By Jim Chliboyko
QuoteToMe’s online platform streamlines the equipment rental process
The digital age has brought us many new ways of doing things, whether it’s how we communicate, how we date, how we travel and even how we shop or otherwise conduct our business.
In the construction sector, a lean, new made-in-Manitoba company has emerged from this age, embracing this new way of doing things for both rental companies and contractors.
The company is called QuoteToMe and is not dissimilar to websites and applications like Hotels.com (known for their ambassador, Captain Obvious). It’s an application that compares prices of similar products offered by different companies in order to help the consumer make an informed decision. Of course, both are a little different; instead of hotel rooms, QuoteToMe deals with construction equipment and assorted tools. And instead of travellers, QuoteToMe is facilitating business between rental companies and contractors and other clients.
QuoteToMe does differ from those other applications, though, in one key aspect, says founder and CEO John Chabluk.
“Where we differ from those models is that we maintain and strengthen the relationship. We’re keeping the people involved, which is the foundation QuoteToMe was built on, that the people are never removed from the equation,” he said.
Basically, QuoteToMe does all of the comparison shopping for you, rather than making you individually contact each company every time you want to check prices. The application, which doesn’t require a software installation and works on any suitable device, has you create a quote request, whether for an item’s rent or purchase. Then you can invite specific companies to send you quotes – you can even choose a particular sales rep in a particular company. You will be able to check out the different companies’ quotes side by side on a graphic grid and eventually select a winning bid. All parties will be electronically notified, cutting out yet another step for everybody, those time-consuming follow-up calls.
“Contractors are the only ones that can see who the invited rental companies are and the variance in pricing submitted,” said Cory Kohut, QuoteToMe’s president and chief operating officer. “Once a contractor selects a winning bid, the rental companies will be instantly notified whether they have won or lost and receive feedback, which is provided directly from the contractor.”
For Chabluk, a University of Winnipeg graduate, his inspiration came from working in the industry.
“I had the opportunity to work for the largest rental company in the world,” he said. “And, simply put, I recognized inefficiencies in the process which brought the idea to integrate technology into the equipment rental and purchase process.
“QuoteToMe was built to strengthen the foundation of every relationship through organized and effective communication. And for contractors, ultimately we wanted to be able to provide the best value for equipment dollars.”
The company, which is based in the East Exchange District in downtown Winnipeg, did their soft launch only a few months ago.
“On March 12th we rolled out our soft launch in Manitoba with four contractors and seven rental companies,” said Chabluk. “They were all general contractors who have worked with us right from the beginning of building the product and we are now substantially expanding our user base to all sizes of contractor companies.
“As we continue our growth in Manitoba, our aim is to begin launching the product strategically across Western Canada in partnership with associations and our strategic partners.”
Like the old saying about books, that they’re never truly finished being written, QuoteToMe will never finish being tweaked or otherwise worked on.
Said Chabluk, “At no point would a product like this, quote unquote, reach completion. We’re forever changing our product to fit the needs of the market based on feedback from our users.”
The team behind QuoteToMe sees a benefit for rural users, in particular.
Said Chabluk, “The value QuoteToMe brings to a rural contractor is exposure. Not only are the rural contractors now exposed to more rental company providers, but these contractors are now also visible to the rental companies who are eagerly seeking new opportunities to provide equipment to new contractors. We bring the construction community together, no matter where you are.”
The team is pleased with the reactions they’ve gotten from the product.
“In the six weeks since our launch in Manitoba, a month after our beta launch,” said Chabluk, “we’ve facilitated over $250,000 in rental transactions, which is super exciting for us, being such a short period of time. We’re really excited to see where it’s going to grow.
“We’re also breaking geographic barriers for our vendors, bringing them into new markets. We now have one (rental company) at present which has been able to enter the Manitoba market with our product.”
Offering a new type of product, though, can be a challenge.
“The construction industry is one that values tradition and procedure. Any change, in general, comes with its hurdles, specifically when changing a standard operating procedure. Today, the process is many phone calls, texts or emails for receiving quotes,” said Chabluk. “Being that QuoteToMe is a disruption to this traditional procedure, it is a minor hurdle for us. We are continuing to prove the value our product brings to the construction industry. We are confident in the adoption of this change in a process based on the feedback and usage we’ve seen so far.”
Being a relatively young company means they are one of the newer members of the Construction Association of Rural Manitoba.
“We are proud to work with incredible associations such as CARM to help us carry the QuoteToMe message to industry stakeholders,” said Chabluk. “The support that we have received from Karen Roe and CARM has been fantastic, we are incredibly grateful.”
Photo courtesy of QuoteToMe