Strategies to implement when working with clients.
by Zachary Wilson
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many tent rental companies have experienced an increase in demand for long-term rentals. While the process of navigating the ins and outs of long-term rentals with clients can be challenging, it can also be rewarding. The following identifies a few of the long-term rental challenges we have encountered at The Greenwich Tent Company and offers specific solutions to implement when working with clients.
It became clear during the pandemic that many first-time rental clients understand only the basics about tents. When a client calls to say they want to rent a tent, it is crucial to ask questions to understand what the client really needs. It is also helpful to be creative with your inventory.
Our team dealt with many clients who would ask for a particular tent size of which we would happen to be sold out. But after asking the right questions and performing a site review with the clients, in many instances a different sized tent could perform the same function as well or better than the original size. The more information your team gathers from the client upfront, the better your outcomes will be.
Renting vs. selling inventory
We worked with many established restaurant groups and clients who, after receiving a rental quote from us, would ask for a purchase price. This turned out to be an opportunity for our company to sell through older inventory to make room for new purchases, and it helped us secure recurring service contract business for years to come.
When a client asks to purchase a tent, be upfront about the life expectancy and maintenance/replacement costs of the tent. Our team found it helpful to include a multi-year service contract for anything the client purchased from us. In the service contract, we provided pricing for yearly installation and removal as well as quotes for storm removals, cleaning services and warehousing fees (if seasonal).
Being transparent about “hidden” costs associated with purchasing a tent built goodwill with our clients and they expressed appreciation for knowing what the costs were upfront.
Explaining the limitations of the rental equipment is essential. Clients may not understand that, although a tent may have a rating for a specific wind load, in practice, it is dangerous to occupy that above a wind speed that could be much lower. A site review is essential to not only measure the space, but also to determine how a tent will be anchored. Be specific about the formula you are using to ballast/stake the tent. Account for exposure to cold temperatures and high winds—a combination that can cause damage to clear vinyl tops or walls. In our contracts, we state that the client is liable for damaged equipment if we have advised against its use.
Before sending a quote, contact the town hall in the city where the tent will be installed to find out what code officials require. Do they need to see wind and snow load certifications? If so, do they need a full engineering book or just a stamped drawing? Does the tent site provide ample egress to meet fire code? Be sure to create and submit an evacuation plan to the code officials and the client. Remember, a temporary structure permit lasts 180 days, so if the client wants to extend their rental, you will likely have to pull another permit and you may need to remove/reinstall depending on a determination by town hall.
In the spirit of transparency, include the hourly rate for service calls on the initial estimate. To calculate, consider multiplying the hourly foreman rate by at least three to cover all payroll and travel expenses. We advised most of our long-term clients to account for standing weekly check-ins to inspect stakes, straps, flooring conditions, tops, etc. Educate the client on how to troubleshoot certain issues and consider designating one or two on-call team managers for weekends.
There are many variables to consider when pricing long-term rentals. Your tents will be dealing with extended environmental exposure, so factor in the depreciation of your assets. To avoid insurance issues or awkward situations with clients, be sure your contract includes verbiage regarding damaged equipment.
When calculating prices for long-term rentals, a common industry standard is to take your weekly rate and multiply it by 2.5 to reach a four-week total. Most clients love to see a discount, so try communicating the full weekly cost and following it with a discount to reach the four or eight-week total.
When dealing with long-term rentals, having specific business strategies in place will ensure a smoother rental process for your business. Being upfront and transparent with clients regarding costs, maintenance services and the overall life expectancy of your tents will lead to greater customer satisfaction and profitable opportunities.
Zachary Wilson is the president of The Greenwich Tent Company based in Bridgeport, Conn.
SIDEBAR: Be upfront with your clients
When working with a client who is looking to rent and/or purchase a tent from your inventory, it is best to be upfront with information. Take the time to explain the tent’s life expectancy, weather limitations, and costs for repairs and maintenance services.