Colleges are always planning activities for their students throughout the year but the big crunch is always in the first few weeks of fall and the last few weeks of spring. This is when the large events are held and planning boards scramble to get the items they want at the prices they have budgeted for.
Unfortunately, asking for specific items and dates at a “discounted” price doesn’t always work. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. So how do you get the items you want at a price that fits within your budget?
Specific Items – If you want specific items, be prepared to pay more and order early. Most companies don’t have multiples of items. If you are flexible, companies can tell you what inventory they have and give you a deal to take unused items. The more you order from ONE company, the more you will save as transportation costs always factor in.
Specific Dates – If everyone wants the same Saturday in May, why not plan a party on a Wednesday? You won’t be competing against students leaving to go home or other outside influences and if you can get the administration to go along, you can get more bang for your buck. Companies LOVE midweek work, it helps to pay their overhead expenses and keep full time employees working. You get the best selection and the top employees.
Specific Hours – When clients as for a discount for fewer hours, they look at the price and expect it to be easily divisible. Say a product is $1000 for four hours. Three hours does not mean it is $750. The economics for the company are simple. If your school is two hours away, let’s break the labor down:
- Loading and Unloading at office – 1 hour
- Drivetime total – 4 hours
- Setup & Tear Down – 2 hours
- Play time – 4 hours (or 3)
- Total hours are 11 or 10 – now include the cost of gas and vehicle use and you see there really is no discount for fewer hours. Better to use the four hour period, even if not busy during the extra time.
Workers – if you want to save more money, partner with the vendor by providing volunteer workers wherever possible. These workers should be responsible and not “wanderers”, they need to take their job seriously. They should be there for setup and teardown and for the operation of the event, ensuring everyone’s safety. This allows discounts on any products that don’t have to be operated by a trained worker and only if there are multiple items.
Remember also that there is always a base price you need to meet to make it worthwhile to your vendor partner. Taking the example of a school two hours away, we sometimes get asked to provide a small item like a cotton candy machine for four hours. No company can afford to provide such a product at an affordable price. 11 hours of labor plus gas to transport and cost of product, the company would lose money on this event! Better to order multiple items, provide some volunteers and work to make it affordable for you and profitable for the company.
By asking your vendor how to make events more affordable, you can create a long lasting partnership that benefits both parties and makes your events more successful as well!