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New Mexico’s Jeanette Jennings gets real about being a small rental business owner

By Jeanette Jennings

July 7, 2023

Jeanette Jennings

Jeanette Jennings

Hello, American Rental Association (ARA) members in Region Seven. I am excited to be able to share my insights as a relatively new owner — for almost three years — of a small rental business in Albuquerque, N.M. There have been lots of challenges and struggles, but I keep learning and developing our niche in the market.

Let me share a little bit of our history. I purchased Highland Rent All in Albuquerque during October 2020. I had been a customer of the business for many years. It has been around since 1973. I saw all this potential and thought it would be nice to take it up another notch and provide more things, upgrade the building, the systems and such. When I bought it, I put in a computer system — a first for the company. I also implemented maintenance standards. I have high standards and want to make sure the equipment is well-maintained and presented in a manner that gives our customers confidence.

We cater to the construction, landscape and general tool equipment, as well as banquet and party, rental markets. We are a Stihl dealer and offer small engine service and repair. We, like many of you, got through the pandemic thanks to homeowners who took that time to complete projects they never had time to do before. But then the supply chain and labor issues hit.

Those factors have impacted everything we do. I know I am not the only one. Being a small operation, I don’t have the reserves to deal with all of this as well as a larger operation might. Finding new equipment and parts — and having them delivered in a timely fashion — is a constant struggle. I feel every day like I am trying to focus and make sure the customers are getting reliable equipment.

I have a good team. I have tried to hire more people, including a manager, but I just can’t find those who want to do the job. I am at a point where I am trying to be as efficient as possible with the people I have — work smarter and not harder.

One challenge I didn’t anticipate is being a woman rental business owner in a male-dominated industry. On the whole, I have wonderful customers who appreciate all we currently do and what we are trying to do for them. However, there are some customers of the male persuasion who tend to interact with me in a nonprofessional and disrespectful manner, adding to the challenges of running a business as a female. I am tenacious and will stand by my policies. Inevitably, 50 percent of the time that customer who challenged me comes back with a new level of respect. The question I have is would they treat a male owner in the same manner?

Even with these struggles, I am happy to report that business continues to excel. It has been a slower and steadier growth, some of it due to our land restrictions. It is not inconceivable for me to consider a larger space to invest in more equipment.

I purchased Highland to make sure our customers had an independent choice in the market. We care about them. As a small business owner, perhaps we feel the struggles more intensely. I want to share with my fellow rental operators — especially if you operate a small business — to keep on going. Hopefully these struggles will lessen with time. I continue to persevere and be that choice for my customers. You can too.

Jeanette Jennings, owner
Highland Rent All
Albuquerque, N.M.