Learning from experts and industry peers

Oct. 18, 2021

The ARA Show™ 2021 kicked off Sunday, Oct. 17, with a full day of education seminars at Resorts World in Las Vegas. Attendees could choose from 16 rental-specific sessions — featuring professional speakers, industry experts and rental peers. The sessions — sponsored by Ditch Witch — were categorized into four tracks:

  • Business management
  • Leadership and culture
  • Technology and human resources
  • Event — an education track in collaboration with Manufacturers and Tent Renters Association (MATRA)

For first-time attendee Phil Galvan, Northern Equipment Rentals, Poulsbo, Wash., the day got off to a great start as he attended the session “How to Stay Out of the Email Cemetery.”

“I’m just taking it all in, I have no real expectations but if this session is any indication of what’s to come there’s going to be a lot of good information. Already in the first session, I was finding mistakes we’ve made through our general emails, correspondence and things that we can correct in our operation,” he said.

Stacie Chase, Funtime Services, Aurora, Ill., a second-time attendee, said the education seminars from the 2020 show is what brought her back again. She is hoping to get as much as possible out of her time in Las Vegas to help her company as it grows.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what new products companies have come up with since we’ve had a little pause on shows and finding things I can bring back to my team to make their jobs easier,” she said.

“We grew a lot during the pandemic and that has put us behind the ball on being able to keep up with our growth. So, I’m trying to bring what I learned here back to our team so we can make that growth a smoother process,” Chase added.

Freddy Martinez, Martinez Enterprises, Woodbridge, Va., attended “Knowing Your Numbers” education session in the Event Track. “I learned I need to figure out what my position is and that I can’t be doing everything. I’m in the office, in the field, in the warehouse, doing the deliveries. You have to focus on what your strength is,” he said.

First-time attendee Kellie Blank, Monarch Event Rentals, Austin, Texas, sat in on the “Adapting Your Tent Inventory” education session and said “it was a lot more detail than I was expecting, but it was great and I got a lot of information out of it which is wonderful. It had a lot of very specific information for the larger jobs and for jobs with snow, which was nice. This is my first ARA show, so I’m just getting an idea of what it’s about and what we can learn, and have a better idea of specifics for next year.”

Victor Matta Jr., CERP, Begonia Brothers Party Rental, Northville, Mich., and vice president of the ARA of Michigan, said being back at the show and the education sessions was “wonderful.”

“There are so many great presentations. It’s a wealth of knowledge and information that you just can’t get anywhere else,” Matta said.

Bailey Wallace, C & E Rentals, Tualatin, Ore., was excited to attend The ARA Show for the first time and attend the education sessions.

“I’ve been with C & E Rentals for eight years. I’m a sales manager now, so it was time to experience this. There is so much knowledge and experience available that is passed down. You take it and put it in your back pocked to use in your business,” Wallace said.

While it wasn’t necessarily advice given at a education session, he said he learned that the consensus is that customer relationships should be No. 1. “You focus your business on the relationship side of the business to inspire loyalty because repeat business and referrals can be the life’s blood of your business,” he said.

“In our industry, whether it’s winning a deal, a sale or a rental, it’s important to build trust quickly, so I took the most away from the trust-building part,” said Clark Adcock, Adcock Equipment, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, of “Communicating Trust: Strategies for Rental Professionals.” The session — part of the Leadership & Culture track — was delivered by former undercover police officer Pamela Barnum, who provided tools for displaying trust and also for decoding and detecting deception from others. “Her talk of having the perfect synergy of confidence and empathy in the building of trust was very applicable to our industry,” Adcock said.

Avoiding burnout and exhaustion — especially during the stress-heavy pandemic — was a theme that carried across the Leadership & Culture Track. One of the ways to combat this, as suggested by Linda Larsen in her session, “YOU! Super Hero! Super Star! Super Exhausted! How to Effectively Help Others Without Burning Out,” was to identify the habits that serve you well and those that don’t, and then get a “feedback buddy” to help change the negative ones.

“Finding a ‘feedback buddy’ was my biggest takeaway,” said Tricia Steinbock, Best Event Rentals, Fort Collins, Colo. “Having someone to hold us accountable is something we need in our lives, but if you’re a business owner, sometimes there is nobody that you’re accountable to. [Larsen’s] ideas about fixing bad habits was very helpful.”

The session “Technology Implementation to Improve Your Rental Operation” hosted a standing room only audience eager to learn more about how technology is being used to change and improve rental operations. Panelist John Jeanguenat, president, RentalMax, has equipment rental stores throughout the Chicagoland area.

Jeanguenat said some of the ways his company has implemented technology includes electronic signatures, virtual training, mobile applications, virtual meetings and customer service surveys. Jeanguenat said his company has seen mobile usage for website views increase substantially over the past three years.

“As technology changes and adapts, we have to adapt as well,” Jeanguenat said.

He said his company took advantage of RentalU, offered through the American Rental Association (ARA), to help with employee training. RentalU is an online platform where the user can search for and share rental-specific content.

Penny Miller, BMCW Rentals, Effingham, Ill., said she was gathering information from the sessions to take back to her business. She was looking at potentially developing an app.

“I need to gather knowledge before implementing that,” Miller said.

Jaclyn Richardson, Ace Equipment Rentals, Snohomish, Wash., said she is focusing on implementing software for her business and bringing in technology. “This is the way the industry is going, and we want to make sure we’re not left behind.”

During the session, “Digital Marketing and Your Online Presence” panelists discussed using an online presence to make an organization successful. Panelists encouraged audience members to take advantage of some of the free tools available to help market a business, along with ways to make a company website more attractive to viewers.

Driving customer engagement, content quantity, along with creating content based on a business’ target audience were some of the highlights. Haley Hennessey with Tates Rents, Boise, Idaho, says she has a lot of good information to take back with her to review.

“The free marketing tools are going to be valuable resources,” Hennessey said.


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