The party rental industry has been a whirlwind these last two years. Since lockdowns and social distancing were enforced, the whole party scene disappeared overnight.
But now that restrictions have eased up, people have begun to embrace partying again as they gather together to socialize or converse. It's easy to see why: parties have existed since the dawn of man, and people will always seek to gather together when an opportunity for celebration arises. Whether it's a wedding, a birthday party, or a corporate event — there's always a good reason to throw a party!
So, starting a party rental business isn't a bad business idea since the global economy is recovering and events are popping up left and right.
The party supply rental industry deals with providing the necessary resources for a particular party to be successful. This can include the rental of event venues such as a building or room space, chairs, tables, tents, cooking, and sound equipment. These equipment are either rented by organizations or individuals for the success of their event.
This detailed article will provide a complete guide on starting a party rental business and running it. Keep reading and start your company in this massive and trending industry.
Create a party rental business plan
When starting a party rental business, it would be wise to go with what you know. So, if you, for example, worked as a wedding receptionist at one point, maybe you should start a wedding rental business as you already know how the industry operates.
Let's go over what starting a party rental business requires, a few different business types, and then explore some of the essential steps to launching your business – including understanding the market, identifying competitors, and forecasting inventory costs.
Different types of party rental businesses
Before we get into how to start a party rental business or an event rental business, we understand that a bit of inspiration would be helpful. There are as many party rental business niches for every type of event and need out there. A few of these include:
Event planning and production companies
While the core business might be on the event planning and design side of things, an equipment rental business can provide a solid secondary income source.
There are several types of event production companies, some focusing on corporate events and some on private parties. Either way, if you have found it difficult to find equipment suppliers to match your needs, you might be on the verge of something. There are likely more people who have struggled with the same issues.
So, why not expand to the rental business?
Wedding rental business
Many consider a wedding the most important day in a romantic couple's life. So, it's no surprise they need some help making it all happen. Don't get all lovey-dovey on us, though; this is a seriously lucrative market that new business owners always try to break into.
To be in the wedding rental industry, you don't necessarily have to be able to offer hundreds of seats and tables. It could be as simple as providing decorations for different styles, including boho decor, lighting, dry flowers, table centerpieces, and all that stuff that might seem pointless to buy for that one day.
You can quickly start building your business up from there by doing a little research on the most popular wedding styles and venues.
AV Equipment rental business
Yet another profitable rental business you can start. One advantage of this business is that people will always need your services as long as there are events. Since AV equipment is so expensive and only necessary once in a blue moon, local event planners and individuals prefer to rent than buy.
Again, this is one of those industries that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have the biggest sound systems or latest camera equipment; you can also start small and offer smaller speakers, mic setups, and smoke machines and build your way up.
This is also an ideal business model if you already own many of these things, whether because of your hobbies or something else. So while you're not using your equipment, you can just rent it out and ensure you're getting your money's worth of your investment.
Bounce house rental business
Bounce house rental businesses are becoming increasingly popular, especially among parents of young children. These businesses provide inflatable bounce houses for rent, often for birthday parties or other events — private or public.
They are usually staffed by one or more people who set up the bounce house and supervise it during use. Many bounce house rental businesses also offer other inflatable products, such as slides and obstacle courses.
Whether you're looking to add some excitement to a kids' birthday party or want to relive your childhood at a variety of events, a bounce house rental business can provide hours of fun for all ages.
Kitchen equipment rental business
It isn't a party without any food, right? One key tip to keep in mind with this particular business is that less is more. Rather than buying every kitchen equipment and utensil, only buy the essentials that most clients are asking for. Otherwise, you risk collecting useless inventory.
These are just a few different party rental business types. Other ones that have been gaining popularity recently:
Glamping and tent rental services
Seasonal event rentals (e.g., Christmas decorum)
Birthday decoration rental services
Do market research
A party rental business is a simple business idea that can make good money, especially when done full-time. As much as you can dive in headfirst by buying equipment and advertising your party rental company, it would be wise to understand how the industry works. This includes:
researching the market
getting contacts for wholesalers and other people in the industry
figuring out where to acquire the necessary supplies
You can't forget that no successful party rental business can fly without a solid business plan and go-to-market strategy.
Despite a lucrative industry, you might not get the best out of it without proper market research. The best way to do this is to determine who requires event rental services and define your target audience.
Since this is a diverse industry, your target market might be found in the most unexpected places like sports organizations, prominent business people, religious organizations, and cultural centers, to mention a few. Market research will help you establish clients' different preferences and needs and offer the best services for your potential customers.
Identify your main competitors
As mentioned earlier, this is a fast-growing industry with a lot of demand. It will have an influx of rental businesses that operate in your area. Find out who your main competitors are, what they're doing, and what makes them successful – this will also give a pretty good idea of what kind of demand there is for different services.
If you're just starting and there's a prominent competitor in your area, don't be discouraged! Having already successful rental companies within reach can prove to be beneficial for you. Since they're already attracting potential customers to your area, or if people are already searching for similar services online, you can almost piggyback off of their visibility, so identify what's missing in their offering or services and do it better.
Establish a legal entity for your business
You've four main choices when deciding how to run your business legally. They are listed below. Note that there are differences in the business entity legislation from country to country. So, consider these more general guidelines, and at the end of the day, always rely on your local authorities. That being said, let's move on.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Each of these structures has its pros and cons. But which business structure is best for a party rental business?
A business partnership is a good choice if you start a business with someone else. However, this form of a company makes you financially responsible for your partner's actions.
A corporation can be a good choice for some businesses because they separate your business assets from your personal property and assets. However, this business structure is far more complex to set up and maintain.
So, this leaves you with two of the more common options that party rental business owners typically choose: sole proprietorship or LLC.
Setting up as a sole proprietor is easy and inexpensive. However, if anything happens to the business, you are personally liable. So think this through carefully.
However, setting up a limited liability company (LLC) protects your personal assets in the event of any business problems or debts. This liability protection makes LLCs a good choice for party rental businesses.
Register for taxes
Before opening your own party rental business, you must register for state and federal taxes. You'll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to do this. These are easy to access through the IRS, via their website, phone, or mail.
Otherwise, it's essential to register your details because running a business in some states means you'll need to pay sales tax.
Depending on which legal entity you choose, you may have some options about how you are taxed. You can read more about this on the IRS website.
Set up a business bank account
You should always have separate bank accounts for your business and personal spending. There are a few good reasons for this, but primarily it:
keeps your personal assets protected
helps you accurately track your business account
doing your taxes is much easier
Some new business owners make the mistake of not having a separate bank account. But it's vital to do, especially if you want to build up business credit to help with cash flow or eventually secure expansion loans with low-interest rates.
Party rental business insurance
To ensure long-term party rental business success is to get insurance.
General liability insurance: This type of insurance helps protect you and your business from third-party claims of bodily injury or property damage. Accidents can happen due to the typical environment and risks involved in party rentals. So, general liability insurance is essential.
Worker's compensation insurance: Setting up parties and building event venues happens in an environment where something can always go wrong – no matter how careful you and your employees are. Therefore, you will need an insurance policy that protects your workers in case of accidents.
Create a party rental website
Having a website is essential to reaching your target audience effectively. Without an online presence, you miss the opportunity for local search and digital marketing opportunities, which are some of the best ways to boost brand awareness.
Unlike selling and the linear business model, the rental industry requires tools and processes to support the business with bookings, inventory management, and payment-related aspects, like deposits.
Luckily, these days there are user-friendly website builders with all the features you need to build a professional-looking website via drag-and-drop interfaces. You don't necessarily even need a separate website builder and hosting because Rentle provides small businesses with a ready-made rental website. It's easy to customize, SEO optimized, and comes with an integrated online booking calendar and payment processing – everything in one platform.
However, if you prefer another website builder, check out Squarespace — it makes building beautiful party rental websites super easy.
What makes a great website?
A good party rental website must deliver relevant information effectively, be visually appealing, and function flawlessly. Your website should have straightforward navigation and structure, as these aspects lay the foundation for an overall good user experience.
Furthermore, ensure your website has high-quality photos to give your customers a sense of feeling of the events you have arranged, compelling copywriting, transparent pricing details, and clear contact information. To increase online sales, you should also keep the checkout of online bookings as straightforward as possible.
Because the inventory circles back and forth rather than moving linearly (like in retail), it's a more complex process that requires rental-specific tools, which usually cannot be found in traditional e-commerce platforms.
You can start by integrating party rental software into your website to make managing your bookings easier. In the long run, investing in software that is made specifically for renting will ensure that you can have a real-time inventory management tool that will help avoid double-bookings, have inventory-related analytics, offer your customers the option to pay in advance, set up deposits to prevent monetary loss, and so on.
You'll need to plan your marketing efforts and advertising strategies to get your business off the ground and running. Party rental businesses can take several approaches here, but below, you'll get some ideas of the most cost-effective tactics to acquire new customers.
Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are a great and cost-effective way for small businesses to promote their products and services and acquire new customers. With a little effort, you get a massive reach, and the best part is that you don't need to spend a ton of money to get great results.
Different ad platforms offer various possibilities to reach your customers when and where they are ready to do business with your company. These platforms use their knowledge of your audience's demographics, interests, and geographical location to deliver your ads to the people they think are the most interested in your products and services.
You can, for example, deliver ads on search engines when people type in specific keywords you target or create custom audiences on social media platforms to target with more creative messaging.
Partnerships are a great way to find synergies between companies that complement each other's offerings. For example, a party rental business can partner up with a catering company to extend the offering and make it more convenient for the customers as they can book everything they need from one place.
Social media marketing
We live in the day and age of social media. Whether advertising on different platforms or generally just sharing your customers' experiences and what your business has been up to, it's the easiest way to stay in touch with your current and potential customers.
Having a community in business means that your brand is already established and you have loyal customers who will buy your services anytime they need to. However, the main challenge is building that community.
One excellent way is by making the best out of your social media platforms. Using social media to connect with your customers or share experiences from your work is bound to attract followers and potential customers.
At the end of the day, people want to know the people behind the brand and are interested in seeing how everything works behind the scenes, so don't be afraid to get up close and personal with your content.
Search Engine Optimization
People search for information about local businesses, services, sights, and experiences online. The key to success in SEO is to understand people's search intent.
Search engines are likely the first place where people start finding information about companies that offer event planning and rental services in their area. As party rentals are local companies by nature, you must optimize your website and other online touchpoints for local searches.
If you need more ideas and inspiration to market your business, check out the 12 digital marketing strategies that every business owner should know.
How to choose the right rental equipment for your party rental company
No one gets into this business with expectations of closing it down shortly. We all hope our businesses will keep climbing to greater heights.
And it is for this reason, you should be keen when selecting the equipment you will be renting, whether it's chairs, tables, sound, or cooking equipment. Remember: it's an investment. You don't want to go back and buy the same thing just a few months after you initially bought it.
While there are many things you should consider before investing in a piece of equipment, here are some main factors you should keep in mind.
Product demand and fit
This is the first thing you have to mind. Since this is a business venture, you should only buy equipment that will increase your party rental business's profitability.
Depending on what kind of party or event rental business you're running, your products' demand might highly depend on trends and seasonality.
The location also has a lot to do with your offering. If your customer base is located in the heart of the city and needs to rent out a space for an event, they'll most likely need basics like matching chairs and table sets, canopies, cutlery, and decoration.
If you operate in the suburbs, your customer base is more likely to own some of the things they might need but still be on the lookout for something special, like themed decorations, inflatables, sound systems that fit a festival, and so on.
As mentioned earlier, you are in business to stay, so whatever equipment you need in the company should be durable. You don't want to buy chairs and tables that will break during the first party and disappoint your customer's guests.
Since, occasionally, parties tend to get rough, you'll need equipment that can withstand day-to-day wear and tear. Ask yourself: will this equipment handle the test of time and grow with you? Is it future-proof? These questions will help you pick gear that will serve you for a long time and give a lot of value for your money.
An essential part of running a rental business, especially if we're talking about small companies just getting started in the party rental industry, is managing the inventory. Purchasing equipment is one part of inventory management and getting started, and the other is maintenance.
To put it short: the longer your products last and can be utilized, the more profit you will get.
So, in addition to making sure that you're purchasing equipment relevant to your target market, make sure that they're high-quality and serve you a long time. Consider also the spare parts that you might need for them.
Let's say you have a luxurious, high-tech sound system up for rent, and something happens to it. Repairing costs and replacing some parts can become extremely costly and a loss-making product for your business. For example, having products from the same brand often makes finding spare parts much easier and cheaper.
How to grow your party rental business
If you've already got some wins, you might be wondering where to go from there. Here are a few ideas on how to give your party rental business the boost it needs to grow to the next level.
There are many options for complementing party rental equipment with services. Some relevant examples include offering delivery, building, and dismantling services. You can choose to have the cost of the work to the price of the rental equipment, but it might be a good idea to offer it as an extra service. It depends obviously on the type of equipment you rent.
Other possibilities include offering design services, catering, program planning, etc. You need to pay great attention to the quality of these services as they determine your business reputation and customer retention. Nothing puts a customer off more than a late delivery or an event that didn't match expectations.
The biggest tragedy in any business is not telling a client about all your services. And this is a mistake that most people in the party rental business make. Upselling is a powerful business technique for generating more revenue.
Upselling confirms how well your company understands your customers' needs. Do they know that décor services are also a package you can provide?
Sometimes, up-selling might even be where the real money is made in your business. Aside from increasing revenue, upselling also increases customer loyalty since people buy more from you.
Give your customers real-life examples
This is another upselling trick. Most customers only believe in you after seeing what you can do. So use photos and reviews from other clients to give your clients a picture of what they can expect from you.
For example, if you have a décor package, show them photos of previous décor themes that you used and left your clients pleased. Pro tip: social media is also an excellent channel for this.
Build a strong customer care team
The most significant resource in your business is your workers. This is why you should continuously invest in them since they are the face of your business to the world. They are the ones who deal directly with your clients both in-person and online.
Teach them how to spot upselling opportunities and tie them back to solving the customer's problems. You can even arm them with tools that help them convince customers of your upsell offer. For example, a tablet to show off your portfolio. Lastly, offer incentives (for example, a sales commission) to your employees to keep them excited and motivated about upselling.
Opening second locations is one of the best ways to scale the business. Finding new locations will, in turn, help you reach more people. However, don't forget to do some geographical research to see whether your services are needed in a given region.
The demand for party supplies is increasing in all cities across the globe. However, the competition is also stiff. But don't let that scare you. The market could always use a new perspective.
If you treat your customers with care and conveniently offer what they need for their parties at reasonable prices, you'll have a hard time keeping up with the demand!