For a long time now, I have advocated the use of commonly available online tools to organize a rental and staging operation. Personally, I have long loved an SaaS application called BaseCamp, but there are many available tools like this one that enable us to organize our projects without having to invest a fortune in customized software packages.
However, I have also recently written about the need for customer account management, as taught to me by the guy I consider the best sales consultant I have ever worked within a rental company, the late and much-missed Bill Sharer. To paraphrase Don Corleone, Bill taught me to “keep my friends close, but my customers closer.” And, to that end, I have long advocated the use of CRM, (or “client relationship management”) software.
Yet, many available CRM packages are too cumbersome and hardware-intensive to use in the fast-paced rental industry. Many client relationships are transient or merely transactional, and the constant pressure to find that next client relationship is usually paramount in the mind of a salesperson — therefore, the CRM interface will much more often be a smartphone than a PC.
Then it hit me. There are plenty of well-developed smartphone apps tailored perfectly for the management of the kind of relationships we maintain in the rental business.
They are called dating apps.
For instance, many of the terms and procedures used in these apps could easily apply to the rental relationship. (These may help in your search for your BAE, or Best Account Entry).
— BFF: I use this term for my CPA – my Best Financial Finagler, with whom I discuss ALL new potential relationships.
— Submarining: Happens all too frequently in the world of AV rental. It’s when a client you thought was long gone shows up suddenly with a new project.
— Swiping: What you’d like to do to your competitor’s accounts.
— SuperSwipe: What you’d like to do to your competitor’s best account (their BAE).
— Boost: This is what happens to your mood when you manage an account swipe.
— Situationship: Defines where you are with a competitor’s client when they decide to try you out for just one show.
— Stashing: Is what a client is doing when they give you a single show without letting your competitor know, to get your introductory price without any LTR commitment.
— Ghosting: Is when a client suddenly stops returning your messages. If this is about an overdue bill, simply turn them over to your BFF. If it is about their upcoming show, they may have been swiped.
— Slow Fade: No longer a video effect; this is when a client is placing smaller and smaller orders with each event.
— Benching: Ever feel like a client was just using you to keep your competitor honest, or that they were keeping you around “just in case?” You’ve been benched.
— IRL: In a dating app, this usually means “In Real Life.” To us, it is what happens when the grandiose designs and quotes are cut in half and become an actual order. This often has the effect of reducing the “boost” you got from the original account “swipe.”
— FWB: In the dating app world, this stands for “Friends with Benefits.” There is no reason at all to define this further; it is the essence of the client relationship. (I think of it as “Friends We can Bill”).
— Tinder: the material you’d like to pile under the client who is “ghosting.”
— Match: What you would like to apply to the tinder. (Note: it may give you a “boost” to think about this, but arson is a felony “IRL.”)
With those helpful hints, I will leave you to explore the possibilities. (However, for those of you in management, I would also like to point out the productivity gains to be had by directing employees to use a free CRM application that many of them have open all day anyway.).