Hire or Buy Crowd Barriers?

SafeSite Facilities’ Greig McGarva on when hiring crowd barriers makes sense.

Child at a festivalAfter several uncertain summers of cancelled, postponed and scaled-back events, this year’s alfresco events scene looks set to be a great one. For many event management companies, income has unsurprisingly been negatively impacted, so you’ll likely be looking at this year as a chance to recoup and make up for lost revenue.

One thing that can carry significant cost – but has always been a vital requirement – is the need for physical security at events, to manage and guide crowd behaviour, stop over-crowding and keep people safe. So, with budgets more front of mind than ever, but security and visitor safety being critical areas you can’t scrimp on, is now the time to reconsider your event security buying pattern? If you’ve previously always bought temporary event fencing, hoarding panels and crowd control barriers with long term reuse value in mind, could changing this habit bring not just event safety but also cashflow benefits?

Available capital budget
Buying site safety, such as temporary fencing and barriers, has its benefits – such as lower overall lifetime cost due to reuse opportunities. But, for smaller event management companies and those wanting to limit the funds they have tied up in assets, so too does hiring this kind of equipment.

When you buy, there is an upfront cost which can be quite large, depending on what’s required. If you have capital to play with, great. But, if your budget is insufficient for this level of investment, hiring is a great option as it carries a lower initial cost, spread out in regular instalments for the duration of the hire – which tends to be quite short for events. This means a smaller, more manageable impact on your cashflow. And, you’re not responsible for the maintenance of the equipment, so you don’t have to factor in ongoing costs when the equipment is not in use.

Ask your chosen lease company about their rental terms. Usually, fencing and barriers are subject to a minimum hire period – 14 days, for example. But, as events can often be for just one day or over a weekend, your lease company may instead offer equipment hire at a set charge, rather than sticking to the minimum hire period, which may bring savings.

Yes, in the long run hiring may be more expensive, so if you’re a large events company with a busy calendar of events which require the same security measures, then buying may be the best route for you. But there are other aspects you should consider alongside the money – such as convenience and flexibility – which provide other non-monetary benefits.

SafeSiteConvenience is king
Event planning is known for being one of the most stressful jobs. With so many elements to consider, a well-organised event might look seamless on the surface, but that’s down to weeks, months, sometimes years of planning.

Working with a reliable site safety company offering equipment hire can eradicate a great deal of stress and work for event managers, in a really key area. The required equipment will be delivered on the agreed day, installed by experts and then removed from site after the event. Simple.

Should your requirements change – maybe you need to increase the number of crowd control barriers last minute, or upgrade/downgrade the barriers, or your event is cancelled due to a situation outside of your control (a global pandemic, perhaps) – a reliable supplier should be flexible and accommodate your needs, with zero hassle. No need for you to hold different stock for different uses, or be left with a storage facility full of unrequired equipment.

Storage, transport and logistics
On the topic of storage, if you’re a large, national events company, you may have a storage facility to house any purchased equipment, a fleet of vehicles to transport it to the required locations, and an in-house team to manage the installation. But, this is unlikely if you’re a smaller company. Hiring equipment removes this need entirely, with all logistics and onsite installation taken care of by your supplier.

The outlook for equipment supply in 2022
This year sees the full return of event season after Covid, and it has affected stock availability on core products – event barriers, crowd barriers and temporary fencing. It is important to pre-book and confirm in advance to avoid disappointment.

As a business we get a few last-minute calls from desperate clients who have been let down, and the most common reason is stock. We have seen steel shortages creating longer lead times on the raw materials since the pandemic, and this means we must forward plan three to four months in advance and manage our stock levels to meet and predict the demand of our equipment; it can be a challenge to get the balance right.

We generally work on a lead time of one to two weeks from order confirmation, although longer lead times are preferred as it allows us to manage our stock levels and avoid any disappointment for required delivery dates. For larger events, we work on long lead times for procurement, usually two to three months in advance.

Festival Barriers

When buying make sense
• Excess capital to invest
• Events calendar allows multiple uses of the equipment
• Access to storage space and transport
• Inhouse installation team
• Budget to maintain/service equipment
• A plan to responsibly dispose of retired equipment.


If you’re still on the fence about the best approach for you, the SafeSite Facilities team is happy to share their expertise. Get in touch or visit www.safesitefacilities.co.uk for more information.

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