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How to Deal with Late Returns as a Rental Business

Author: Nathan Crossley December 20, 2023 · 3 Min read
How to Deal with Late Returns as a Rental Business

Running a rental operation inevitability means dealing with customers who return items late. These overdue rentals can quickly domino into inventory shortages, order backlogs, and profit hits if left unmanaged. However, there are several tactics you can implement to deal with late returns more effectively without leaving customers dissatisfied or losing out on revenue.

Dealing with late returns

Dealing with late returns doesn’t have to impact your business operations dramatically if you keep on top of it. You can achieve this by charging late fees, implementing lead and lag times, and swapping products on orders. Booqable can also help you with advanced features that streamline dealing with late returns.

1. Setting up lead and lag times


By building buffer time into your rental periods in Booqable, you can account for late returns. Adding padding time after a booking can create a buffer between previous customers returning products and the next customer picking them up. This lag time prevents orders from backing up if customers return items a few minutes overdue. You can also institute lead time - adding time before the start of each rental period. For example, you can add 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after a rental period to create a one-hour buffer.

2. Charging late fees


If you find that customers repeatedly overstep the buffer time and start to disrupt the flow of bookings, you can implement a late charge. In Booqable, you can achieve this by adding a custom line to an order and charging the card you have on file. Clear communication of this to customers can act as a deterrent to dissuade customers from returning products late.

3. Swapping stock items on an order


While having padding on rental periods and charging late fees can be helpful, sometimes you want to give a customer their products. If you want to keep a customer satisfied and not delay their pick-up further, you can swap the stock items on an order. This allows you to get a customer on their way quickly and can also be a way to improve your relationship with them.

4. Prevent surprises with an overview


An overview of your bookings and when they are due back is essential for any rental business. It lets you plan and know exactly when your products are going out. With Booqable, you can also utilize filters to see which products are running late and prepare in advance for the next customer who will be picking up these items.

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Managing late returns

Managing late returns is simply part of a healthy and profitable rental business. However, the financial and reputational damages can add up quickly if you don’t have policies. Implement software automation, rental period buffers, and late fees to take control. Implement lead time and auto-restrictions to deter late returns that impact order throughput. The result is recouping revenue while smoothing operations.

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