We hear it banded around all the time. ‘We offer great customer service’. But does that actually mean anything to the customer? Just because a company says they offer great customer service how can that be confirmed or believed?
Here at G A Plant and Tool Hire in Swindon customer service is at the forefront of what we do. Oh hang on, I’m beginning to sound like the rest of the tool and plant hire shops aren’t I? It’s very easy to say but not so easy to deliver so how do we deliver it?
A big benefit of being Swindon’s only truly independent (at time of writing), not tied to another company, owner/director led business is that the people right at the core of what goes on at GA Plant and Tool Hire care. And when I say care I mean it. If we don’t succeed in what we do then the company does not succeed and we all go and look for new jobs. It’s as simple as that. In the big nationals this will not be the case. Yes a manager may not meet his targets and perhaps won’t get his Christmas bonus but he has not got his life savings, heart and soul invested in what he is doing. He can walk out and go and find another job. But it’s more than that. Setting up any company takes drive and passion and when I set up G A Pant and Tool Hire it was set up with drive and a passion for all things mechanical. Yes I love machinery. Let’s get it out there, all things mechanical is what makes me excited.
But it’s more than that. It’s also the satisfaction we all get from winning business based on our core values. Time and again customers come to us saying, ‘so and so have let us down’. They made a promise but failed to deliver. A builder will book a digger for 8am. Along with the digger he will also have booked the labour, waste removal and materials all timed around the digger. It’s not much good if the digger then turns up at 11am. Suddenly the excavations aren’t done in time for the waste collection, the waste is in the way for the materials delivery and the labour has spent the morning stood around doing nothing. We understand this and realise the importance in an honest approach to what we are able to supply. If we can’t get a digger to our customer before 11am we will tell the customer. He can then plan around the expected delivery time making good use of labour etc.
The other important consideration when hiring tools and plant is reliability. If we deliver a digger that falls apart half way through the day then you end up with the same scenario as above. Now we are dealing with mechanical items and they will go wrong. Even a brand new machine can let us down. However, breakdowns are rare when hiring our tools and machinery. We have a young modern fleet of equipment and we have invested in high quality equipment. All our diggers are Kubota (at time of writing) which is a well respected brand and offers great reliability. All our smaller tools and plant come from reputable brands such as Thwaites, Terex, Belle and Makita. We don’t run any of the lesser imports. Tempting as it may be as a hire business to buy cheaper imports, we know that our customers will not be happy with frequent breakdowns and poor equipment performance.
So we have the right equipment available for hire, we have the motivated staff, that just leaves the maintenance. From day one here at G A Plant we recognised the importance of embracing technology. Gone are the days of running a busy tool hire shop on bits of paper. We have a specialist bespoke IT system in place to manage everything from the point of the customer calling us to make a booking, accurate billing, and importantly fleet management. The fleet management covers all our service records and schedules for our equipment. When a machine returns to our yard it goes straight onto the workshop schedule. Our team can then see straight away what needs doing. All our equipment gets the minimum of an inspection each time it returns to our depot. Any problems can then be rectified and any servicing can be done as required. We also PAT test all our electrical items in house every time they return from hire helping us to ensure electrical safety. We have a well equipped workshop and handle the vast majority of our own repairs.
With a skilled team we also look after our customers’ equipment. We can service and maintain the full range of horticultural equipment, electrical items, small mechanical plant right up to excavators and dumpers. In fact we are so good at what we do that we also look after the local authority’s grounds and highways equipment. We have accounts with all the main manufacturers and if we don’t already hold the parts in our comprehensive parts department, we can normally get the parts in next day. Again, as with our hire we never promise something we can’t deliver on. If the part is going to take two weeks we will tell the customer. Once again our honest approach then means that customer can make an informed decision on whether perhaps they need to hire a replacement meaning they can get on with their job.
When setting up this business I approached it from the point of view of the customer. I have been at the receiving end of some poor service from other hire companies as a domestic user when doing up my own property. Transparency is often something lacking in not just the hire industry but the building industry. I’ll never forget the day I phoned one of the big national builders’ merchants in Swindon and got a price for a door. When I went in to buy the door the price had tripled! This was a clear demonstration of a lack of transparency and I actually felt like they had tried to rip me off. Needless to say, I went elsewhere for my doors. All the items in our store have clear pricing on them. Our web site shows clear pricing with and without VAT. There are no inflated prices made up on the spot. If a hire company does not show its pricing on their web site you should be asking yourself why. I understand that regular repeat customers will attract some trade discount on their prices, but charging triple was clearly an attempt to prey on the less well informed. You’ll phone for a price for a digger for the weekend and the price will sound great. It’s only when you have got the whole deal booked and sorted you then realise the hidden charges start creeping in. Excessive fuel charges, VAT, tracking charges, the delivery charge they forgot to mention. You’ll then send the tool or machine back at the end of the job and you’ll be slapped with a cleaning charge or a damage charge that you weren’t even aware of. I should mention that to date we have never charged a cleaning charge. Occasionally, in fact very rarely, we will charge for damages if the damage has clearly been caused by pure negligence. I suppose an example of this might be the customer who filled the digger with petrol despite the clear labelling on the machine and the fuel description clearly stating that the machine should be filled with diesel. Well, we are determined here to give the customer a better experience. We want you to fully understand the costs with no hidden surprises. We will always make sure the customer understands the full price including VAT, fuel and delivery costs. If we sound more expensive than the first quote you got you should look carefully at the detail. Of course, we may not always be the cheapest, although we always aim to offer competitive pricing. But you need to ask yourself if the slightly cheaper option is going to deliver what they promise. Are you going to get a reliable, quality piece of equipment, delivered when they said or is your job going to be delayed by poor service and mechanical breakdown?
Well I have rambled a bit in this blog but if you have got this far I hope you have a better understanding of how we can honestly deliver on our claim to offer ‘great customer service’. Of course, the final check would be to go and read our Google reviews. Just search for G A Plant on Google. At the time of writing, we had a rating of 4.9 with just one 1-star review from somebody who left no comment or name? There’s always one!