CRA President's Message: A social business
Event rental companies can find opportunity at CRA gatherings.
By now I hope you have read my piece in the February issue of Canadian Rental Service and have come to realize that I am all about the Canadian Rental Association benefits. As this is the party and event issue, I took some time to learn a little about that side of the business. Being an equipment guy, I knew nothing of the party and event business and after reading this you may say and I still don’t.
First, I have a question for the non-CRA members. Why not? Is it because of the cost? If so, and you attended the American Rental Association Rental Show and took advantage of the early booking special, you would have paid $279 per person. As a CRA member, you would have paid $99 per person and had a savings of $180 per person. You could have taken that savings, signed up for the CRA insurance program, collected your rebate and then your membership would probably have been free.
The ARA Rental Show offers many things for everyone in the rental industry. Specific to the party and event business is Events and Tents, a full day program that features industry experts presenting event-rental focused seminars. This popular event sells out every year. They have party and event town hall discussions and many other educational sessions. Probably the most popular item is the ARA’s Certified Event Rental Professional (CERP) program, as more event rental owners seek their CERP designation to distinguish themselves from the competition.
Do not forget to take in your local shows and events also. While I was investigating the party and event industry I discovered there is some crossover with the tool rental suppliers. These suppliers attend most of the local shows. These shows are the best places to get deals on heaters, lights, generators or barbecues. By attending these shows or the social events you will have the opportunity to network with rental people and suppliers from all divisions of the rental industry.
A few years ago, Jeff Campbell told me one of the greatest benefits of joining the CRA and going to the events is finding new friends. I have found this to be very true. In our industry, friendships can have a very positive effect on our businesses. As a party and event company, you may not want to invest in heaters, lights and other expensive equipment. That is where these friendships come into play. Give that person you met a call and do a re-rent. Then again, it seems that as some event rental locations grow and start to do larger events they need to find someone who can supply the things they need, creating opportunities for construction and general tool locations in the same area. We also know that as rental companies we often get a phone call looking for items that don’t fall into our inventory. That’s when you can call this new-found friend or they can call you.
One other thing I discovered in my quest to learn about the party and event business is that it is very trendy. You always need to keep up with what is the popular fabric colour or “Should my plates be round or square?” and numerous other things. In the equipment business all I need to worry about are things like “Will it dig a hole?” Well, what a better way to keep up with these changing trends than to spend time with your peers or suppliers at a social event. We all know that what is popular in one part of the country will eventually make it our way, so why not get that heads-up from another rental operator or supplier. I recently attended an ARA event and during the social event I was sitting with some party people and the conversation turned to chairs. I was surprised at the differences there are in chairs. By the end of the conversation they had all agreed on what type of chair was best for what situation and I heard long-time party people say, “I never thought of that.” In my books that kind of information cannot be taught. So take the time to get together and take advantage of each other’s knowledge and new perspective.
Hank McInnis is assistant manager at Atlantic - The CAT Rental Store in Dartmouth, N.S. He’s been working in the rental industry for 13 years.