Your ultimate guide to starting a thriving new event business. Whether you're specializing in table and chair rentals, wedding rentals, party games and inflatables, or something else, find out how to start your entrepreneur journey here.
If you're wondering how to start an event rental business, you've come to the right place. The events industry is a close-knit community with event professionals of all different backgrounds and niches. From starting a party rental company, to a wedding rental business, to an event production company, and more— we've listed the first steps you need to take to succeed. Get ready to grow a thriving business today (don't forget to bookmark this page for easy access later!)
If you're not already convinced that the events industry is for you, you should know that, according to Bizzabo, the industry is expected to grow 11% (up to $1,552.9 billion) by 2028. Get in now and hit the ground running with these best practices from seasoned industry experts. Let's dive in!
You're eager to dive into the world of events— it's an exciting industry with a value of $1.14 billion in the United States as of 2019. Lots of individuals make a great living from the industry— and now you want to do the same. Do you have the top 5 things you need to start a successful business?
Before you officially launch your event rental business, you need to have items to rent out! You don't need all the bells and whistles right away— the basics, like tables and chairs, are a great starting point. Be careful of trends, too. While it may feel like you NEED to spend money on that newfangled item, trendy inventory items can be wallet-draining when they go out of style sooner than expected.
PRO TIP: If you're not sure exactly which inventory to buy first, you might set up your website wishlist and see what people request first before you invest.
You can get in real trouble if you don't have the proper insurance for your company. Take general liability insurance, the most important type of insurance to have: in addition to protecting you against lawsuits from customers, most major venues and organizations will only rent from an event rental business who's covered by insurance. Once you've got your general liability insurance, you should also look into other types your business may need, including commercial property and auto insurance. TRUiC goes into more detail about how to start a party rental LLC here.
Now for the more creative side: branding. You want your brand to be unique, professional, and consistent. This means that all your marketing materials, from business cards to your website to the sides of your trucks, should have the same logo and color scheme. When it comes to branding, there's many variables to cover, including:
Once you come up with a name that suits your business, it's time to design your logo. You may do this yourself with a tool like Canva, or outsource to a graphic designer. Then, you want to use your new materials to create your online presence.
More people than ever before are shopping online, and many only trust companies they can explore on the Internet. Don't fall behind the competition before you've begun— invest in a great website so you can build your online presence. On top of your personal website, you should also consider creating a Facebook page, as well as a Google My Business account. This makes it more likely that potential clients will be able to find your business.
The #1 way you can set yourself up for success as a new business owner is to spend your time wisely. Tedious activity that eats up your day is only going to lead to burnout, and cause you to focus less on the high-level strategy needed for growth. Invest in smart tools to save you time (and money!) while you're getting your business off the ground. When asked what they would do differently if starting all over, many experienced event professionals say that they would've looked harder into their technology options from day one.
You may be starting your business out of your house, garage, shed, etc. That's perfectly okay! If you have the means, you may consider investing in a larger storage space or warehouse. Storing event rental inventory can be a challenge, especially for new event professionals. If inventory gets lost or buried within your space, you aren't making money on it. This is why inventory tracking software for event companies is one of the best investments you can make for your inventory's return on investment.
Lastly, you may want to consider investing in trucks or trailers to transport all your inventory to and from jobs. You may be okay to do without for now, but as you grow, this will become an investment that will save you money in the long run.
Whether you're looking to start a wedding rental business, an all-in-one party rental company, an event production company, or another unique event business, you need to know your niche and how you fit into the industry as a whole. We've listed the 5 most common event rental companies below. While it's not an exhaustive list, you'll get a broad understanding of the types of companies that make up the events industry.
Are you looking to start a tents, tables, and chairs rental business? Specializing in event rentals is the perfect way to keep your options open. Regardless of the type of celebration, clients always need areas to sit and eat! These types of companies do well with all events: from graduation parties and mitzvahs, to weddings and corporate events, the possibilities are endless.
Learn more about how to start an event rental company here.
If you're looking to get more creative in your event services, you may consider starting a custom design and decor event company. This includes everything from vintage rentals, to tabletop items, to truly custom pieces. You may have a more specific target market and tend to specialize in higher-end events such as weddings.
You may want to get started in the game rental and entertainment business: these are the companies who bring the fun! This could include large arcade games, basic backyard fun like corn hole, or inflatables that get the good times rolling like moon bounces. Lots of these events are outdoors, so you may consider also investing in tent rentals to ensure your business isn't affected by seasonality more than it needs to be. Some entertainment companies also provide live entertainment such as characters for kid parties!
Do you have a background in or a passion for event technology? An event design and production company may be perfect for you! Lots of clients for corporate events and weddings go all out with the event lighting, audio and video systems, and event staging and design. It's important that you have the right experts, such as lighting and sound technicians, to run this kind of company. If you have the expertise, you're likely to get lots of bookings because these businesses partner well with other vendors, too.
What wedding, corporate party, prom night, or other celebration isn't made better by a way to capture all the memories? Starting a photo booth rental company is the perfect way to give your clients a memorable event. This is a great niche for creativity, especially because lots of photo booth rental pros build their own pieces. It's a perfect business for someone who is always on top of the latest trends, because there's often new technology rolling out.
Casino-themed events and rentals are incredibly popular. Even if you don't serve the Las Vegas region, you can still bring a little bit of Vegas to your clients. Lots of casino rental pros target corporate clients, who love all games from poker, craps, and roulette, to slot machines and money wheels. There's also a great opportunity for selling packages that include the equipment, the set-up, and the dealer.
In addition to all the niches we listed, there are still a ton more out there! Some event professionals specialize in everything from yard card signs, to vintage prop rentals, to portable toilets, and more. The event industry is huge, and the possibilities and creativity are endless.
What type of event rental business should you start? Do your research into the companies that make up the events industry (read the previous section for some helpful tips) so you can decide what's best for you. Once you're familiar with what's available, you then need to ask yourself: what's my background? What are my passions? What types of events and work am I most drawn to? Finally, what's in demand in my area?
For instance, Savannah Vintage & Event Rentals in Georgia started their vintage rental business as the first of its kind in Savannah. When planning her own wedding, Rachel Strickland realized there was no rental company dedicated to vintage inventory. So, she and her husband decided to take advantage of this strategic window of opportunity. They doubled the size of their business in the first six months of opening, and have continued to grow since.
Rachel pulled an incredibly smart entrepreneurial move: she did market research in her area to determine where she could best thrive with minimal competition. If you're entering an area with more competition than Rachel's experience, you'll need to understand who the competition is, how your company is different, and why clients should choose you over other similar companies.
Select your niche, and determine what your brand will be. One of the most important things you can do when starting a party rental business is determining your unique value proposition, or UVP. Your UVP is what separates you from competitors and tells your client the value they'll receive by choosing to work with you. When you know your brand and your value, you can better position yourself in the market to win clients over your competitors. What specific features of your company make you different? The answers to this question are your key selling points that you'll emphasize in your marketing.
You don't want to give off "World's Best Coffee" vibes— potential clients can see right through that. Instead of something generic like "Best event rentals ever," you'll want to dig deeper and more specific, with something like, "Worry-free full service rentals for your wedding— serving the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) area."
So many event professionals regret not networking with others or finding a mentor when they started. Your industry peers have a wealth of knowledge to share, and have made mistakes that you can now avoid. Building authentic, meaningful connections with other event entrepreneurs is an important step in building a successful event business. Any true pro knows the meaning of "community over competition."
Now that you know the type of company you're creating, how you fit in the industry, and how to connect with and learn from other event pros, you need to actually get the business up and running. Get a lawyer to review your branding, insurance, damage waivers, contracts, and more to ensure you're following all the best practices. Protect yourself, your company, and your clients before disputes come in.
Before you start an event rental company, it's crucial that you take the proper steps to outline your business plan (which you can easily streamline with this easy-to-follow checklist). By drafting an outline of your current trajectory and goals, you can foresee any potential issues that could arise. You may be creating a business plan for yourself, or you may be using it to seek funding from investors. Either way, you need to know the ins and outs of your business, the risks associated with it, and how to become— and remain— profitable.
Pro Tip: Create a 30-60-90 day business plan for your event rental business so you can hit the ground running. This is an outline of what you plan to do within your first 90 days of starting. Not only will a 30-60-90 day event rental business plan keep you on track, it will also show any investors or banks that you have an actionable timeline for your plan. Access the 30-60-90 day event business plan template (included in the full tool kit) and checklist now to get started.
You understand the importance of defining your niche— now, add this to your business plan to convey the value of your product and service offerings to potential clients. You want to describe:
You want to prove that your business can and will be profitable in your area. Once you determine who your target market is, make sure it aligns with the demand in the area. You may have the perfect idea for a wedding rental business, but if your area has an older demographic with lower statistical odds for getting married, it may not do well— even if your idea is stellar! On the flip side, you may want to start a premier tables and chairs business. If you don't do a market analysis and examine the competitors in your area, you may end up launching a company that's drowned out by a sea of long-standing businesses.
Not completing a marketing analysis can mean lots of time and money down the drain— put in the work now to avoid heartache in the future.
In this section, you'll outline the products and services you offer: Vintage rentals and florals? All-in-one tents and tables? How about services, like standard delivery and pickup, or more specialty services like DJs or casino game dealers? How are you planning on utilizing packages? Do you know what your pricing structure will look like? The products and services section of your event rental business plan should outline all of this information. In addition, you'll also want to tie this section into your market analysis. What demand are you solving for with specific inventory items or packages?
If you're starting a company from the ground up, you should include your operating budget and a break-even analysis. What costs do you plan on incurring, and how will you mitigate these? In addition, if you're seeking funding, you'll also want to include the amount of cash you need and how you plan to use it over a given amount of time.
Finally, you need to account for any potential risks you see as a threat to your success. Is it competitors? Is it inclement weather in your area? Are you trying to break into a tough, well-established market? Think through all the possible challenges you'll face as a new event company and write them down. Then, include solutions that could solve them, should these obstacles arise. The name of the game is preparation— you want to do everything you can at the beginning to prepare for the worst (and hope for the best).
We recommend creating your business plan with a digital format because it's 1) protected and less likely to get lost, 2) instantly accessible, especially if it's stored on the cloud, and 3) easily shareable, making it a breeze to send to anyone who may need it.
Event and party rental business insurance is one of the first things you need as a new business owner. Would you drive a car without insurance? No way! So why would it be okay to operate an event business without rental insurance? There is no safe amount of time to operate sans insurance. Without it, you open the doors to unwelcome disputes (without protection), lawsuits, and the potential to lose a lot of money. Additionally, if you're not covered by insurance, many other vendors (including venues), as well as organizations, will refuse to work with you. Protect yourself and your company with insurance for event and party rental companies— it's always better to be safe than sorry.
This is the most important type of event rental insurance you need. General liability insurance for party rental companies covers everything from bodily injury and medical payments, to property damage, to legal defense, and more. While you pay to have insurance, the nightmare of having a situation occur when you're NOT covered is well worth the cost.
Workers' compensation, or workers' comp, protects employees who become injured or sick while working an event for your company. It covers medical care, disability benefits, and more. And, as a business owner, you're protected if you get sued by an employee or their family.
If you decide to invest in trucks or trailers to transfer your rentals to and from events, you should consider commercial auto insurance. It protects you, your drivers, and anyone who is operating a vehicle being used for business purposes. It covers you in case of any injury or property damage with the vehicle involved.
Pro Tip: One of the best ways to streamline success from the get-go is to create a 30-60-90 day event rental business plan. Get started easily with our template (included in the business plan tool kit!) and checklist.
Cultivating an online presence is crucial for the success of your new event business, since the majority of shoppers explore a brand's page before doing business with them. Your website is your digital showroom, which gives potential clients a sneak peek into what you offer. Both your site and your social media platforms offer leads a first impression of your business, so you want it to be a good one!
There's a lot that goes into building a lead-generating online presence. Lots of event professionals have questions like, "Should I hire a developer?", "What platform should I host my website on?", and "Which social media platforms should I use?"
For answers to these questions and more, read our ultimate guide for how to build the best website for your event business.
This sounds more intimidating than it is! A great pro tip from event rental experts is to get cashflow going by showcasing inventory on your website ASAP— even if you don't have it in stock yet.
If you know when the inventory you ordered is expected to be delivered, you should:
Many events book in advance, so if you wait until your inventory is in stock, it could be another 4-6 months before people start booking! If you get your rentals up on your site right away, then you can start collecting deposits for items well in advance, get cash flowing, and have events on the books right away for when your inventory does arrive.
If you want to go a step further, you can also advertise inventory on your site before you even purchase it, to see if potential clients are interested. This helps you see which items are worth heavy investment. Just don't forget to add in the item description that the item may not be available for a few weeks— you don't want to set unrealistic expectations.
Standard operating procedures, or SOPs, are critical for creating a solid foundation for your event business. They're meant to outline the best method for completing a process, and are useful for getting all team members on the same page. It also helps you to remember how you do a certain task, since you're likely working on lots of things all at once. When you document your processes, you set yourself up for success in your daily business— especially (and unfortunately) when issues arise. We talk more about the types of challenges you'll avoid when you create SOPs in the next section.
This piece was inspired by industry leader Cam Petty’s fantastic talk on how to create and use SOPs in your event rental company, which she presented at Goodshuffle Pro’s 2021 Annual User Summit [video below]. To learn more about Cam and the amazing work she does, check out her companies: Render Events and Render Educate.
A great aspect of SOPs is how they can help you anticipate problems and be prepared when they do inevitably occur. Weather is a frequent challenge for event professionals and really a perfect example of how SOPs can save the day. While weather is something we can mostly predict, sudden weather changes do happen, and having a plan B (and maybe plan C and D, too) in place before things go sideways will go a long way in reducing stress for you and your client.
But weather is just one thing you can plan ahead for with SOPs; any problem you can possibly predict, you can and should create an SOP for. If a problem happens once, it can happen again. So why not create a plan before challenges strike? Let's get into the 5 event rental obstacles you can avoid when you use SOPs.
Weather is the arch nemesis of outdoor events. You can only plan so far in advance with weather, and even then there’s always a change of surprise rain. Ideally, your client or their event planner will have an alternate plan in case the weather changes, but that isn’t always the case. It’s a good idea to create a standard SOP for rain, ice, snow, winds, etc for your company to serve as a jumping off point for planning for your individual events. Because each event is unique, you’ll need to customize your plan per event, but having that general weather SOP will give you a big head start.
It happens. Whether it occurs at an event, in the warehouse, or during loading/unloading, things will break, so you may as well plan for it. Having plans available for replacement items, substitution items, and subrental options in an SOP will make finding a solution that works for your client a much easier process. Working with the Goodshuffle Pro’s inventory management software, you’ll be able to document swaps or substitutions for damaged items easily. Goodshuffle Pro also allows you to make note of damaged items so your inventory availability is reflected accurately.
Is a client not responding to emails? Having an SOP available so your team understands how to proceed is essential. Knowing when to send another email or make another phone call can sometimes be tricky, especially for new hires. This SOP should contain information on when to follow up, plus notes on any language that should be included for the different phases of the event planning process.
In the case of a client not responding to communication when payment is due, have a note in the SOP to double check the contract, plus specific instructions for next steps, as communicating about financial issues can be particularly challenging.
Have you ever gone out to start loading the truck only to discover that it has a flat tire? Or the engine won’t start? This can be particularly stressful— and potentially disastrous— on the day of an event. Having multiple plans in place and ready to put into action is key. Including options for a tow/tire replacement service, a local repair shop, and a few local truck rental companies are smart ideas. Also consider checking your vehicles in advance of your events, as you might discover any problems before it’s an emergency. You can also use that time to clean the windshield and top off the gas tank!
It’s not uncommon for a client to discover something that they must have in their event, which may leave you scrambling to make it happen. Or, there could be a venue change. Regardless of the reason, having a game plan (a.k.a. your SOP) in place for you and your team will take a lot of the headache out of sudden changes. Make a list of the changes you’ve encountered and/or can see your company encountering, and make an SOP for each of those scenarios.
As you can see, implementing SOPs in your company can really save you from unwanted surprises; while they will still happen, you’ll be able to cut out the “Now what?” step and move right to overcoming the challenge. I might even write some SOPs for my personal life!
Do you ever feel like you're:
Goodshuffle Pro has everything you need to successfully start an event rental business, including highly effective features such as:
Imagine all the time you'll save with powerful event rental software. Catch up to the experienced pros quicker when you partner with the right software company. There's no better time than now to start your journey towards profitability and success.