Written by: J.P Fritz
During November, our management team met to discuss ways we can become a better company, for our customers and our employees. One of the many topics discussed was investing in tools to make deliveries easier.
Over the years, we have purchased lots of expensive equipment to make tent installing easier. We have large hydraulic stake drivers which weigh a fraction of the old handheld ones and deliver far more stake driving power. This year, we are buying a new version of Rhino stake drivers; a much lighter stake driver. They are hand held but deliver a heavy hit. We bought several of these years ago, but the design was not yet ready for the pounding we gave them and broke quickly. Last year, we purchased the assets of a tent company in Cleveland, inheriting a new version which our staff in Cleveland loved. So, I decided to buy more. Why should our customers care? Because easier installation helps keep our prices down. Top pullers, Bobcats and Green Monster stake pullers also lower labor costs and reduce the most strenuous labor.
Our equipment department has used hand trucks to deliver most of our equipment for years. While they work well in most cases, they have limitations. In the past few years, we have made carts to deliver cabaret tables, which fit through standard doors. We have purchased Chiavari chair dollies to deliver 14 at a time and a side by side for 28 (the side by side does not fit through standard doors). This helps us to deliver twice as fast and keeps our equipment in better condition. We are always looking for time and labor-saving delivery equipment.
This year, our budget buster at the annual rental equipment show was a glass rack cart. These Git & Go Carts hold two stacks of glassware in racks and have a bar attachment at the top to hang linens. We used them for delivery this week and, not only does it protect the glasses on delivery, but it makes it easier and faster to deliver orders. We loved these so much that we bought enough to allow us to leave them full for our customers to transport their orders through their venue. While I bought 60, and they are anything but cheap, I am anticipating our warehouse and delivery staff will push for more. I am sure our customers will love them too. We would love to hear your feedback on these carts.
Delivery carts are not the only thing we have spent a lot of money on in the last 6 months. We also purchased over 4000 black aluminum folding chairs. These cost double what a steel chair cost, and you may wonder why we would spend that. We have been buying the white/aluminum chairs for years because the old white painted steel chairs show their wear almost immediately, making it impossible to keep them in good condition. The frames of aluminum chairs are anodized, and wear is much less noticeable. In fact, they show the wear so minimally that we can keep renting them for years.
We purchased enough of the white/aluminum folding chairs to do the Michigan (sorry Buckeye fans) graduation last year of over 7000. And while I believe every rental company should switch to white/aluminum folding chairs, we had never switched with the black. The minor scrapes are not as noticeable on black and, at twice the cost, did not seem justifiable. Then, last Memorial Day, even though we normally close on this holiday, we told our Will-Call customers they could return Monday morning because we had close to 250 orders set to be returned the Tuesday after. My son was working in Will-Call that week and reminded each customer he had helped.
I had something I needed to do at the office that day and pulled in around 10:30 AM, noticing a line of 4-5 cars and a few stacks of chairs and tables outside. When I went to leave, I peeked around the corner again and saw 4-5 cars lined up but with chairs and tables stacked all over the parking lot. We went from around 30 customers scheduled to return to almost 90 who showed up that morning, with only two guys trying to handle it all.
Feeling for my overextended staff, I helped move the orders inside. While carrying in the black steel chairs, my age was allowing me to pick up only small stacks at a time. When I grabbed a stack of white/aluminum chairs, I was shocked by how light they were. Picking up 12 at a time, I found these stacks were still lighter than 7-8 of the steel chairs. I decided right then to replace our black on black with black/aluminum. I know our employees like the lighter chairs and hope our customers do as well.
With all these improvements, we are looking forward to more efficiency and productivity during our upcoming busy season. And I feel confident that ease of delivery will only aid in the success of our #1 goal, great customer service.