Event professionals' ultimate guide for purchasing, managing, and tracking your inventory like a pro.
There's so much that goes into inventory management for event businesses of all sizes: purchasing and refurbishing pieces, storage and physical organization, website syncing and maintenance, offering custom packages for clients, reporting on utilization, and more. Let's run through the basics of what every event professional should know when it comes to inventory management.
Purchasing inventory can be a daunting task for event rental professionals— you end up asking yourself, "Should I choose to invest in trends over classics?" and "How much should I order?" as well as, "What should I consider before buying used inventory?" Let's dive into our tips for purchasing inventory!
Before you do anything else, you need to review your budget. Make sure you set aside enough money to have a safety net if something goes wrong (for instance, if you end up needing to order more, or if the product wasn't quite what you expected). Once you have your budget, you can get into what types of inventory you want to buy.
Your inventory collection should have a good blend of trendy items and classic pieces. This will ensure that your inventory is never outdated and that you'll always have reliable pieces that clients love. You can get a good grasp on trends by surveying clients, talking to other vendors, and reading industry news.
In addition, you'll want to consider what your competition offers. What pieces do really well for them, and can you offer a similar experience? You'll want to have your own unique characteristics as well. How can you differentiate yourself from the other event companies in your area? Identifying your event industry niche is one of the most important steps for deciding what inventory to purchase.
You can purchase event rental items for wholesale from companies such as EventStable and Celina Tent. These businesses offer lots of great inventory options for those just starting out, as well as for inventory veterans.
You can also consider browsing online forums, such as Facebook groups, and digital marketplaces to see what other event professionals are selling.
When purchasing event inventory, you also have to think about how much to buy. To determine this number, you should consider your average event size, the utilization of past pieces (a.k.a. what do you usually run out of vs. what isn't selling?), and what is typically rented in bulk as opposed to being rented individually. You should also consider ancillary items that pair well with other inventory pieces.
On top of this, you'll want to think about what you might be able to sub-rent from other event companies. On the flip side, you may want to purchase extra inventory in case other event businesses want to sub-rent from you.
The answer to this question depends on a few different things, such as the condition of the item and the demand for it. There are several traps that are easy to fall into— learn how to avoid these so your inventory purchasing is always profitable.
When it comes to storing inventory items, you'll want to look into bins, wrapping material, crates, and shelving. It may even be worth it to invest in pallet racks and heavy-duty shelving. For moving purposes, you may also need dollies, carts, and ramps, among other pieces of equipment.
Review all your event rental inventory to determine what has been doing well, what hasn't, and what changes need to be made. If you decide to purchase more of a certain item, allocate space for it in your storage space. If you have space freeing up as you get rid of other pieces, see if there's a new use for it that makes sense for you and your team.
Large, heavy items should be kept closer to the load-in area for a more efficient operation. Consider having more popular items near the front of your storage location, so they're easier to grab. Group smaller items by category, and break down any items that can be assembled at the event site. Be sure to safely ratchet strap and secure any potentially hazardous items. Read more great tips on organizing your storage space here.
Work with both your warehouse team and your sales & marketing staff so you're all on the same page when it comes to what inventory is available and how the processes work. You want to uncover forgotten items and ensure they’re cataloged in your software so that salespeople are aware of the options available. As an event business, your goal is to be as efficient as possible. Work with your team to find areas for improvement. Maybe there's a better way to group items, or a new piece of equipment that could would work wonders for your warehouse crew.
A cluttered workspace can be dangerous for all parties involved. Be sure all shelved inventory is strapped, the floor is clear, and all lightbulbs and other fixtures are working correctly. Do a regular sweep of the area to make certain everything is in good condition.
Damaged inventory items are inevitable in the world of events. While some damage is beyond repair, many pieces can be refurbished or repurposed. Don't let your investments go to waste! Learn what to do with damaged inventory below.
Protect yourself legally when clients end up damaging your inventory. The most important part of your contract language is that it's indisputable, meaning there's no room for interpretation. Before drafting your policies, consider speaking with a lawyer so you know you're 100% protected.
Is the damaged item highly popular? Will it cost more to repair than it's actually worth? How long will it take to get repaired? These are all questions you should ask yourself when determining whether you should refurbish, repurpose, or toss. If you're using Goodshuffle Pro, mark the damaged item as Set Aside, so you and your team know it's currently unavailable. Then, move on to either refurbishing, repurposing, or tossing.
Consider the state of the item and the equipment you'll need. Depending on what the item is and your skill level with refurbishing, you may want to outsource this to a professional. Learn more about refurbishing event rentals (without ruining them!) in this article.
While some items may never be able to be "as good as new," that doesn't mean they aren't still useful. Consider repurposing these items for use around your office, storage space, and event site. For tips on repurposing linens, check out this article.
Packages are a great way to up-sell clients while giving them a way to see the whole vision behind an event. They're a great moneymaker for event companies and are in high demand from people looking to celebrate their special days. While there are some packages that every event business should offer, you can also get creative and come up with your own custom packages. This is easy to do in Goodshuffle Pro and is a fun way to spruce up your inventory collection and website.
As a professional in the events industry, you have an eye for which pieces of inventory go together. A client, on the other hand, may be clueless. Some customers have a hard time knowing what exactly they want for their special occasion and find it difficult to visualize the event as a whole when browsing through items piece by piece. Giving your clients the ability to envision their dream event with a package of items that are often rented together is the way to go!
And, when you've displayed your inventory to them in the form of a package, you've made it that much easier for them to (quickly) become a paying customer.
When you offer packages online, you hit the search engine optimization (SEO) jackpot. Essentially, you're showing that you offer what potential customers are looking for. For instance, if someone wants to plan a vintage wedding, you may decide to offer a Deluxe Vintage Wedding Package. When someone types "vintage wedding" into their search bar, your website is more likely to appear!
Offering packages is also great for traditional word-of-mouth marketing. When a client has a seamless experience with your event company and the packages you provide, you can bet they'll be more likely to refer you to a friend who's planning their next event.
Packages are a great moneymaker for event companies of all types. When you neatly bundle carefully selected items into a complete package, this is your opportunity to up-sell! You've saved the client time on deciding which pieces go well together. The client doesn't have to know you added a bit for that service— they'll just be happy with how easy it was to find the pieces for their dream event.
Your website is your digital showroom. It should accurately reflect what you have in stock and encourage online shoppers to rent from you. Just like you organize your storage space, you should also organize your website. Is it easy for the customer to find what they're looking for? How easy is it for them to request a quote or contact you? Use logical names, add a search bar, and provide photos so your web visitors have the best experience possible.
We have a few solutions for you:
When it comes down to it, your business has to be profitable to continue serving your customers. This is why careful monitoring of your business's health is so important. When thinking about your inventory, you want to know information like:
Reporting on these points gives you a bird's eye view of your business and empowers you to make the best strategic decisions. Event rental software offers tons of reporting tools right at your fingertips so you can have access to all the necessary information when it counts. With everything from a high-level dashboard to accounting & tax reports that dig deep (not to mention the inventory usage charts and the custom reports you can also create), Goodshuffle Pro offers a suite of reporting features so you are always on top of what's going on with your inventory and your business as a whole.
If you want to start or grow your event rental business on a solid foundation, the right inventory management software is the way to go. Though event technology can be intimidating, it can also save you hours of time each week and get you paid faster. With all the time you save, you can spend more time on high-level business endeavors. Plus, having the peace of mind knowing your inventory is organized and under control is priceless.
Some people are wary of spending money on a tool they aren't familiar with. Many event rental software programs offer free trials (Goodshuffle Pro also offers unlimited training and support, including 1:1 sessions and team onboarding sessions). These trials are a great way to explore the program and see how it works for you.