Ive compiled a list of mistakes both seasoned bounce house rental companies and rookie bounce house companies make every day. Although mistakes are inevitable, realizing your mistakes and correcting them can make a huge difference and keep your stress level down too. I will start with new bounce house companies and then transition into established ones.
1)Selecting the wrong bounce houses to start with
This is an interesting one to me, but there are always bounce house companies on Craigslist that are “getting out” of the rental business and they are selling 4-licensed (themed) bounce houses. Themed bounce houses can only go out to a select few. Make sure to start with gender neutral bounce houses rentals and combo units. Combos are more expensive to purchase, but they rent out far more, too. We can always lower the price on combos, but we cannot add a slide to a bounce house. The likelihood of a customer accepting a Sponge Bob bounce house over a gender neutral bounce house is extremely rare. Make sure to start with units that most customers will rent.
2)Starting too large
Before we can rent bounce houses out, we need a customer base. Without a customer base our bounce houses will sit and collect dust. Build your customer base first and add to your inventory. This will allow you to purchase new inventory with revenue earned versus personal or business loans. Also, starting small allows you to understand the core of how your operation works. Trust me, it is much easier and cheaper to make changes to a small operation than to make changes to a larger one. For instance, the first three new bounce houses I purchased were from China. I heard about the pros and cons of buying bounce houses from China, but the cheaper prices helped me overlook everything else. To this day, I still have the the first used bounce house I purchased (it’s sentimental I guess). It was 4 to 6 years old when I purchased it eight years ago, but those three new China bounce houses only lasted 2.5 years. I donated them to a charity because they were not worth reselling for business. Luckily for me it was only three and not 20 that I purchased; experiences like that helped me to grow and save money, too.
3)Not having properly written and signed contracts
Contracts are not completely legal and binding. There are always loop holes that can be found and judges that are pro consumer. Make sure to pay a LOCAL attorney to write or edit your contract. Laws are not the same from state to state, so using a contract from a rental buddy from three states over might not apply to your state. Do not allow anyone, including yourself to make hand written adjustments to a contract before signing. Also, some customers ask for specific things to be added to the contract. Always consult your insurance company before making those changes; they have lawyers on staff to read over and approve any changes requested by the customer.
4)Not utilizing larger companies to mentor you
This is a powerful tool that many companies do not take advantage of. There are moonwalk forums available for us to read and view lots of information in our industry. We can also contact a local company across town that we are not in direct competition with. These are seasoned companies that have made mistakes and resolved them. They know the customers in the area and can pass this information on to you. You just have to ask. As for seasoned companies, build an alliance with other companies around you to share ideas problems and everything else you are going through. Two heads are better than one.
5)Not knowing your competition and pricing
Don’t use the only measurement of your prices based on those of your competition, however you do need to know where your competition stands to help sell yourself. This goes beyond simple pricing, but into how long the rental period is, the distance traveled for delivery, plus additional fees for mileage and set-up. All of these little things help differentiate bounce house rental companies and help customers decide on whom to rent from. You have to know this information so you can better sell yourself.
6)Not balancing your inventory with your infrastructure
Have you ever seen the UPS commercial where the new company opens their doors and gets hammered the first day and cannot keep up. This is a common problem with many companies including bounce house rental companies. Before I bought a database years ago, I spent 2 hours hand writing all my contracts on Friday night. Now I print thee times as many with a few click of the mouse. If you are receiving phone calls back to back, do not rely on your cellular phone anymore upgrade to an office phone with business lines. If you do not have enough box trucks or trailers and employees to deliver 2/3rds of your inventory, invest in your infrastructure. Make the adjustment from garage to storage facility to warehouse in a timely manner. The cost increases, but many other things change that can actually help you save money and time too. For instance, when I moved from a storage facility to a warehouse we were able to clean 15 units in the time it took us to clean five units before. This was because we did not have to trailer them off sight lug around generators, bring cleaning supplies and many other things, then return them at the end of the day. These are the little things that can actually save you money when upgrading your infrastructure.
7)Not hiring and training help in time
We all need to understand the history with our business and know the busy times from the slow ones. For instance, I am in Texas and January is the slowest month of the year. February is busier but still slow and March takes off. It is imperative that I use January to train my existing employees and see where we stand and February to hire new employees and have them trained so we are ready to work in March. If I wait until March I do not have the time to hire and train before their services are needed. Be prepared to get ahead of the curve, it will keep your stress level down.
8)Not adding new inventory each year
I remember having about 5 to 7 units and things were going well. I decided to add to my inventory obstacles and water slides rentals. For me, that addition was magical. I started receiving phone calls from a whole different type of clientele, schools and churches. As you add different types of products it opens the door for different types of customers. Also refreshing your current bounce house rental inventory keeps your current customers happy as well. This is another way to keep customers looking forward to the “next thing” in your inventory too.