1 June 2020
Regular contact between hirer and customer is important for smooth business running, but the Covid-19 response has led to some instances of disruption and uncertainty.
Simon Tomblin, MD of Slimbridge-based Rocket Rentals, told me that when the lockdown started in earnest on 23 March, many sites closed suddenly with on-hired kit left idle and potentially insecure. And that could happen again if restrictions have to be re-tightened to combat any resurgence of the disease.
“It’s no-one’s fault, but it’s very frustrating if we can’t get to our kit,” he said. “Similarly, some house builders have re-opened with fewer personnel and so they need less equipment. On one major project in Gloucester where there were 18 workers, there are now just three. We rely on site managers to tell us when machines need to be off-hired and collected, and this is a test of your business relationships."
Rocket has remained open throughout the crisis, serving essential services and utilities, as well as contractors. However, it did close its separate tool hire division for three weeks. “I was concerned that it would be difficult to look after assets hired to customers whose travel movements might be restricted.”
Indeed. Someone hiring a tool for a weekend might find themselves having to self-isolate and be unable to return it, leading to a delicate discussion about whether to increase the rate to reflect a longer hire period.
The tool hire operation re-opened in late April and has settled into its new dedicated premises a stone’s throw from the Rocket HQ and conveniently close to a busy builder’s merchant.
Ironically, the new building opened on 16 March – shortly before the lockdown. But business is now growing.
Simon also says that he is impressed by the Trime X-Splash wash bay that has been installed at the new facility for cleaning off-hired equipment.
Incidentally, Rocket recently provided free hire of telehandlers to a charity establishing food banks in its area during the crisis. This is typical of the company which has a strong reputation for supporting its local community.
How has YOUR business been helping people in these unprecedented times? Do let me know.