The Lend Engine is built specifically to handle unique items. There is no concept of item quantity; each item is set up separately as a unit of one. For each item, we track WHO has it, and WHERE it is. If it’s been loaned, then also WHEN the loan is due to end.
Upload as many images as you like to your items. We'll re-size them into a large (about 400px) and a thumbnail (about 120px). If you need to rotate pictures, you can do that after you've uploaded. Choose the picture you want as your main image, and you're all set!
Each item also has a unique QR code which can be printed out and put onto a label. When you open the item preview in admin, you’ll see the image which you can download and add into your label printing software.
Scanning this QR code will take you to the public page for that item. If you’re logged in as a member and the item is available, you’ll have the option to borrow it. You can only borrow an item via the website using the QR code at the moment - since it confirms that you actually have the item in your possession. At the moment, borrowing via the website (self-serve) will add the loan fee to your account.
You can move items around between locations without creating a loan - say that you found an item was damaged and you wanted to move it to the “repair” location. Some locations can be set as “not available”, so while the item is in that location, it cannot be lent out. When you move an item, you can add a note and a cost, perhaps a repair, or spare parts replaced. You can report later on the costs associated with an item, and see the notes in the item history.
When you move an item you can also assign it to one of your team members. When something needs repairing or cleaning, you assign it to the relevant person with some brief instructions. They will receive an email notification, and can easily see the items assigned to them when they log in. You can assign an item to someone without moving it, too. When the repair is done, they will use the same “move / assign” process to un-assign the item, and perhaps move it to an available location. They can add a note or cost at this point, too.
If an item is in a location that’s been set as “not available”, the item is shown as “on hold”.
When you create an item you have to put it in a location. An Item is always somewhere - it’s always in one of your locations. There’s a special location called “on loan” for the times when the item has been assigned to someone (perhaps a member) and you don’t really care where it is physically.
You can set locations as “unavailable” - which is handy when an item is not on loan, but you want to prevent anyone from lending it out. Typically you’d create unavailable locations for items being repaired, cleaned or checked (also see “assigning items”).
You can add extra database fields to items, which can be used in reports and also shown on the item list. Item fields can be set up to show on the public website too.
When you want to lend items to a member, charge a fee, take payment and set a return date, create a loan. Loans can contain multiple items. Each item has its own return date and fee amount. When you first create a loan, it’s “pending” and does not affect any other part of the system. The next step would be either to start the loan, or reserve the items.
Starting the loan (“checking out”) assigns all the items to the member. You can optionally choose a location to move the items to (or keep them in the same place) - if you don’t choose a location, they will be moved to “on loan”.
All item fees will be added to the member’s account. When you start the loan you also have the option to record that you have taken payment.
If the item was previously in an available location but assigned to a team member, you’ll be warned that starting the loan will assign the items to the member that’s borrowing the items instead.
If a member already has items on loan, you can see this when you are working on any other of their loans. You can return items from other loans at the same time as lending out new items.
All items on a loan are “checked out” at the same time. The loan will be marked as “on loan”. All items on the loan will also be shown as “on loan” when you view them in the item list.
When a member has finished with their items, they “return” them. If they bring them back to headquarters, you can simply open up the loan and click “return” for each item. You’ll need to choose which location they are returned to, whether you want to assign them immediately to someone (perhaps a member of staff for repair), and add a note. In the simplest case, you just choose to return them to “in stock” and then they will be available to lend again.
If you assign an item to a team member, they will receive an email to let them know.
If the return due date is in the past, Lend Engine will suggest an overdue fee (fine) which you can choose to take payment for at the time, or put on the member’s account.
When all items on a loan are returned, the loan is marked as “closed”. The actual return date for each item is stored separately from the return due date, which (in the future) will allow us to build reports on tardiness; whether items were returned late or early.
As soon as an item due date has passed, it is shown as “overdue”. The loan is also shown as overdue, even if the other items on the loan are not due back yet. For any items on a loan which is “overdue” or “on loan”, you can change the return date. Setting the return date to the future will return an overdue loan to “on loan”. When you change the return date, you can add fees to the loan (and just like when you start a loan, take payment too).
When items are lent out, you can charge a number of types of fee:
“lending” fees - a one-off that’s applied when the loan is started, regardless of the length of the loan
“daily” fees - calculated based on the number of days the item is due to be loaned. This is the amount used to calculate any extra amount you might want to charge when extending the return date.
“fines” - when you return items later than they were due to be returned, you are prompted to charge an amount determined by the daily fine * number of days late.
Any time a fee is added to the member’s account, you can choose to take payment at the same time (for any amount). The total of fees and payments gives the member account balance.
You can take a payment “on account” from a member, which then gives them a balance which is reduced gradually as they accrue fees for borrowed items. Every time you take a payment, you choose a payment method (which is a configurable list so you can set up anything you like).
To make a correction, you can add a reversal using a negative payment amount.
When you move or assign items, you can add a cost and a note to describe what the cost was for. Typically you’d use this when repairing items, or replacing a part. The costs show on the item costs report - which can be filtered by item. Use this report to see which items are most costly to maintain.
The Lend Engine stores all your contact / member information online, where it can be accessed by anyone in your team. Unlike items (where only administrators can create or edit), anyone can create new contacts or make changes to contact information. Use the contact database to record contact details for anyone that you might need to get in touch with again, or for anyone you might want to record notes against … not just members.
A contact is counted as a member only if they have an active membership. Only active members can borrow items.
When you create a contact, you have the option to send them a password which will allow them to log into your Lend Engine site.
Your database can contain many contacts (contractors, suppliers, donors, media etc) … but a contact can only borrow items if they are a member. When a contact has an active membership, they are classed as a “member”.
Memberships have a duration and a price (which could be free), and you can create different membership types. Once the membership end date has passed, the membership becomes expired.
Your Lend Engine account comes with a member-facing website which lists all the toys/tools/items you have, and whether they are available or not. It shows the item images, description and any custom fields that you have chosen to show on the website. Item tags that you have chosen to be public will be shown in the website menu.
Members can see item availability and reserve items online. Volunteers or staff just need to check out these reservations when the member comes in to pick up their item.