Best Practices, Columnists, NBSRA, Operations, V9I5

NBSRA: What Are We Really About?

(Photo courtesy of Johan Godínez on Unsplash)

Fifteen years ago, four leaders in the rent-to-own world gathered and formed a not-for-profit organization designed specifically to serve the RTO industry in the portable structures industry. Hence the name, National Barn and Storage Rental Association. 

The industry as a whole continues to see steady growth. The lease purchase program still provides an attractive way for many to get that extra space in their own backyard at affordable rates with one of the most flexible transactions imaginable. 

What does NBSRA bring to the industry going forward? One of our highest priorities in the industry must be valuing people. This is, after all, a service industry. 

A company holding a rent-to-own contract serves multiple people and companies and requires the cooperation of people in multiple industries from manufacturers to retailers, installers to service techs, and clients to lenders. The common component in each of these relationships is people. 

RTO companies become a crucial hub within the world of sheds as they interact with each of these parts of the industry. Each contact is between people, whether it’s a phone call to a driver, a collection call to a client, or a request for service to the manufacturer. 

If we do not value people—the person to whom we are speaking as well as the people spoken about—the fundamental service component of the relationship is compromised and tensions emerge. These tensions can ripple through to other critical relationships.

What does “valuing people” look like in the industry?  Let me offer three important principles.

First, we must become excellent listeners. 

We may hear what a person is saying. Yet, it is often mentally “adjusted,” as we listen, by our experiences and preconceptions of a situation.  

Asking good questions in order to fully understand the situation, whether talking to a driver, dealer, or client, is an integral part of being a healthy hub. 

Second, we must communicate clearly at every point of the transaction to establish trust. 

Trust is quickly eroded when faulty assumptions exist. In contractual relationships, we must be careful to maintain consistency with our actual methods of operation. 

When the contract is being sold to a new customer, the information he is given must be consistent with what the account manager says to that same customer while collecting on the account. 

The account manager requesting a pickup from a driver in the field must be clear in communicating with both the customer and driver, and he is responsible to support the driver when the pickup becomes challenging. 

While not every customer will be happy—there are people in the world who bring their innate unhappiness to every conversation—a failure to communicate clearly at every step of the transaction should not be at the root of the unhappiness. 

Third, we must consistently do what we say.

When you truly value someone, you are conscious of the commitments you’ve made to that person and will be careful to have systems and processes in place to assure follow-through on promises. 

This applies to both promises concerning follow-up and promises concerning pick-up.  

Failure to follow through on commitments we make generates a general sense of disregard for the agreement, and as such, it communicates a significant devaluing of the people with whom the agreement has been made. 

If we repeatedly make promises we can’t fulfill or don’t fulfill, trust erodes rapidly. This can be as simple as not following the contractual agreements we have with our clients or failing to support drivers with the promised support during pickups. 

As you read this article, the 2023 NBSRA Convention in Knoxville is now likely in the history books. If you were able to attend, we say “Thank you!” for your investment in personal growth to assure the health of the industry as a whole. 

If not, we hope you make it a priority to attend next year and help the industry grow and mature into a healthier, more professional industry that truly values people and brings value to the world. 

Either way, we want to value you as members of the association and welcome your input and suggestions for how NBSRA might better value and serve the industry. 

As the current chairman, I welcome your direct input as I’m sure do all the board members. Drop me an email with your feedback (steve@backyardleasing.com), and we will do our best to “value you” and your perspective.

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