Equipment and tool hiring business

image example

Equipment and tool hiring business is a good example how the business integrated assets, work orders and bookings very effectively using BookAndPay application.

The business have thousands of assets ranging from small hand tools to complicated machinery. The assets or inventory items are available for hiring for short term basis or long term basis.

Business Problem

Equipment and tools hiring business have existing accounting software, inventory management software and few adhoc software tools and website. They are not connected or integrated together. This results in manual entry of data. The online booking was limited to a web form and requests coming for estimates, quotes and bookings are manually managed by staff

Invoicing, billing and collection was manual via existing accounting software.

The process is manual and time consuming. Reporting is manual via Excel spreadsheets and billing and invoicing was independent and hence more manual process in the work flow.

Function Previous Solution Notes
Booking Manual Equipment availability and booking was on available online.
Cancellations / Changes Manual By email and phone calls
Reminders Partially Automatic Basic email reminder without specific details.
Payment Manual Manual invoicing and electronic payments.
Self Service Not available Customers do not have logins or account to manage their bookings. Customer to call office to get past bookings, invoices or make changes to bookings.
Reports No consolidated reports Separate reports from accounting software and inventory systems.

Solution

The solution was to make the availability of equipment and tools and online and make it bookable with payment option.

The BookAndPay web application is hosted in on premise server and linked to the current website via http interface. The BookAndPay application is also integrated to accounting and inventory software via APIs and webhooks. More details of of integration methods can be found in plugins

“Book Now” button was added to existing website. Some programming was required for integration.

For booking automation, the workflow was divided into two parts

  1. Booking workflow

  2. Selfservice workflow

Booking workflow

The booking workflow automates the scheduling, booking, notifications aspects of the equipment hire business. Once the BookAndPay application was deployed on customer owned virtual servers and connected to the inventory database, the integration was painless with a simple addition of a “Hire Now” button on the business website.


For full details of the booking functions, see Booking Feature



Payment workflow

Self-service workflow

Self-service function enables customer and staff of the equipment and hiring business to manage various aspects of work orders and bookings. Self-service will also allow all users to view past and current bookings, make changes and update the details without calling staff during 9 to 5.

Self-service allows the users with certain roles to view and create reports. For example, approved staff of business can create reports on customers and their hiring history.


Details of the self-service function can be found in self-service feature and details of user-management can be found in user management feature

Features Used

Hosted Deployment
API gateway
Advanced security including OAuth Authentication
Notifications
Scheduling and Calendar
Self-service
Reporting system with exporting capabilities to CSV, Excel and PDF
Booking APIs
Asset APIs
Work Order service
User Management



Implementation

Deployment Method

BookAndPay application server is deployed on customers hosted server in Azure. Connection between existing web server and BookAndPay application via HTTPS.

Connection with existing cloud based accounting software via secure REST APIs. Connection with existing inventory system via HTTPS

Integration Method

The client added “Hire Now” button on existing PHP enabled website running on Apache webserver. Integration with accounting software and inventory database uses HTTP based APIs.

Configurations

Before the system goes live, equipment and tools hiring company IT staff carries out some tasks.

The company IT staff carries out the following. The steps are often Deploy, Connect and Configure.

  1. Deploy: Decides how and where to deploy the BookAndPay server. In this case, the IT team implemented the BookAndPay application servers on their own Azure server.
  2. Connect: The existing website is running on a PHP web server. The IT team connected the PHP website to the BookAndPay application servers.
  3. Configure: The company IT staff customize the application to suit their needs. This includes configuring information about
    1. Connect to the inventory database to get some metadata on equipment list
    2. Connect to the accounting software.
    3. Configure customer notification messages
    4. Configure how to receive payments from customers
    5. Configure the colors and layout of booking pages
    6. Configure security
    7. Configure self-service


Benefits

  1. Improved customer experience
  2. Reduced a lot manual work order processing and resulting efficiency gain.
  3. Substantially reduced administrative overhead and associated cost.