By Melissa Somers, Executive Director, CPP
Mastering the balancing act of providing top notch customer service while still taking measures to protect your company from theft or fraud can be an ongoing task that can prove challenging.
No one wants to intentionally provide a less-than-exceptional experience for their customers; but in today’s rental market, theft and fraud prevention are necessary evils that must be addressed. Whether you’re a company of 5 or 500 employees, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim without hindering your dedication to providing your clients a stellar customer service experience.
Implementing a straight-forward, detailed and enforceable step by step process for renting to clients is a top priority. This might include two different check lists for your employees to follow: one for return and long-time customers and one for first time renters or someone who sets off your internal alarms. Be sure that every employee is aware of and comfortable with your rental procedures. Encourage them to trust their gut when renting to clients and empower them to engage in a CYA (or “Cover Your Assets”) approach when red flags are present.
- Process payment at the time the transaction is made. Some companies wait until the close of business to process payments, thus allowing a fraudulent renter plenty of time to make away with your valuable equipment.
- Note discrepancies in the address stated on the rental form vs the one listed on the renter’s identification and the delivery destination.
- Verify that the credit card billing address matches the renter’s identification. Protecting Your Company Against Rental Fraud While Still Providing Excellent Customer Service “Step with great care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.” Dr. Seuss
- Consider asking for an additional form or ID that shows the renter’s name and address (electric bill, power bill, etc.).
- Make photocopies of identification used.
- Verify the renter’s employer if the transaction is being made on behalf of a company. A quick Google search for the company’s contact information and phone call to the number listed might save a lot of hassle and headache in the long run. Consider asking for local references when processing a rental for a first-time renter.
- Note vehicle information and description as a backup. Take a photo, if possible, to keep in the customer’s file.
- Mark your equipment in a clear, concise and uniform manner for easy identification and to discourage would be thieves.
- Report incidents to law enforcement and your area crime prevention specialist to keep other rental agencies in the know and discourage potential and current thieves from targeting companies in your area.
- Communicate with other area rental agencies on a regular basis to encourage sharing information that could keep your company from becoming a victim of rental fraud.
- Consider joining local and regional organizations, like the Crime Prevention Program of SoCal, that share information about rental fraud incidents, prevention reminders and marking techniques.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your renter. Legitimate renters generally won’t mind a few extra precautions and steps in your rental process if they’re executed efficiently. Keeping your company from becoming a victim of rental fraud saves your clients money in the long-run, too.
Renting to a new customer can be risky. It can also lead to a new, recurring customer that just may become your biggest client. It is important to find the right balance between rental fraud protection and providing excellent customer service. Investing the time and energy to attain this balance could pay off- not just by “Covering Your Assets” but by ensuring a positive experience for your customers that will bring them back tomorrow and for years to come.