Learning how to start a linen rental business is a great idea for anyone who wants a business they can run from home on a full time or part time basis. This is an industry with a lot of expansion possibilities to grow and thrive.
Entertaining has become almost an art form and big business. Cable network shows and hosts have become household names. Having the perfect event decor is not just the food. It’s also about “tablescapes” with table linens as the essential background. Paper and plastic would diminish the total effect but not everyone has enough linen to throw a perfect party or event. Buying it is very costly for a possible one-time event.
The linens you will be renting are tablecloths (rectangles, squares and rounds), towels, napkins, chair covers, and table skirts. Hotels and event planners can be great clients for you, especially hotels that don’t have banquet or catering departments or the facilities to clean their own linens. Event planners will rent linens from a linen rental service for parties, weddings, receptions, fund raisers and meetings that they have planned.
What You’ll Need to be Successful
To learn how to start a linen rental business requires you to think of the necessities, like having a ready supply of inventory for various colors and sizes of tablecloths, laundry bags for the dirty laundry, and hundreds of napkins. Do you own the linen inventory or rent it? Owning can be a very large dollar investment, plus you need space to store the linen and keep it clean and pressed.Finding a source for renting it may be an option. The client expects you to deliver the product and pick up the dirty linen so you may also need a van.
In addition to renting the linens, your linen rental business will also be responsible for keeping the linens clean, spot free, repaired, and pressed. A local laundry service may be able to help you with this. Investing in the equipment to do your own cleaning can be expensive, time consuming, and require extra labor, water, and electricity costs.
Once you’ve found a supplier for your linens, you will be able to create a catalog of the products you have to offer your clients. Samples and fabric swatches give potential clients the chance to feel the material of your linens. Printed flyers and business cards, and maybe a website, will be needed to let everyone know who you are and the services you provide. Contracts for regular deliveries and professional itemized invoices will be needed for clients to pay for the rental.
And, of course, as with any business, you will need to obtain a business license, and business insurance as well.
Marketing a Linen Rental Business
Before you can begin marketing a linen rental service, you’ll need research the market and your competition to find out rates and services offered in your area, in order to structure your pricing. Are there minimums and certain items that are not offered? Is there a niche that is not being covered, like smaller events that need fewer linens? Talk to hotels and event planners to meet their needs better, and structure your pricing so that it is competitive. You don’t have to be the cheapest linen rental business in town, but you want to make sure your pricing is affordable to potential clients and your product offerings is better.
Once your pricing is set, your brochures and business cards are printed, and you’re ready to open a linen rental business, it’s time to network. The best way to let potential clients know what you do is to get in front of them. Visit local hotels, museums, theaters, caterers, florists, craft stores, rental halls, and banquet rooms. Get to know all the “social mavens,” and party and event planners in your area. Teach napkin folding and creative decor to use linens that add pizazz to their parties. Volunteer on committees for galas and fundraisers in your community. This will allow you to get to know who is responsible for planning these events. Once you have some clients, take pictures of the event and your linens, ask for referrals and testimonials, then use these to gain new clients.
Remember to always take great care of all your customers. Have extra inventory on hand. When unavoidable mistakes happen, take responsibility and make it right and fast. Gain a reputation for being professional, on time, with creative ideas, with clean and crisp linens and you’ll go far when you learn how to start a linen rental business!