The xTuple rentals package is a commercial extension that can be added to any edition of xTuple ERP. The package gives you the ability to maintain rental inventory, then lease that inventory out to customers on rental contracts. Setting rental rates, scheduling pickups, and running regular cycle billing are all included in the package.
Configuring Rental Items
When the xTuple rental package is installed, a number of standard xTuple screens will become overlaid with rental functionality. This starts with the Item master screen, where the initial rental configuration is performed. As you can see in the following screenshot, a Rental Configuration tab is added to the bottom of the screen:
Item master for rental item
Apart from the information set up under the Rental Configuration tab, you define your rental items just like you would your regular inventory items. You assign them an item type, class code, product category, and etc. You may have noticed in the screenshot that this rental item is also marked as sold. This is intentional and necessary, to ensure the accounting mappings are tied to the proper product category. You don't need a list price for rental items, though, because rental rates are handled separately. We will talk more about rental rates below.
To indicate that an item is a rentable item, select the Rental Configuration tab, as shown below:
Rental item configuration
Choose the "Item is Rentable" option to indicate an item is rentable. This will give the item access to all the available rental package features. You will also notice the following other two options on the Rental Configuration tab:
- Base Rental Rate: The rental package includes a robust rental rate calculator, with rate assigments which function in a very similar way as the pricing schedule assignments do in the standard application. If you want to bypass the rental rate assignments, select a base rental rate here. Otherwise, the rental rate for the item will be determined based on the matching rental rate assignment.
- Require Hour Meter: Select if you want to require users to enter the outgoing meter reading before the item can be added to a rental contract. This will prevent metered items from being rented without a current meter reading. If the item doesn't use a meter, then don't select this option.
Note: Rental items are not removed from inventory when they are rented. Instead, they change status as they move from location to location. See below for more information on managing rental inventory.
Using Item Groups
The rental package adds several features to item groups, making it easier for you to manage your rental items in many respects. Item groups are used for
- Simplified searching across rental inventory
- Consolidating rental rates
- Ensuring safety messages are printed consistently on contracts.
You can read more about item groups in the item groups section of the xTuple ERP Reference Guide. Meanwhile, to locate item groups in the application, go to Products > Item > Groups. The following screen will appear:
There is no limit to the number of item groups you can create. You can also nest item groups within other item groups, to help with organization. Let's look at a sample item group:
Sample item group
There are a number of features to emphasize on the Item Group screen.
- All the listed member items are individual rental items which have been added to the group. Any rules that apply to the item group also apply to each of the member items. There's no limit to the number of member items you can add to a single item group.
- Suggested items are items which you recommend should be sold and/or rented whenever one of the member items goes out for rent. For example, if you are renting an air compressor, it's suggested that you also rent a hose. In this case, the hose would be a suggested rental item. Suggested items can be additional rental items, or they can also be inventory items which you sell at the time of the rental. Suggested items can also be marked as mandatory or optional.
- Rental rates defined at the item group level will also be applied to all the member items. As we will explore below, one of the primary ways rental rates are assigned is by item group.
- Messages (e.g., safety messages) established at the item group level will also be printed on any rental contracts where member items are included.
Item groups also speed up the process of entering rental contracts. Instead of looking up rental items from your entire product list, you can locate them by item group. The Contract Item screen includes an item group browser, which allows you to do just that. Here's a screenshot showing the item group browser:
Item group browser
The item group browser lets you filter rental items according to different criteria. For example, you can show only items which are currently available for rent. Or you can also specify you want to see items which are still in the shop.
Most rental businesses need to print custom messages on their rental contracts. These messages may be for instructional, safety or other purposes. To simplify this process, the rental package allows you to create and store your messages in a central list. You can then associate your messages with the appropriate items and/or item groups the messages are intended for.
To access the central list of messages, go to Rentals > Setup > Messages. The following screen will appear:
List of available messages
You can create as many messages as you need. The important thing is that you only have to create them once. After that, it's just a matter of associating the message with the right items and item groups.
Note: Messages associated with items and item groups will automatically be printed on your rental contracts when the associated items are listed on a contract.
The next screenshot shows a sample warning message which is linked to several different item groups. Whenever any one of the items in these items groups appears on a rental contract, this warning message will be printed on the contract:
When creating a new message, give it a name and then write the content of the message into the Message field. To link item groups or individual items to the message, locate the item group and then select the ASSOCIATE GROUP or ASSOCIATE ITEM buttons to add them to the list. Both the Item Group and Item screens have Messages tabs, so you can also see the linked messages from that perspective, as well.
Rental rates work in a similar way to how pricing schedules work in the ERP. You define your rates in one place, and then assign them in another. To access your list of rental rates, go to Rentals > Setup > Rental Rates. The following screen will appear:
List of rental rates
When creating rental rates, you have the option to define them by the hour, day, week or month. You can also add an optional damage waiver or set a minimum number of hours.
Sample rental rate
Once you've created a rental rate, the next step is to assign it. To reach the list of rental rate assignments—and to create a new one—go to Rentals > Setup > Rental Rate Assignments. The following screen will appear:
List of rental rate assignments
To create a new rental rate assignment, select the NEW button. You will be presented with several options, as shown below:
Sample rental rate assignment
As you can see in the screenshot, there is a drop-down menu to select the rental rate you want to assign. All the rates you have defined will appear in this list. The next step is to assign the rate using one of the available options:
- Item Group: Select an item group to assign the rate to. The linked rate will be visible on the Item Group screen. You can also use pattern matching to assign the rate to a range of item groups.
- Site: Indicate whether the rate should apply to all sites or a single site.
- Customer: If you would rather apply the rate to a customer, instead of an item group, specify the customer here. You can also assign it to a customer type or a range of customer types.
Note: Typically, rental rates will be assigned to either an item group or a customer but not to both.
The key difference between rental items and sold items, from an accounting perspective, is that rental items never leave your inventory. Of course, you may decide at some point to sell a rental item, in which case the item would leave your inventory. However, in normal day-to-day operations, rental items remain on the books, in inventory.
Rental items do move, of course—from the shop to customer sites and back again—and this movement is tracked using a feature called multiple-location control (MLC). To learn more about this, please see the article on multiple location control.
Setting up multiple-location control for a rental environment consists of three primary steps:
- Each item site for each rental item must be marked to use multiple-location control.
- For every site where you plan to manage rental inventory, you need to create five (5) locations. These locations will be mapped to your rental statuses.
- You also need to create five (5) rental statuses, which must be named exactly as shown below:
- On Rent
- Scheduled for Pickup
- Inside Shop
- Outside Shop
The locations plus the statuses are used to track rental items as they move through the rental process. When locations change, the status gets updated. As a result, you can follow your items every step of the way. The first three statuses are managed automatically by the rental contract system. The last two are manually selected whenever you need to perform maintenance on rental items.
Note: To learn more about setting up locations, please see the Reference Guide section on locations.
Let's assume you've already defined your five locations. The next step is to map those locations to the five required statuses. Go to Rentals > Setup > Rental Status Mappings to begin the mapping process:
Rental status mappings
To create a new rental status, select the NEW button. The following screen will appear:
Let's review each of the fields on the Rental Status screen:
- Status: Here is where you type the name of the status, using one of the five required names mentioned previously: Available, On Rent, Scheduled for Pickup, Inside Shop, Outside Shop.
- Site: Specify the site where your rental locations are defined.
- Location: Choose the location you want to link to the rental status. In the screenshot, the On Rent status is paired with the OR-On Rent location.
Note: If you plan to handle rental inventory in more than one site, you must define both five correctly named statuses and five locations for each rental site.
To see an overview of all your rental inventory, go to Inventory > Reports > Quantities on Hand by Location. You can also view rental inventory when entering contracts. Just select the SEARCH BY ITEM GROUP button on the Rental Item screen, and you will be able to locate rental items by their current status.
When the rental package is installed, rental contracts and sales orders share the same screen. The standard sales order features are still available. However, the added rental functionality is layered on top.
Owing to its dual purpose, the rental Contract screen has multiple menu paths. You can reach it in either of the following two ways:
- Rentals > Contract > New
- Sales > Sales Order > New
Here's how the Contract screen looks when you open it:
Rental contract screen
As you can see in the screenshot, the Contract screen looks nearly identical to the standard Sales Order screen. The main difference is that a Rental Items tab has been added.
Note: Even though its title says Contract, the screen supports all the standard sales order features, with rental item functionality added in.
To add a rental item to a rental contract, follow these steps:
- Go to the Rental Items tab
- Select the NEW button
The following screen will appear:
Contract Item screen
Adding rental items to a contract is just like adding line items to a sales order. The main difference is that rental items are not being sold, shipped or removed from inventory. They are being rented. Here are the steps to follow:
- Enter the item number for the rental item. Use the SEARCH BY ITEM GROUP button to easily locate the rental item you are looking for.
- Specify the quantity being rented.
- The rental rates will be displayed, based on the rental rate assigments.
- Enter the time out. The estimated time in is calculated based on the specified number of cycle billing days.
- If hour meter readings are required, enter the meter reading value in the Hour Meter Out field. The current meter reading will display in the Hour Meter field.
- The Supply tab gives you visibility into the rental item's current availability.
After you've added a rental item to the contract, you can view it on the Rental Items tab, as shown below:
Rental line items on rental contract
On the Line Items tab, you can see from the screenshot that the current status of the line item is "Pending." This status will change once you complete the order, using the COMPLETE ORDER button.
You also have the option to modify the estimated return date. To do this, manually change the number of days, then select the ADD DAYS TO TIME OUT button. This will modify the estimated return date to reflect the new number. To transfer the return date change to the line item level, select the APPLY TIMES TO LINE ITEMS button.
The HAULING CHARGES button shown in the screenshot is used to add pre-defined service charges to the contract. These service charges are pre-defined on the Rental Setup screen, under Sales > Setup > Rental Setup:
Hauling charge items in rental setup
As you can see, you have the option to define two service charge items: a delivery charge item and a pickup charge item. These two service items are pre-defined in the setup, and can be added to any contract using the HAULING CHARGES button.
Note: Because services are something you sell, they are handled differently than rental items. Rental items appear on the Rental Items tab. Sold items—like service charges or inventory items—appear on the Line Items tab.
To add service charges to a contract, select the HAULING CHARGES button. The following screen will appear:
On the Hauling Charges screen, you will be prompted to enter the amounts you are charging for delivery and/or pickup charges. Hauling charges are optional. You can add either or both or none. When amounts are entered, corresponding line items will be added to the contract, using the item numbers specified in the rental setup.
Sold line items
You will notice, however, that the hauling charge line item(s) do not appear on the Rental Items tab. Instead, you will find them on the Line Items tab. The reason for this is that hauling charges are not rental items. They are services you sell and so they must be handled like other sold items.
When you are finished filling out your contract, select the COMPLETE ORDER button. You will be prompted to print a copy of the rental contract at this point:
Print rental contract on COMPLETE ORDER
The rental contract is based on a report definition that can be customized to meet the needs of your business. The following screenshot shows an example of one customer's rental contract:
Sample printed contract
Besides the printing of the rental contract, other activities are also taking place when you select the COMPLETE ORDER button. The primary activity involves the movement of inventory:
- Rental items are relocated from their "Available" location to their "On Rent" location.
Note: Again, because rental items never leave inventory, you don't ship them. Instead, they are relocated from one item site location to another, as described above.
You can manage most of the remaining life cycle of rental contracts from the open contracts list. To reach that screen, go to Rentals > Contract > List Open:
List rental contracts
The Open Contracts screen shows you not only all your open rental contracts but also provides a wide range of right-click options. The following right-click options are of particular interest:
- Exchange Item: Select if your customer wants to exchange one rental item for another.
- Schedule for Pickup: Select to schedule a pickup of rental items. This will move the inventory from the "On Rent" location to the "Scheduled for Pickup" location. See below for more information on this step.
- Return Contract: Select when you receive a rental item back into your possession. This may occur when the customer returns the item to your shop or when you go pick the item up. When selected, inventory will be automatically moved from the "Scheduled for Pickup" location back to the "On Rent" location. The contract will also be closed after this step.
- Close Contract: Select to close the rental contract. This step will automatically occur when you complete the return contract process.
Note: When you close a contract, an uposted invoice for the customer will be created.
You schedule pickups of rental equipment from the right-click menu of the Open Contracts screen. When you select the "Schedule for Pickup" option, the following screen will appear:
Schedule pickup time
Select the pickup time from the drop-down list and then hit the SCHEDULE button. Once you do this, you will be prompted to print the pickup ticket.
The pickup ticket is based on an xTuple report definition, which can be modified to meet the needs of your business. Here's an example pickup ticket:
Sample pickup ticket
As you can see from the screenshot, this sample pickup ticket includes a number of useful pieces of information:
- Ticket number
- Contract number
- Name of customer jobsite
- Pickup day and time (D/T)
- D/T out
- Line items listed with check box
Again, this is just one example of a pickup ticket. You can customize your own to include whatever you need.
You may recall on the Contract screen there's a field indicating the estimated return day/time. This estimate is based on the time out + the cycle billing days defined under the rental setup/configuration.
To run the cycle billing utility, go to Rentals > Billing. You have the option to create cycle bills either by as-of date or a date range, as shown in the following screenshots:
Running cycle billing by date or date range
When you run the cycle billing utility, invoices will be generated for any "on rent" items which haven't been billed since the previous cycle.
Note: The system keeps track of cycle billing history, thus ensuring rental items won't be cycle-billed more than once for any given period.
The billing cycle is typically 28 or 30 days, but can be modified. Invoices will be calculated based on the rate (hours, daily, weekly or monthly) and also the period of time. When determining time periods, the following rules are applied:
- Daily - Number of full days on rent, rounded down to next day
- Weekly - Number of full weeks on rent, rounded down to previous week
- Hourly - Number of full hours on rent, rounded up to the next hour
Note: Rental charges, except for taxes or extraneous charges, are included in the billing cycle calculations.
The billing utility will exclude Sundays, if you specified no Sunday billing in the rental setup/configuration. Otherwise, Sundays will be included:
The utlity will also consider any special calendar dates you've established. For example, if you enter holidays into the calendar, these can be excluded from the billing cycle, as well. To create calendar exceptions, go to Rentals > Setup > Rental Calendar. The following screen will appear:
Any calendar exceptions you create will be considered when the cycle billing utility is run.
Finally, the package comes pre-loaded with several reports to help you with tracking your rental items. You can find rental reports under both the Rental and Sales menus.
- Under the path Rentals > Reports you will find the following:
- Quantity on Hand by Rental Status
- Pending Cycle Bills
- Under Sales > Reports you will find the following:
- Equipment on Rent