No matter how thorough and organized you are—no matter how good of a job you’ve done planning every detail—problems with equipment can quickly disrupt or even derail any event. From monitors and lighting, to sound boards and microphones, to tents and bouncy houses, equipment will always play a major role in your event.
Since a large percentage of equipment used for events is rented, it’s important to ask your equipment rental vendor the right questions to ensure your rental goes smoothly and the equipment performs according to expectations. The questions should vary based on a number of variables, including the location and venue, the type of event, and the equipment being rented. Start by asking these 10 questions long before you’ve agreed to work with an equipment rental vendors.
Can I get some client references? If you’re trying an equipment rental vendor that you’ve never worked with before (which is often unavoidable), nothing provides transparency, validation, and insight better than speaking with two or more of the vendor’s clients and hearing their opinions.
Have you provided equipment for events at this venue before? While previous experience isn’t an absolute necessity, an equipment rental vendor that is familiar with your venue may be able to make suggestions about the right size, amount, and type of equipment you need—and also to anticipate potential issues.
Does the rental include an operator? Obviously, this question only applies to certain types of equipment that require an experienced operator. But, if an operator is required, be sure to find out if the vendor can provide one, and how much it will add to the cost of the rental.
Do you offer set-up and tear-down service? Similar to question 3, some equipment can be difficult, time-consuming, or require technical expertise, just to set up and take down properly. Make sure your vendor provides the support you need and includes the cost in the rental estimate.
Is a lift-gate required to get the equipment on and off my truck? If you or one of your people is loading and/or unloading the equipment, be sure to ask if a lift gate is necessary. I know this sounds like a basic, no-brainer question, but it gets overlooked often and results in unhappy planners, unhappy customers… and sometimes… sore backs.
Are you familiar with how union contracts work at this venue? This goes back to question 2. A vendor that’s familiar with your venue probably knows if union labor is mandated and the rules and exceptions related to equipment set-up, tear-down and operation.
What is your early cancellation policy? Event Planners know that the unexpected should be expected. Equipment rental can be an expensive line item, so having a clear understanding of the cancellation policies is just smart.
Does your rental contract require me to add you to my liability insurance? Some equipment rental contracts require that renters add the rental vendor to their liability policies to protect the vendor in the event of accidents involving the equipment. It’s a good idea to proactively ask so there are no misunderstandings (and unnecessary legal headaches) later.
Can I get a copy of the replacement costs/equipment value? For insurance purposes, and to be aware of your potential exposure, it’s wise to know the total value/replacement costs of the equipment you’re renting.
Who’s responsible for equipment damages occurring during transit? The ideal equipment rental contract specifies that you (the renter) have no liability until the equipment arrives at the event location. Other contracts hold you (the renter) responsible for damages that occur during shipping. Make sure you’re clear whose responsible during each phase of the equipment transport process and leverage the rental insurance options appropriately, based on the value of the equipment and your liability.
Asking questions and gaining clarity is important to ensure a successful equipment rental experience. But, the best advice is to do your up front research to find an equipment rental vendor you can trust and will answer all of your important questions before you even have to ask.
What questions do you typically ask the vendors you work with? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Robin Salter is the Chief Marketing Officer of KWIPPED, an online equipment rental marketplace where businesses and organizations can rent virtually any type of commercial equipment. KWIPPED supports equipment rental across more than 20 industries, including Tradeshows & Events, Audio-Visual, Photography and Film and many others. Robin has more than 20 years of marketing, advertising and copywriting experience and has worked with some of the nation’s most recognizable brands, including: Bank of America, Capital One, GEICO, Disneyland, Wal-Mart and many more.