Special Events

Markets matter most, party rental pros say

What's the best way to run a party rental company? It all depends on your specific market, according to the panel of experts who shared their opinions at the ARA Rental Show, held last month in Orlando, Fla.

For example, many party rental companies are turning to damage waivers to protect inventory. "Ours is 7 percent to 8 percent, and it's 100 percent mandatory," says Andrew Paquette, president of Montreal-based Bravo Location Rentals. "If the client refuses it, then they must provide proof of insurance. [The damage waiver] covers linen and crystal--we carry a lot of Riedel crystal. It avoids a lot of hassles on Monday morning."

But waivers don't work for everyone. "We've avoided it," says Daniel W. Hooks, CERP, president of Party Reflections of Charlotte, N.C. "There's just too much resistance to it." Instead, "We have a 'count everything' policy."

Making money in the off-season is another example of being sensitive to your market.

"We've tried!" laughs William Pedersen, head of Burnaby, British Columbia-based Pedersen's Rentals and Sales. "We haven't figured out anything specific. Vancouver is a winter destination, so we work with the destination people. The Olympic Winter Games are coming to Vancouver in 2010. We also work with the movie people; they use props and furniture. But January through March is slow, just like in retail."

"Our season is May through Nov. 1," notes John H. Crabbe, CERP, president of Vermont Tent Co. in South Burlington, Vt. "In the off-season, we tried to send stuff to Florida, but it didn't work. So we repair, clean and give the guys a rest."

For the full story, see "Rental Essentials" in the current issue of Special Events Magazine.

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