Managing a competitive event or party rental business requires strong organizational skills. In an industry with strict deadlines and many moving parts, it is essential for managers to accurately keep track of projects and resources in order to successfully plan events and scale their business for the future.
Many companies rely on spreadsheets for a variety of reasons and there are benefits to using spreadsheets in certain scenarios. However, planning your rental business in a spreadsheet often causes frustrations to employees and expensive mistakes. Just ask the employee at the 2012 Summer Olympics who accidentally typed a ‘2’ instead of a ‘1’ and sold 10,000 tickets that did not exist. Not only was this an embarrassment for the company but it also meant they had to refund and upgrade other tickets at a loss of revenue.
To prevent costly mistakes and spare your team frustrations, here are 7 reasons why replacing spreadsheets with planning software will benefit your event production or AV business:
- Track your Inventory in real time
- Work on-the-go
- Set up your business for growth
- Reduce errors in daily work
- Increase collaboration and communication
- Get the best value for your money
- Protect your data
1. Track your inventory in real-time
Inventory management is an essential part of managing any event rental business. As a manager, you need to know exactly what equipment you have on hand, what current critical stock levels are, and whether you can meet your customers’ needs for upcoming jobs.
Using spreadsheets to track your equipment means that you can not track your equipment in real-time. At any given moment, your spreadsheet could be out of sync with your actual inventory count. If you also haven’t updated inventory numbers in a while, what you see in Excel or Google Sheets may not reflect what you actually have on hand.
A dedicated solution with inventory tracking can help optimize your inventory management with end-to-end tracking and detailed insight into stock levels and equipment statuses. Each piece of equipment can be labeled with QR codes or barcodes which allow you to scan it to get real-time information on its movements.
2. Work on-the-go
Have you ever tried to open a spreadsheet on your phone to quickly access or change information? It can be downright difficult. Also, the more complex the spreadsheet, the more of a nightmare it can be to work on when you need access without going to your computer.
With cloud rental or project management software, you and your crew will be able to work from any device, follow your projects from wherever you are, and check out event details while on the go; All in an easy-to-view and personalized format. Oftentimes, these solutions also come with a dedicated mobile app to view information easily on your mobile device. With a setup like this, you can seamlessly make changes to resources or planning and directly see these changes on any device.
3. Set up your business for growth
Excel spreadsheets might seem like a good option to start out with. However, as your business grows you will inevitably take on more projects, invest in more assets, and hire more people. Trying to manage an increasing amount of work in a spreadsheet can quickly become overwhelming and frustrating.
Dedicated software solutions are built to grow with your business. You can choose between different software packages and features depending on your needs. So whether you are an entrepreneur running a one-man operation or a manager with a large company, you can find the right package to grow with your business and easily add more resources as you take them on.
4. Reduce errors in daily work
Spreadsheets are so commonly prone to errors that the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group has an entire website dedicated to spreadsheet horror stories.
On average, 88% of spreadsheets contain at least 1% of errors as found by Ray Panko, a researcher at the University of Hawaii. These errors could include typing a wrong key or formatting a formula incorrectly. What makes these types of errors dangerous is they are incredibly hard to spot until it’s too late.
Your software solution should manage each step of your project from planning to execution. Solutions that are designed specifically for the live event industry include workflows and automation to ensure that each step in the process is covered. While it can still be possible to make mistakes using software, there are checks and balances such as automatic calculations, statuses, and notifications that help ensure you are staying on top of everything you need to.
5. Increase collaboration and communication
Many event rental businesses deal with multiple projects simultaneously. This requires people from different departments like designers, producers, account managers, etc. to work on tasks and then coordinate and update statuses so everyone is informed.
With software like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Sheets, you can collaborate in the cloud with other colleagues and freelancers. However, not everyone is as spreadsheet savvy or knows the ins and outs of the specific set-up and formulas of your spreadsheet. Additionally, the more people that have access to a master spreadsheet, the bigger the risk of human error.
Effective project management requires coordination across multiple people and teams. With a project or production management solution, your quoting, scheduling, communicating and task management are all seamlessly integrated into one system which helps all of your staff stay on track. This will allow you to save time and anticipate problems before they arise.
6. Get the best value for your money
A common argument for sticking with spreadsheets is that they are budget-friendly. With Excel, you can pay a recurring subscription through Microsoft 365, and with Google Sheets, you can even have free access to spreadsheets. While this may seem like a cost-effective option, what managers and owners fail to consider is that building formulas, formatting cells, and checking for mistakes takes time from employees and that costs money.
With a dedicated software solution, you invest the majority of your time during the initial set-up to get your data in place. After the first couple of weeks, your processes will already be much quicker and less error-prone leaving your employees more time for new business and innovative ideas.
7. Protect your data
Spreadsheets do come with some security features such as setting up passwords to access documents. However, this process is manual and you will have to implement the security on each document you have.
Additionally, there are limited permissions you can apply when it comes to spreadsheets. Oftentimes, you either give access to edit or view and that’s it. You are also limited in the backup of your files. If you have not saved the file in the cloud and your computer crashes, it’s gone.
Cloud rental management solutions are often hosted on secure servers like those provided by Amazon Web Services. Because these are cloud-hosted, they also have the capabilities to back up your data in case of data loss. Furthermore, when creating and giving users access to dedicated software, you often have a lot more flexibility for different permission levels for your crew in the field all the way up to the CEO.
Choose the right software for your needs
More than 50000 AV & Event Professionals use Rentman every day to organize their activities from planning equipment and crew to tracking inventory and warehouse movements. Many of them used spreadsheets before and have already started saving 40% more time by switching to Rentman.
Would you like to experience how it can help you manage your business more efficiently? Try Rentman for 30-days free and decide for yourself!