8 Essentials for Starting a Bounce House Business
Many people dream of starting their own business venture. There are many possibilities when it comes to creating your own business from scratch. One great way to start a business is to launch a bounce house rental operation. With literally thousands of birthday parties and events taking place in your area each year, the possibilities of renting commercial-grade inflatables are nearly endless.
Starting a bounce house rental operation can be filled with challenges, including establishing a market, sourcing quality products, and providing impeccable service to customers. To achieve financial stability in your venture, there are several “best practices”, or essentials in launching your own business. In this guide, we’ll share our 8 essentials for starting a bounce house business, giving you the information you need to be a success.
Party Rental Business Basics
Before we delve into the nuts and bolts of starting a bounce house rental operation, it can be valuable to learn about some of the many benefits of working for yourself. As might be imagined, there are several primary benefits related to starting an inflatables rental business. The first is financial freedom; owning your own business can be incredibly rewarding, and with the right amount of hard work and dedication, your business will flourish. Many people start small business operations as a way of supplementing their income, but discover that the rentals business is fully capable of replacing or even surpassing the income one might receive from a job.
Another benefit of owning your own rental company is the fun and festive nature of the business itself – there’s something to be said about adding joy to any event and delivering entertainment to young people. Your business is helping create fond memories, and that is a reward that simply can’t be beat.
Essential 1: Getting Started with Market Research
In any business, understanding your market and your competition is a smart strategic move. For rental operations, there is likely to be competition for customers, with established companies in most communities. If there are no other companies in your area, you may be able to create your own market niche, or you may discover that there is no demand for your services. In either case, studying prevailing market conditions makes sense. You can learn about your competitors with the goal of determining what you can do differently or better to help your new company stand out.
As you gather information before launching your business, here are some items to consider:
- How much money will you need to invest?
- Where will you source your products?
- What other resources will you need to make your business a success?
- What are the regulatory or legal requirements for owning an inflatables rental company?
- Will you need some form of accident or liability insurance?
- Will you have time to operate your new business in addition to work and family life?
- What is your ultimate goal – to work full-time or simply to supplement your existing income?
Essential 2: Addressing Business and Operational Licenses
Each state has its own regulations regarding business ownership. The city in which you live may also have specific requirements. It is imperative to not only understand the regulations, but to secure any and all business licenses before proceeding with the launch of your new company. To obtain a license, you may need to decide whether to form a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company (LLC), among other business models. It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney well-versed in business law to determine which business model is right for your needs.
Because inflatables are considered amusements in some states, those states may require a rider permit issued through a ride safety agency. Rider permits may be issued after initial inspection of the inflatables and/or periodic safety inspections as the business operates.
Essential 3: Insurance Considerations
Related to business licenses is the potential need for some form of insurance, both to protect your business interests as well as your customers if an accident should occur. Some states may require a commercial liability insurance policy to be in place before issuing business licenses; consult an insurance professional in your area to see what, if any, policy coverages you may be required to obtain by law. Liability insurance is a smart way of protecting your hard-earned investments from the losses associated with legal claims.
Essential 4: Establishing a Market
Now that you’ve studied prevailing market conditions and have come up with a game plan, it’s time to establish yourself in your new marketplace. How can that be achieved? Creating a customer base used to require expensive print and/or television advertising, but innovative advertising can now be achieved with a few clicks of the mouse. Social media promotion is a cost-effective way of reaching a target audience; by creating profiles on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you can let others know about your new rental operation at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.
Don’t disregard word-of-mouth advertising – this can be a gold mine of opportunity. When you have great products and great service, your customers will recommend you to others. To help build company awareness, you can also introduce yourself to schools and organizations in your area and let them know about your rental services. In a short amount of time and with only a small investment, your new company will be the talk of the town.
Essential 5: Purchasing Commercial-Grade Inflatable Products
As a new rental business operator, you know that the quality of the inflatables you rent is the foundation of your entire operation. Purchasing bouncers, slides, and inflatable interactives represents a large part of the initial financial outlay for starting your business, and there can be a strong temptation to save money. The best advice for this is: don’t skimp on quality. Find a reputable manufacturer with the experience and the know-how to produce top-quality inflatable products. U.S.A.-based manufacturers use superior materials and construction methods to ensure lasting performance. These manufacturers also test extensively for safety, and adhere to rigorous industry safety standards.
Because these inflatable products are the customer-facing feature of your business, their quality says a lot about who you are and how you do business. As an added bonus, quality inflatables have much longer lifespans than their inexpensive counterparts. While the initial costs may be a bit higher, the inflatables will pay for themselves in durability and reduced upkeep.
Essential 6: Transportation and Storage Considerations
As you launch your business and expand your inventory of inflatables, you must take into account how those inflatables will be delivered to customers and how they will be stored between rentals. Smaller operations may only require the cargo capacity of a van or similar vehicle like a pickup truck, while larger businesses may need a panel or box truck to deliver multiple inflatables. Be sure to have heavy-duty dollies or handtrucks to handle the inflatables during delivery and storage operations – each vehicle should have at least one on hand.
If you have a home garage with room to spare, storing the inflatables between uses is not an issue; for those without room, renting storage space is a must. Storage is relatively inexpensive to obtain, but is one of the overhead expenses many new business owners tend to overlook.
Essential 7: Setting Rental Prices
There are many considerations to take into account when determining the pricing of your rentals. The best step is to look at the competition and see what they are charging for their services. It is a temptation to undercut competitors, but you don’t have to — as long as your prices are comparable based on service and quality.
Rental costs should cover several aspects, including providing sufficient funding for:
- Start-up costs
- Maintenance costs
- Employee salaries
- Overhead costs (storage rental/vehicle upkeep/insurance/etc.)
For an inflatables rental business, typical price structures are set for hourly, half-day, or full-day rentals. There may also be a difference between weekday and weekend pricing; higher demand on weekends can mean a slightly higher rental fee. You must determine if delivery and setup costs are included in the rental price, or if those are add-on charges for customers.
Essential 8: Commit to Outstanding Customer Service
It has been said that customer service is a dying art among businesses. The companies that deliver superior customer service are the ones that stand out from their competitors. As you begin to operate your new business, it is important to put customer needs first. Remember: your customers are your most important asset as a business owner, and you should do everything possible to ensure your customers have a positive experience with your company. Satisfied customers become repeat customers, and those who are satisfied also tend to share information about your business with friends and family.
There are many steps to take when launching a business, and many challenges and hurdles in store for the new inflatables rental entrepreneur. With some hard work and the essential tips above, you will be well on your way to success in this fun, exciting, and rewarding new business career. To learn more, visit the Jungle Jumps free eBook on starting and operating your rental business by clicking here, or access the range of information resources provided by FunWorld Bouncers here.
Brian Johnson is a 25-year veteran in the bounce house and inflatable rental business space. We’d like to thank him for coming on as a guest author.