While the rental business as an alternative finance option has established a foothold in the IT retail landscape, it has struggled with the misconception that it is a method acquisition.
However, according to Flexirent managing director David Berkman, rather than being a financial services company, it views itself primarily as a marketing partner, not just a provider of finance options.
It has forged very successful relationships with Harvey Norman, Apple Centres and the Leading Edge Group, as well as `many hundreds of independent resellers'. And he describes it as `much more integral than a normal reseller/financier relationship'.
While acknowledging the competition for the rental market in the retail IT channel such as RentSmart and AGC, he claimed that there is now some differentiation. Each have established significant partnerships, but Berkman said Flexirent's focus is on the reseller rather than the renter. `It's about dealers making a living and capturing market.' He claimed that Flexirent's seven day per week call centre provides approvals in a matter of minutes with no call backs or delays.
And he insists that it's not just another method of payment, and that resellers should see it as a `significant profit centre.' In effect, Flexirent integrates its own elaborate marketing services department with those of its business partners. `We're 90 per cent a marketing company that deals in finance,' Berkman said.
Everything Berkman spoke about revolved around sales promotion - not of Flexirent finance but of computer equipment. What becomes obvious is that he recognises that the business of rental is about overcoming the secondary `how do you want to finance this purchase?' question very early in the sales process. This allows salespeople to proceed in a different way, with `price' being replaced by a `monthly commitment'. For trained sales staff, this would make perfect sense.
And, according to Berkman, the acceptance of the rental option is evidenced by the fact that more than 60 per cent of Flexirent resellers' customers return at approximately 30 months into a three-year rental contract for new replacement equipment. This, he claimed, is one of the highest retention rates in the world.