Defining Rentable Condition in Your Event Rental Business

When your clients receive their rentals at their event, what are they expecting? Merely functional or perfect in every way? What defines “rentable condition” in your event rental business?

Rentable condition means something different to every rental company owner. It could mean “like-new,” as if the item was just picked up from a retail store. It could mean “usable,” not the most pristine condition, but good enough that it gets the job done. Or it could mean anything in between!

Have you ever passed a liquor store with those big marquee letters on top and noticed that some of the light bulbs in one of the letters are burnt out? And it kind of made the “Q” look more like an “O” or even a “C?” Whoever owns that liquor store has to decide at what point they’re going to replace the bulbs.

Do you pull the ladder out and climb up there to put in a new bulb every single time one goes out? Do you wait until five or ten are out? A whole letter? Or do you preemptively replace all the bulbs every four months so that none of them ever go out? What’s your standard?

You can imagine the equivalent scenario in your event rental business— should your chairs look like this is the first time they’ve ever been used at the beginning of every event? Or is some wear and tear acceptable? Even expected? How and when you implement your maintenance plan (painting, cleaning, repair, upholstery, retirement, replacement, etc.) will depend on your definition of rentable condition. 

That definition should be determined by the demands of your target market. Does your target market expect perfection? Or are they happy with “good enough?”

If you choose to lean toward the pristine, use that as a selling point. It takes a lot of extra staff, specialized training, and endless upkeep to curate a “like-new” collection. Advertise the luxury experience you provide, and charge your customers accordingly.

However, if your clientele values functionality over aesthetics, a nick here and a scratch there are acceptable as long as their expectations have been appropriately set from the beginning. Your sales process should include an explanation of what your clients can plan for on event day. If you make sure every leg is secure and every piece is accounted for but won’t repaint before each event, tell them that. Use friendly language like “these pieces will have seen some love before they come to your party” but don’t side-step the issue. Be direct and answer any questions your clients have before they book. 

If you find that your potential clients want Items in better condition than you typically present them, you can choose to raise your prices in order to maintain your collection at a higher level, or target a different market. Clients are all different and not every one will value the same things. As you define rentable condition in your event rental business, be sure to make it clear upfront so you attract the right clients who want what you offer. 

I recently couldn’t help but be delighted when, on a recent date night with my husband, I felt like I had been transported to a European village as I ate cracked pepper bucatini in an enchantingly gorgeous restaurant. While the food was divine and the service was lovely, I was struck by the fact that partway through the meal, I noticed a flaw that just didn’t seem to belong. 

In a space where so much attention was paid to details like the garnish of the cocktails and the design of the menus, I was surprised that the state of the chairs wasn’t maintained to a higher degree. I think Lindsay Braun might say too much was expected of this chair but at some point, the restaurant will have to decide what to do about it. Will they replace it? Have it reupholstered? Wait until the whole restaurant needs to be redecorated? 

No matter what their long-term maintenance plan is, they’ve decided that, for now at least, the chair is in acceptable condition. And you know what? I’ll still go back. I’ll make reservations over and over again to enjoy that bucatini in that scuffed up chair. At some point, it will feel too shabby. But that point hasn’t come. And if they doubled their prices in order to maintain perfectly pristine furniture, I don’t know that I would return. 

Everyone has to decide the standard they’re willing to maintain. In rentals, you choose where to fall on the spectrum, but be sure to be clear upfront so everyone knows the dress code for the celebration.

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