How to balance too much or too little business
Most event services companies endure a slow season when there are not enough client orders to keep all of the employees busy. Employers can plan for these occasions and schedule product inventory, cleaning and maintenance of rental equipment, and servicing vehicles, among other tasks.
Most businesses will budget for these times. Employee hours may be cut and some layoffs are likely. As an owner, you want to avoid layoffs, because your company could lose good employees if a layoff lasts too long, which is why those of us in the rental industry know how to keep the cash flowing and our employees occupied.
At the other end of the spectrum is having way too many customer jobs, seemingly all at the same time. You may think, “Oh what a wonderful problem to have.” However, if you take every job that comes along, without planning, bad things can happen. The inventory may be there, but what about the employees?
Taking on more than you and your employees can handle has the potential of doing great harm to your reputation. Event rental service companies are not like most other companies that give you a four-to-six-hour window or more. Event rental companies have schedules to keep that are determined by the client, florist, decorator and especially the venue.
An event rental company is normally first in and last out. Booking more events than you can handle in an efficient manner can have detrimental consequences to your future business. Customer complaints of not meeting delivery schedules, rushed employees loading trucks incorrectly and product damage can cause employee morale to drop. Crews that are tired and cranky will not be a great face for your company.
At T.R.U. Event Rental in Evansville, Ind., our sales, operations and management staff members work closely to schedule orders to be sure our high standard of customer service with clean, quality inventory is available to all our clients. We work on a three-month calendar when booking events. As a particular week begins to fill with jobs, a red flag warns of a very busy schedule. If it becomes necessary to block out a week, then no other deliveries will be scheduled. Client pickup of orders is encouraged during these times. Only management can decide if additional orders can be squeezed in and these are normally for our “regulars”— corporate clients with an unexpected, special event.
When we turn down a job, we are able to keep our business manageable by continuing to provide quality service. If you lose control during these times, it is like a runaway train that crashes into a mountain or, as some people say, “imploding from within.”
Owners of profitable businesses know that great customer service is fundamental to survival. It is better to turn away a client than to do a job poorly. Human nature being what it is, a bad job will get more publicity than a great job. Clients who are turned away will be back. If that client has to use a competitor, so be it. Our aim is to set the bar higher with great service and clean, quality products our clients expect. Most clients understand that only so many jobs can be accomplished during a week and appreciate our honesty. It is not inventory that will prevent us from taking an order, but the lack of manpower. If you cannot do the job right, then don’t do it at all.
Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, things don’t always go just right. For instance, let’s say you do the same job for your client every year for 10 years using the same tent, tables, chairs and other equipment. The client calls to reserve the items — “same as last year” — and gives you the event date. The crew is sent two days in advance to set up the tent
and other items. On the event day, the client calls to find out when the tent will be delivered. We tell him that the tent, tables and chairs were delivered two days ago. To which client replies, “Oh, I forgot to tell you we moved
six months ago.”
We send our crew out as soon as possible to take the tent and other items to the new address. The moral here is: Never assume. Always request the event address and always plan for your business.
Darrell LeMond is president of T.R.U. Event Rental, Evansville, Ind. He can be reached at 812-423-6744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.