As a rental business owner, you know exactly how much work it takes to gain just one customer. That’s why it’s important to seek opportunities to decrease your workload and secure revenue in advance – especially in times of uncertainty.
The easiest way to achieve these goals is by accepting online bookings. It’s one of the best ways to secure revenue in advance while helping you meet modern consumer demands. The latter is equally important as everything is happening online today.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Software Advice, a leading software review platform, goes as far as predicting that we’ll soon be approaching the end of non-digital business.
In this article, we’ll take a look at online bookings. Will they improve the experience for customers? And can they help you secure revenue in advance?
Improving customer experience
Online bookings are incredibly convenient from a customers’ point of view. They save time, can be done from home, and remove the strain of waiting in line inside a busy rental store.
On your website, customers can conveniently browse your rental items at their own pace. It also means that they can place the order when it’s right for them – even when you don’t have time to answer the phone or reply to emails.
To be frank: you’re missing out by not accepting online bookings.
Securing revenue in advance
But advance bookings aren’t just convenient for customers. There are many benefits from a business perspective too. By letting your customers book rentals directly from your website, you:
- Can receive bookings 24/7 ⏰
- Spend less time answering questions 💬
- Offer convenience to customers 💁♀️
- Secure revenue in advance 💵
Although some customers may prefer to speak to a real person, it’s essential to open the doors for those who wish to book online.
By serving different customer segments, everyone can have a satisfying booking experience, no matter which channel they prefer.
Managing inventory availability
You know what they say: “The early bird gets the worm.” That’s also true for online bookings. The further you reserve in advance, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to rent the exact items you want. It gives you access to the widest range of rental items and guarantees availability.
If you’re worried about double bookings, don’t be. With the right rental software, online and in-person rentals can run side-by-side without any problems.
In Booqable, your inventory is always up-to-date to ensure you don’t double-book or overbook your items.
Promoting advance bookings
Does your website’s content promote online bookings as a way to plan ahead, pay online, and save time? If not, you might need to re-write some of your content to make your customers aware of the benefits.
You could also reward customers for booking online. For example, you might want to encourage them to book (and pay) in advance by offering a small incentive. While discounts for first-time buyers can increase sales, don’t forget returning customers. Coming up with ways to reward loyalty will strengthen your relationship with them.
Getting paid in advance
If you use Booqable to accept online payments, you can either charge the full amount or part of the total (with the final amount due later). For example, you could charge the remaining balance at pickup or choose an earlier deadline depending on your needs.
💡 Pro-tip: To remind your customers of the outstanding balance, you can set up an email template to save yourself some time.
By accepting payments in advance, you reduce the risk of no-shows. Customers are more committed as they’ve already paid (or partially paid) for their booking.
Charging security deposits
A security deposit is a set amount that a customer pays either before or on pickup, which is refunded if there’s no damage to the rental item(s). In Booqable, you can charge security deposits in numerous ways:
- A percentage of the total order amount
- A custom percentage for each rental product
- A fixed amount, regardless of the order amount
💡 Pro-tip: You can also pre-authorize security deposits to temporarily block funds on the customer’s credit card, just in case your rental items come back damaged. You’re not actually charging anything unless you capture the authorization within 7 days.
Restricting last-minute bookings
Sometimes, when you’re not in control of the timing, receiving bookings can be inconvenient. To give yourself more time and avoid unwanted bookings, you can set minimum notice for reservations.
A minimum notice establishes the minimum amount of time before pickup that customers can place an order. If your products require preparation before a rental, having a way to prevent last-minute bookings is extremely helpful.
Once you set your booking restrictions in Booqable, the dates and times a customer can select will match these restrictions.
How Booqable’s rental software can help
As you start taking more bookings in advance, the clarity you’re gaining will bring more structure to your schedule. You’ll have a much better overview of future orders and, more importantly, the ability to secure more revenue in advance.
Having a more predictable cash flow unquestionably brings peace of mind, especially during the challenging times that many rental businesses currently face.