SME owners can sometimes feel like they caught in an uphill battle against larger, more established players. However, according to Angus Kennard, the third-generation CEO of Kennards Hire, his business has its own set of challenges in adapting to technological advancements and changing consumer demands.
His comments suggest that in business bigger is not always better, and it is smaller operations with close customer contact and specialty knowledge that add the most value.
“Even though we used to just be a general rental store, we've actually branched out into the specialist area as well. We have about six or eight of these specialist businesses that have a greater focus, which can better meet the needs of our customers,” says Angus.
These business units cater to a range of industrial and specialist customer segments, including traffic, rail and concrete care, the latter of which Angus personally founded in 2004.
“Our business model is more geared around being close to customers … We have a really broad customer base and our business model is set up to be the corner site, so it's easy to get in, easy to get out, and very convenient.”
This business model, says Angus, is designed with the needs of its customers at heart.
“With a tradie ... time is money for them, so whatever they can do to save time is actually money for them, and we can actually support them in being able to be productive,” he says.
According to Angus, Kennards Hire has been innovating new ways for its customers to access its range of products to further streamline this emphasis on time savings.
“These days in the modern world people do rent things. You rent your music, you rent lots of things that traditionally you thought you'd never rent, so there's certainly a trend towards that.
“[But] there's also a trend towards online and we have a new website that was launched only recently that has an end-to-end transactional website. It's the first in the industry in the world, and what it allows people to do is to actually research at night, book it in, and then pick it up the next day, and so there's a connection between what's available in that store at any point in time.”
Tied to this online service is the implementation of in-store technologies, such as mobile transaction devices, to enable staff to better assist customers and provide a seamless experience between online and in-store.
“That's the challenge for us: how do we replicate the experience they can have in the store and actually do that online? There's a deep level of sophistication to understanding customers to be able to try and replicate that.”