I just bought a very nice fancy cake stand. An 18". I'm a little nervous about leving it (and my other supplies) at venues where I don't know the clients personally. Do you charge a deposit to cover these items? And do you require them to return everything back to you, or do you go and pick it up?
you need to charge a deposit that covers the entire cost of replacement (if you purchased it online, figure in the delivery charges and tax and everything)
I make people bring it to me, if I have to pick it up I charge my normal delivery charge which is $1.00/mile one way.
If it's not returned within a week, I order a new one with their deposit money!
I also charge a small rental "fee" just to cover natural wear on tear on items because eventually after you've rented it out 100 times it will need replacing! Or if you get a nice silver one, that will offset the cost of polishing and general cleaning that is required once it's returned!
I charge a big, fat CASH deposit. Twice the cost of the equipment plus cost of overnight shipping.
Money talks. They usually all bring the stuff back before the due date.