How to Start a Costume Rental Business

Costume rental - Game of Thrones

So, you’re interested in starting a costume rental business. This industry is vibrant, fascinating, and it can be very lucrative if you take the time to create a decent business plan. While we won’t be writing up a guide to making a costume rental business plan today, we will cover some areas we think you should consider. We hope to inspire readers who are considering starting a costume rental business, and we also hope to offer practical advice for anyone who has already committed to the industry. If you have a few questions about Rentrax after reading this blog, please feel free to reach out

Defining Your Costume Rental Niche

Steampunk family costumes

This piece of advice features on our other rental business guides (such as our furniture rental business guide) as it is the crucial first step: you must figure out your specific rental niche within the costume rental industry. Making this decision will impact your brand name, your logo, your website design, and your entire inventory.

Given the nature of the costume rentals industry, it is completely legitimate to ignore niches altogether and simply run a huge rental business that offers all kinds of costumes imaginable. The only limit to this, however, is cost, as you will need enough initial investment to purchase a huge range of costumes and items.

This is why it is almost always better to commit to one niche at the beginning, even if you do intend to expand your business out until it is the huge, all-encompassing costume rental empire of your dreams. So, you don’t need to stick to your niche forever (provided your brand doesn’t pigeon-hole you too much), but your costume business will perform much better in the short term if it is working to some limitations.

Naming Your Costume Rental Business

Santa costume rental

Naming a company is incredibly subjective, so we can’t possibly tell you with any degree of authority what you should name it. However, as we teased earlier, you should consider whether you ever plan to expand your business out into other costume rental niches. If you specialize purely in Christmas-related fancy dress and never intend to offer anything else, then you absolutely should find a brand name with as much yuletide joy as possible! Otherwise, choose a name with some wiggle room as it’s always easy to buy in new stock and create a new section of your website. It isn’t easy to change your brand if you’ve already made a name for yourself.

Creating a Website for your Costume Rental Business

Website code picture

So, you’ve chosen one niche, or perhaps two, and you’ve also chosen a name. The next thing you need to do is create a website and market it online. Even if you plan to mostly do business in your physical store, with no deliveries, it’s worth remembering that most modern customers will expect a fully functional, easy-to-use website where they can browse your costumes before committing to something.

Ensuring your website is fun and seamless could be the difference between being incredibly successful and being a complete failure. However, don’t stress about potentially having to pay huge sums of money to a development company. Instead, look for a really great, highly functional template site. This should be much cheaper than a bespoke website; and this allows you to spend more of your initial budget on your inventory, which is something we’ll discuss in the next section. Once you’re established and generating a lot of revenue, then you can put some of that budget into the impressive, custom-built website of your dreams.

General website advice for costume rental business:

·  Have a clear late returns policy along with any other legalese customers might want to know. When potential customers can’t find this information easily, they often prefer to move to the next website instead of spending time looking for it on your site.

·  If you plan to deliver costumes, make sure it’s clear who pays for shipping. Also explain as clearly as possible how shipping works.

·  Include a clear COVID-19 policy. This section can simply explain how well you deep clean the items in your inventory. This should reassure anyone worried they might receive a contaminated item.

·  Create a clear frequently asked questions (FAQ) section answering as many questions as possible. Where necessary, try to group the questions into sensible subsections, such as: Delivery questions – Cleaning and hygiene questions – Payment questions, etc.

·  Images are key in the costume rental industry. Try to have images of models wearing the costumes as well as simple shots of the costume items on their own.

·  Pay attention to basic SEO practices. We don’t have time to address this here, but this guide covers some of the basic principles. Without SEO, very few people will reach your website.

·  Consider using PPC advertising at the beginning. SEO also takes a while to work, and most costume rental businesses can’t wait six months before they start making money — especially if an important holiday is coming up, such as Halloween or Christmas. PPC stands for ‘pay per click’ and it encompasses a lot of different things we don’t have time to go into here. Wordstream has a great introduction to PPC here. The exposure you get from PPC is instant; this makes it ideal for costume rental companies who are always trying to make the most out of very time-sensitive seasonal activities.

Decisions When Buying Inventory for Your Costume Rental Business

Men out in fancy dress

Without an appealing inventory of costumes to rent, your business can’t be a success — no matter how great your website is. The tricky part of choosing your initial inventory is that people have come to expect a high level of choice and perhaps even customisation from costume rental companies. This is why it’s often better to choose one niche and do it well. For instance, if you decide to specifically target low-cost fancy-dress rentals, you can put all of your resources into offering a wide selection of rental products. If you also tried to cover the high-end or luxury niches, you would have a significantly smaller number of products to offer. Sure, you would have products that appeal to two different audiences, but neither audience would be very impressed with what you have to offer.

With costume rental inventory, look to cover all of the most popular items first of all. Your instincts will probably help you figure out most of the popular costume items, but don’t rely completely on gut feeling. You should look through other costume rental websites and spend a little time on Google’s Keyword Planner — a tool that allows you to discover how many people are searching for specific words and terms on Google. Use this to find out how popular certain keywords are, and when people tend to search these terms.

The Right Software for Your Costume Rental Business

Here at Rentrax, we specialize in purpose-built rental software. We find that our clients are very pleased with our software as it has been built by people who know how the rental industry works as opposed to many other “rental softwares” which turn out to be repurposed sales software. Rental businesses come with their own opportunities and problems, so rental businesses need software designed to make operations as easy as possible. Rather than talk abstractly about rental software, we’d like to describe a few of Rentrax’s software features, explaining why they are ideal for a costume rental business. If anything here inspires you to learn more, you can book a free demo with one of our expert technicians.

Powerful SKU-based Inventory Management

Software

For costume rentals, the sizes, colors, materials, etc, can all get a little complex. So, it’s important to organise all of these subcategories into neat and manageable groups. This is important for you, the business owner, but it’s also important for your customers. This is where our SKU-based inventory management system comes in. Rentrax allows you to organise your inventory to any level of complexity you like, and it lets you offer this same level of complexity to your customers. This helps you stay organized while also offering as much choice and variety as possible to your customers.

Add New Items to System Without Scanning Them

This is an extremely advantageous feature that allows you to track and manage new rental stock without having to go through the rigmarole of scanning everything. This may seem like a small matter, but it could save you hundreds of hours of work over the entire lifespan of your business.

Built-in Pick-up and Drop-off Service

This function is essential if you plan on delivering costumes. Rentrax allows you to easily add additional delivery charges that change depending on the delivery distance. While this function is clearly essential for most rental businesses, it’s surprising how seldom rental software contains this feature.

Other Useful Rental Software Features for Costume Rentals

There are far too many different rental software features to cover everything here, but we’d like to quickly highlight a few more to look out for (all of which Rentrax offers):

·  Security deposit management within your system (saving you doing it manually).

·  Applying automatic charges to late returns (this saves a lot of time and it also eliminates errors).

·  The ability to facilitate early pick-ups and late drop-offs at your own discretion.

·  Monitor ROI of stock so that you know when certain items have earned enough that they can be sold (this ensures your stock always earns over the initial cost of investment and it allows you to sell your stock before it is overused and less valuable as a result).

That’s all we have time for you today. We hope we’ve helped one or two readers plan their costume rental business. It’s a fantastic, vibrant industry and we wish you the best of luck!

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