Most of the time, business owners set these policies without much thought or do whatever the business down the street is doing. But if they aren’t set with intention, your Company Policies might actually be hurting your business and preventing you from reaching your goals.
While it is always a good idea to do a yearly audit of your Company Policies to make sure they still align with your values, mission, and goals, now is precisely the right time to do this reevaluation. Once you make changes, you’ll have the added bonus of an excuse to reach out to your potential referral sources with the update. Email venues in your area to let them know your new policies. Tell your coordinators. Let florists know what has changed. That way you’ll be at the top of their minds (and inboxes) just as they’re booking and planning all this year’s events.
Once you decide to take a look at your policies, how do you actually evaluate them? What should you be looking for?
There are three things to ask yourself as an event rental business owner:
- What does my Target Market want?
- What are the best practices in the industry?
- Will my policies be sustainable for my long-term business goals?
1. What does my Target Market want?
A lot of what you do in your business is built around your Target Market’s needs and desires. In order to provide the best service, you will have to get inside the heads of your ideal customers. What are they looking for? Do they want convenience (i.e. an easy, budget-friendly rental process) or high-touch service (i.e. luxury-level care and attention to detail)?
Since we all know that volume is the name of the game in the rental industry, ideally you want your warehouse to be empty every weekend. If your Target Market values convenience, you’ll want an ultra easy booking process, online payment pages, e-signatures, and auto-pay options so they don’t have to think about their rentals once they pull the trigger. Alternatively, if you’re aiming for a luxury clientele, having an empty warehouse will require more staff, more touch-points, more suggestive selling, more customization options, and more attention. Be sure to build your policies to accomodate those varying needs.
2. What are the best practices in the industry?
Staying abreast of industry best practices will give you a sense of what other companies like you are doing. Your policies certainly don’t have to be the same as ABC Rentals down the road. However, if you’re choosing to deviate from the norm, you should be aware that you are and have a reason why you’re making that choice. For example, if most people in the industry are charging a 50% deposit and require the final balance ten-to-fourteen days before the event, but you’re charging four separate 25% deposits, you should ask yourself why.
Your policies can certainly be your own, but if they make your life harder, you should think twice about them. Unless a particular policy gives you a competitive advantage, you might want to stick with the crowd.
3. Will your policies be sustainable for your business long-term?
The final question you need to ask yourself is, “Are my policies scalable?” Your policies may work fine for one or two events in a weekend, but how will they hold up once you are doing five events simultaneously? What about ten? Twenty?
While it can be difficult to think in such a large scale when you are just starting out, foresight is imperative when it comes to writing policies. You don’t want to be scrambling in the midst of your busy season making up standards on the spot. Preparing for the worst-case scenario is always preferable to making things up as you go along.
Running a rental business is an incredibly rewarding job. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing a bride’s face light up when she sees her reception set-up or the satisfaction of curating the perfect sleepover collection for a nine-year-old’s birthday party. To make all that happen, it helps to know that the behind-the-scenes is all taken care of. Setting thoughtful policies will free you up to enjoy the fun part of your job!
Sample List of Policies Every Event Rental Business Should Have:
- Rental Units (Individual Items v. Sets)
- Definition of Rentable Condition
- Proposal Expiration
- Order Minimums
- Deposit Amount Required to Confirm Order
- Terms & Conditions (and whether or not you accept e-signatures)
- Types of Accepted Payments (and which you prefer or encourage)
- Final Payment Due Date
- Standard Will-Call Pick-up and Drop-Off Times
- Will-Call Vehicle & Equipment Requirements
- Standard Delivery Windows (+ optional upgrades [smaller window, specific time] and add-ons [late-night pick-up, stairs, etc.])
- Delivery Fee Pricing Structure (Minimums, Flat Rates, Sliding Scale, Percentage-Based)
- Walk-through Requests
- Mock-up Requests
- Styled Shoot Requests
- Requests for Donations
- Change Requests to Existing Orders
- Last Day to Make Changes
- Last Minute Orders
- Last Minute Changes
- Order Cancelation
- Custom Item Parameters
- Handling Custom Buying Requests
- Item Replacement (if something becomes unavailable before an event)
- Damage Policy
If you like this, check out How to Write SOPs for your Event Rental Business