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Now More than Ever, It’s Time to Keep your Rental Company on Speed-dial

Most events happen after hours when people in “traditional jobs” are off of work, so they don’t realize is that this is the time when the hospitality industry is on. If something is going to go wrong, be forgotten, or overlooked, then it’s going to happen while the rest of the world is closed.

Surprisingly enough, rental companies operate a regular 9-5 schedule. Deliveries are made Monday through Friday between normal business hours and anything beyond Friday at 5 pm more than likely incurs an after-hours and late-night charge.

As an event pro it happens: items get misplaced, destroyed, or forgotten, but luckily, and not without a bit of foresight, it pays to have friends in the industry you can call on to help in a pinch. These are the people every planner, designer, and venue need in their toolbox, rental professionals, and not just in times of crisis.

Event professionals from every corner of hospitality should have a trusted rental company on speed dial. But what are the first steps?

Setting Parameters Before Something Happens

As an event professional, you should always choose your vendors based on quality and reliability before price. When we shop on price more times than not, we get what we pay for. If you are working with a large rental company, make sure you cultivate that relationship with your salesperson and ask that all-important question: “How do I reach you on the day of my event?”

When shopping for vendors to collaborate with, we often ask, “What sets you apart from your competition?” Everyone wants to say it is their customer service, but when the office is closed, and it’s all on the line, do they have your back?

In a B2B relationship, we want to feel like we are working with a friend or at least a partner who is as invested in our client’s event as we are. In fact, if we work with this vendor regularly, we should have enough of a rapport to ask for their cell number. You may want to also inquire as to whether they are in charge of our account, and just how much can they do for us? Many may not realize that larger rental companies could have a warehouse staff in charge of fulfillment, and they may be the only ones that can step in after-hours to take care of a problem.

Be sure to also inquire about the availability of an emergency line. See if it listed clearly on the contract and whether someone is readily available when you call the main number past 5 o’clock. If you have chosen your partner carefully, the contact number should be available everywhere- online, on the contract, and shared readily by your account representative.

Who Has your Back?

Hopefully, it is a member of the warehouse staff who is directly responsible for making sure the customer is taken care of. There is nothing worse than calling in an emergency and talking to someone who says, “All I can do is pass on the message.”

There have been many times in my career that we have fielded emergency calls from another company’s client because they have no way to get in touch. Did we take care of them? Yes absolutely! Better yet- it often leads to new business down the road.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected Unexpected

As the owner of a rental company my friends always say “you should write a book” of all the crazy stuff that happens in our industry. We have made and received so many unusual calls, always on the weekend or after-hours when most rental companies are closed.

There are many things that can occur after goods have left the rental company’s door, but there are also things that can unfortunately be set in motion before the delivery is unpacked. Rentals companies are working with large quantities of used items and there are times that things can slip through the cracks, literally. An unseen crack in a plate or glass can turn into a break during transport or a loose thread can turn into an unraveled seam and so on. For all these reasons and quite a few more, our clients have our numbers at the ready.

Calling for Backup 

You’ve made an almost perfect plan, and everyone has followed it to the last detail, but when you arrive at the venue and begin setting the table 3 hours before the start time, your captain is asking for the napkins and your realize that you forgot to add them to the order.

Now is when the time speed-dial comes in handy, and that partnership/friendship with your preferred rental company will also be important. One call should put you in touch with someone who can get you what you need from their company or from another by calling in a favor.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong and your trusted rental companies can help with in an emergency. Trust me we have seen it all and if we can’t fix it we probably know someone who can. On my speed-dial, I have florists who normally keep extra flowers in the cooler, a floral wholesaler that will help me out in a pinch, and a venue who will help me out with additional tables and chairs. I make a point of giving my number to banquet captains, planner’s assistants, and venue staff to be sure we are able to head off any problems before an event starts. What happens before an event is not an issue if the client isn’t affected.

We have long believed that we will be judged not by what we do, but what we don’t do. We need to be responsive. We need to have contingencies in place, and we need to know who we can rely on. In the hospitality industry, it is a sure bet you know the top three in your category, and if you don’t, now is the time to set up that meeting to get to know them. Collaboration over competition and friendors are terms we like to throw around, but you need to know the people who will back that up.

 

Lisa Krumm Anhaiser, is the founder and President of LBL Event Rentals based in Houston, Texas that has been providing quality linen and event rentals to the area for over 20 years. Lisa is also a graduate of the prestige Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with other business owners through educating via one on one consultations and speaking engagements.

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Lisa Krumm Anhaiser, is the founder and President of LBL Event Rentals based in Houston, Texas that has been providing quality linen and event rentals to the area for over 20 years. Lisa is also a graduate of the prestige Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with other business owners through educating via one on one consultations and speaking engagements.

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