Schrödinger's Bobcat: Is Your Fleet Dead or Alive?
Fans of the hit show, The Big Bang Theory, may have already heard of the concept of Schrödinger’s Cat. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Schrödinger’s Cat is a famous quantum mechanics theory in which a cat is placed into a box with a container of poisonous gas. While the box is sealed, the cat’s fate is uncertain and it is considered to be both alive and dead. Only the act of opening the box and observing the cat allows us to know its actual state.
So why on earth are we talking about a cat that may or may not have died in 1935? Well, you may be recreating this experiment repeatedly in your rental business. When an asset is returned from rental and you put it in the yard without an inspection, you create Schrödinger’s Bobcat.
"As long as an asset sits in the yard uninspected, it is both dead and alive"
As long as an asset sits in the yard uninspected, it is both dead and alive. Meaning that it is simultaneously in need of repair and ready to be rented again. Only the act of inspecting the equipment allows us to know its status. If an asset is in need of repair when you need it to fulfill a rental order and you are unaware of the damage, that is when the panic sets in. You need to scramble to get it fixed in time, or you have to re-rent another vendor's equipment, or, possibly worst of all, you lose the sale.
Now you are quickly slashing away at your profits. You also introduce the risk of your customer choosing to rent directly from the re-rent vendor in the future; lowering your customer retention rates. Do you see the snowball effect?
Meanwhile, you are stuck paying to get the original asset repaired, even if it was customer error that caused the damage, because it has been weeks since the asset was returned. Going back to the original customer who did the damage to the equipment and looking for them to pay up weeks later is not likely to work out.
Now imagine if you had just spent a few minutes looking over the asset when it was returned. A quick inspection to record the status of the equipment upon return could save you all these headaches. If there was damage, you could have immediately started the repair, billed it to the customer who did the damage, and had the asset back in rent-able condition in time to fulfill the next rental order.
Leave the experimenting to the scientists. Inspect your equipment when it is returned so you can maximize your return on investment.