As a leader in production, there will be times you need to rent from or work with vendors to accomplish everything you want to do. Here are some practical steps and things to consider when doing this.
Find a long list of people to get quotes from.
I usually contact places like us to figure out who they use for rental. If you aren’t in a major city, you’ll have to factor in shipping/trucking costs. I also looked online to find out who artists, companies, and churches used for rentals. Not every place will charge you what they charged the Super Bowl.
Once you have this list, call all of them.
You might have to sub out some products or gear based on what they carry, but it will help you get ideas on costs and what they can provide. It will also make your money go longer when you’ve done the research and know you have the best price for the best product. Also, if you aren’t the final say, it makes the pitch go a lot easier to have the data to back up the idea.
Find out who has used them and the good and bad about working with them. Otherwise you might go through a lot of one off’s with people because you didn’t know they charged so cheap for a reason.
Know what you’re using/getting.
Unless you want to pay them to set it up and run it for you, don’t get anything you don’t know how to use. You’ll waste a lot of time, energy, and added stress if you’re trying something new for the big show and don’t know how to use it well or efficiently.
Make vendors compete.
Make them compete on their prices with one another. Get the most value for your dollar, BUT, always check the fine print and know why the price got cheaper. Did you end up with a lesser product or maybe unreliable gear?
Be honest about your budget.
If you can only afford x, then why are you proposing y? Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge “you have not because you ask not” person, but know what you can afford. It’s one thing if you are trying to find out what something costs, it’s another thing when you know what it costs and are still trying to make someone do it. You might be able to get a lower price if you can contract or guarantee future business. Also, there are times I’ll tell a vendor that this is what I have to work with and if they are slow they’ll throw it in anyway. But be up front and be honest.
Hope this helps and if you have any further tips or ideas feel free to leave them in the comments below.