The equipment checkout form is essential to the smooth running of equipment loaner pools. It brings efficiency to services that involve lots of users borrowing lots of items. Use a poorly designed form and you’ll get misunderstandings, lost equipment and potential chaos. Needless to say, it’s important to get it right.
A well designed form ensures customers give staff sufficient information to borrow what they need. Where advance reservations are involved, it supports staff to prepare equipment ahead of pick up.
Equipment checkout forms also provide opportunity to streamline administration processes. A successful design removes the need for additional questions or paperwork at checkout or check-in. It also contributes to robust record keeping for inventory tracking and management. Not least it helps staff to recover late or lost items. Finally, a form that communicates critical details encourages users to borrow items responsibly.
So what do you need to include on the checkout form? Here at connect2 we explore all that you’ll need for an effective checkout check-in form template.
>> Jump to the definitive template of what to include in your equipment checkout form
1. Who’s the equipment for?
This might be an obvious one, but start by keeping a record of each user and their contact details.
Insist that the person who has booked the equipment is the only person both authorized to pick it up and responsible for its return. This keeps accountability and administration simple and can be baked into the terms and conditions of the loan – see further below.
Include an email address for confirming the booking and to support the sending of reminders. A mobile contact number is a good idea too if any questions arise around the booking or to request an urgent return if items fall overdue.
Tip: Even once the checkout and return has concluded, it’s useful to retain each user’s details to support accountability. There might be an expectation for users to report all issues with equipment, but this won’t necessarily happen every time. Keeping a user-by-user history resolves problems further down the line when breakages or missing items are later discovered.
If you’re from the education or corporate sector, consider using an authentication method for when users log into the form. You can read more on this below.
2. What’s being borrowed?
Equipment selection is really important to get right in the booking and checkout process. It’s always best if users can select and request exact models of equipment. This way there are no surprises or disappointments. Showing pictures of items available is strongly recommended along with descriptions for maximum clarity. State exactly what’s included, and what’s not. All items should be identified with the inclusion of an asset number or barcode, so it’s guaranteed that what’s booked is always what’s checked out. Also make clear the location of checkout and return for all items booked.
Tip: A checkout form which allows users to request all the items and quantities they need in one go is obviously beneficial. It avoids duplication of effort if they can build a complete kit list without repeating their details and submitting multiple forms. And it enables staff to prepare for a single checkout event of related items rather than a miscellaneous series of bookings. It also taps into their experience as they can advise if any obvious items are missing.
In connect2, a frequently booked with feature shows what additional accessories are useful to include in each booking, prompting users to book tripods with cameras for example. As well as offering convenient information, it reminds users to review all that they need.
3. How long is it needed?
Here the user would state the checkout and return date and time for the loan. Any booking rules (e.g. maximum length) should be made clear on the form along with your store opening hours. This way, users are more likely to request an acceptable timeslot. If only a standard length of time is permitted (e.g. 24 hours), it helps if online forms enforce that and automatically populate the return time once the pick up time and date is indicated. If you allow longer periods in special circumstances, provide contact details to have the loan authorized first.
Enforcing penalties for late returns? Remember to include this information on the form. If you’re using a paper form system, add some ‘office only’ fields for checkout staff to note the actual time and date of each check-in.
Tip: The connect2 online booking system helps in all these areas. Store hours and booking rules are embedded in a booking calendar. This way, pick ups and drop offs can only be scheduled to fall within opening times and booking rules. It will also automatically authorize longer booking slots for staff or more senior students where policy allows, using integrated roles and privileges.
A sophisticated system such as connect2 also applies other time-related rules, e.g. minimum and maximum time users are able to make bookings in advance. Late pick ups and returns that break the agreed terms of the loan are automatically recorded in the system too and used to enforce penalties.
4. What’s it being borrowed for?
A couple of fields that cover what the equipment will be used for can be included to help with budgeting and reporting. You might ask for the relevant assignment / class / project, and name of the authorizing manager/professor. All inventory requires initial investment and there’s usually a requirement for ongoing maintenance too. So this information helps for future budgeting and investment in new stock.
If authorization to borrow equipment isn’t automatic, it’s another good reason for requesting this kind of info. Details on transportation methods and planned location of use might also be requested for authorizing bookings, e.g. it might not be permitted to transport bulky or fragile items by bus
5. What are the loan T&C’s?
Users’ responsibilities for when borrowing equipment and consequences for breaking these need to be stated clearly in a terms and conditions step before finalizing a booking. This isn’t just small print, but an opportunity to encourage responsible borrowing activity that benefits all involved, not least future equipment users.
You would then request a signature of agreement for your records.
Tip: A signature would not be required if using equipment reservation software, as user authentication and checking a box to agree to T&C’s is sufficient without creating a paper trail.
The terms and conditions to include on the form is an extensive topic in itself. Examples of what loaner pools put in their T&C’s will be the subject of a future post!
6. Booking summary
The final step is to confirm the key details of each booking: what’s booked, the scheduled date and time of checkout, where from and when it should be returned. Repeating these details in an email is always good practice.
Covid Note: During times of Covid precautions, loaner pools in education have often continued lending out items, providing students with vital equipment to continue their studies. In this situation, additional details have been requested to facilitate issue and return of items via mail in place of in-person checkouts. So address information for shipping items back and forth is something you may also wish to include on the form.
Check-in Checkout Template
Here’s a quick summary of the essential fields to include in an equipment booking and checkout form as discussed in the sections above. Whether you use a paper system, online forms or use equipment checkout software, there’s always key data to collect from and communicate to your users for a successful and efficient lending program.
For the user’s completion:
- User’s name* and contact details (include email and mobile number)
- Equipment items (include asset number* and/or barcode*)
- Requested checkout and return* dates and times
- Project/class/manager/reason for use
- Terms and conditions agreed
- User to receive confirmation of final details*
For office use:
- Staff member performing checkout*
- Actual time of checkout/in*
- Any notes on equipment condition etc
* Manual entry of these fields is not required with equipment checkout software – these details would be automatically generated and recorded in the checkout history database
There are a lot of important details that should be included in the checkout form for a smooth booking and lending process. For safety and convenience, it’s a good idea to store this information in a secure, central place. Paper records are best avoided in this case – as so easily lost or damaged, and accuracy often depends on legibility of handwriting which is not very reliable! Take time to set up this operation online, or better still, make use of a dedicated equipment checkout software. This way you raise service standards. It also helps streamline administration while dramatically reducing the risks around lending out valuable resources.
Connect2 enables you to gather all the data you need to offer a great standard of service while supporting efficient inventory management. With connect2, the online equipment booking and checkout form can be flexibly designed to suit your lending operation, types of stock and reporting requirements. It also enables you to build an online catalog of equipment, for showcasing stock and for successful item selection during the reservation and checkout process.
If the lending service is in an education or company setting with a known universe of users, it’s strongly advised you have an authentication method in place to begin the booking process and record each user’s details against their booking. Logging in and authenticating (e.g. using LDAP or SAML) replaces the need for users to register for the service, create a password or re-enter their details for each booking. They can also use their student or company ID to identify themselves at checkout and for staff to instantly retrieve their booking. Contact the connect2 team to find out more.