Tent Tip 125: My Secrets For Cost Control

For nearly 15 years I have been helping tent rental operators and watched them become successful. Time and time again, our stories have been the same. Here is my story and some of the lessons I learned. I was successful in the tent rental business, but after awhile, I noticed wasn’t making enough money for myself. And, as the business owner, I was always the last to get paid. It took me awhile to understand why this was happening. I was blind to the obvious. I finally figured out that I had costs I could not control and that my profit hinged on these costs (I later found out that accountants call these types of costs, variable costs) . My profit, or lack thereof, changed based on how the wind blew—literally. Because the wind, or the weather in general, was a huge variable cost— something I had no control over and it, along with a lot of other things I couldn’t control, was constantly eating away at my bottom line. That’s when I went back to basic accounting: Profit = Money In – Money Out. So simple, so basic. I starred at the “money out” part of the equation and thought… what other kinds of things are hard to control that are costing me money? I knew I had to get a handle on things like:

  1. Mother Nature can be very challenging–If the wind is really blowing, or if it is really hot or really cold, if there’s rain or lightening more people have to be sent out and the job takes longer; making deadlines becomes difficult and sometimes impossible, no matter how much money is spent.
  2. If tent stakes have to be driven into really hard surfaces, it causes huge delays; everything takes longer and the morale of the crew suffers because of exhaustion and frustration. Then the stakes have to be pulled out. The costs just kept rising.
  3. Traffic. If there’s a lot of traffic, the crew could be sitting in a truck, accomplishing nothing but costing money and robbing profit.
  4. Hiring employees—the more variable costs that showed up often meant hiring more employees to get through. There are training costs, and the costs of hiring and managing the temporary employees. And of course, there are costs associated with employees not showing up.
  5. And a huge surprise to me—the biggest offender of all—dirty tents. Dirty tents affect every aspect of the business. The overtime spent on cleaning them, the guys hating cleaning them, no quality control on how clean they were getting, the return trips to re-clean tops in the field, not having enough clean tents to keep up in the busy times, and of course, customer complaints.

The other big reason I wasn’t making enough money had to do with the money coming into the company (what the customer was paying). By the time I was experiencing the costs I could not control, I had already quoted the customers for the jobs. I was stuck. I had a fixed amount of money coming in and who knew how much money was going to go out? My paycheck got smaller. So I ended up with less money and more headaches. Going back to the basic equation:  Profit (my paycheck) = Money In – Money Out; I had no choice–if I wanted more money and less stress the only things I could change were my control over the variable costs. I found that controlling my variable costs was a little like planning for a natural disaster. They’re not always a factor, but when they are, you’d better be prepared. I felt a little like the Red Cross—I had to develop plans, systems, and procedures along with providing education and training courses for my employees, and I had to find better tools to use. I had to PLAN to control my costs; this is key to any tent rental business.

As I really examined gaining control over these seemingly uncontrollable costs, the #1 problem was the chaos that dirty tents brought to the business. Dirty tents can cripple your business. I know because they crippled mine. Here is a cost you can control! I was, like most people in the industry at the time, hand washing my tents. The hand-washing was a huge labor cost, required a lot of space and was often inefficient, always hard work and seldom really effective. I knew there had to be a better way and so I set about exploring the idea of mechanizing this process—designing and building a washing machine especially for the tent rental industry. Since then we have sold machines to businesses on three different continents and 98% of all the major USA tent rental markets now have a Teeco Tent Washer.

Gaining control over the costs that dirty tents bring to your business is possible! The only reason I have a successful business today is because I took the time to stop and look at the costs and inefficiencies that were killing my business back then. We can show you what we have shown so many tent rental operators across the world. Is a tent washing machine a good idea for your business? Maybe. You will have to help make that determination. One simple conversation–approximately 20 minutes of our time—you’ll tell us about your business and together we’ll see if a machine is a fit for you. To set your appointment for your Discovery Call, go to www.teecoconsult.com

 

6 Things Highly Productive People Do Differently.

Clearly some people have more time on their hands than
they know what to do with. They must if they can afford
to waste their time on something that produces no benefit
for themselves or anyone else for that matter.

What that person did willingly is something we all fear…

Wasting time.

Unproductive spurts can sneak up on you and take hold
of you at any point in any given day.

So today I’d like to focus on things you may be doing
which are stopping your productivity dead in its tracks.
These are things that super successful people do differently
than people who just get by.

And once you adopt them for your own business they will
help you get much more done in your day than you may
have ever thought possible—giving you the freedom to
spend your extra time any way you like.

Here are seven things you can do to join the ranks of super productive and successful people:

1. Get up early. One thing the most successful people in business and in history have in common is that they are early to rise. Donald Trump, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway—all make (or made) the habit of getting up early. Those who get up early tend to be more proactive and thus have a more productive mindset.

2. Avoid multi-tasking. Do one thing at a time and avoid shifting from one thing to another, so you maximize your brainpower. For example, avoid checking your email throughout the day and instead check your email and reply to emails once a day during an allotted email time only.Work on one project for a pre-determined amount of time before switching to another project. In most cases multi-tasking will cause you to get a lot less done. In fact, there’s even scientific evidence that multi-tasking makes you less efficient and is linked to short-term memory loss.

3. Don’t let fear stop you. Think about the last time you took much longer to finish a new project. Did you rationalize that it took longer because it was something new you’d never done before? Productive people find ways to keep moving and push forward even when they are apprehensive or nervous about the final outcome.
4. Treat your business like a business. Sure you started your business to have more flexibility—so that you could take off during the day or go to your kids’ soccer game, but you need to set business hours and stick to them. Set boundaries and communicate these to your family, friends and clients. And make sure they respect them. This will result in fewer distractions during your day and make you more productive during your dedicated work time.

5. Schedule time to work on your business. CEO Scott Lang says, “For me a big part of productivity is being agile. I like to leave blocks in my day open.” Lang says this allows him to have time to find out about new opportunities. When he doesn’t have unexpected meetings, he uses that time to catch up on industry reports and self-education.Plus he uses that time to focus on big picture thinking. If you don’t plan for this, your schedule can become overbooked, never leaving you time for these very important facets that will ultimately be responsible for helping you grow our business.

6. Seek help. Don’t do everything yourself. Farm out the things you don’t like to do and the things that aren’t essential for you to do so you can focus on the things you do best.GKIC member Eric Dohner, M.D. manages multiple streams of income, four business locations, a busy practice and keeps his family of seven children in focus at all times. Dohner says a major breakthrough for him was when he realized there was a lot of stuff his staff could do that he didn’t need to do. Now he only does what he needs to do which mainly consists of doing initial consultations and the actual procedure. Everything else is handled by staff.

7. Identify time wasters & eliminate them. Take time to identify what is sucking your time and make a plan for eliminating them. For example, if you have a lot of phone calls throughout the day, this can be a huge distraction. Turn your phone off and schedule a time when you will make and return all of your calls.

What are the top four most common mistakes made during your busy times?

We asked our customers this question and this is what they said:
1. Pulling the wrong top due to mis-labeled fabric pieces.
2. Mis-count of pipes.
3. Pulling the wrong items for a tent kit because of the complexity of a mixed frame inventory.
4. Not handling wet fabric first in-first out, resulting in mildew in summer wet periods.
5. Mis-loaded trucks.
6. Tag falls off bundle or is never tagged in the first place. Requires roll-out to identify. (Time waster.)
7. Not thoroughly reading worksheet and omitting an item or loading incorrect item.
8. Assuming “dirty” tag means the piece is actually OK, and we should use it anyway…
9. Not bending over backwards to ensure that every customer has their expectations exceeded. A customer who has been blown away with our service and product is more valuable to us than literally thousands of dollars spent on advertising.
10. Not managing overtime.
11. Not checking up on tasks given. (Assuming that employees are going to work just as hard as you do.
12. Not using the reports in software to forecast equipment that needs to be readied to go out.

Would you be willing to tell us about what are common mistakes in your business? You can post them below.

Q. Why would we simply offer various free ideas on our website?
A: Yes we sell machines and certainly look forward to doing business with you some day. However it is our hope that by sharing our free ideas of implementing systems in your business that you can start to experiences the great reward of doing so (for free). Once you get the taste of this success, you may be ready to implement systems we have developed that include machines to “mechanize the manual “. After all you do manage a very people intensive business. And usually people struggle to produce predictable results and consistent cost. Predictable results and consistent cost are the lifeblood to a healthy business.

The top ten ways to increase efficiencies in the tent rental business

 

We asked our customers what are the ways they increase efficiencies in their business , and here is what they told us.
1. Advance planning.
• We schedule our deliveries more than a week in advance with the work and labor load figured in. We have two operations specialists who coordinate with sales staff to plan the schedule.
• Moving jobs from the peak day to the next available to spread out work load.
• Syncing take-downs with set-ups to eliminate additional handling.

2. Rent extra trucks or buy trailers to double our fleet and allow one set of trucks or trailers being loaded each day with a second set making deliveries each day. Trucks are ready to roll first thing every morning regardless of the time crews return from the previous day’s work.
3. Have only one person per truck being loaded to double-check all items and quantities when they go on the truck. Properly specified orders with expectations managed in advance. This is a responsibility of the sales department.
4. Project managers (salesmen) mark tent sites prior to install. All stake, pole and leg positions get marked with spray paint dots. Project managers will also advise clients of install and removal scheduling.
5. Have well-trained foreman and installers. This is a year-round practice that pays off huge when busiest.
6. Plot our delivery schedules in the GPS to validate addresses.
7. Throw a tent bundle in the machine to wash while the crew is at the installation job, allowing for less manpower to wash.
8. Communication, communication, communication eliminates mistakes, assumptions, and unreasonable expectations.
9. Manage overtime – tired employees become less productive. Pay close attention to deliveries and dispatching. Re-direct traffic to our website. Occasional bonus for job well done.
10. Pre-staging kits or assemblies such as fittings, ratchets, etc.

Would you be willing to tell us about what ways you find efficiencies in your business? You can post them below.
Q: Why do we offer a variety of free ideas on our website?
A:Yes we sell machines and certainly look forward to doing business with you some day. However it is our hope that by sharing our free ideas of implementing systems in your business that you can start to experiences the great reward of doing so (for free). Once you get the taste of this success, you may be ready to implement systems we have developed that include machines to “mechanize the manual “. After all you do manage a very people intensive business. And usually people struggle to produce predictable results and consistent cost. Predictable results and consistent cost are the lifeblood to a healthy business.

Do you have any other ideas that you use to increase your efficiencies?

Mistakes that cost you time and time again

Developing procedures to eliminate mistakes in busy times is easy and free. And best of all the results mean profit. Consider the following:

o The situation: It is your busy time and a mistake happens at a jobsite. The busier you get the more mistakes seem to happen.
o The Cost: The mistakes slow the entire workflow. In order to meet deadlines with slower workflows, overtime must be paid. Day after day overtime cost will pile up.
o The Solution: Step back and identify and document your most common mistakes. Then develop an internal procedure and system to ensure the mistakes don’t happen again.

Yes, this sounds so obvious and simple. We get so busy running our companies we don’t see the things that really drag us down. Slow down. Take an honest and close look. You will find places that the same mistake happens over and over! These things seem to evolve over time; it is not anybody’s fault. It is however up to you to discover it and fix it. Develop a procedure to eliminate the repeating of the mistake. Most importantly, communicate the new system to everybody involved.

Mistakes cost you real money. Mistakes that happen time and time again cost you the same real money, time and time again. This is like a small leak in a boat. It may not sink the boat, but over time it certainly affects the performance. Taking the time to find the leak and fixing it will go a long way to growing a company.

I hope that this simple tip gets you thinking about improving your company.  You may want to start by signing up for this free whitepaper we wrote for you on improving operational efficiencies.

*Do you run your business or does it run you? Start taking back control NOW. Find out more here.

*A free tent cleaning for those serious about improving their tent rental business. Learn more here.

Are you ready for your most important moment? Do you even know what moment that is?

by Steve Arendt

An entire party rental business is built around one moment. This moment is the rental cycle.
Inventory only makes money when it is sent to the jobsite. It sits on the shelf while the marketing and sales efforts work hard to find a place. When the sale finally comes the rental cycle begins. That inventory comes off the shelf. It gets used. Then it is returned, repaired and cleaned. Finally it is ready for the next rental cycle.
The whole existence of the company works very hard for the rental cycle moment to happen. It is the most important moment of the company.
Teeco Solutions exist to make the rental cycle as efficient as possible. Making the cycle happens quickly, safely, with high quality, and as cost effective as possible is a key to becoming a great rental company.
We study this cycle. We find methods to improve this cycle. We also build tent washing machine, tent dryers, flat panel washing machines, and structure washers. We address stake driving, pulling stakes, material handling, warehousing, delivery, raising center poles, and the best use of labor at the jobsite.

*Do you run your business or does it run you? Start taking back control NOW. Find out more here.

*A free tent cleaning for those serious about improving their tent rental business. Learn more here.

The wind is howling, is your customer happy?

 

I invent large, obnoxious and not so cute machines. At cocktail parties it is often great fodder to pass the time. Beyond that, the title of inventor means very little.

But why might you care? Read on, I suspect it may at least get you thinking.

In 2000 I sold a rather successful party rental store I started four years earlier to chase a new dream. Initially, the party rental business was hard and required a lot of my energy. At the start I was able to meet all my customers’ needs. Then the business grew and troubles followed. Our service started to slip, our products were not as clean as they needed to be, safety suffered and our outdoor event installations were less than our customers expected.

When the wind blew in the middle of the night I wondered if my crews put enough tent stakes in the ground and if they installed them correctly. I hoped that my customer would not call to tell us about a tent that blew away.

Often the phone rang at 4pm on a Friday afternoon and it was an unhappy customer. Maybe my crew was too tired that week to correctly wash the tent tops, or we were too busy to get to the cleaning for that weekend’s affairs. Regardless of the reason, the customer was promised a clean tent, and we failed to provide it to them. Some weeks the list of areas we were failing seemed to outnumber the things we did right.

Finally, I decided to do some real soul searching to find the root of our problems.

Here is what I found:
• My employees were hard working and they wanted to do great work for my customers.
• They did not always know my definition of a good job, and they did not always know how to consistently do a good job.
• I noticed that some of their tasks were extremely hard, very repetitive and none of my employees wanted to do them.
• Sometimes they didn’t have a good tool that made it easy for them to do a good job consistently.
Here is what we did:
• We developed specific procedures and methods so that everybody was on the same page and could deliver the same high quality product and service each time.
• Then we trained them on these methods and procedures.
• I invented machines to do the manually intensive, repetitive work. Machines that made it easy for my employees to drive tent stakes in correctly. Machines that took the mind numbing work out of scrubbing tops. Machines that could do the same high quality work over and over and guarantee my customers the service and quality they wanted.

Implementing this took time and effort, but with each improvement our customers became more and more happy. We could deliver the safe, high quality and consistent service they demanded. And best of all we could do it every time. My customers were happy again and the business began to flourish. Now I spend my days studying the workflows and challenges of our industry to discover new procedures and new machines that will assist you in giving your customers the safer, cleaner, and better serviced outdoor events they want.

But again, why should you care about my story? My guess is that you have experienced some of the same challenges that I described above and I believe you can turn them around as well.

I would invite you to walk through the departments of your company. Do you see procedures in place that will guarantee you consistent, repeatable and high quality service every time? Do you see employees with the correct tools to guarantee your customers consistently clean and safe experiences with your company? Are you employees satisfied? Do they know what they are supposed to be doing and how to do it well?

I hope you find my story helpful.

________________

We are Teeco Solutions not only do we study the workflow of tent rental companies we also develop very specialized machines to be used within the the new workflows discovered in our studies. We build tent washers. We have developed very specific tent dryers for all tents. Flat panel washers are used to wash structure tent roof panels. We have studied the workflow of typical tent installations and have developed very unique tent stake driving systems, machines to raise center poles, tent stake pullers and great material handeling for a typical tent jobsite.

*Do you run your business or does it run you? Start taking back control NOW. Find out more here.

*A free tent cleaning for those serious about improving their tent rental business. Learn more here.

Growing bigger, better and smarter

 

“I can get this big job if I buy two more tents”. I’ve said and heard something similar phrases countless times. We all get starry eyed at the allure of the next big sale. I’ve learned to call this my; “if I buy” syndrome. “if I buy” this thing or that thing then I will grow.
I usually got that next big job. My inventory grew and my warehouse grew. Yet at the end of the year my profits shrunk! So was I really growing? The only thing I did was to create more work for my company and I got paid less. Or put very simply, I worked more hours for less pay per hour. This is a sure sign of shrinking profit margins.
So what did I do? I decided not to take any jobs that required me to buy new tents. I either did not take the job or I sub rented what I needed to win the job. I only sub rented when I could make a good profit on the job. Once I made the commitment not to buy new tents, I made a larger commitment. I set out to study how profitably we were at setting up each size tent in our current inventory.
What I found astounded me! We were awesome, very profitable, and competitive in some size tents. While other sizes we really did not do well at all. This was great information. Now my management job became easier. Priority one was to increase sales of the most profitable sizes we had to offer. Priority two was to study why the other sizes were less profitable.
Selling more of the profitable ones was easy. We got creative when talking to our customers. We upsized them, downsized them, reconfigured their party, or changed the style of tent used. We worked with them so that we could provide what they needed and get the most profit for ourselves. Guiding them to select our most profitable size and type tents helped this process.
The study of the unprofitable ones was a little more time consuming. In a nutshell our rental cycle was suffering. We could not effectively get the tents to the jobsite, set them up, take them down, clean them, and return them to the shelf. We were doing all this at a profit level that would not be healthy for our long term growth. We had an efficiency problem. We had to completely redesign and change our thinking on how we did these jobs. We had to purchase new tools and machines to do them more profitably. Once we changed our methods and bought the right machines we became profitable in all sizes of tents we offered.
The year we decided not to buy new tents and instead focus on renting our most profitable tents we had the best profit margins ever. We worked less hours and got more money per hour worked. We got over our “if I buy” mentality and got focused on becoming profitable. Mastering a business with great profit margins is always the best way to grow into a bigger more successful business.
Master, grow and be smarter. I learned this the hard way and I learned that improving my methods and machinery to set up jobs was the only way to improve my profit margins.

*Do you run your business or does it run you? Start taking back control NOW. Find out more here.

*A free tent cleaning for those serious about improving their tent rental business. Learn more here.