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How to start Party and Special-Event Rentals business with little investment guide for individuals want to quit their jobs and start their careers as an entrepreneur are as follows:
Description of Job
• Set up an inventory of party furniture and entertainment equipment for
rental to individual and business clients.
• Act as a broker to use the equipment of other companies, as needed.
• Establish contacts with other suppliers of unusual equipment for rent.
• Deliver and set up equipment at client’s location.
• Pick up and clean equipment after the party.
The Need
Most of us put on a big bash only a handful of times in our lives: weddings, major
anniversaries and birthdays, graduations, and the like. Very few of us have a
garage full of folding chairs, banquet tables, umbrellas, audio equipment, and
other elements of a successful party.
A business may want to throw a party to celebrate a product introduction or
a holiday, but is not likely to have tables and chairs and other equipment for
guests.
The job of the party and special-event rental company is to maintain an
inventory of portable furniture and equipment, or establish and maintain relationships
with other companies who can supply necessary equipment as needed.
Most of the jobs for this sort of business will occur in places other than
hotels, banquet halls, or church basements. Those locations will likely have their
own chairs, tables, and equipment, or they may have master contracts with major
companies.
As a start-up company, you will be looking for jobs in nontraditional locations:
perhaps a wedding on the beach at sunset or a graduation party in someone’s
own backyard.
Challenges
If you will be offering your own equipment for rent, this sort of business can
involve a large investment. You will also have to clean and maintain the furniture
and equipment.
The peak periods for special events and parties include summertime and holidays.
At other times of the year there may be much less business, and competition
with other suppliers may reduce prices and profits.
However, if you will be working as a broker, you can let others make the
investment and earn your profit as a percentage of the rental charges plus any
other fees you might assess the client directly.
Know the Territory
Learn as much as you can about the party and special-event calendar in your
area; read the social pages of the newspaper as though they were a scouting
report. Check the prices for rentals from competitors to help you draw up your
business plan.
Check wholesale supply companies for chairs and tables and other items you
will be buying in quantity. Be on the lookout for restaurants or hotels going out
of business or disposing of surplus equipment.
Contact major rental companies and seek an arrangement as a broker. In
doing so, you will be similar to party planners who offer their services in return
for a percentage of the rental fee or the markup. Bill yourself as a specialist who
can provide just about any piece of furniture and equipment—or an entire lawnful
of them—from your various sources.
How to Get Started
Post flyers and ads at community centers, on church bulletin boards, and in
stores. Place ads in local newspapers and shopping guides, including special
wedding and holiday sections.
Make your services known to party planners and caterers; offer to share commissions
or a finder’s fee for business they direct to you. Ask satisfied customers
to recommend you to friends and acquaintances; offer a bonus or discount for
new business. Send letters to corporate event planners.
Up-front Expenses
If you will be establishing your own inventory, there will be a substantial upfront
investment. Among the items you’ll need are chairs, chair covers, tables,
umbrellas, a dance floor, and a portable bar. You’ll also need linens.
For meals, you’ll need to provide utensils and china service. You may be able
to partner with a caterer who will bring serving trays and equipment for the food
preparation.
If you will be operating as a broker, you will need to create a catalog of available
items.
Other expenses include advertising and promotion.
How Much to Charge
Rental companies generally charge a flat rate for each piece of furniture or equipment,
taking into account the cost of equipment and depreciation. You can offer
packages of blocks of tables, chairs, and other furniture at a discounted rate. Add
a fee for delivery and pickup.
If you will be functioning as a broker, seek a discount from the owner of the
furniture or equipment and mark the prices up to the retail rate.
 Legal and Insurance Issues
Special notes: You’ll want insurance on your equipment; don’t expect to collect
if a single umbrella is stolen or if a table breaks, but you should be covered in
case the tent burns down or the beach floods, resulting in the tragic loss of hundreds
of folding chairs.

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