Editor’s note: The ARA Foundation Rental Executive Advisory Program (REAP) has more than 30 REAP advisors on hand to help rental store owners and managers with advice and ideas for their business. The ARA Foundation facilitates the program, matching rental stores with an expert REAP advisor, who will communicate by phone, email or fax, or an in-person visit. In exchange for the REAP service, stores are asked to make a tax-deductible contribution of $50 per hour of counseling to the ARA Foundation. An on-site visit costs about $500, plus travel expenses. The program is open to anyone within the rental industry and can include topics from financial, operations and marketing to human resources and regulations. Below is an example of the type of questions advisors handle.
Q: We are a general tool business looking at adding a new party and event business. Can you offer advice on how to blend them together?
REAP advisor Keith Klarin, CRM, a retired American Rental Association (ARA) member now living in Palm City, Fla.: I had quite a chuckle when I first read this question. The fact is that I always advise to keep the party and event business as far apart as possible from the tool division — if possible, in a separate building — but at least in a separate showroom. There is nothing more distasteful to a prospective client than to encounter the smell of oil or gasoline or an employee with a dirty rag hanging out of their rear pocket when they wish to rent fine china.
When I first started my business as an A to Z Rental franchise, we placed a 9-ft.-by-12-ft. carpet in the front corner of the showroom where we kept the party equipment. That’s how the business eventually came to be known as The Party Corner. However, as the business grew, we rented the neighboring store with a separate entrance and located the party equipment there.
You can definitely use your knowledge and experience as a tool rental operator to start up a party and event rental business, but keep in mind that it takes an entirely different mindset for both you and the employees you hire for this division. The ARA offers a suggested starting inventory, but there will be differences depending on the
part of the country where you operate and the customs of your clientele. For instance, in the Northeast a wedding reception can last the full weekend and include elaborate meals. In the South it may simply be punch and cake. By all means, take advantage of the ARA Certified Event Rental Professional (CERP) program and all the training it provides.
For more information on the ARA Foundation REAP program, contact Jenni Venema, association programs manager/ARA Foundation director of development, at 800-334-2177, ext. 236, or email@example.com. For more information on the program, go to ARArental.org/ARAFoundation/RentalExecutiveAdvisoryProgramREAP.aspx.