Large parties are expensive, so more and more people are choosing to coordinate the details of their party on their own instead of hiring a party planner. The internet and the rise of specialized rental companies have only helped spur this along.
When my sister got married the entire wedding and reception was planned and put together by the family. The reception required the most work and the most rental products of anything we did that weekend. What surprised me most was that there were no companies in the area that offered all of the pieces necessary for putting on a large dinner.
We needed place settings, table cloths, napkins, centerpieces, and serving dishes but had to rent from multiple companies to get everything.
With the popularity of outdoor and do-it-yourself weddings it would not be difficult to start your business and make it known as the go-to company for putting together rental supplies for large dinners.
The market for dinner party supplies is anchored by wedding receptions, but it can also extend out to other gatherings including reunions, graduation parties, banquets, and fundraisers. Even large family holiday parties could require the use of these products.
Reception halls that host many of these dinners may or may not own all of the products for the use of their customers. You might be able to become their contractor for any needed supplies whenever dinner parties occur. At the very least, you may be able to become their recommended supplier.
Another place to look for referral business is with tent rental and table/chair rental companies. These businesses regularly work with customers who are planning do-it-yourself parties, and recommendations from them can bring in a lot of business for you.
As mentioned, great dinner party rental products included place settings (plates, bowls, cups, silverware, etc) and linens such as table cloths, table skirts, and napkins.
Accessories and Add-Ons
Table centerpieces are also a great option for rental. I can say from my own wedding experience that putting together centerpieces for dozens of tables to add some atmosphere to the reception was a time-consuming headache. I would have happily chosen a design from the offerings of a rental company and paid to use them for the night.
Serving dishes also make sense as an offering. There is an endless variety of options in this case. Coffee pots, water carafes, platters, utensils, and many other products can be offered.
The Costs and Prices
Aside from the cost of purchasing the products, you will need a way to transport sizeable quantities of the products safely. In most cases a pickup truck or SUV will probably suffice for space, but you will need a way to protect glassware.
The other problem to solve is the cleaning of the products. Most people that rent place settings are not going to have a way to wash large numbers of dishes and silverware, so you will need a system for transporting the dirty products and then washing them.
If you offer linen rental you may need an industrial washing machine and dryer to get the linens sufficiently clean between uses.
The acquisition cost of the party rental supplies will depend upon what supplies you are starting out with and what designs you get for each.
Rental prices for dinnerware start at roughly $0.50 per piece for a basic design (meaning that each of the plates, the drinking glasses, the knives, the spoons, etc, cost $0.50). Costs go up a little for choices in color and design.
Linens can actually bring a large return on investment. It is not uncommon to see linen rental prices listed near or at their purchase price. They do require a heavy-duty washing machine to keep them in pristine, rentable condition however. You company will also need to offer a variety of shapes and sizes for linens, and eventually a variety of colors and designs.
Tent rental and table/chair rental are potential companies to work with for referrals, but it can also make sense for a dinner supply rental company to branch out into offering these products on their own over time to create a complete solution for the customer.
The “drink service” rental market also has promise. This can include portable bars and the supplies to stock them as well as bar tables and stools.
Finally, entertainment rental also complements this business given that the setting for much of the dinner supply rental business will include music or a DJ. Lights, speakers, and a dance floor could be in high demand among the dinner supply rental customers.
As always, the best way to find out what complementary products your customers want is to listen to them. When customers call you with questions or to book a rental they will ask about products that you do not carry. Over time you will see patterns emerge and it will be clear which markets to expand into.
Considerations for Dinner Party Supply Rental
You will need down time to wash products between rentals. You cannot simply wipe down the products offered in this market – dedicated time will be needed between each rental to thoroughly clean and sanitize dishes and linens. This may limit the frequency with which you can rent out the products.
Start out with basic designs on your products and add more designs over time. The colors and designs used on the linens and place settings are important and customers will have strong opinions about them. The best way to start is with all-white designs, adding selection over time.
Start out with a basic product line and add to your product quantities before widening your selection. It is a difficult temptation to resist, but in this business it will be better to have the capability to provide all of the linens for large parties than to only be able to provide a fraction of the linens and a fraction of the place settings. If you are starting small it is in your best interest to get really good in one product offering before adding other products.
Dinner party rental is a labor-intensive business that will require some effort after-hours to keep products in good shape, but the industry has promise for business throughout most of the year and can easily work as an evenings-and-weekends business run on the side from home.