Event rentals is a multi-billion dollar industry and you will certainly have several companies from which to choose from when planning your event. So how do you make the right decision? In our current economy we all need to save money, so should we base our decision mainly on price? Longevity in the market? Small company or large?
Let’s break it down.
Depending upon the type of event, some companies will eliminate themselves based on their inability to deliver. That may be due to lack of inventory, lack of resources (crew) available on the day of your event, scope of work/level of difficulty or simple negligence with a lack of timely follow up during the proposal process. This doesn’t mean they aren’t quality vendors (with possible exception of the latter)…just that they have limitations. So those aside, there will still be quite a few companies to choose from.
Longevity – this is certainly important, as it would be with any major purchase. Depending upon the type of event, you may not want to opt for a company who has been in business for just a few years. For instance, while planning your wedding, one of the most important days of your life, it’s probably not a good idea to bargain shop and choose Joe’s Tents, Est. 2006. Give the new guy a shot when you’re renting a pole tent for a small get together and your 20 guests need shelter from the elements.
Experience – to some extent this could go hand in hand with Longevity, however not all companies are created equal, even when considering those who have been in business for many years. That company could still be a 5-man operation that tends to specialize in smaller events that are relatively straightforward. Therefore, ask about events they’ve supplied in the recent past. Ask for photos of those jobs. Ask for references. You’ll also want to consider the space you’ll be using and the difficulty it may present. The property may have a dramatic slope or grade to the land and a floor needs to be built up to over 10 feet off the ground or more at some spots. Make absolutely certain that your choice has vast experience in such work.
Another note about experience, ask about the crew. The last thing you want at your home or event venue are construction folks who have been tasked with installing, servicing and removing your tent and additional equipment. They should be experienced tenting professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask about the crew and how long they have been with that particular company.
Quality Equipment – Tents do not last forever, so ask how often they buy new equipment and how they go about allocating tents to certain events. You may also want a particular type of tent to produce a certain ‘look’ and not every vendor will own a large inventory nor offer a variety of choices.
Owner or Salesperson – I hear from time to time that people demand to deal with the owner as opposed to a salesperson. This is certainly understood however when taking everything into consideration, be sure to consider the totality of each vendor. For instance, if you find a vendor who is highly recommended, has 50 years of experience, very successful with many types of events and a professional organization…you may not be able to deal directly with the owner. That’s simply a product of that company’s success. However do understand that in most, if not all cases the owner is heavily involved with all events that the company produces. Don’t be afraid to inquire about that. You’d be hard pressed to find the owner of a tent rental company sitting back in his penthouse office with his feet up on the desk and a cigar in mouth as he dictates orders to his stock broker.
Price – Ah yes, price. If you have used event tents before or if you’ve priced an event, you’re aware of the general cost, especially if/when you require flooring, heat or A/C, or other custom looks you would like to have. The one piece of advice I can give is to make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples when considering more than one proposal. There is more than one way to go about tenting and to just compare price without making sure you’re comparing the same equipment and service is doing yourself (or your company) a huge disservice. Make sure that somebody goes over the proposal with you line by line and that you fully understand everything that is involved. The vendor that doesn’t take the time to explain everything to you is probably a great candidate to be tossed aside. If you are shopping for several proposals, black out the pricing on the best proposal you have and fax it to another vendor, asking for an apples-to-apples comparison. Very often this is the easiest way to compare. Be sure to double check each item on the competitive proposal to be absolutely sure of the comparison.
However, also keep in mind that you pay for experience, professionalism and piece of mind when you’re dealing with a reputable tent vendor. If nothing mentioned above is important to you, then roll the dice and select the lowest price. There’s nothing wrong with that for some events. However when quality and excellence is an important factor, understand that not unlike many other types of purchases, you will pay more for the best. It’s all about value. Often times the low cost provider is such for a reason.
I hope this helps when trying to decide on a tenting company for your event. At the end of the day a recommendation goes a long way, but short of that…take care in choosing the right vendor because you and your guests deserve it.