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Renting out our Scene Shop - How not to lose money on screws & glue?

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Jason Goldman, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. Jason Goldman

    Jason Goldman Member

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    Location:
    CA, USA
    My theatre is beginning the process of renting out our scene shop as an additional revenue source. It works well in many ways, but my concern is that we are having trouble developing policy that handles small expendables.

    Currently we stock fresh lumber and steel, and as a client removes items from the shelf, they track and pay for those items. The problem comes in when we look at screws, staples, glue, paint, etc.

    Most shops I have worked in buy these items in quantity so I'm paying $100 for a bulk box of screws, but who should end up paying for it???

    At the moment, our policy is:

    1) If it's opened, you may use it
    2) if it's sealed, you must purchase it (or you can go to the store and get your own, you're paying for convenience)
    3) if you purchase it, you may take it with you at the end of your project, but if you choose not to... any item left behind we own.

    This creates 2 major problems:

    First, pricing is arbitrary in that 25-30 renters can come through and then one day someone is hit with a $120 box of screws. This policy gets even more troublesome when talking about paint since it's real easy for a selfish client to use up only opened containers leaving our stock low at all times. All it takes is one sly client to deplete a good deal of the "shared items" leaving the next unlucky guy to pick up the financial slack.

    Second, this policy means my shop is understocked at most times. Anything we purchase for our own builds becomes something that another client can take from us, and we may not know it until we walk in the door for our build. It's a hard hit on efficiency...

    I'd like input from those who have rented out their scene shops in the past as to what policies worked well for you when it came to expendables and incidentals. If you have an old rental agreement you'd like to share... even better.

    I'm sure there's a better way, I just need to find it.
     
  2. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    Well the simplest solution would be to include in your hourly rate enough to cover glue, staples, screws, etc.

    Paint might be slightly more problematic. I could see prime paint being covered, but beyond that I would suggest they bring their own ( or purchase what they need from you)
     
  3. Amiers

    Amiers I wear 6 headphones. I'm that Good!!

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    I would tack on a service fee. That would cover your expendables and ease your worry about running for screws every week.
     
  4. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
    Location:
    Portland, Or.
    Every time the idea of renting out a shop i'm in charge of has been floated by me it's been shot down with howitzers. From a liability stance alone it's a nightmare. My solution: Bench tools and scrap lumber supplies are open for use. Stock of hand tools must be checked out from a tool locker and checked back in on a daily or Job basis <depending on you paranoia level> OR client to bring in job boxes with hand tools. Specialty lumber and reserve stock for House shows is completely off limits. If you want to pull from my stock I will sell it to you at cost +. You probably know this but it's not about bringing in a couple extra bucks you have to cover the costs of increased insurance premiums plus all the extra time it will take for you to cover the management of a whole other crew, that you know nothing about.
     
  5. MRW Lights

    MRW Lights Active Member

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    My VP of Risk and Liability about has a heart attack anytime we open our shop to "guests" and only a mild panic attack when it comes to our own staff and volunteers. That being said, we do it fairly often for our rental productions with plenty of waivers and an onsite facility manager, similar to how your set up sounds.

    We handle expendables by cost of supplied materials as a service. (As a service of renting of our facility you have access to use of ____ materials at ____ cost). Semantics perhaps, but depending on your state while a space rental is a service fee, "selling" expendables crosses into the territory of goods and merchant services which likely fall under taxable income and resale laws. Most of the time this won't be a problem unless you get a seriously grumpy auditor... and we know all auditors are the happiest :lol:
     
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  6. Jason Goldman

    Jason Goldman Member

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    Thanks all... the liability stuff I (luckily) don't have to deal with too much. My theatre, though run at a professional level, is connected to the local school district. Our risk/liability team generates the contracts & waivers at the district level and it's my job to make sure they are signed. We've also got our markups for materials (about 40% which is standard retail markup) which we justify as a "convenience fee." If they don't like the price they can bring in their own materials. It's easy enough for the big things...

    I too hate the idea of renting out my shop since I'm possessive, but have to follow through with the mandate to make more money for the building.

    I think the easiest thing for me to do is tack on that service fee... my bosses would rather see a "sales shelf" with individual glue bottles and small boxes of screws or staples that can be individually purchased, but I'm twitching just thinking about the mountain of tracking and paperwork that's going to come along with a system like that.
     
    Van likes this.
  7. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    If I was renting your shop I would expect a part of my rental fee to cover expendables. Screws and glue may be possible to track, but how do you decide which renter pays for a new tablesaw blade? The caveat to that is that I would expect you to be well stocked in the expendables that I have theoretically already paid for.
    Keeping it as a called out additional fee will help make it clear, but also makes it possible for the theatre to decide to cover the expendables for more charitable builds.
     
  8. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Props carpenter
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    I think you have to build it in as part of the rental cost, or charge a separate fee for expendables. Alternatively, the renter needs to supply their own materials and you are just providing space and equipment.
     
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    How does management feel about making a tool/expendable cage and staffing it? It sounds like you might be at that point. You basically put every expendable and hand tool in a room and lock it. A person sits in the window and as things get requested they get checked out. If an expendable leaves the cage, the client just boght the whole thing. So, they want a roll of gaff... they just bought it. They want 50 screws.... enjoy. Tools get checked when they leave and when they come back.... and you have to bill for it. Krannert Center at the University of Illinois does this. Its a rather bizarre thing, but it keeps all their shows and all their various producers happy. You only pay for what you use, and you always have what you need. It takes a lot of overhead to do it, but thats that. Otherwise, I would make a cage for all the "house" stuff and forget about the renters. Screws, paint, and the rest are stupid expensive and it adds up quick.
     
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