After 25 years working on the equipment and supplies side of the motion picture industry, Graeme Parcher was ready for a change. “I was exposed to the rental industry very early on in my career, and I thought it was a very interesting business model,” recalls Parcher.
Later on in his career, Parcher found himself once again working for a rental company. “I thought again about the rental model, and why it was an interesting and attractive model for me personally,” he remembers. “I wanted to seek out opportunities in the rental business, but I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for.”
It was through doing research into the opportunities and business models available that he discovered Chris Clark at the TheRentalGuys.ca. “Over the course of about four months’ time, we had several meetings, and he did a very nice job of explaining his vision for TheRentalGuys.ca.”
The end result of those meetings was that Parcher came on board as the first TheRentalGuys.ca franchisee in April of 2017. “Initially, it was just me,” explains Parcher. “I was doing everything.” Now, after a successful first year in business, he has an additional driver, truck, and trailer, plus more equipment on its way to serve customers in his GTA West area.
Equipment rental franchise TheRentalGuys.ca has a strong foothold in its niche serving the homeowner and the small-to-medium-sized contractor. “Our unique value proposition is that we pick up and deliver the equipment for free,” says Parcher. “This business solves problems in the marketplace that no one else seems to be addressing.” Also, the franchise provides up-to-date info about equipment pricing and availability online, something the competitors have yet to offer.
Finding franchise success
Parcher says potential TheRentalGuys.ca franchisees don’t necessarily need previous experience in the field. “It would be an asset to have a background in the rental industry, but it’s very important that you have a background in business,” he says. “Whether you’ve owned your own business in the past, or you’ve played a senior management role in someone else’s business, you have to have a pretty good handle on profit and loss.”
For a TheRentalGuys.ca franchisee, transferrable business acumen and experience go a long way in building a successful franchise. Parcher also says it helps to be mechanically inclined, especially as you get started. “You need to have a pretty good idea of how things work, and you need to be hands-on with the equipment,” he explains.
Overall, Parcher says he’s enjoyed his first year as a franchisee. “It’s been really exciting to see the potential of the business. I don’t have doubts or concerns about whether this is going to work out.”
Parcher is eager to share the benefits of joining TheRentalGuys.ca team, including the repeat customer base. “Once you have a customer on board, they realize the benefit of having equipment delivered for free, and having it show up when they expect it to,” he says. “We have a very high retention rate. That’s how we build momentum.”
TheRentalGuys.ca offers comprehensive franchisee training. Before signing the franchise agreement, Parcher went to Calgary to visit Clark and the team at head office to discuss, understand, and experience the business first-hand. He also participated in a “Discovery Day,” where he rode along with the team as they delivered the equipment.
“You truly learn the business from the ground up,” says Parcher. “They train you on everything from how they deliver the equipment to how they load it on the trailer to how it actually functions.” After gaining a general sense of what the franchise was all about, Parcher returned for the two-week training period about six weeks later.
Since that initial training ended, the support has been ongoing. “They’ve been very helpful, from bigger issues right down to the nitty gritty things,” says Parcher. “The learning curve is steep, but they’re there to back you up 24/7. I’ve never had a phone call go unreturned for longer than 15 minutes.”
Additionally, the franchise support also includes the website and the online system, which is managed by the team in Calgary. “There’s tremendous support on a daily basis,” assures Parcher. “When you’re part of a proven franchise, there’s a huge amount of learning that you can benefit from that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.”
To stay up to date in his industry, Parcher uses a few strategies, including doing a lot of reading and asking for feedback from his customers. “We stay in tune with what’s going on with the Canadian, as well as the American Rental Association,” says Parcher, noting that he also attends the ARA Rental Show every year to understand the equipment being offered by the manufacturers, and to keep with the new trends. Additionally, TheRentalGuys.ca franchisees across the country converse with each other on a weekly basis, when they can share experiences and helpful hints.
Rising to the challenge
No new franchise is without its challenges, however. For Parcher, the biggest initial challenge was the financial commitment. “You have to acquire an initial inventory of equipment to be able to serve your customers; because of that, there is a huge financial commitment up front,” he explains.
To service his market, he chose to have a broad array of units available to the customers, rather than to go with multiple units of the same machines. However, after the initial investment, “It didn’t take a lot of time for us to get off the ground and build momentum with the customers we serve, because there’s such a demand for this kind of service,” he says. “We primarily spent a lot of time, energy, and money online advertising our services, but we also spent an enormous amount of time beating the streets, knocking on doors, and delivering flyers and postcards to promote our business.”
According to Parcher, the recipe for franchise success at TheRentalGuys.ca is business experience, being a hands-on individual, and being willing to put in the hours and the effort. “We get in our trucks and we go out to job sites, we cold call potential customers, we prepare mailings, and we do whatever we need to do to build the brand and build the recognition,” he says.
Overall, Parcher offers this wisdom from his year of experience as a franchisee: “If you have a strong work ethic, you can grow as much as you want to. You have the ability to craft your own destiny.”
By Karen Stevens