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Dan Hooks

Out with the Old: Tips on Tossing Obsolete Rental Inventory

Event rental expert Dan Hooks, CERP, head of Party Reflections, shares some of his strategies for disposing of obsolete rental inventory.

Dan HooksA cramped warehouse, a tired table, a skimpy set of dishes—there are many reasons party rental operators must dispose of inventory on occasion. Here, rental expert Dan Hooks, CERP, head of Party Reflections, shares some of his strategies:

1. Can it be salvaged?

First, we try to salvage as much of our inventory as possible. During the slower periods of our year, we take the time to repair and rebuild certain items of inventory that may not be ready to retire yet. For instance, if an 8-foot table has a corner that gets destroyed, then we try to cut it down and make a 6-foot table out of it, provided it is not terribly old and ready to be disposed of already.

We also try to keep older tables separated out of the main inventory so that we can sell them. If we get a festival order or some other event that does not need “A” quality equipment, then we will use these tables.

2. Selling on the website

We are just now beginning to sell used equipment through our website. We have talked to a few friends in the industry that have done this with great success. The third Saturday of March every year, we hold an attic sale to get rid of discontinued items and inventory that is past its useful life with no value to rebuild or repair.

3. But what if the competition gets it?

Our philosophy is that if a competitor ends up with an item that we have disposed of, it must not say much about their inventory and I doubt we would be too concerned about their competition. We rarely get rid of an item that has much useful life yet. This is why we have resorted to attic sales in the past. It seems those folks will buy just about anything. One man’s trash …

However, after visiting a friend in the industry and seeing his pristine inventory, we have been exploring selling some of our items before they are completely useless to us. This would allow us to reinvest in new equipment if we could get a fair value for the items.

I don’t have enough experience with it yet to see how it would work, but I am concerned that many of our regular customers may purchase some of these items, thus reducing our rental revenues. As has happened in the past also, we have sold some of our older tables to caterers or venues to use as back room tables, but invariably these old tables get switched out for our newer tables when we deliver other items to them throughout the year. We have since branded the sale items and taken our name off of them so this does not happen in the future.

We sell these items for various reasons, but mostly we would like to get some return on the item so that we can reinvest whatever we can salvage. In other cases it is great to get some new real estate in the warehouse from an item that has two years of dust collected on it.

See the complete story in the July-August issue of Special Events. Not a subscriber? We can fix that—just click here.

Dan Hooks, CERP, is president of Party Reflections Inc., a full-service special event rental company with locations in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., and Columbia, S.C. He is the second-generation leader of the family-owned company, which has been in operation since 1958 in Charlotte. Dan has been a member of the American Rental Association for over 20 years and has served on the ARA Party and Events Special Interest Group, the ARA Member Risk Management Task Force, the ARA Party Certification Task Force, and the REAP Advisory Board for the organization. He is a past president of the Charlotte Chapter of the International Special Events Society (ISES) and has been a member of the National Association of Catering Executives for many years.  He also serves on the Advisory Board for Special Events magazine. Party Reflections operates out of a 115,000-square-foot warehouse with more than 100 employees near downtown Charlotte, and an additional 50,000 square feet and 75 more employees in Raleigh and Columbia combined. 

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