Industry sector:

Tool hire: Why will people choose your business

You'll want to make sure that enough people will use your business to make it profitable. There are a number of things to consider when trying to attract customers.

The right equipment ranges

You must be able to supply the tools that your customers want to hire. If the tools that people need are not in stock and immediately available, there's a good chance that they will simply try somewhere else.

It is likely that you will be mainly targeting domestic rather than trade customers who require large plant equipment. A lot of your business will come from a range of basic items which are commonly hired, such as concrete mixers and floor sanders. Aim to ensure that you have enough of these to meet demand. Beyond such core items, the range of other tools that you are able to hold in stock will depend on your financial resources and the space available to you. Having a reasonably wide range of tools and equipment will ensure that you can supply most customers with the item they want, but it may be unwise to try to stock everything - there's no point having money tied up in expensive tools that are very rarely hired. Remember that some outlets hire in specialist items when necessary, to re-hire on to a customer - you can consider doing the same should the need arise.

Price and convenience

When hiring tools, many people will simply look for the cheapest rates they can find. Competing with the prices charged by the large hire chain stores will be difficult, but you should try to ensure that your prices are at least broadly competitive with other nearby outlets.

Potential customers will also be greatly influenced by convenience. Location has a lot to do with this and ideally the business will be located on or close to a main road, both for the convenience of customers and to attract passing trade. Adequate car parking will be an advantage. Town centre locations are usually expensive and an out of town enterprise park might offer a suitable alternative. You may not be able to choose or afford an ideal location, but you can still try to make things convenient for your customers - for example by offering a delivery and collection service.

Standards of service

Offering a high level of service and good quality tools will help to attract and retain business. Helpful, friendly advice from knowledgeable staff will greatly enhance people's opinion of your business. Keep the hire shop tidy and well organised and have efficient servicing and checking procedures for returned tools. Use good quality tools and keep them clean, well maintained, and attractively displayed. Concentrating on these aspects will help you to attract customers in the first place and keep them coming back. Joining a trade association quality scheme will demonstrate that your business is run to a high standard and help to inspire confidence in it. You can find out about the SafeHIRE scheme and Hire Association Europe (HAE) membership on the HAE website.

Quality of tools and equipment offered

Remember that all tools supplied for hire must comply with set safety standards. Within these standards there is a huge range of equipment of varying quality, cost and specifications. Customers will be concerned that the tools they are hiring are of a good quality and well maintained. As the tools are likely to have to withstand a lot of wear and tear, it makes sense to use sturdy ones to start with. You should put a rigid servicing and checking system in place to ensure that everything that leaves the shop is safe to use and fit for its intended purpose.