Taking home ideas from The Rental Show
When you attend The Rental Show, you always bring home more than just products. This year was no exception for my brother, Chad, and I. We also took home a lot of new ideas.
As far as new trends, there was, in my view, a surge in vintage. I saw samples and displays at the show that touched on the vintage feel, so I sense that’s a coming trend. It hasn’t walked through our door yet, but it’s a matter of time.
Sasha Souza, who spoke at Events & Tents, talked about mixing and matching vintage items with new items, as well as having things like Grandma’s china and mixing patterns on a table. So, since vintage is back, we bought a couple patterns of charger plates dubbed as “Grandma’s China” with more of a vintage look to them. We also purchased a china pattern with a distressed look made by Fortessa and offered by Rental Resource Partners.
We also bought some votives from Koyal Wholesale. Mercury glass is trending here. Lava Heat Italia had a propane street lamp and those just arrived at our store. It has something that a standard heater doesn’t have — it looks good. It strikes the décor side, and with this whole vintage and old-school trend coming down the pike, it makes sense that people will want to line sidewalks with them and get that historical downtown feeling. It adds to the ambience and the feel of an event, so I think those will be a hit. We’ve had them off the truck 24 hours and we’re already selling them.
What stood out for Chad and I were the seminars. The seminars were exceptional and well-attended, both the Events & Tents and The Rental Show seminars. There was a good assortment of topics and good high-quality speakers that were on top of their game.
For us, they really hit home this year. There were a lot of messages about what we need to do and should be doing. For instance, Robert Stevenson talked a lot about accountability and creating a culture of ownership. He also talked about how to get your team to the point where, if something needs to be done, people want to pitch in and help.
Things Chad and I need to do include being more accountable and setting that standard. Stevenson talked about the keys to creating good accountability. For example, if you say you’re going to do something, you need to do it when you said you were going to do it. There can’t be any ifs, ands or buts. You have to be the example. Running the business and having everything come at you, that becomes a real challenge.
That’s where I need to do some work. For Chad and I, it’s a realization that when you are the boss, your employees’ eyes are on you. If you aren’t accountable, your employees won’t take you at your word.
Another thing Stevenson hit on was praise in public, criticize in private. That goes back to the accountability thing, not impacting people’s image in front of their peers. That’s important.
Another good seminar was Dave Mitchell’s “The Power of Understanding People.” He talked about using cognitive psychology to learn how to communicate with different types of people. I bought his e-book, “Live and Learn, or Die Stupid.” Actually, it’s on my list to go back and listen to all the seminars I went to and to get all the books from the speakers.
More hands-on things we want to do that we learned about at the show include celebrity tablescapes, video sales and quick response
A celebrity tablescape is where you repeat what a celebrity did at their wedding with a vignette in your showroom. It’s a good way to pique walk-in traffic interest. That’s a cool concept we’ll put together when the season slows down.
At Events & Tents, Souza talked about using video to sell events. The videos she played were incredible. They made me want to have a selling tool like that. If I was a customer and I watched those videos, I’d want her to do the event. The video does all the talking for her. A lot of it was the way the video was done. At one point, the video included clouds across the sky — the videographer took the time to set up a camera and aim it at the sky, to have a sky time-lapse shot. That speaks to the talent behind the video.
We’d also like to do more videos on equipment instruction and installation, such as tagging equipment with QR codes that go to a video that shows how to use the coffee machine or patio heater. Patio heaters are the bane of my existence. I always get a phone call when we rent one out. They’re simple, but nobody wants to read directions. If we made a video, maybe we could avoid those 7:30 p.m. Friday night phone calls. I know QR codes were a big deal last year and I’ve utilized those a lot more over the past year, but I want to do more.
There were a lot of aspects of the show we felt were positive. The show floor had a good buzz. There were plenty of new vendors and both members and associate members had a good vibe and were positive about next year as well. We found new items for our inventory and learned a lot. Now, we just have to put all our plans in action and find somewhere in the warehouse to put all our new products.
Todd Daymont, CERP, and his brother, Chad Daymont, are co-vice presidents at American Party Rentals, Durham, N.C. They can be reached at 919-544-1555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.