14/01/2009 - 22:00

The bumpy road to hire performance

14/01/2009 - 22:00

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TRADING under the name All Seasons Camper Trailer Hire, Steve Wadcock started his small business with one trailer under a tree on his driveway in January 2004.

The bumpy road to hire performance
SMOOTHER RIDE: Steve Wadcock is driving his business forward after a few initial speed bumps.

TRADING under the name All Seasons Camper Trailer Hire, Steve Wadcock started his small business with one trailer under a tree on his driveway in January 2004.

In August 2006, HireAcampertrailer.com bought the business and the company now boasts a fleet of up to 40 camper trailers between Perth and its regional depots, employing nine staff.

"I got involved in this business because it became apparent that the recreational vehicle market was realising significant changes in its consumer demographic, with well-heeled baby boomers keen to expend on driving holidays within Australia," Mr Wadcock, now company director and group marketing manager, told WA Business News.

"It was also apparent that they were particularly astute consumers who carefully considered their purchase options."

Mr Wadcock soon identified repetitive problematic areas, which in turn affected the type of product and level of service the business could offer.

The main areas of concern were a shortage of regional hire depots where clients could collect and return campers, the need for a comprehensive automated booking system to track asset assignment and history, and the lack of an automated invoicing and data collection management system (CMS).

The business also needed to upgrade its fleet and offer the latest user-friendly campers, which were light to tow and could be quickly assembled.

Mr Wadcock said the sector's landscape had changed significantly during the past 12 months, making it imperative these problems were tackled strategically.

"At the front end of retail sales of trailers it is extremely competitive; saturation of the marketplace with cheaper, soft floor tent-style camper trailers has contributed greatly to oversupply in a time where people are not spending quite as liberally as they were 12 months ago," he said.

"Paradoxically, this has a spin-off benefit for the hire market, with consumers who are either cash-strapped or with too many options to choose from [for a holiday] quite often ending up just hiring a camper for the duration of their holidays.

"As these issues we were facing were complex to deal with, it required in-depth research and development of both products and systems on all fronts."

Mr Wadcock said aside from the obvious financial demands of undertaking system development, the business spent months developing systems that would assist clients.

"Firstly, we developed a camper trailer which was light to tow, the lightest in its class, and would set up for sleeping with a hard off-the-ground floor in under 60 seconds," he said.

"As licensed motor vehicle dealers, we then opted to rotate our hire fleet every 12 months, allowing our clients to have a new or near-new camper each time.

"We now work closely with Repco to provide nationwide repair and support to our clients including remote areas."

HireAcampertrailer.com clients can now collect and return campers from regional points.

In addition, a CMS booking system was developed and implemented, enabling clients to book online in an automated and secure environment, and providing modules for regional agents to manage their hire fleet.

Mr Wadcock said the business has had a positive response from clients as a result of the changes with many confident the brand can deliver both a product and service they want and expect.

"We now believe that aside from some fine-tuning and ongoing reviewal of our systems consistent with industry practice, we can now take great confidence in these products and systems," he said.

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