For years I’d seen my customers grow their party rental businesses. It seemed like a great business, and I saw an opportunity in the burgeoning Central Coast wine country, so I decided to go for it and open my own rental store.
With a modest budget, I leased a small space and was forced to decide how I was going to spend the rest of my savings. Of course I knew I needed folding tables, I made the decision to go with plywood folding tables over plastic. I loaded up on 60’’ round folding tables, 8’x30’’ banquet tables and 30’’ high top tables.
Then the time came to decide which type of chairs I’d buy first. A decision I’d not take likely. Would I take the advice I’d given dozens of aspiring rental operators over the years? Well, I did because I’ve always said that every situation and every market is different.
The way I see it, there are two ways you can go when you are starting a party rental company. One - you can buy folding chairs and tables just like your competitors, and count on your elevated level of customer service, prompt and accurate deliveries, and perhaps discounted pricing to separate you from that competition. The idea is, if you get the same equipment the competition has, you can really go wrong since they’ve proven that stuff rents, right?
Or, two, you can choose to go different. Buy gold chairs when they have brown. Get a different style of chair altogether. Choose to be unique and set yourself apart that way.
Why Start With Chiavari Chairs?
I decided I wanted to have a slightly different offering - at least at first - than my competitors. The first chairs I bought for my party rental company were gold chiavari chairs. Solid gold, baby.
Now, I didn’t just choose gold chairs out of the blue. One of my competitors had fruitwood, and another didn’t carry chiavaris at all. I chose chiavari chairs as my first rental chair for a few reasons.
- Showroom samples. I had several different chairs in my humble little showroom (a portion of my humble office). After a number a visits from prospective clients, brides, their moms, there seemed to be an overwhelming interest in the gold chiavari chairs.
- Caterers and Event Planners were excited. Like any good budding rental operator should do, I reached out, before even buying any inventory, to the local caterers, event planners, and several key event venues. We discussed my potential product catalog and my value proposition, and many of them seemed excited at the prospect of being able to offer the gold chiavaris to their clients.
- I already had a rental lined up. That one dropped the mic on the whole discussion, as now I had to have them, but I also had 25% of the cost covered before even unwrapping the chairs.
Having a rental on the books for anything when you are adding it to your inventory really helps.
With chiavari chairs and the faster inherent return on investment (in rental turns, not necessarily time), I was sure I would quickly turn a profit.
And I did! I made my first delivery with those chiavari chairs in an open utility trailer, with wood-slat sides I built myself (totally ridiculous, but I was bootstrapping it).
Like I said, I knew my folding tables would rent no matter what (I can think of few investments more solid than folding banquet tables for a rental company). I’m glad I started with the gold chairs. They got people talking about the new guy in town.
In invested my profits back into the business, buying what everyone else was asking for. I bought white resin folding chairs next, for those wedding ceremonies and fruitwood folding chairs for the backyard parties.
I continued to reinvest and grow my inventory, and quickly found that, as my good friend and fellow rental store owner Tom says - you don’t get rich, you just get bigger.
Are Chiavari Chairs the choice for your rental company (or event venue)? Shop all Chiavaris here