Blast Zone, the leader in inflatable products, has just launched the Air Drop Obstacle to their commercial lineup. This 260 degree obstacle course is versatile as it is perfect for indoor fun centers, rental companies, schools and recreation centers.
One of the best features of an obstacle course is the constant traffic flow. It allows riders to move swiftly and continuously to keep them active. Riders enter through the large arches and immediately turn left to a series of pop ups and climb overs. Once the rider has gone through all of the obstacle challenges they take a sharp to right and race up the climbing wall. At its peak, the climbing wall sits at approximately 10′ tall. There is only one way down the climbing wall and that is for the rider to race down the slide.
After completing the obstacle course, riders can exit the same way they entered or can take another lap through the course. What we really liked about this obstacle course was the fact it was challenging for kids of all ages. While the obstacles are not huge for older kids, they seem to really be challenged when we added timing them against the clock.
Just when we think we have seen it all, we are blown away with innovation. Blast Zone, a leading manufacture in commercial and residential inflatables has really outdone themselves with the creation of the Dragon Blast Inflatable.
They have taken a proven inflatable design in the Gator Island Water Park that was made for home use and transformed it into this commercial obstacles slide. This can be used both wet or dry making this a winner for both rental companies and indoor fun centers. At 23′ x 23′ and 14′ high, this will grab the attention of everyone. Riders begin by jumping in the dragons mouth and maneuvering through the teeth. From there, they scale up the back where they are greeted with sprayers if the unit is being used wet. Once at the peak of the dragons back there is only one way to go and that is down. Riders race down the back with the 20′ long slide curving slightly to their right. At the end of the slide they can soak in the pool area if it is being used wet, shoot some baskets in one of the two hoops or get back in line to experience the slide all over again. Kids love this ride!
We were fortunate to use the Dragon Blast at my youngest sons birthday party and to say it was a success would be an understatement. Full disclosure, this is a large item. It required a hand truck and two adults to setup. Setup was under 10 minutes and that included attaching the water hose as we used it wet. From the moment the water was turned on, we had a line of 10 plus kids waiting for their turn. With kids ranging from 3 years old to 16 years old, my favorite feature as a parent is the fully covered netting on the climbing wall and the slide. The netting not only serves as a safety piece but it provides some coverage from the hot sun. This is by no means going to prevent sunburn but it is an added bonus. I was a little surprised at how much time the kids spend in the pool area shooting hoops and splashing around. It was the first birthday party I have been to in which we had to force the kids to come eat cake.
This monster is ideal for rental companies as it is still very portable compared to other water slides. We would definitely recommend this item.
One of our popular brands has been Jumpfree Trampolines. We are excited to announce that it is back in stock and ready to ship.
Since the winter has been harsh on the East Coast, getting tons of snow, I know our kids are anxious to get outside and play. Outdoor activities are a must once the weather is nice and what a better way to release energy than by being on a trampoline.
Why choose a Jumpfree Trampoline? One great feature is that the springs and steel frame are constructed of rust-resistant galvanized steel to prevent rust and give your trampoline a longer life.
Another key feature is the safety pads are stitched and welded to protect from moisture. This is an added benefit, especially during the rainy season. Having children of my own, safety is a main concern. The safety enclosure system ensures optimal safety so I don’t have to worry about my kids falling off the trampoline while they are jumping.
The Jumpfree is available in several sizes such as 12ft, 14ft and 15ft models so you can find the perfect fit for your backyard. The weight limit on this trampoline is 250 lbs. This is nice because adults are welcome to bounce and have fun with their children and get exercise at the same time.
For more information regarding this trampoline please visit www.trampolinegiant.com.
In many parts of the country, spring rolls in after spending month entertaining the kids indoors and we are ready to get outside and play!! That tends to get many families thinking about new ways to fill those warm weather days with excitement. We go out and get new bikes, balls, sidewalk chalk even bounce houses. But one of the biggest spring purchases is a new swing set for the backyard. I think most of us go into making this major purchase with the intention of providing hours of fun for many years to come. The problem is that there are so many different manufacturers, features and even wood types that this can get very confusing. Websites like buyswingsets.com give a consumer so many great options and information. A great place to start is to determine if you are interested in a wooden swing set or a maintenance free swing set.
Wood or Maintence Free?
The choice of a traditional wooden swing set over maintenance free is really based on the amount of time you are willing to put into annual maintenance of the swing set. Most wooden swing sets are made with woods such as cedar and pine. These typically come factory stained and sealed. I compare this to building a wood deck off of the back of your home. An annual staining keeps the wood sealed and prolongs the life. Just as you would stain and seal a deck you would do the same to your swing set by easily purchasing the products from a local hardware store. There are manufacturers, Gorilla Playsets for example that offer a maintenance free poly coating on the main structural beams and posts. In that case, only the secondary wood would require the stain/sealant. If you are like many of us and are barely coming up with the time for simple daily tasks, a maintenance free swing set would be the better choice. Also referred to as plastic coated, maintenance free swing sets are just that. The lumber used to construct these units is coated with a plastic material. A popular brand, KidWise Congo Swing Sets uses a 100% Polymere coating. Not only does that mean no staining, it also makes the swing set splinter free! If the platforms or beams happen to look a bit dingy from the natural surroundings , a quick squirt of the garden hose can bring it back to life. Be prepared to spend more up front for this feature, but keep in mind you are not spending money on stain over the years.
Size Up Your Space
This is actually a critical step that is not always thought out as well as it should be. You may have an idea of an area in your yard that would be perfect for your new swing set, but that may not always be the case. First of all, is this space level? For proper performance of the swing set it will need to have all structural beams placed on a level surface. This may require adding some fill dirt to an area or raking out some dirt from another. The swing set posts are not buried into the ground, rather just sit on top of the surface so level is key. Next, make sure you have a large enough safety zone. The safety zone is the “fall area” around the swing set including the swings and bottom of the slides and ladders. Keep in mind how far in front and behind the set a swing will go as a child is gaining momentum. The same goes for a child coming down a slide with any significant speed, you would not want a structure such as a tree in close proximity. Referring to the website buyswingsets.com, they provide the overall dimensions of each swing set as well as the dimensions of the recommended safety zone for that particular model. That “safety zone” is the minimum size area required to install that swing set. This is your child’s safety please do not cut corners. After determining the size of the area you will need, it is time to think about the type of surface you will have under and around the set. Popular choices are wood chips, mulch, sand and pea gravel. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends 12 inches of the material of choice. It is not recommended to place the swing set on top of the lawn because this is not absorbent enough for a fall. Here is a link to some great safety information from the CPSC Playground Safety Checklist.
Swing sets have come so far over the years. Although still available, there are so many more choices than the basic metal set with a couple of swings and a slide. Let’s start with slides. The two most common slide choices include a wave slide and a tube slide. I ended up choosing a set that has both, but that is not always possible due to size and budget limitations. I like to have the option of the tube slide when it is the heat of summer and the temperature of the plastic traditional wave slide is nearing the possibility of a burn. Because the tube slide is fully enclosed it stays much cooler and can be used year round. Here is a great example of a swing set showing both options. Southampton Swing Set by Swing N Slide Next, lets talk about the swing beam. This is the beam across the swing set that positions the swings, trapeze, gliders ect. Smaller less expensive swing sets typically offer a 2 position swing beam. This means there are two sets of swing hangers allowing for two swings, a swing and a trapeze, a swing and a glider swing ect. When you get into a larger foot print you will begin to see three position swing beams. This gives you more flexibility in what to offer your children. Keep in mind there is a whole other market just for accessory add-ons for swing sets. Even if the set of your dreams doesn’t come with the toddler bucket swing you can easily purchase it at any given time. Here is a great page to give you an idea of options that are out there. Swing Set Accessories Finally, ask yourself if monkey bars are a must. This is the other main feature you need to consider. The thought of monkey bars was scarey to me as I remembered back to my childhood falls so I ended up opting out. That being said it is still an available option and appeals to many.
Installing a swing set can be done two ways. Do it yourself and the only fee is your blood sweat and tears, or hire an installer and sit in the comfort of your home watching the magic happen. Obviously hiring an installer comes with a price. Depending on the size of the set you choose you are looking at $150-$500 to install. We decided to do it ourselves. It took my husband, myself and my father a day and a half to build a Gorilla Great Skye I. The process was not bad at all. We began by laying out all of the wood in order on our lawn. We then set up a table and spread out all of the nuts and bolts in categories as the packages were labeled. This was actually the hardest part. From there it was simply following the amazing instruction manual page by page. As my father and husband were installing one piece I was looking ahead and finding the pieces need for the next page. The process was seamless. This decision is completely based on you comfort level. There are obviously very heavy pieces of wood for the beams and support posts so the more man power the better. I would not call it advanced DIY as the instructions made it seem very easy.
You Get What You Pay For
Budget can really be the driving factor that ultimately determines the swing set for you. Although we may want all the bells and whistles, they add up quickly. Prices of swing sets can reach over $5000 for certain model. This is not really a reasonable option for the majority of consumers. There are also models available in the $300 range. I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for. This is something that you should stretch your budget to the max. If that means $500, that’s ok!! There are great choices from companies like Backyard Discovery and Swing N Slide that are manufacturing quality products for that price. Make sure you are doing your research. Search around online, read reviews or even all the 800 number on a swing set website and pick their brains. That is what they are there for. Quite often buying from a smaller online retailer rather than one of the Big Box brand stores will offer you a much personal experience. These smaller websites are in the business of swing sets and that’s what they know. Use their knowledge!!
Our recent blog post Starting A Commercial Business gives general information to consider before getting into the party rental business. As a follow up to this article, we would like to get into some more specifics pertaining to geographical regions. With it warming up here in the southeast, we have decided to make this the emphasis of this post. That being said, please use this information as a generalization and apply what pertains to you. At this point we are going to assume that you have done your due diligence regarding the existing market conditions as well as setting up your business properly. If you have taken these steps, bookmark this post and come back to it. Lets move on to selecting the right product to get going. Most start up rental companies think about how hot the summers are and want to go all in on water slides. Not so fast. Even in Florida, the water slide rental business is a seasonal business. It is all relative. Don’t build your business model assuming that kids are going to willingly get wet in the winter months. On top of that, the size and weights of water slides make it more challenging to rent in general. This Shark Commercial Water Slide is a relative small to mid size slide.
Those water slides will gross $10,000. Quit a bit of a difference. We are not anti water slides by any means. They are important to every rental business, especially in warmer climates like the southeast. We are simply suggesting there is right and wrong time to add them to your business. In the bounce house model you would have no problem funding that water slide after the first season. If you are dead set on getting a water slide to begin with, we suggest looking at bouncer slide combos that can be used wet and dry. Your initial costs will be greater but you will recoup the cost through a higher rental frequency as well as a higher rental rate. Another thing to consider in a place like Florida, is using a Tropical theme. This Commercial Rainforest Rapids is a bounce house with two smaller slides. It can be used both wet and dry and caters to everyone. Besides choosing the correct style of products you have to consider the average yard size your rental demographic has. For example, homes in Orlando tend to have much smaller yards so many of our rental companies outfit their companies with 13′ x 13 bouncers instead of the industry norm 15′ x 15′. This is extremely import and has a direct effect on how many days you can rent your products. Lastly, do not take shortcuts when it comes to quality. Buy quality products from quality retailers. Made in the USA does not mean its better. Ask questions, do research and talk to the retailers. Doing your research on the front side will save you money in the long run. Remember, if the product you buys breaks down, you are not getting rental income. Things to look for are the material thickness, seem construction, warranty and cost.
Many retailers offer quantity discounts and rewards points. We have put together a board on Pinterest to give you some visual ideas.
That being said, you are talking about moving a 300 lbs slide when dry, who knows how much when it is wet. You also need to consider the amount of space your clients will need to inflate your products. In regards to this slide, the footprint is 12′ wide x 22′ long and would require a minimum space of 24′ x 34′. We might sound like a broken record but it is important for you to understand that the key to this business is renting your products out. If you decide to start with an initial investment of $5,000 and two inflatables you are on the right path for cash flow. However, if your two inflatables or even one for that matter is a water slide you are in big trouble. Sure you can command a bigger rental rate but if you are only able to rent the product 6 months out of the year, most of which will only be weekends because of school, you will struggle to recoup your initial investment. Lets do the math. Give me two bounce houses that can be rented out 100 days a year each at $125 each day. Those 2 inflatables will gross $25,000 annually. On the flip side, if you take the route of the water slides, lets assume they you can rent them 25 days each per year at $200 a day.
Those water slides will gross $10,000. Quit a bit of a difference. We are not anti water slides by any means. They are important to every rental business, especially in warmer climates like the southeast. We are simply suggesting there is right and wrong time to add them to your business. In the bounce house model you would have no problem funding that water slide after the first season. If you are dead set on getting a water slide to begin with, we suggest looking at bouncer slide combos that can be used wet and dry. Your initial costs will be greater but you will recoup the cost through a higher rental frequency as well as a higher rental rate. Another thing to consider in a place like Florida, is using a Tropical theme. This Commercial Rainforest Rapids is a bounce house with two smaller slides. It can be used both wet and dry and caters to everyone.
Besides choosing the correct style of products you have to consider the average yard size your rental demographic has. For example, homes in Orlando tend to have much smaller yards so many of our rental companies outfit their companies with 13′ x 13 bouncers instead of the industry norm 15′ x 15′. This is extremely import and has a direct effect on how many days you can rent your products. Lastly, do not take shortcuts when it comes to quality. Buy quality products from quality retailers. Made in the USA does not mean its better. Ask questions, do research and talk to the retailers. Doing your research on the front side will save you money in the long run. Remember, if the product you buys breaks down, you are not getting rental income. Things to look for are the material thickness, seem construction, warranty and cost.
Many retailers offer quantity discounts and rewards points. We have put together a board on Pinterest to give you some visual ideas.
One of our most popular questions each spring is, “I want to start a bounce house rental company. What do I need to do?” Starting and owning your own rental business can be a rewarding venture but make no mistake about it, it takes a strong plan and hard work. This is not a get rich quick business. We try and help our clients create long term revenue streams.
If you are still reading, you must still be interested. What we have found over the years that there are concepts that apply across the board for starting a rental business and then there are things that are unique to each individual business. In this article we are going to start with the basics and follow up with concepts that can be unique to starting your rental business based on geography. Lets get started.
I hear this all the time: “I am starting my bounce house business and I want to do so with 10 inflatables.” Stop right there. This is critical error number one. While many retailers will be happy to sell you 10 inflatables to get you business off the ground, the likely hood of you ever buying another unit is low as well as your success rate. Why? Because you are tying up capital into inflatables that most likely will be sitting in storage. Write this down: You only make money when your products are renting. Now say it out loud. You only make money when your products are renting. This statement needs to be the mission statement of your business. Lets analyze this statement. Lets assume that you start you business buying 10 inflatables at an average price of $2,000 so a total of $20,000. Obviously there are other start up cost but we are only discussing initial inflatable equipment. Lets assume that you are renting two inflatables out on Saturday and two inflatables out on Sunday every week for the first 12 weeks at $100 a day each. (Rental rates vary per area, I chose $100 to keep the math simple). Your rental income is $400 a week and $4,800 for the entire 12 weeks. While you will have other business expenses, lets also assume that you apply that entire $4,800 to start up debt. You are now in the whole $15,200 on top of other expenses you have incurred. Not a pretty picture. Your motivation will decrease. If we take the above scenario and switch it to purchasing 2 inflatable units at an average price of $2,000 so a total of $4,000, you will actually see a small profit from your hard work. Lets keep in mind that it is not as simple as the two scenarios I laid out above. Obviously if you have 10 inflatables you will have some days that you will rent 3 or 4 units but the best thing you can do when starting a new business is decrease you margin of error.
More confused than ever? Not a problem. This is what we recommend our clients. Start your business with 2 to 3 inflatables to get started. If they are renting out consistently and you are turning away business, add more. This is a great problem to have. Much better than the alternative. We also recommend starting off with generic themed items such as castles like theses:
While you might find these boring, that is irrelevant. The bottom line is these will appeal to the masses. Lets say you have every inflatable rented out for this Saturday accept the Little Mermaid Bounce House that you had to have. You get a phone call for a party rental for a 10-year-old boy. I bet you wish you had that plain old castle now. Remember: You only make money when your products are renting! By the time you are ready to expand your business you will know exactly what “specialty” units your customer will want.
What else do you need to get started? It all begins with a local attorney. You need to seek expert advise. Do not skip this formality because you don’t want to pay the hourly fee. They will be able to advise you about incorporating and starting a business legally wherever you live as well as create the ever so popular rental agreement. Since we are talking about rental agreements, never ever use a rental agreement from someone else. This does not protect you. Make sure your attorney creates a rental agreement to protect YOU! Any retailer that is offering you a rental agreement with the products should not be looked at as an industry expert.
While inflatables are my area of expertise, there are several other things you will need to start your business as well as other categories to keep in mind as you grow. Here is my quick checklist to get started:
- Inflatables (see above)
- Hand Truck – It must be a heavy-duty dolly that can handle a minimum of 600 lbs along with a wider base and tongue
- Rental Agreements
- Rental Insurance
- Vehicle or Trailer to transport
- Cleaning Supplies (Please refer to an earlier article we wrote about Cleaning Your Bounce House)
- A power source (Either outlets or generators. Generators can be an additional revenue stream)
Other possibilities in the party rental business are:
- Tables and Chairs
- Concessions (Popcorn Machines, Sno Cone Machines and Cotton Candy Machines)
We have put together a board on Pinterest to give you some visual ideas. Please follow us on all social media outlets. Stay tuned for our follow-up post that will dive into some differences we see starting a rental business based on geography.
Please visit us at: BounceHousesNow.com
Blast Zone has just released a larger version of their popular Roaring Rainforest. This 18′ commercial inflatable slide can be used either wet or dry. This beauty is the perfect center piece to an indoor fun center or the crown jewel for your rental business. Riders climb up the center ladder to the top platform in which they can choose the left or the right slide. Once at the top they can race side by side down the 22’7″ long slide. On those hot summer days this slide is awesome with a little water added to the mix. If you plan on using this inflatable dry, we recommend adding some sliding mats to make for a more enjoyable experience.
An added bonus for the Roaring Slide (both the regular and this 18′ version) is that you can change the them of this inflatable by adding different art panels. Currently, Blast Zone offers art panels in 10 different themes ranging from Birthday to Space to Jungle. For more information regarding this inflatable slide, please visit us at BounceHousesNow.com