Support local events as an opportunity and as a responsibility
In business school, many professors explain that a corporation is like a three-legged stool supported by the responsibility to your shareholders, your employees and your clients. I believe you need to add one more leg: The community in which you live and serve. In order to survive today, a business must not only recognize its duty to the community, but it needs to memorialize it in its business plan.
As a rental company, there are so many ways to support the community and make good business decisions. Of course, many of your clients in the party rental business are nonprofit organizations; however, you are not.
At Party Time Rental and Events in Little Rock, Ark., the first way we do this is to set aside a certain dollar amount as a percentage of revenues that we will give as donations, whether it’s in-kind or cash. When people solicit us for such donations, we let them know that they need to sit down with us in the third quarter to get in the budget process in the fourth quarter for the next year. It’s amazing how many people remember to visit.
However, a second and most effective way for us to be responsible citizens is to roll the donation budget into the marketing budget. After all, marketing monies should only be spent on things that you can see the results and measure them, right? Long gone are the days of running phone book ads and hoping people call. Hope is not a marketing strategy. Sponsoring a nonprofit event gives you the opportunity to not only be a responsible citizen, but to market your company, its products, services and, most importantly, your people and values.
For example, we sponsor the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony Designer House each year. Most communities have a designer home for a cause. There are usually two to four weeks of fanfare and events, all of which need event planning, rental items, design work, lighting and support. Each event typically has a different chairperson to work with and develop relationships with. Every party is usually covered in the social pages of the local newspaper and each one is an opportunity for you to make a difference.
For almost 20 years, the symphony used a variety of rental companies for rental items for their events. For the last five years we have been not only the preferred vendor, we have been the premier sponsor. We plan and design all of the parties at the house for hundreds of patrons of the arts, all of whom see that Party Time Rental and Events is the sponsor as well as see all of our beautiful linens, glassware dishware, tables, tents and chairs. As part of our sponsorship, we also host a party at the house for all of our best clients, prospects and vendors. Since we host open houses as part of our client retention and acquisition strategies in our annual business plan anyway, what better way to show your clients and prospective clients the love, show your support for an important cause in the community and share your values. Not only have almost all of the event chairs of these events become clients for weddings and private parties, we now do another Symphony Designer House in another community because of our work here in Little Rock. Measure the results.
Each year, whether your events sponsorships might be converting the lion house at the zoo to an upscale club, turning the university’s gym into a faux tent for an advocacy group, or hosting a local underprivileged youth organization’s etiquette classes in your showroom — all of which we’ve done — you have a chance to make a difference in the community and show the community your skills while supporting their causes.
Rental companies have a tremendous role in the community. People do business with people whom they like. People like those people they see as similar to themselves. When people have common goals and values, everyone wins.
Ray Imbro is president of Party Time Rental and Events in Little Rock, Ark., and ARA of Arkansas president. He can be reached at 501-224-3133 or Partytime0835@sbcglobal.net.
University of Arkansas gym