How To Use IT Rental Services

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Because IT needs can change seemingly overnight, renting equipment can be a viable and practical alternative to buying for some organizations. Here, Anthony Randazzo, General Manager of computer rental company, Vernon Computer Source, in Stamford, Conn., the U.S. rental division of XTG, discusses the importance of forging an alliance with a IT rental firm. -- Jennifer Bosavage, editor

It’s no secret that technology moves fast, leaving resellers with the challenging task of predicting, and meeting the demand for constantly evolving products from their enterprise customers.

So how is it those IT resellers can gauge the demand for new products hitting the market? And how can they offer their products to customers who want to try out the technology before making a hefty, permanent investment of a final purchase?

That’s where IT rental services fill the gap.

Whether it is colocation support while moving a data center, or the last minute requirement of 50 notebooks for a corporate event—rental services step in to provide the product and satisfy the short-term need.

Below, the rental unit of international IT asset management organization, Xchange Technology Group (XTG), offers insight into the company’s own successful program servicing IT resellers around the world using four methods.

Fill the Void

While keeping a full stock of what they know fares well within their customer base, resellers may be weary about making a full investment in a product that is fresh out of beta. Similarly, their clients may not want to purchase the products available without a trial period. That's where computer rental companies can play a big role, forming a mutually beneficial partnership with VARs that often stems from the demand of a reseller’s customer base.

Maintain Relationships while Staying Current

Developing those relationships can mean person-to-person meet-and-greets, to the present digital networking tactics of webcasts. The important aspect is to develop meaningful relationships with resellers. VARs should look to form a confident bond with the computer rental company, so they know they'll be able to satisfy their customers' needs and secure rental product. In addition, rental firms can help solution providers with their own rental needs. The key factor for a successful rental-reseller relationship on the rental side is maintaining the latest and greatest product, which their clients may want to rent or demo. That could be anything from 65-inch touch screen monitors, to SSD hard drives in servers to the new iPad 2.

Having that product available for the reseller when it is not yet sitting in the reseller’s inventory, or providing a rental service for clients interested in “try before you buy” ensures the customer will not move on to the next reseller on his or her contact file. A rental program needs to offer the conveniences of imaging specialization and delivery, install, de-install and pickup, among other services.

Help Resellers Sell

Director of channel sales at Hamilton Rentals, the U.K. rental sector of XTG, Paul Draper said the concept of a successful rental-reseller relationship is simple: “help resellers sell.”

Draper explained the rental team serves almost as an “extended sales team” for the manufacturers and reseller by promoting the latest technology to the IT channel – and partnering to help resellers sell their products or services.

When a customer is interested in a trial of a product, the evaluation period is sometimes free for the client, subsidized by the manufacturer on a case-by-case basis. Hamilton will often times provide flexible payment offerings for the reseller customer ranging from short term (three to 12 months) to longer-term lease propositions.

“This allows the customer to spread the costs and not tie up cash,” explained Draper.

A favorable reputation in the industry for staff and service doesn’t hurt either.

Reduce Risk through Evaluation Support

So why do manufacturers and resellers opt to choose a third party for rentals, instead of organizing a rental unit of their own? The rental company should be considered the specialist in this area, reducing risk for the manufacturer so the reseller/customer does not need to make the decision from the beginning.

The outsourced service supplier holds the ownership of the evaluation box, so the manufacturer can book a sale when the time is right. If the customer wants to later buy that piece of equipment, a rate can be negotiated that acknowledges the rent fee that's already been paid. If not, the product can be returned to the computer rental company, and the IT solution provider need not worry about disposing of a used, unwanted device.

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