AVT Inc., formerly Automated Vending Technologies, recently announced that it has partnered with Plano, Texas-based Rug Doctor Inc. to develop "the world's first self-service carpet cleaning system automated rent-and-return kiosk center, patent pending."
Rug Doctor, the carpet cleaning system company, has already launched a 27-unit pilot program, called Rug Doctor Rapid Rents, which provides a "quick, efficient and user friendly way to rent and return the best carpet cleaning systems in America," the company said.
Just last summer Disneyland started deploying self-service kiosks for renting strollers, and bicycle-rental kiosks are spreading like weeds. Along with Zipcar-type services, self-service car-rental kiosks and the rise of self-checkout library kiosks, how long before all rentals are handled via kiosk or smartphone? Is the car-rental clerk job about to go the way of the dodo?
Rug Doctor teamed with Corona, California-based AVT to develop the self-service system that allows customers to rent and return the carpet cleaning machines through a touchscreen-based kiosk center without involving store personnel.
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"The new Rug Doctor kiosk features an intuitive graphical user interface, cashless payment, alert notifications, real-time activity, and eye-catching graphics, and is a refreshing way to speed up the entire rent-and-return process in a dynamic and hassle-free manner," Rug Doctor CEO Tim Wall said. "After a successful pilot program in several test markets, we are now in a position to expand our automated centers where it makes sense for our retail partners and Rug Doctor."
AVT founder Shannon Illingworth said that the new self-service system makes it easier and more likely for big-box retailers to host the carpet cleaner-rentals than before, when in-store personnel had to devote copious amounts of time to renting out the carpet cleaners to customers.
"The response is just gigantic," he said. "That's why they're trying to roll them out so quickly. They're pushing to get these machines in stores now."
AVT Inc. today announced that, effective June 27 and following the successful implementation the pilot program, it has entered into a development and manufacturing agreement with Rug Doctor Inc., a Delaware corporation. The agreement has a two-year term and contemplates AVT exclusively manufacturing up to approximately 2,000 patent-pending, automated self-service carpet cleaning system rental-and-return kiosks during the first year of the agreement.
"We've had an overwhelming response with the machines," Illingworth said. "They're seeing a lot of activity, and it keeps going up and up and up and it hasn't leveled out."
And what's next for AVT?
The company already has churned out ink cartridge kiosks and self-service milk and butter dispensing kiosks, Illingworth said, and is currently working with a company on a self-service propane tank exchange.
Sorry, Hank Hill, looks like the propane business is next.