There are some similarities and many differences
When I used to own my own store, I was 100 percent party. When I moved to my current position at Grand Rental Station, tool and equipment rental was completely new to me. It is a totally different world. If you’re considering getting into the party rental atmosphere or wondering how different these areas of rental are, here are a few similarities and differences I have noticed.
For tool and construction equipment inventory, there are different rates. Whereas a party and event store may rent inventory from Friday to Monday, the tool rental side may have hourly charges for one item. Currently, I handle the party division of our company in a separate location. I will cross over to rent light towers and generators for an event. If I use a light tower for one of my events, I charge a Friday to Monday rental, but on the tool side of the business, we may charge a job-site customer a four-hour, eight-hour or a month-long rental, depending on what they need.
Warehousing also is different. All party and event inventory items have to be housed inside, so we need much more indoor space. We store everything on racks and have to have room for laundry, dish processing, ironing and so on. As a result, we recently moved into a 45,000-sq.-ft. warehouse. For our larger equipment on the tool side, we don’t store many things inside. The equipment is stored in our five-acre yard. Then we have 6,400 sq. ft. of inside tool storage.
In the delivery area, we’re two separate companies. Our party division has its own delivery vehicles, which we handle separately, and we charge differently for delivery as well. It’s a different story, delivering all the materials needed for a three-hour event, than it is
to deliver a skid-steer to a job site. From on-site needs to delivery needs, they are two unique jobs.
The event side is all procedures and processes, and more of them. When equipment comes in on the tool side, it goes through one process — inspection, mechanics and cleaning — and it’s put back on the yard. For most party inventory, each item needs to be handled separately — all 2,000 of them and that’s just the silverware. As far as sales, the tool division guys are on the phone for two minutes for some customers and those handling party and event are on the phone for two hours or more. It can be much more time-consuming and more detailed on the party rental end.
Another difference is that the equipment side either has a tiller or it doesn’t. The customer wants it now. On the event side, we may talk to our customers for months in preparation for their event and if they need something we don’t have, we have time to go out and purchase it for them.
The job length is much different. For one job, a customer may have a light tower or another larger piece of equipment for months. For an event, the duration is usually shorter. Recently, we had a 640-person event for a corporate client. We set up starting on
Sunday, for a four-hour luncheon on Wednesday. There was a lot of equipment and it was a major event.
Even though we have two sides to the business, we have everything in one showroom. All of the equipment and homeowner customers get to see that we offer event equipment. Our contractor customers see that we offer tables and chairs. Some of our party customers see that we offer floor sanders or carpet cleaners. So, it goes both ways.
There is a difference with websites, but right now we have one website for everything. It’s geared to tool, but we want to keep it simple, too. Instead of a separate party site, we put party images on the current site to let people know what we offer. Our website gets a ton of traffic for both sides. It increases every day. We actually do have a really good web presence.
Both sides still have to educate customers. That’s the biggest issue — educating customers on the products they are renting. It all goes back to the inventory and that determines the course of action. If they are renting tables, chairs and linens, it’s different than renting carnival machines. Anything mechanical requires instruction, regardless if it is for the party or tool side.
Recently, we rented coffee pots and one had a breaker issue, so you have think about electrical and instructions, and be able to replace items just in case. The same goes for the tool rental side.
My advice for anybody who is looking to get into party is to do your research and find someone who knows the business. When I started in party, I started completely green and Pete Daymont [American Party Rentals, Durham, N.C.] was my mentor. He taught me everything that I know and I’ll forever be grateful for that.
Gina Kidd, event operation manager, Grand Rental Station, dba Rental Supply, Greensboro, N.C., can be reached at 336-852-0881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.