Do you want to make money renting out motion picture and theatrical equipment? If YES, here is a complete guide on how to start a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business with no money down. There are several business opportunities an aspiring entrepreneur who is still keeping a paid employment can run without leaving their jobs and one of such opportunities is a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business.

One good thing about motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business is that most often than not, the business can be carried out without your presence and if you are lucky not to be working during the weekends, you can successfully run a motion picture and theatrical rental business. The truth is that most of the basic skills needed to effectively run a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business are some of the soft skills you are likely going to acquire in your work place.

Motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business is all about renting out motion picture and theatrical equipment and other relevant film recording equipment that are used predominantly by film producers. It is important to point out that this business can’t go out of fashion because of the role it plays in the movie industry.

Depending on the scale you want to start, the startup capital for this type of business can be considered to be moderate. As a matter of fact, you can start your own motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business and then grow it big within a short period of time by reinvesting your profits back to the business.

You can start your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand and your business network spread across the United States of America.

20 Steps to Starting a Motion Picture and Theatrical Equipment Rental Business

1. Understand the Industry

The Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rental industry is made up of companies that rent out equipment used in movie or theater production including lighting, sound, stage platforms, musical instruments, props and costumes. Please note that businesses that primarily rent out audio or video recording equipment are not included in included in the motion picture & theatrical equipment rental industry.

If you are an observer of the Motion Picture and Theatrical Equipment Rental industry, you will notice that the industry is composed of operators that rent equipment for both motion picture and live performance production. Artists that engage in these types of productions typically do not own all the equipment they need for every project. Capturing each scene in every film or performance piece requires a varying number of individual setting and staging specifications.

To meet these requirements for the small duration of a film or performance’s production, these artists and producers often rent rather than buy this equipment. The basic equipment that are rented in this industry are cameras, sound and lighting equipment. Lighting equipment rentals include stage lights, effects lights and butterfly and flag or scrim kits.

The Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rental Industry is indeed a large and vibrant industry. Statistics has it that the motion picture and theatrical equipment rental industry in the United States of America is worth about $2 billion, with an estimated growth rate of 4.4 percent between 2012 and 2017. There are about 739 registered and licensed motion picture and theatrical equipment rental companies in the United States and they are responsible for employing about 6,031 people.

In the United States, no organization can boast of having the lion market share in the industry. The industry is still very much open for competition. According to report recently published by IBISWORLD, the Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rental industry has experienced strong growth over the years, as the emergence of video streaming platforms and increased demand for video content has led to a surge in independent producers, who are more likely to lack equipment inventories and instead rent for their project’s needs.

The report shows that going forward, i.e. over the five years to 2022, the revenue generated by players in the industry is projected to increase at a slightly slower rate than the previous period. The report also shows that the industry is expected to grow more moderately relative to the prior period following the initial surge in downstream activity related to increased filmed entertainment production for online platforms.

The Motion Picture and Theatrical Equipment Rental Industry cannot be said to be oversaturated despite the fact that the entry bar for starting the business is moderate especially if you are just starting out small with fewer equipment. The truth is that if you are creative and hardworking, you can successfully create your own steady market. It is safe to say the industry is still growing especially with the advent of new social media platforms.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business could be that the business is easy to set up, and the running cost can be put at the minimum level; you can actually start your own motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business from the comfort of your home. All you need to do is to create an office somewhere in your house and ensure that you have where to display your equipment that is up for rental.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the equipment put up for rental by motion picture and theatrical equipment rental companies cut across individuals, film producers, artists, artists managers, investors and business owners cum entrepreneurs who want to shoot a movie, produce music or adverts.

3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On

It is important to state that motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business is a subset of the equipment rental business and it is normal to find these companies specialize in some or all of the following;

  • Renting out lighting and grip equipment for motion picture or theater production
  • Renting out sound equipment for motion picture or theater production
  • Renting out stage platforms for theater production
  • Renting out costumes, props and miscellaneous items for motion picture or theater production
The Level of Competition in the Industry

The level of competition in the motion picture and theatrical equipment rental line of business depends largely on the quality and the number of equipment you have for rental.

The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your products or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure that you have standard and state of the art motion picture and theatrical equipment and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.

Come to think of it, there are approximately 739 motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business scattered all around the United States and even in the same location where you intend starting yours. So, if you choose to start your own business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competitions amongst motion picture and theatrical equipment rental companies.

4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry

When it comes to any industry, there are always brands who perform better or are better regarded by the customers and general public than the others. Some of these brands have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses, the quality of their equipment and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading motion picture and theatrical equipment rental businesses in the United States of America and also in the globe;

  • Extreme Lighting & Grip
  • Arizona Cine Equipment
  • Gearhead Production Rentals
  • PC&E | Film Video Production Services Rental Sales
  • High Output
  • William F. White International Inc.
  • Highway Equipment Rentals
  • Production Express, Inc.
  • Pegasus Entertainment
  • Quixote Studios
  • PRG Worldwide Entertainment Technology Solutions
  • The Light House, Inc.
Economic Analysis

If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

Motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business is no longer considered to be a green business, as a matter of fact; you will come across several of such business when you go sourcing for one or when you search through online and offline directories.

So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey of the amount needed to rent a store/warehouse facility and the amount needed to purchase lighting and grip equipment for motion picture or theater production, sound equipment for motion picture or theater production, stage platforms for theater production, costumes, props and miscellaneous items for motion picture or theater production, truck and also the running cost to successfully run the business.

If you are considering starting a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting a warehouse facility, the purchase of rental equipment and maybe a truck, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

Without being told, everyone who wants to start any business will always want to adopt the simplest route or business model that will guarantee them profits with minimal effort and investment which is why people usually purchase the franchise of existing and successful brands that are into franchising.

There are a couple of motion picture and theatrical equipment rental stores that are into franchising that you can purchase from.

But the truth is that when it comes to starting this type of business, entrepreneurs usually prefer to start from the scratch because the business has low level entry barrier and it can be started with moderate startup capital.

In a nutshell, whether you choose to start your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store business from the scratch or buying a franchise, the choice is yours, but make sure that whatever choice you make aligns with your business goal, vision and mission.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your own motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established motion picture and theatrical rental stores and any other businesses that are also into renting out motion picture and theatrical equipment. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face are economic downturn and unfavorable government policies. There is nothing you can do as regard these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

If you choose to start a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow; some motion picture and theatrical equipment rental design their business for neighborhood market, some for city wide market, while others for national market via branching out.

From a generally perspective, you can either choose a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for a business such as motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store. Usually, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business especially if you are just starting out with moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood. But if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of rental stores across the United States of America and working with big time film producers, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes. If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business with the ability to sell franchise and open chains of motion picture and theatrical equipment rental stores all across the United States of America, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.

Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below

The rule of thumb as it relates to choosing a name for your business is that you should be innovative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents.

If you are considering starting your own motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Hollywood® Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, Inc.
  • Innovate™ Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, LLC
  • Blue Movie™ Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, Inc.
  • Broadway® Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, LLC
  • Fresh Prince® Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, Inc.
  • El Classics© Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, Inc.
  • Rowland Wilsons™ Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, LLC
  • Allen Gibson™ Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, Inc.
  • Liza Gray® Motion Picture & Theatrical Equipment Rentals, Inc.

9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

The rule of law is that in the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business.

Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection / trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

When it comes to motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to start off. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business (negotiating fee, installing and operating all of your motion picture and theatrical equipment et al).

On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to effectively manage and grow your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, then by all means try and pursue such certification.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business legally in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you.

These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Business Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Tax Payer’s ID / Tax Identification Number
  • Business Plan
  • Copy of license for the warehouse facility and/or a recent inspection report
  • Employee Handbook
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Contract Documents
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Franchise or Trademark License (optional)

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale. Securing a standard and well – positioned warehouse or store facility, purchasing lighting and grip equipment for motion picture or theater production, sound equipment for motion picture or theater production, stage platforms for theater production, costumes, props and miscellaneous items for motion picture or theater production and a truck are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.

Hence, if you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large scale motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business with the capacity to supply big time movie producers with the needed motion picture and theatrical equipment.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

When it comes to choosing a location for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, the rule of thumb is that you should be guided by the demand for motion picture and theatrical equipment. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your store, it will give people easy access to locate you.

The truth is that the location you chose to open your business is key to the success of the business, which is why entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and businesses that make use of motion picture and theatrical equipment. If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business and perhaps giving direction to potential customers.

It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for a business such as motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of the city and perhaps country you intend starting your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store.

As a guide, here are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store;

  • The demography of the location
  • The demand for motion picture and theatrical equipment rental in the location
  • The frequency at which films are shot, shows are organized and other events that will warrant the rental of motion picture and theatrical equipment in the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of motion picture and theatrical equipment rental businesses in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community
  • Traffic, parking and security et al

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

There is no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for Point of Sales (POS) Machines, shelves, and software applications. You will also need computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regard leasing or outright purchase of a warehouse facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent / lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location / facility for such business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Warehouse Manager/Admin and Human Resources Manager, Rental Manager, Sales and Marketing Officer, Accounting Clerk, Technicians/Operators and Truck Drivers. On the average, you will need a minimum of 3 to 6 key staff members to run a small – scale but standard motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business.

The Services Delivery Process of the Business

When it comes to the business services process of a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, the process is simple and straightforward and can be run on autopilot.

A motion picture and theatrical equipment rental company list out the types and capacities of the equipment they have for rent. When a film producer or show organizer or customer approaches them, they agree on the prices of the equipment to be rented, payment is made, and deposit is also made. The deposit is compulsory because it is used to replace any damaged party equipment that was rented. In most cases, once the payment and deposit are done, the motion picture and theatrical equipment rental company use their truck to convey the equipment to the venue of the show or film shooting location, and also install and arrange them. After the show or film shooting, the rental company will convey the equipment back to their warehouse.

It is important to state that a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated business process is not cast on stone.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies

If you truly want to maximize profits from your business, then you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business, then you must employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business.

Your marketing strategy should center on swift delivery and installation, quality, and pricing, and above all excellent customer service. You should ensure that whenever your customers rent motion picture and theatrical equipment from you, they will get quality equipment and excellent service. The truth is that if you are able to put the above stated in place, you won’t struggle to retain your old customers and at the same time win over new customers.

Businesses these days are aware of the power of the internet and which is why they will do all they can to maximize the internet to market their services or products. In other words, a larger percentage of your marketing effort will be directed to internet users.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business;

  • Introduce your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to film production companies, musical events organizers, theater managers and other potential clients in and around the city where your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store will be located
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across, so that those on the social media or those who read blogs will know where to go when they need to rent motion picture and theatrical equipment within your location
  • Create a basic website for your business, so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your motion picture and theatrical equipment
  • Join local party supply rental associations for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount days for your customers
  • Advertise your business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)

17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

One key factor that will help you rent out your motion picture and theatrical equipment at rock bottom prices is to purchase your equipment directly from the manufacturers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantity of items that you purchase directly from the manufacturers, the cheaper you tend to get them.

One more strategy that will help you rent out your motion picture and theatrical equipment at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Apart from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.

You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives and also purchase.

18. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The truth is that the availability of a wide range of user friendly and state of the art motion picture and theatrical equipment, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.

Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to offer free transportation of equipment to all your clients. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and your motion picture and theatrical equipment can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.

19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

No matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps to attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service provider or products.

If you can continue to make available a wide range of standard motion picture and theatrical equipment for rentals, free transportation, and your customer service delivery is top notch, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal customers.

Just make sure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.

An important thing you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers, and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software. With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

As a business person, if you are not deliberate when it comes to boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand.

If your intention of starting a motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by opening chains of motion picture and theatrical equipment rental stores and franchising, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is a dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market.

Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create a corporate identity for your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and events and movie magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community based events / programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business
  • Install your Billboards on strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental business in local directories / yellow pages
  • Advertise your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your motion picture and theatrical equipment rental store is located.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks / vans are well branded with your company logo et al.
Ajaero Tony Martins