I have mentioned rentals in a few previous posts, but I wanted to devote a little more time to the idea. Rentals are a great way to augment your existing capabilities, but the process can seem daunting. Who to call, what to ask for, and are you getting a good deal, are always questions that come up. I worked in the rental business for many years before my days on the road, and now working in the church, I utilize rentals for when I need extra gear that I can’t justify buying or storing.
Rental companies come in all sizes; so don’t be quick to jump to conclusions on their quality. As someone who has worked for a small town rental facility, they can sometimes give you the best deals. Plus, different companies will specialize in certain areas of production. Whether that includes video, audio, lighting or staging. One might have ample lighting and staging, but only a few microphones and small conference room style sound systems. Here in the Indianapolis area, I have three companies I rent from regularly, depending on what I need.
Like I said in the post on planning (read it here), even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing for Christmas, it’s not a bad idea to reserve what you think you’ll need. For instance – I know for a fact that we’ll do our annual concert in December. I will need more inputs for the band and more outputs for the vocalists’ in-ears. I reserved another mixing console months ago. Same with snow machines, we have made these a tradition at Northview, and have a standing rental with one of our local companies.
Again, you don’t have to always have the finished plan in mind when renting, but knowing the big picture can help narrow down your options. Say, you want a “WOW” lighting factor; talking with a rental company and seeing what they can offer could help steer your big picture into a more defined portrait.
Three quick tips for renting equipment:
Know how much it costs to buy. If you’re going to rent something for a month and the production company charges you retail price, you may want to simply purchase it.
Make sure your insurance will cover rentals. A lot of times companies won’t rent without a certificate of insurance. This protects them as well as you. So make sure you have this covered before you rent.
Check the gear as soon as possible. The downside to rentals is that you don’t know how it was used in the past. Inspect cabling, and take notes of damage you see. I call the rental facility as soon as I notice something that’s not right. If I can deal with it, I move forward but want them to know I was not responsible for said issue. When it’s something big like blown lamps, or speakers, the rental house needs to make it right.
This season, as you’re planning for you Christmas festivities, renting may be a great option to help make your ideas come to life.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever rented?