|Delores Crum, CERP
Two years or so after the impending pandemic first cast its threatening shadow and a year or so removed from the darkest days, American Rental Association (ARA) event segment members are holding our collective breaths. We’re clinging to our hopes that the worst is, indeed, behind us.
Today, as the latest ARA outlook survey suggests, the vast majority of event rental operators are embracing optimism. We are moving beyond our doubts and staring down our fears. And we’re capitalizing, in ways large and small, on lessons learned in 2020 and 2021.
Many of us are having record years in 2022 and the latest ARA outlook survey results reflect our hope for, and belief in, even brighter days ahead. Revenue growth in our industry and among our members gives us cause to celebrate today, and to look forward to tomorrow.
No, things are not what they were, but every day they get a little better. Sure, we continue to struggle with workforce shortages and battle dramatically increased operating costs, but we have adopted effective new approaches.
Amid the circumstantial imperative to do things differently, we’re modifying rental and delivery rates, adding ancillary charges and fees, tightening our policies regarding timely ordering and imposing late fees — all in a proactive effort to operate more profitably and capitalize on this window of opportunity. We have streamlined our operations. Using new tools and technologies, we have found ways to do more with less.
We have focused on our customers and strengthened relationships. The common pandemic experience — all of us having been in the same boat — has enhanced our mutual regard and understanding. New customers we have encountered seem a little more accepting and a little less demanding.
Perhaps we have a better grip on current realities — and are working harder to change what we can and to “graciously” acquiesce to what we cannot.
Most importantly, we have learned to better appreciate and more creatively incentivize our teams. And we, and they, are the better for it. Premiere’s Work Experience handbook reflects a pay scale with higher levels of compensation for every role in our organization, and I expect yours does too.
Industry-wide, and especially for ARA members with access to the association’s educational resources, the onboarding experience has been enhanced and skills training upgraded.
We look forward to a redesigned, reimagined experience at The ARA Show™ that includes EventsU — a full day of education and training that has both practical application and theoretical value. ARA’s newly updated Certified Event Rental Professional (CERP) program will be unveiled early in 2023 and from what I’ve seen in working with Angela Crouse, ARA education director, this effort will pay real current, and future, dividends.
So, that which didn’t kill us did indeed make us stronger, and perhaps wiser. Maybe, post-pandemic, we are weighing our operational options more carefully and making smarter fiscal decisions. Regardless of recession, election outcomes, diesel fuel prices or still-suspect supply chains, with all that the pandemic taught us, we should be golden.
Delores Crum, CERP, is president of Premiere Events, Austin, Texas, and the American Rental Association (ARA) Event Rental Shared Interest Group chair.