Now is the time to prepare for the high season.
By Lars Erickson
Winter is a slower time for many tent rental companies, but there are plenty of tasks to accomplish in the off-season that will help your company be more efficient and profitable in the busy summer season.
While reviewing the past season, solicit feedback from staff, crunch the numbers and review staffing. Installation crews should provide feedback throughout the busy season, but it’s also good to have a thorough debriefing session at the end. Installers will help you plan for next year by identifying issues with equipment and providing suggestions to help the organization be more effective. These ideas may include improving your warehouse layout, identifying equipment that needs repair and suggesting tools to help them install tents more efficiently.
As you work with your staff, identify individuals worth investing in and help them develop in their roles with the company. While there is a financial cost to staffing through the slow season, there are jobs employees can do to keep busy, and their knowledge and experience will help you get a jump start in the coming year.
Look at what tent styles and sizes rented last year. Did you turn down jobs because you didn’t have the inventory available? Perhaps you have tents that don’t rent as often. Warehousing costs money, and it may make sense to sell some inventory and invest in items that will rent more often and provide a higher return on your investment.
This is a good time of year to review your entire inventory and do a thorough cleaning of all tents and parts. As you work your way through your inventory you will be able to repair damaged tents and assess whether you want to sell off old equipment. Some tent companies assign grades to their tents based on condition and cleanliness. This grading allows you to send a high quality tent to a wedding and an older tent to a festival. If you have a tent washer, you can do contract tent cleaning for other rental companies or businesses that own their own tents.
Review your entire operation, not just inventory. Is your warehouse efficient? Do your crews have the right tools to do their job? Are you having issues with missing parts on-site? By solving these problems now, your busy season will be less hectic, and you may have the capacity to take on more jobs.
If you can’t find a solution to a problem, there is probably another company that also had the same problem. For this reason it’s important to attend industry events such as IFAI Tent Expo and The Rental Show. Here you will meet other tent professionals and see new equipment.
As you analyze the past year and identify new inventory and equipment you would like to purchase, it’s important to do your research. Trade shows are a great place to gather information and find new suppliers. A good supplier will provide you with references and answer any questions about items you’re interested in purchasing.
When you start the process of purchasing new inventory, you will want to review your rental rates to guarantee a good return on investment. If you’re looking to introduce a new product to your market, don’t be afraid to contact rental companies who already have it in their inventory for feedback. This will help you make an informed decision and ensure you purchase the right product.
The more time you spend in your slower season getting ready for next year, the more efficient and profitable your operation will be. Another tent season will be here before you know it.