A lot can happen in a year and that’s certainly been true for Marc Dowdell and his company, PJ Rental-Volvo Rents.
Dowdell purchased the franchise rights from Volvo Rents in August 2005, and the full-service rental, sales and service construction equipment dealer, based in Egg Harbor Township, is quickly making a mark for itself in southern New Jersey.
From the moment Dowdell opened PJ Rental for business he set about trying to distinguish it from the competition with the motto, “More care. In every rental.”
But the 13-year industry veteran knew that lofty philosophies mean nothing to the customers if they aren’t backed up by actions so Dowdell has fostered an environment at his one-year-old dealership that is 100-percent customer-centric.
“When customers visit our facility, they will see it’s a little different from most,” Dowdell said. “As soon as customers walk into our company, they’ll see our ’Contractors’ Corner’ where we have a 42-inch flat-screen television, a soda machine, coffee, snacks, and table and chairs.
“This is an area where a contractor can come in, and if there’s a line, he or she can sit down, look through a brochure, have a cup of coffee or soda, or get something to eat,” he continued. “This makes for a relaxing atmosphere. When you invite somebody over to your home, you offer him or her something to drink or eat. It’s the same thing at our store; here it’s all about personal relationships.”
Dowdell, however, said that the Contractors’ Corner just scratches the surface of PJ Rental’s commitment to service. And something as petty as concerns about overtime, he assured, will not take priority over keeping a contractor up and running.
“We empower all of our people to keep the customer running,” he said. “So if there’s a technician in the field or a delivery driver, and if either is faced with the decision to keep the customer running or increase uptime, they’re empowered to assist the customer without having to call the customer and say, ’I’m in overtime now, I have to go back to the shop. I’ll be back tomorrow.’ It’s about staying out there and until the contractor is up and running.”
Dowdell cited examples.
“Recently, we had a factory refurb machine we bought,” he began. “The first job that we put it out on was for Vista Convention Services, which was putting on a trade show in Atlantic City over the weekend. Vista called at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday because the machine sprung an oil leak … one of the lines blew. We sent out two technicians, who made a hose and got him running that night, ensuring the machine worked properly for him for the weekend show.”
Morning emergencies have not been a problem, either, Dowdell said.
“We had a customer call us at 7:15 a.m. with an emergency; they had some machines down and needed two 19-foot scissor lifts right away to get going,” Dowdell said. “What we do here is that we keep certain machines inside on charge every night in the case of morning emergencies. From the initial phone call at 7:15, we had machines on the job by 8:30 a.m. That was for one of our new customers who is working the Borgata tower in Atlantic City.”
In just the short year that he’s been in business, Dowdell believes that providing service to customers is much easier and consistently good when layers of management are peeled away.
“One of the things unique about us, unlike the ’Big Box’ companies, is that there isn’t a big hierarchy or regional office or corporate center,” he said. “If our people in the field have an idea or want to do something, they know the parameters in which we operate. If it’s beyond those parameters, it’s just one phone call away from being resolved. Howard Shapiro in sales will call me and we’ll make a decision that makes sense for both our company and the customer, and usually the answer comes back in minutes, not hours or days.
“So one of the things that we like to tell people is that we’re locally owned and operated,” he continued. “We understand the bottom line because we own our own company. By the same token, we don’t have a lot of bureaucratic layers; it’s a very short chain involved with making a decision, and that leads to our quick responsiveness. It also affords us the opportunity to be aggressive and creative to meet a customer’s needs.”
PJ Rental’s Volvo Rents facility is located at 6324 Black Horse Pike and sits on 5.5 acres. Approximately half of the facility’s 7,000 sq. ft. is dedicated to parts and service, which includes five service bays. The company serves eight New Jersey counties: Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem and Cape May.
PJ Rental carries Volvo; the full Bosch tool line; MMD air compressors, pumps and generators; Multiquip concrete equipment; Partner and Target concrete saws; JLG, Genie and Haulotte aerial lifts; Allmand backhoes; Allmand Bros. light towers; Caterpillar dozers, Toyota forklifts, and more. Its expansive rental fleet encompasses contractor tools and supplies, aerial lifts from 19 to 120 ft., and earthmoving equipment.
After a successful first year in business, Dowdell now has his sights set on the second year, knowing that for any successful venture, improvements can always be made.
“We’re working right now on developing the existing customer base that we’ve created, and growing that base,” he said. “We’ll do that through different customer loyalty events, target marketing promotions and focusing on our core businesses. We have said from Day One —we have great products and a great facility. All we need are the right people to take our services to the market. Our current team is made up of industry professionals who share that philosophy of service.
“We’re also, right now, in the process of analyzing our fleet and adjusting it to meet the ever-increasing needs of our customers. Obviously the first year you go in and think that you need ’X, Y and Z’ and then as you do more and more you realize that you’ve got to tweak your fleet; get more of a certain product, get rid of a certain product that you’re not utilizing as much as you originally thought you would. We’ll be balancing our fleet to increase utilization,” he said.
What he’s done so far seems to be working.
“The compliment that we’ve repeatedly heard from our customers is that when it comes to on-time delivery and service, no one competes with us,” Dowdell said. “And that’s what we’re making our mark on. If we say we’re going to be somewhere, we’ve got to be there at that time. And that’s part of the philosophy that all of our people have. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.”
For more information, call 1-877/VRENTSS. CEG