Friday Q&A: Minimum Orders

How do you mention a minimum order requirement (if applicable) without sounding negative?

Yesterday, we did our first-ever live webinar called Do More Of What You Love: The Insider’s Guide to Booking More Event Rentals. It was a blast and we can’t wait to do another one soon!

In the meantime, however, we wanted to start a little something new here on the blog. There were tons of great questions at yesterday’s webinar and we’d love to share even more of our perspective.

In the webinar, I talked about prequalifying your clients. I think the process of getting to know them enough to see if they would be a likely good fit is essential to success in event rentals. You’ve got to know if they look at least a little bit like your ideal client before scheduling a meeting with them or putting together a time-consuming proposal.

In describing this process of evaluating a client’s fitness for you at the beginning of the relationship, we received a question.

Well, Ashley, I’m so glad you asked!

First of all, I think this is a great issue to include in your prequalifying conversation. Ideally, this is something you discuss over the phone before you schedule an in-person meeting. If you wait until you’ve got someone sitting in front of you, things could get awkward for both of you.

Before I answer this question specifically, let’s talk for a minute about why an event rental company would have a minimum order in the first place. Here are some reasons event rental pros institute a minimum order requirement:

  • They recognize there is a certain amount of overhead associated with any given order. Regardless of the size (a single candlestick, or a $1000+ lounge package), servicing a rental client takes time and resources. That could include meeting time, back and forth changing the order, chasing deposits and final payments, pulling and packing the order, and waiting at the warehouse for the will-call pick-up and return. A minimum order requirement insures that they’ll cover the costs of this overhead for each of their orders.
  • They are busy and want to make sure that the clients they take on can get enough attention. Having a minimum order requirement allows them to concentrate on fewer orders but larger orders. They use the minimum order to weed out smaller orders.
  • They see an opportunity to increase the order sizes of clients who are on the edge. They aren’t trying to weed people out. Instead they are trying to bump orders of one size up by just a little bit (from $100 to $125, for instance).
  • They want their brand to have a sense of exclusivity. Whether or not they are busy, they want their brand to be elevated or perceived as a luxury brand.
  • They want a policy that they can leverage to create urgency. Their stated policy is for a particular minimum but they offer to waive it in certain circumstances to accelerate order confirmation.

Are any of these the reasons why you have a minimum order? Knowing which one is important when we move on to crafting your language around minimum order requirements. You’ll want to keep your goal in mind as you decide on language that works for you.

Here are some examples that might work. Try them on, tweak them, and let us know what fits for you.

  • "Are there any other pieces that you’re interested in renting? I’d love to put together a proposal for and we have a $250 minimum order. Right now that means you’ll need to add two more chairs or another item."
  • "Let me tell you a bit about how we work to make sure we’re a good fit for you and your celebration. We have a $100 minimum order for Saturdays. If you’d like to rent those candleholders, I suggest that we do multiples and find another piece to include in your order. A dessert table could make a great focal point. Would you be interested in having me put together some options?"
  • "That’s one of my favorite pieces. Can you tell me more about how you plan to use it? I’d love to make sure we include everything you’ll need to make your vision a reality. Also, we do have a $500 minimum order for that weekend. You’ve picked a very popular date!"
  • "Typically we have a $125 minimum order for all rentals but I think I can make an exception for you if you confirm your order by this Friday. Usually that requires a 50% deposit but if we waive the minimum, we’ll need the full payment upfront to reserve the pieces."

I hope that helps as you continue to refine your Sales Process.

And remember, your tone will speak volumes to whether or not you sound "negative" when talking about any of your policies.

If you have questions about sales or other aspects of running your event rental business, send them our way. Email it to rw@rwelephant.com with "Friday Q&A" in the subject line. We’ll answer as many questions as we can in the coming weeks.

Happy renting!