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A construction worker near a piece of heavy machinery.

3 min read

Lasting Impressions

Branded keychains benefit the bottom line

Posted: April 14, 2023 | Maggie Manley 3 min read

Business challenges can sometimes call for simple, smart solutions. Heavy-equipment rental and sales company Howard McAnear Equipment Company noticed its equipment rental customers were forgetting to include the keys with their returns, so equipment maintenance advisor Jeremy Branstetter brainstormed how to reduce business costs without inconveniencing customers. 

Equipped to help clients 

For over 30 years, Howard McAnear Equipment Company has rented and sold heavy equipment for major construction companies, major land developers, demolition companies and more. 

As opposed to smaller equipment rental companies who might rent forklifts or miniexcavators for days or weeks, Howard McAnear rents larger pieces of heavy equipment for periods of up to three years. After the rented machines are returned, they are sold to make room for new machines. 

“We’re continuously rotating that inventory,” Branstetter said. 

This allows Howard McAnear to constantly upgrade its fleet and offerings to help customers meet their needs. 

A piece of heavy machinery with a key in the ignition. A logoed blue keychain is visible.

Constructing reminders with customizable promotional giveaways 

Branstetter noticed a problem, however. Often, customers were forgetting to return their keys when turning in their rented machines. 

“About 95% of the time, that key would not come back,” Branstetter said. “And while that doesn’t seem like a huge deal, I was having to buy 600 keys twice a year.” 

When you consider the significant cost of replacing a single key—$13 to $16 depending on the brand—it’s easy to see how this cost would add up. 

“Even if I wanted to purchase aftermarket keys, we were still looking at spending around $975 twice a year,” Branstetter said. “And there were problems with aftermarket keys, which only worked in the ignition and not some of the other things, like locked toolboxes.”

Branstetter decided to try a different approach. Rather than just verbally reminding customers to return their keys, he ordered Square Soft Keychains imprinted with the company name and phone number, along with a reminder message to return the keys with the rented equipment. 

A blue keychain with a logo.

Square Soft Keychain

“The truck drivers who deliver the equipment tell us that this is one of the best things we’ve done to actually get those keys back,” Branstetter said.  

“I’ve had our inspectors mention it, and our owners have commented on the fact that we haven’t had to purchase keys.” 

Branstetter estimates that around 90% of keys are returned with the equipment since the keychains were included with the customers’ rentals. 

An employee holding a blue keychain with a logo.

“We didn’t charge that cost back to the customer, so that was a cost our company would absorb on an annual basis and adds up over time,” he said. “Now we don’t have to do that.” 

Branding reminders that pull heavy duty 

When Howard McAnear Equipment Company determined how to reduce business costs, customizable promo items made a logical and effective solution. That’s the key to meeting customers’ needs and improving the bottom line.


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