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6 Shatterproof China Rental Tips

CLASSIC PARTY RENTALS' cup (china, of course) runneth over. Last year, the Culver City, Calif.-based company did $350,000 in gross revenue in china rentals alone. Company president Richard LoGuercio says the company has built its business through personal contacts and word-of-mouth. So what tips have been key to Classic's success? Here is LoGuercio's response:

1. Pick the right products. LoGuercio says that as the rental industry has grown, so have expectations. "People are becoming more quality-oriented, and they are willing to pay for it," he says. He stocks and rents more high-end products, such as expensive china and double-door refrigeration units. Classic Party Rentals still rents mostly white-rim china.

LoGuercio laments the demise of the salad plate: "No one rents them anymore. They use a dinner plate for salad and put that on a 12-inch chop [show] plate."

2. Watch your clients work. It can bring new business opportunities, he says. After seeing event planners lug 10-quart water tubs to rinse the dishes after an event, his company came up with the idea of offering clients a scullery table with two compartments heated by Sterno to rinse dishes. The custom table has become a popular rental item.

3. Consider growth opportunities. "I had always been 100 percent owner of my business," LoGuercio says. "But with all the consolidation in the industry, I finally sold a chunk of my business so we could start to grow and get bigger."

4. Pay attention to presentation. LoGuercio says how you are represented is important. "I use simple brown plastic crates. They all look the same," he says, "and they all include our company name and phone number."

5. Become a resource for planners and caterers. "We're like the control tower at an airport," LoGuercio says. "We see everything and know what looks good. That makes us valuable to a client."

For example, at one event, he delivered white-rim plates to the kitchen early. The caterer had decorated the plates with purple food coloring and sponge-painted a pattern on the shoulder. LoGuercio explains this is an inexpensive way to create custom plates. "As long as you can center a plate on a wheel, you can do stamps, patterns-even personalize names on them."

6. Know your niche. "We know we can't be everything to everybody," he says. "That's why we go to a specialty vendor when we have unique requests, such as frilly patterns or geometric shapes." If it rents enough of a specialty china, then Classic Party Rentals will buy that item. LoGuercio says his company makes a conscious effort to keep clients happy-including a flexible policy on breakage.

How will LoGuercio continue to expand product breadth and depth? He won't give his plans away, but he does hint that "hotels are uncharted territory." Quick, someone get that man a bigger cup!

If your client's budget is limited, here's a tip from Richard LoGuercio:

Suggets that he or she rent an expensive show plate to look rich and set the tone of the meal. Then to protect the budget, use a less expensive dinner plate. The plates can complement each other and still create a beautiful effect.

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