Canadian Rental Service

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Eventology: When the going gets tough…

How to effectively use the off-season to bring your all when things heat up.


February 2, 2022
By Michelle Nicol, CERP

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Michelle Nicol, account manager and festival specialist, Higgins Event Rentals

The saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” sure has a new meaning when it comes to the down season in the event rental industry this year. Changing this trajectory starts with mindset and how we approach the down season. By switching up what we do with this time, we are setting ourselves up for a successful year ahead. When the going gets tough… the tough get resourceful and creative.

January, February and March in the event rental industry means a time to catch up on paperwork, update client contact information lists, clean up the warehouse, maintain fleet and conducting everyone’s favourite task: inventory! It is also the perfect time to connect with annual events or those you maybe have not heard from in a while. If you’re thinking, “been there, done that already,” you’re not alone. Many companies in our industry used lockdowns and this unforeseen forced down time in 2020 and 2021 as a time to clear out these unwanted tasks. So what now?

When you hear the words “winter maintenance,” we almost always think of it in regards to inventory and fleet maintenance. Aside from testing equipment, cleaning products and servicing vehicles, what if this was in regards to your employees? What kind of maintenance do your employees need each year to help them be the best versions of themselves, personally and professionally? What can you do for your employees now that will get them ready for the busy season later?

Now is the time to build up your sales team. Investing in a strong team who will be ready to hit the ground running when the season picks up again (and it will) is important. After an unpredictable couple of years, where many people experienced hardships, doing something for your staff to ensure they are ready to go will ensure a successful season. Researching classes or seminars for your staff to participate in is a great way to grow professionally and personally, even if the course is not directly sales-related. Classes on confidence, motivation and setting/achieving goals can be applied to one’s own life at home and at work.

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Speaking of education, this down time is also a great time to re-visit operating manuals and how-to-guides. We all may be a bit out of practice, so this is a great opportunity to get up to date on how cooking equipment, heaters and other user-operated pieces of equipment work. Select one day a week where you have these items set up, and have some fun with it. Testing out your deep fryers? Pick up some items from the grocery store and pop them in the fryer. Have your staff take turns preparing the food, so when a caterer calls saying they can’t light the unit, your staff will have firsthand knowledge and can walk them through the process. Representatives from our suppliers are often more than happy to come out for a demo day and you should take advantage of it. They are the experts, after all!

Last, but certainly not least, what are your clients up to? A down season for you also means a down season for them. Are they in the early planning stages of their event? If so, how can you jump in from the beginning and help? Now is a great time to connect with your annual clients and invite them to your shop for a tour and coffee. In my experience, clients often have no idea what our warehouse space and operations look like. People are often quite enamoured with the processes you operate by everyday.

Whatever your down season looks like, just remember: what we do today will help us succeed tomorrow.  


Michelle is an award-winning account manager and festival specialist with Higgins Event Rentals in Toronto.