For any pipeline-related job, there may only be a handful of equipment rental agencies that contractors can choose from. As one of those agencies, Rig Source Inc. of Elburn, Ill., provides a variety of equipment mounted on IHI, Morooka and Terramac crawler carriers. Rig Source’s rental manager Bryan Sarsfield explained to North American Oil & Gas Pipelines the factors that contractors typically consider when they choose a rental agency.
Factoring More Than Rental Rate
For the customer, priorities are usually price, availability and distance from jobsite to keep shipping manageable.
“If a rental house is within 100 miles of the worksite, that’s probably the one the customer will go with if it’s a short-term rental,” Sarsfield said. “Shipping is pretty much just the one-time cost of getting it there and getting back. It’s generally set by distance from the job site to the rental house. However, shipping rates to a rental house that’s further away might be offset in a long-term rental, say over a month or more, by that house’s lower rental fees and still be a better value to the contractor.”
When pricing, availability and distance do not give one rental house a significant advantage over another, then customer service determines which agency a contractor chooses. Knowledge of a company’s customer service comes from past rental experiences or reputation within the industry. Does the company back up its equipment in the field? How long does it take to see a field technician if something goes down?
Sarsfield said that, for instance, Rig Source will try to get their technician on site within 24 hours. If travel complications arise, such as incompatible flight schedules, Rig Source will make immediate arrangements with the nearest quality service provider. The main thing is that the rental agency keeps the customer up and running.
Be a Good Renter
Sarsfield said good customers share a part in customer relations. As the relationship builds between rental house and customer, the agency can sometimes offer a bit more flexibility with package deals, reduced rates for long-term rentals and customized rent-to-own contracts.
What does it take to be considered a good customer?
“Basic honesty,” Sarsfield said. “If you break something and report it, it helps us make it ready for the next customer sooner.”
Equipment in use inevitably does break.
“It’s going to happen,” Sarsfield said. “And being rental equipment, it can get abused a bit. We’ll have people overloading equipment to the point hoses blow. They bump them into things. Bulkheads will come back damaged. But we need to understand how extensive the damage is to help us get it fixed and available for the next customer faster. We appreciate it when the renter tells us what happened.”
Sarsfield said Rig Source will run through operation of its equipment with customers unfamiliar with a particular model or machine. The brief training not only helps prevent some damage due to running an unfamiliar machine but can help the customer get the most value from their rental dollar, since they will get the most productivity from the equipment and reduce potential downtime.
Superior customer service often goes beyond the bond between the rental agency and its customer. Sarsfield said the agency’s rapport with other rental houses within the industry also plays a part.
“If we don’t have what the customer needs, we can arrange with other agencies to get our customers the right equipment,” he said. “Or we may even just refer the customer to the other rental house if they are a better match. And, vice versa, we get referrals from other rental houses, as well.”
The rental equipment market is competitive, Sarsfield explained, which is good for the contractor. All rental agencies are trying to be the best value to their customers. The contractor just has to decide which one best meets the needs of a given project based on a simple cost analysis that also factors in customer service.
Rig Source Inc. provides new and used equipment solutions internationally to contractors in the oil and gas, pipeline, geotechnical, environmental, mineral exploration and other drilling industries.