Rental Essentials: TLC for Inventory

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Sure, you can recoup some of your investment by selling inventory that has seen better days. But how about keeping inventory quality up so its best days are still ahead

Special Events has looked at smart ways to dispose of obsolete rental inventory. But as one of our wise readers points out, it’s smarter still to preserve the value of inventory by taking good care of it in the first place.

As every Hollywood starlet knows, time is your enemy, and that goes for rental inventory, too. As Brian Jenkins, president of San Marcos, Texas-based Peerless Events and Tents, puts it, “The reality is that rental equipment is going to get obsolete whether through use/abuse, going out of date or simply fair wear and tear. Regardless of how you protect your tables from being scratched or damaged, the customer is not going to take the same precautions.”

But, Jenkins adds, there are ways to minimize the damage. The Peerless team has inventory covered—literally.

“All wood chairs are transported in five-compartment chair bags that can be purchased at Argo Bag–cost about $22 each,” he explains. “All plastic chairs and resin garden chairs are shipped on shrink-wrapped pallets.” Items too large for bags, such as portable bars, are nestled in moving blankets. Bumpers in the warehouse protect against damage, and all furniture is stored on pallets and then on racks.

Peerless’ high-value tents are “always” transported in bags, Jenkins says, and the company invariably uses tarps in set-up and tear-down. “Never allow a tent top to touch the ground or pavement regardless of how clean it looks,” Jenkins cautions, “as it will damage the tent top.”

WRAP IT UP Party rental giant Party Rental Ltd., headquartered in Teterboro, N.J., uses a variety of techniques to baby its inventory. Besides using moving blankets secured with rubber bands to protect furniture, the company has designed custom covers for specialty items, according to Caroline Ramos, director of marketing and communications.

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PC: AAA Rental System

“Also, we created a furniture department that utilizes racking that isolates the inventory a bit differently than normal pallet racking,” Ramos says. “With that, coupled with pallets and blankets with straps, we’ve seemed to find a good balance in protection vs. production.”

At La Tavola Fine Linen Rental, headquartered in Napa, Calif., protecting linen is in the bag.

“Bagging and sealing our linens and napkins helps to keep our product clean and organized,” explains CeCe Cannavo, director of operations. “It is also another step in the quality control process where faded or aging product can be sorted out and retired if necessary.”

La Tavola relies on alert staffers to spot damaged inventory.

“Each type of linen has its own lifespan and all linens are checked upon return,” Cannavo says. “Everyone in the production chain keeps an eye on quality, and calls any damaged or faded product to the attention of their supervisor. Our warehouse staff knows our product very well, and they ensure that all of the orders meet our high quality standards before they leave.” She adds, “When ready to ship, our clean, pressed linens are stored in plastic linen bags to protect them and keep clean. We also have custom racking in our trucks that allows the linen to hang without wrinkling during transport.

Cannavo adds, “When you have over 4,000 SKUs [stock keeping unit], inventory tracking is always a challenge! We are constantly innovating to keep up with better and more efficient ways to sort and track our inventory and maintain quality control. Technology helps, but at the end of the day it is the watchful and experienced eye of the people who handle the product who ensure La Tavola’s excellence.”

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