Economic slumps tend to quell that want-it, need-it, gotta-have-it feeling. But some new inventory items are necessary even in tough economic times. Rental experts haven't tossed their 2009 wish lists in the trash, but they have pared those lists down to the absolute essentials. Here they are.
RENTAL EXPERT: Michael Miner, vice president of marketing and strategic accounts, Classic Party Rentals, Los Angeles
WHAT'S ESSENTIAL: A 25-by-40-meter double-decker structure with interior and exterior stairs and no need for staking, as well as Valencia chairs in chocolate brown and winter white, passing trays and platters, and specialty linen.
WHY: “We are in a ‘what's new and what's now’ industry!”
WHAT ELSE: “Creative, new and attractive products will always be in demand, and we are going to bring them to our clients.”
RENTAL EXPERT: Dave Reedy, general manager/managing member, Party Palace Rentals, Forest Hill, Md.
WHAT'S ESSENTIAL: Tents, tables, chairs, and inflatable bouncers.
WHY: “We have landed a contract with the local college for their yearly commencement event, and their demand for equipment during peak season will require us to make purchases.”
WHAT ELSE: “We will need to be cost-conscious as we purchase our inventory so we don't overestimate our forecast. Remember, we don't want equipment sitting on the shelf not generating revenue.”
RENTAL EXPERT: Michael Berk, president, M&M The Special Events Co., Carol Stream, Ill.
WHAT'S ESSENTIAL: Replacing 33 percent of inventory, including tables, chairs, china and linen, “as we do every year.”
WHY: “We find this more cost-effective than trying to rehab old equipment.”
WHAT ELSE: “We are expecting a trend to move back to basics in the coming 12 to 18 months as companies won't want to look like they are overspending or doing events that are over the top.”
RENTAL EXPERT: Steve Kohn, president, Miller's Rentals and Sales, Edison, N.J.
WHAT'S ESSENTIAL: A clear-span structure, chairs, tables and tent tops. “We also have a ‘shopping list’ for items that need to be replaced, which includes specific staging, lighting and tent-framing parts.”
WHY: “We base our purchases on what we think our clients want and what we can sell. Also, a big factor is how many times we subrented a specific item or group of items. We have learned there is a big difference between needs and wants.”
WHAT ELSE: “I think it's very important to go and ‘kick the tires’ before purchasing. I just attended the MATRA [Mid-Atlantic Tent Renters Association] show in Providence, R.I., and was able to see many products not only on display but also watched them go up and come down. Even though something looks good, it's important to see the time and labor that goes into a product.”
RENTAL EXPERT: Steve Weaver, vice president, Celebration Party Rentals, Lee's Summit, Mo.
WHAT'S ESSENTIAL: Wedding-related items, such as purchasing chair covers and building columns and acrylic pieces, which costs Celebration roughly $20 per item to build due to the com-pany's own surplus of acrylic and vinyl covering.
WHY: “If corporate spending decreases, I know weddings are still going to occur. We have become more full-service on the decor side of the business, so we can be not only the best company in our market for these services but also the most cost-effective option as well.”
WHAT ELSE: “Look for products you have that you can easily change a little, and they become a different item. Use a stage with 6-inch legs, and make it into lounge furniture. Take that acrylic bar, and create a tower of martini glasses on it. Sit down with your customers and let them know the options they have. Sometimes you will be amazed at what they are willing or able to spend, and all you had to do is inform and educate them. Now is not the time to take the easy route and just be order-takers; now is the time to get out there and sell.”
Celebration Party Rentals
Classic Party Rentals
M&M The Special Events Co.
Miller's Rentals and Sales
Party Palace Rentals