Don’t get burned again! Crazy event rental clients: We’ve all had them. But the question is, do you keep running into them? Use these tips and tricks to first avoid the potentially difficult, but also then navigate the course of action when you're stuck with problematic clients.
Event Rental Companies' Most Difficult Potential Customers
Everyone is on some budget whether big or small, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, bargain hunting clients operate with a certain mentality and it is usually incompatible with many event rental businesses.
These clients are always looking for more than just a good price. These clients demand the #1 "best" price...plus a discount. This is a tell-tale sign they do not understand, nor respect, all the hard-work, diligence, professionalism, sacrifice, and costs of taking on their project. Anyone in event rentals knows it is a labor-intensive job riddle with lots of liability. You, your party rental company, and your staff should be fairly compensated with the job you do. If you see this characteristic in someone, it is a good idea to firmly state your prices and possibly add a premium, or redirect them elsewhere and move on.
Rarely do these types of customers ever turn out to be people you want to work with now or in the future. Often they undermine your skill and talent by micromanaging how you do business, make remarks they could do it themselves, need constant revisions to orders, ask endless questions, require constant hand-holding with their every decision, need you to talk them off a ledge with every perceived "emergency" in their event...even if it's not related to your inventory! Likely they don't value your input or time, and if you are wrong in their eyes, everything will be your fault. Often there is no margin for error even if you have historically delivered award-winning service. It is quickly forgotten for anything viewed as wrong. These types of customers are stressful, make your staff uneasy, and impact your other clients. Your awesome clients that help your business run and grow deserve better.
Don't get caught in the trap of feeding into their neediness. Set boundaries and draft clear policies and communicate them beforehand in person, on your website, and in your contract. If these customers' requests are unreasonable, be sure you have contingency plans, like a fee schedule, if they need more work beyond what was promised.
Not everyone lets you know right away they aren't the right fit, but some potential customers do. As you become more experienced you will learn to "trust your gut." It will never be worth it to work with those people that give you a bad feeling and you know right away are not good for you and your event rental business. You will not want a referral from them (why would you want to work with their friends if they are the way they are?), you will likely have additional stress in your life and business, and things could be much worse than if you never met them. The most powerful word in your vocabulary is, "No!" Say no to these people, and don't waste another minute.
What to Do When You Have Already Signed the Agreement
It is too late and you have already signed the contract! These difficult clients seemed ok, but they turned into Mr. Hyde, so you must try a few of these tips to mitigate their issues. These personality traits usually correlate with refund-seeking behavior post-party or threats of disparagement of your business; even if everything was received in acceptable condition.
• Take Photos. One way to nip this in the bud is taking snapshots of your inventory before leaving the event. Educate your staff and ensure everything is in acceptable, good condition with what the client expected and if you have Goodshuffle Pro it is easy to save those time-stamped images in the files tab under the designated project.
• Order Signatures From Delivery Crew. Capture client, or authorized proxy, signatures on the Receipt of Goods & Services printout. It will list the rentals along with services received and create some language holding that they received everything in good order. This can easily be pulled from the print function of the project in the top right corner of Goodshuffle Pro or even directly from the free google calendar integration. Retain these for your records in the event this issues arises later.
• Boundaries. Set limits and be brief. The less said, or promised, the better. Try to avoid interacting with them too much, which indicates your time is free and available at their whim. Use scheduling software like Calendy, or Google Calendar, to make sure meetings, or calls, are brief and will not go over an allotted time frame.
• Rely on the Contract Language. Always refer to the contract with language they agreed to. Anything that could be a potential problem should be bolded so they are really aware what they are signing. Also, explain any policies over the phone, or in person, that could be potential problem like damages, and late fees as well as reducing it to writing.
At the end of the day, not every client is going to be a dream. Chances are, if you're in the events industry, you're a "people person" who can deal with even the most annoying client. However, as an industry pro, you really shouldn't have to waste your time on someone who is just plain obnoxious. Take the steps to protect your time and your business and you'll thank yourself later.
Anna is a wife, mother of two adventurous and adorable boys, and the lead designer and creator of Provenance Rentals, a boutique vintage & specialty rentals company in Gardena decorating for the romantic, unique, timeless, and chic client whether the event is corporate, or personal all over Southern California.