: What are the key features of your software?
Alert: Any good rental package will handle inventory and ticket writing – look beyond the basics, even if you don’t think you are ready for it today – that next step in technology happens sooner than you think! Alert is jam-packed with graphical dashboards, over 500 canned reports (along with a sophisticated report-writing system), and modules such as Purchase Order, Work Order, Job Costing, and accounting interfaces that all work seamlessly together. Third Party bolt-on capability is a good sign of a company willing to create strategic partnerships – our CRM (Zoho), SmartEquip, Vizion360, credit card portals, and Rouse Analytics integrations are just a few examples of how Alert finds market leaders and helps take advantage of their superior products and technology in your business without adding keystrokes. And, of course, the next step for many companies involve the full suite of web services that we offer such as e-Commerce, electronic signatures, GPS integration, Web Portal and WebRequests.
RMM: Who do you consider to be your target rental customers? Is your software designed for a specific segment of the industry or for a certain size company?
Alert: One of the best features of Alert is that it is scalable to any size operation! We serve single-location rental operations with 2 users, up to operations with over a dozen locations and hundreds of users. Alert is industry-agnostic, but most of our clients fall into either general tool/heave equipment or party/event. We serve several other rental industries, from portable toilets to barges.
RMM: If you provide software for the party and event segment, how does this software differ from what is needed by construction or general tool customers?
Alert: Alert provides software for the party and event segment. In fact, Alert is the number one choice of The Special Event Top 30. Their tickets are more complicated and longer, they require heavier use of kitting, they frequently refer back to electronic copies of older versions of tickets (party operations often make hundreds of changes to a single order), they often need more controls over salesperson access, and take more advantage of features like Commissions, Job Costing and Sign & Rent. They are heavy users of our Dispatcher Dashboard, GPS integration, printer groups, flexible client rate schedules and many, many more features.
RMM: How do software systems integrate with the tent setup and the job process overall?
Alert: The entire job is easily managed inside Alert. Venues can be set up in the system with instructions and layouts. Kits are built so the warehouse knows which pieces to put on the truck. Instructions and floorplans are attached to tickets for easy access. The Dispatcher Dashboard can manage the trucks, and an integration to GPS systems can help the event planners even more. Finally, Job Costing can show the profitability of a job before it ever goes out the door.