Photo by Herman Au
This is a topic very near and dear to my heart. The phrase "Community Over Competition" gets tossed around a lot, but when it works it is magic! J.F.K.'s sage statement "A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats" is powerful and true. We need to come from a place of abundance, and not scarcity. We need to work together. We need each other to better serve our clients, each other, and ourselves. We will reap the rewards of success when we do.
What is Your Niche? What is Missing?
Ask yourself, "What is my brand's niche?" We likely cannot, nor want to, do everything when it comes to event rentals. Who has the space, resources, passion, or knowledge to do everything professionally? Some rental companies may specialize in tents & canopies, standard chair and table rentals, and so forth, while others may be more boutique and offer specialty rentals. There may be vendors who only deal with things like plant rentals, or catering equipment, or something super unique. Partner with these people who don't do what you do. It is like increasing your business' offerings without hemorrhaging money to support capital and staff.
There are several advantages to this:
Better Client Experience. You are the expert in your field, and they are the expert in their field. Don't take on some client asking you to do string lighting, when you don't even carry that in your inventory. You will have to learn about mechanics, liability, power distribution, and have a team equipped to handle this efficiently and effectively. Find another professional to outsource this part of an order.
Learning Opportunities. You will undoubtedly learn so much from what someone else does. You can also cross-compare notes on things like delivery, inventory management, managing client expectations, and more. As the Buddha advises, "Everyone is our teacher."
Upsell Opportunities. What you don't have, you can always subrent. There is a handy feature in Goodshuffle Pro that allows you to take control of tracking your subrentals. You may want to fulfill the order for a prospective client, but either your item is damaged, out for rent, or you simply do not have it. You can satisfy client needs if they can rent from one place (You!), and not have to go to several other places racking up costs. You are providing not only the product they want, but also the convenience and experience they so desire. You may also not want to carry it long-term, if you think it won't provide a good return on investment, so subrenting may be key for this.
Outreach and Networking
Once you find what you are an expert in, and what you might be lacking, it is time to reach out to those other party rental companies. It may be a bit intimidating at first, but lead with how this is going to help them. You could say that you receive quite a few inquiries on piping and draping, but you don't offer that service so maybe you can provide referrals to each other when you receive requests of this nature. It is also a great way to help your client, or potential client, rather than saying, "Yeah, not sure. Good luck finding someone" or "Google it." Take that extra-step and help the client. They may remember and return to you next time.
Nurture the Relationship
Sometimes it may start out that you are constantly referring work you don't perform to the other event rental company. However, a seed is planted, and that sapling will grow. They will refer clients to you more often than not when it is something they know you have. Ask the potential strategic partner out to coffee, or lunch, ask for a tour of their warehouse, and offer for them to visit yours. Show them the products you carry so it is imbued in their memory when it comes time to refer you. You also get a firmer grasp seeing what is available in their inventory, once you have seen it in person.
Collaborate on a Project
Another way to also test the waters if there is chemistry in your relationship with other event rental companies is to collaborate on a project. It could be a styled shoot, a party, hosting a workshop, or creating some kind of event; use your imagination and see what you could both come up with if find there are people who need your services and their services. It also lets you see how they run their operations, what condition their inventory is in, and if your mission statements and brands align. If it doesn't work out, move on to some other like-minded vendors.
Anna is a wife, mother of two brilliant little boys, and the lead designer and creator of Provenance Rentals, a boutique specialty rentals company in Gardena decorating for the romantic, unique, and chic client whether the event is corporate, or personal, all over Southern California.
Curious how Goodshuffle Pro can help you with subrentals and other growth opportunities?