FROM the tallest party tent to the red carpet beneath guests' feet, it seems that virtually every event element requires a permit nowadays. To get some perspective on how to navigate the permit maze, this month's “Rental Essentials” offers a Q&A with John Crispis. Now head of Los Angeles-based Premier Permits, his resume includes work as a party rental company's CAD drafter and permit specialist.
SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: What does your company do for its clients?
JOHN CRISPIS: Premier Permits is a one-stop shop — a full-service permit expediter and CAD drafting office. For the most part we obtain event permits — including tent, candle, stage, generator, change of use, and street closure permits. We also obtain building and construction permits — structural, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, grading, etc. — along with creating any and all plans necessary for permitting.
Q: How does your client base break down?
A: Fifty percent is construction/architectural-related permits, 40 percent is event-related permits and 10 percent is film-related permits. This changes with the seasons; right now it is heavy in event and especially tent permits.
Q: Can you give any perspective on how the permit burden has increased on event rental in the last few years?
A: I don't think it has changed all that much, but it seems that the rental company has been dubbed the bearer of permits. To clarify, it just seems that if there is a permit to be obtained, it is the rental company's responsibility. It is something you have to spend money on, but fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you're the company that is always working to get permits, that reflects well on you. But if you're a rental company that's been in business for 10 years and you don't apply for permits very often, it's going to catch up with you.
Q: What factors are behind the increased requirements for permits, e.g., lawsuits, local governments looking for new revenue streams, etc.?
A: Factors change to meet the ever-evolving world of litigation. That is why you need to be part architect, part insurance guru, part paralegal and part code engineer to even obtain a permit nowadays. All that information you provide for a permit is just so the issuing agency and its individuals cannot be held liable in the case of negligence or accidents. A permit is a legal document — even though sometimes it doesn't quite look like one — and at its very best gives everyone involved peace of mind. And at that the cost is minimal, compared to the contrary.
Q: What is the No. 1 permit headache you see for your event rental clients?
A: The cost concerns. It's like saying, how does factoring in the cost of the permits weigh in on a specific rental company's ability to stay competitive? To make it simple, it just does, but permits are the law of the land, and we're all going to need to get them someday.
Q: How far out should an event rental company start thinking about pulling permits for a job?
A: As soon as they hang up the phone or they've shaken that client's hand. My company's commitment is within 12 to 24 hours to have every diagram, application, form, certificate and all the event information waiting at every appropriate agency and their respective inspector's desk, with a phone call to make sure everything is there and understood.
Q: What is the mistake you see your event rental clients make most often?
A: I would say the biggest mistake would be telling yourself “we get away without it.” And I wouldn't put this on any one rental company, but on their individual salespeople or consultants who jeopardize their company's reputation and standing in the industry with thinking like that.
Q: What sort of things do your “smart” clients do?
A: They ask the right questions so they may give their clients a proper and concise answer. In time they will have learned from past experiences so they don't have to ask why. Because in the permit game, you never ask why.
Q: How does using a company like yours save money or time for an event rental company?
A: We know what to do, where to go, who to talk to, and what we need for any event, no matter what. So using a company like ours should not only save you time and money, but make you money.
Premier Permits can be reached at 310/251-4561; its Web site is www.premierpermits.com.