AV equipment, construction equipment, or even costumes; rental items are expensive no matter the industry. This makes sense because people only rent items that they can’t afford to buy otherwise. When companies invest in an extensive collection of high-value items, it becomes important to safeguard it from employee and customer negligence.
Negligence comes in many forms: items incur damages when not used with care, get stolen in the presence of substandard security, or are returned late by customers leading to lost revenue.
But why are late returns so problematic? Equipment held up in late returns cannot be rented out again during that period, meaning you can’t take more orders for it. You might even have to turn customers away if an active order bleeds into an advanced booking. All of this drains your revenue and disrupts your business workflows.
You need to make sure that all your rental items are returned on time. Let’s see how.
1. Clearly lay down terms and conditions
Drafting crisp rental agreements is where it all starts! You need to lay down clear terms and conditions for all rental transactions with your customers. This helps ensure that both parties involved are aware of the specifications of the rental and there are no conflicts in the future.
To receive your rentals on time and avoid unpleasant arguments with customers, clearly convey critical terms to your customer, such as:
- When does the rental start and end?
- What happens if the customer fails to surrender possession of the item once the rental period ends?
- Where to return the rental items?
- What happens in case items are returned late?
- What amount of fine is charged on late returns?
If your customer knows these details beforehand, they are much more likely to return your rental items on time.
Make sure there is a written form of these terms. Remember to ask your customers to sign it before renting out items to them.
2. Enforce a late fee
Charging a late fee on late returns is a good way of encouraging your customers to return rentals on time. For this to happen, you need to communicate this via the rental agreement.
For instance, tell your customer if they have to return the order before the end of the rental period or within 30 minutes of its commencement. Then, if the customer fails to adhere to these terms, you can charge them a late fee.
The credit can continue to accumulate for every additional 30-minute period, up to a predefined maximum amount. Make sure to communicate these terms to your customers beforehand.
Read More: How to charge a late fee for items not returned
When your customers are certain that they will be charged additional money for late returns, they will be conscious of returning items on time.
Moreover, do not negotiate the consequences of late returns with your customers. They should know that rental terms aren’t just there on paper but are enforced as well.
3. Send reminders
When was the last time that you forgot a deadline? Probably quite recently. Humans are forgetful and make errors all the time. For this reason, reminders help ensure that customers don’t forget to return items and your company doesn’t have to bear the brunt of late returns.
To ensure that items are returned on time to avoid future conflicts, send out reminders to customers.
An easy way to do this is with a little help from rental software that is equipped with useful features, such as availability calendar and dashboards.
Your rental business is most likely cluttered with tons of data regarding your commitments, schedules, and bookings. An availability calendar lets you see all this data at a glance.
This way, you will know who has your rental items, where they are, and when they are due for return. Additionally, this prevents overbooking and paves the way for conflict-free rentals.
Based on this information, the system allows you to send reminders and notifications to not only your staff but also customers. You can schedule automated reminders to be sent whenever the due date is near.
Read More: User alerts and rental management software
4. Discuss late returns with your clients
Whenever your customers are late for returning your items, discuss the problem with them and inquire about the reason for the late return.
This will give you valuable insight into how you should design your terms and conditions. For instance, if customers are simply forgetting to pay or return items, you can start sending out periodic reminders. In this way, you can help put an end to the problem of late returns.
If there’s an unusual reason behind the late return, like an accident or sickness, you can help accommodate them by offering a different due date or other alternatives.
Even if you are unable to help, having conversations around rentals still enables companies to understand the client’s position better. This helps businesses become better by offering customer-centric services.
Consequently, customers see you as helpful and interested when you communicate with them and make an effort to understand their situation. This increases customer loyalty and motivates them to follow the terms and conditions more strictly.
5. Offer incentives for receiving rentals on time
We all love incentives and they seem to get the job done pretty well. Offering incentives can encourage your customers to return your rentals on time.
Rewarding this behavior can work wonders for your company by increasing item availability and encouraging responsible use.
So, how do you implement this? Set a small discount for early returns. You can also extend this to consecutive returns by increasing the discount by, say 5% after every 3 timely returns. Alternatively, you can also gift promo codes for future bookings. This also helps build customer loyalty!
Get your Rental Items back starting now
At the end of the day, only you’re responsible for what happens to your rental business. For this reason, you need to put company interests at the forefront of all policy and decision making.
Late returns can disrupt your workflows by keeping your rentals unavailable for long periods of time. Using these tips will help encourage your customers to return rental items on time.
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