The US education sector was valued at $1,350 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach approximately $2,040 billion by 2026. With a CAGR of more than 4.5%, the education sector continues to grow at an exponential rate.
With an ever-increasing number of students enrolling each year, educational institutions have the additional administrative burden of safeguarding valuable rental equipment while still providing students with everything they need in a timely fashion.
Sustaining a larger student body means institutions are tracking more equipment and rental inventory. Also, there are instances where students don’t return items on time, or damage or lose the equipment.
You can decrease such instances and ensure that your equipment remains safe by holding students strictly accountable for their actions. Here are a few ways to keep students accountable for the equipment in their possession and encourage timely returns.
1. Clearly explain the rental process to students
Before students can start renting out the equipment, they need to know the rules. Take this opportunity to bring them up to speed about all the rules and regulations of renting or reserving equipment at your institution.
There are many ways to spread the word. You can go from class to class, but that is going to take up too much time. The easiest and most transparent way is to post equipment rental and usage guidelines on the school’s website. If there’s an online portal where students can browse through items and rent or reserve from there, then you can also add a tab under ‘Guidelines’. Make sure this information is easy to find and understand.
Here is what this information should include:
- Explain the renting out and return procedure
- How to reserve items
- Operating hours of the equipment room
- The “fair use” policy
- Late fee and damages charges
Apart from this basic information, you can add other regulations as well. For example, if students can authorize anyone else to pick up the equipment on their behalf or if they can lend equipment to others. It’s important that you explicitly state the rules so as to avoid confusion.
2. Create a student agreement
Once you outline all the dos and don’ts, put a formal agreement in place. Start off by setting up a sign-in sheet for all students to sign whenever they enter the equipment room. Now you have a record of all the students who visit the room. Then comes the rental agreement.
Most educational institutions don’t charge students any rent, but there is still the matter of late fees and charging for any damages. The agreement is where you can clearly state these terms so students know what is expected of them. Moreover, asking them to sign a formal agreement automatically ensures that they will behave more responsibly.
The agreement also serves as a paper trail so you can apply the correct fee, if applicable, once the student returns the equipment. For a more efficient process, you can eliminate paper and automate the whole process with an online rental booking software.
3. Take your rental agreement online
Paper trails can be confusing, error-prone, and can also easily be lost, burnt, or more. To mitigate this hassle, consider moving your rental process online.
Look for a robust online rental booking software that enables students to browse and rent out equipment online. Moreover, you can also ask students to electronically sign rental agreements, making the entire rental process more convenient for everyone involved.
No need to repeatedly draw up a rental agreement either. Simply create a template you like and save it in the software. This way, it will always be there, ready to use, whenever you need it.
Invoicing also becomes much easier with an online rental booking software. Once a student returns an item, you can generate an online invoice with the click of a button. The invoice will automatically include all the relevant information from that order, so you won’t have to manually enter the order details. You can then email the invoice to the student, or simply print it.
4. Set up a reward and penalty system
Late fees and charges for damages are a highly efficient way of holding students accountable for the equipment they rent. Apart from regular penalties, you can also set up advanced options for students who consistently ignore the return dates or misuse the equipment. For example, if a student fails to return the equipment on time, three times in a row, you can temporarily block their rental privileges.
As you put penalties in place for repeat offenders, it is also important to acknowledge the students who follow all the guidelines. Rewarding positive actions is a great way to keep students motivated, while simultaneously encouraging others to do the same.
Here’s an idea for a reward system: you can keep your best-performing equipment in a separate category. Then only give the students who return equipment on time and follow guidelines meticulously, access to that equipment.
5. Get your students involved
Another great way to increase accountability is to involve your students in the equipment management process. This will help them realize the importance of responsible borrowing firsthand. If you need some extra manpower down at the equipment room, ask students to volunteer or pick a few of them yourself.
Once the students see how busy it gets handling all the equipment and how other students are left without equipment if someone doesn’t return theirs on time, this will instill a sense of responsibility in them. You can even set up a schedule so that every student has to work a few hours once in the equipment room.
Consider implementing these measures to set your rental program up for success. Remember to communicate your policies in a clear and transparent manner to your students, so they know about the late return policy and any other important information.
The value in an online rental booking software
To help improve accountability and to increase efficiency when it comes to dealing with rentals, adopting an online rental booking software is your safest bet. Students will value the ease and comfort of browsing, renting, and reserving items online. At the same time, you can easily store all important information online, draw up and send invoices with the click of a button, and maintain a detailed history of each students’ rental activity.
You can try out EZRentOut – leading online rental booking software that offers educational institutes seamless rental management. It also comes with a host of other features like asset tracking, maintenance management, a customized webstore, and much more. Try us out today!