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How to Start a Jumper Company

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jumper company, jump house, jumpy houses, party inflatables, buy moonwalks

Setting up your Bouncer Business

Now that you've decided to move forward there are many decisions to be made on how to set up your jumper compnay. The following is a checklist of issues that need to be addressed in order to move forward.

Where will you operate your moonwalk business from?

 The best place to store your jump house is your garage, because there is no additional overhead and you can spend your money on growing your business instead of rent. You might be able to write off part of your home expenses as long as they are business related. Check with your accountant to see which expenses apply.

If you live in an apartment or in an area with a homeowners association you might need to rent a storage facility. A storage unit is less expensive than a warehouse and requires no additional overhead such as electricity, water, gas, etc. Check with the storage rental companies in your area regarding their time restrictions. You will likely need to negotiate the hours in order to accommodate your weekend schedule. Storage companies are generally flexible.

If you must get a storage room, it is best to find a location which is central to the area where you plan to distribute your jump houses, as opposed to close to home. If you live on one side of a large town and intend to deliver to the entire area, you will do less driving if your pivotal point is in the center or near a major thoroughfare. For example: if you discover that your customer needs a generator, or that you left your hand truck it will be faster to if you are central or near a major artery. It could mean the difference from being on time to being late to your next customer.

After you have twenty-five + units, its time to consider opening a warehouse.

How many Jumpers should you start with?

Much of this decision is determined by available funds. Although funding is discussed later, at this point we will only discuss the practical side of numbers. When deciding how many units to purchase initially it would be good to fist look at what you are planning to use to deliver and how many trucks are available to you.

A small pickup (Ford Ranger or a Chevy S-10) can easily accommodate 3 jump houses at one time. A large truck (Ford F-150 or a Chevrolet half ton) can accommodate 5 jumps at a time. While a smaller truck can return to reload, a large truck is full and will keep you busy all day. (Units aren't necessarily one rented one per day; if the times are well slotted they can be rented up to three times per day, but this is rate).

Rule of thumb is to only schedule one delivery per hour of one pickup per hour, even though it is sometimes possible to do more. Frequently a delivery will require additional time. When scheduling drivers, one driver can usually handle 4 deliveries per day. Although at times it will be necessary to schedule 5 or 6. It is not unheard of to deliver 8 in one day, but that is extreme and a long hard day that begins early and ends late.

Delivery time: it take a minimum of 10 minutes to set up a inflatable moonwalk, if it's clean; if the renter has predetermined the location and the location is easy to get to.

Pickup time: It takes a minimum of 20 minutes to clean a jump, deflate it and get it into the back of your pickup.

You bounce house company name

When deciding on a name, pick something that isn't already listed in the phone book. You want something fun, colorful and upbeat that will be easily remembered by customers.

Looking in a thesaurus might be helpful under happy or jump or kids. Many customers like to incorporate their own name in the title for example: Kenny's Jumpers, Smith's Inflatables, or Mikes jumper compnay. Another idea is to use names from children's fairy tales or nursery rhymes like, Bo Peep's Bouncers, Jumping Jack's or Tom Thumb's Tumblers. Don't use anything that is a trademarked item, otherwise you will have to change it down the road.

Consider your choice carefully, customers think that a name change implies that you have changed or services or raised your prices. If they are returning to you they want the reassurance that you are still offering the same reliable service and the same prices.

Getting a business license for your jumper company

City buildings or the town hall are the usual locations to purchase a business license. Normally it cost around $25.00 - $55.00 but it varies from city to city. Look in your blue or government pages under the listing business licenses. You will need to purchase a license for rental equipment to offer inflatable moonwalk to local parks and larger events.

If you are opening the business on your own or with your spouse you will need a sole proprietor license, which means that you have no outside partners. If you do have partners you will be listed as a partnership.

To incorporate or not to incorporate

Incorporation is not necessary when you initially open your business, however advisable. Your accountant will recommend incorporation. The benefits of incorporation are the protections of your personal assets and also a lower tax bracket but to further understand incorporations, the difference between C, S and LLC please do a cost and benefit calculation with your CPA and make your best judgment. 

Example: A customer, Sue Happy, rented an inflatable moonwalk from you. The kids got wild and someone was seriously injured. Sue files a claim against your insurance which is a standard million dollar policy; Sue's attorney decided that a million dollars isn't enough. If you aren't incorporated, the attorney and Mrs. Happy will sue for your personal assets, your house, your boat or your savings, and she can go after your business. If you're incorporated she can only sue for your business assets.

Ask your accountant about an S-corporation or an LLC (limited liability Corporation). These corporations are designed for small business and your money only taxed once.

An attorney may charge upwards of $1000 dollars to fill out and file the incorporation paperwork for you. It is somewhat costly but if you can, it's advisable. It's less expensive if you go to the corporation commission and the paperwork yourself. It will cost around $60. to file and an additional $300 to run in the newspaper. The forms are self-explanatory and the clerks will answer any of your questions.You can also looking into a document filling business were there job is to file your paperwork for you with a small cost. This may be the most economical and cheapest approach. 

If you are opening your moonwalk business as a partnership you most definitely want to incorporate.

Setting up your bank account

Finding good bank rates requires time on the phone. Try at least 4 banks to find the best rates, paying particular attention to monthly fees and any minimums they require.

Credit Unions offer very good rates but not all credit unions handle business accounts. If you belong to a credit union, call them first.

Remember, your relationship with the bank is paramount. This is a relationship that will probably last for as long as the business is in operation so choose carefully.

Credit cards, Cash, Checks & Deposits

You might be tempted to start off taking only cash, many jump house businesses do. In doing so you may give the impression that you are not running a legitimate business.

Checks are a risk and many companies have been burned by customers who've written bad checks. They are a standard form of payment and if you intend to take checks it's a good idea to have an attorney on binder to write letters to those who are not inclined to make good on their bad checks. In some states writing bad checks is prosecutable and the state will go after the writer of the bad check, the process is free, but slow.

Credit cards are an expense, but convenient for the customer. Credit cards will cost you a percentage of your receipt, how much of a percentage is determined by several variables.

The rate given to you by the credit card service.

Whether you swipe the card or punch in the number. (Punching is more expensive)

On the up side customers tend to spend more when using credit cards and you know if the credit card is good immediately.

You won't necessarily need a credit card service until you have the higher priced rental equipment or require a deposit.

Deposits to rent a jump house for an event are required in some areas. However, if you run the business out of your home they are inconvenient. This is the instance where an office is good. You don't necessarily want to parade the customers in and out of your house so that they can drop off deposits. Unfortunately customers are generally disinclined to mail deposit, although some companies have had success with requesting a mailed deposit. If you intend to require a deposit it's more practical if you have a credit card service.

If you decide that you want to accept credit cards call around for merchant services. Bank fees are usually higher than merchant services. Pay close attention to the monthly fees and ask for a reduction; fees are negotiable.

Phone services

You will need a way for customers to find out about your business; a phone with a yellow pages listing is initially the best way for them to locate you. The first step is to find out when the new directories are released; in most areas there is more than one directory to choose from. It might be wise to plan your grand opening around the time the new yellow pages are released with your ad. There are other forms of advertising your inflatable moonwalk that will be discussed later, but having a phone book ad requires the least amount of effort and initially gets the most results.

You can easily change your home number to a business line just by calling the phone company. The advantage of doing this is that even if you don't purchase an ad you will still be listed in the yellow pages under your party supplies heading. Having a business line will cost you around $10 extra a month but your first party will more that cover the cost. Our might consider adding an additional phone line to your home, if you intend to operate out of your home.

Handling the phones yourself is preferred since you can answer any questions the customer might have and schedule their party immediately. If you intend to use your home phone, instruct family member to answer with the company name. IE : "Hello this is Susan with Happy Jumper. How can I help you?"

If there isn't anyone available to answer the phone it presents another problem. Do you get a message machine, have the phones forwarded to your cell, use a beeper or hire an answering service.

Some customers are reluctant to leave messages with their private information on an answering machine, it is a step above using a beeper number, which is very unprofessional and discourages customers from calling at all.

Cell phones have become an industry norm; however, they are not always reliable. Answering services are more expensive, (you are charged by the minute) but more dependable and more professional.

One idea is to pay an elderly friend $5.00 for every rental they schedule and is successfully delivered. It gives them extra money and they are home anyhow. Some home based companies also use this five dollar strategy to motivate their children to answer the phone

Moonwalks Insurance

Liability insurance requirements vary from state to state, town to town. Most likely you will need a million or a two million policy for your inflatables, with the ability to add additional insured's. The price of this insurance varies.

Additional insured's may be required for bounce houses used by larger companies, schools, or parks. What this means is that they have a copy of your policy listing their name, Big City Public Schools , as an additional insured, on your policy. Insurance companies will either charge for this service in one flat fee or per addition, it depends on the carrier. Ask in advance about the charges for adding additional insured's. You will need from 3-10 additional insured's per year, and as your business grows so will that number.

The best place to start looking for insurance for your inflatable moonwalks and business is your local insurance broker; however, there are national insurance brokers that handle inflatable insurance listed in the back of this booklet.

To see a list of companies that provide inflatable insurance please click here.

Contacting the parks

Parties are often held in the city and county parks were jump houses are a must. Requirements for setup in the parks can be obtained through the parks department in your community. The following are the details you need to know about parks in your area.

Do they allow inflatables?

Are there any size restrictions or inflatables?

Do the parks require you to add them as additional insured?

Do they have electrical outlets and can they be used for moonwalks?

What are their hours of operation?

Can they provide you with maps of the parks?

If your parks allows inflatable moonwalk and have electrical outlets for the customers use, you need inform the customers that the blower requires a dedicated outlet. If they intend to plug in anything with a heating element to the outlet where your blower is plugged in it could blow the circuit. If the customer requires additional power suggest they rent a generator.

Determining chargeable and free-delivery areas

Determining the parameters of your delivery area depends on how densely populated your area is and how far your area is and how far you're willing to drive. Most of your day will be windshield time. First look at the map of your area and figure out how far you can go in any direction from your business location in twenty minutes. If it takes longer than twenty minutes to get there then add an additional $20 to $100 dollars for delivery. (If there are areas of the community that you feel are unpleasant you may want to remove them from your delivery zone immediately).

The best way to determine delivery charges is to find out what is currently being charged by your competitors.

What to Charge

Never-never go lower than the going rate. You have an advantage, your units are new, your business is new and you can charge whatever you want. If you start high it's very easy to go down, and more difficult to go up.

As business owners we tend to over estimate what we will earn and underestimate what our expenses will be. Many new business owners are prone to go into panic mode immediately and feel that the only way they can get business is undercutting the competition, please rethink. This short-sightedness is what drives down the prices and destroys the market. You will have customers; you don't have to be the cheapest jumpers  in town. If you want to offer value, put a coupon in the paper or offer a grand opening special, don't sell down the price. Someone will come into that very same market and do the same to you.

Remember, there are customers being born every second and plenty of work for everyone. Keep the rates healthy, make lots of money and don't war out your equipment before it's paid for.

Purchasing Equipment needed to operate your Business

The following is a list of equipment you will need in addition to the inflatable moonwalk; forms will be discussed later in this booklet.

Truck (or vehicle with tow bar and trailer)

Heavy duty hand truck with fenders (1 per truck)

5lb sledge hammer (1 per truck)

Sandbags (4 per inflatable)

100ft heavy duty extension cords with reels (1 per blower)

Legal size metal notebook (1 per truck)

Ground tarps (1 per inflatable)

Hand-held vacuum 1.5 HP with 20ft cord & power strip (1 per truck)

Clean Rags

Diluted Orange cleaner in spray bottle (approx 1 cup concentrate per gallon of water)

To attend or not to attend

When setting up your first interactive games at a park or someone's home it's hard to just walk away and leave your investment sitting there. . . vulnerable. You might be tempted to have an attendant stay with your jumper just to protect your investment. But isn't that what you wanted to avoid, swapping your time for money? It limits the number of units you can put up in a weekend. If you have a large family or only 1 unit you might want to consider requiring an attendant. Attending 100% of the time is easier in theory than in reality.

Some insurance companies will offer a discount if you intend to attend. However there is logical argument that if you attend and something happens you are responsible, (it was your responsibility to insure that the jumpers were playing safe). If you don't attend and something happens, the customer has to prove that the equipment was faulty, (it is their responsibility to tend the jumpers).

You might compromise and offer attending as an option for $20 dollars + per hour for larger events.

Organizations you business should belong to

An association called the IIPG&A or International Inflatable Products & Games Association has been formed and should be helpful with news and information (407-438-8813)

If there isn't an association in your area there is one you might want to look into called ASPIRE Entertainment Group (1-888-394-5692) they are located in Southern Arizona but currently are expanding into other parts of the country.

Your local Chamber of Commerce will no doubt contact you, depending on the size of your community you may want to join. Joining the chamber can be on the costly side. However through the chamber you get information like the new businesses which are opening in your area and the sizes of the businesses that belong. Grand openings and company picnics are events that often use jumpers.

There is also an organization called IAAPA, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The tradeshow produced by IAAPA is in November every year and is the largest in the world. You can find IAAPA online at If you decide to get into the business of renting inflatables you should plan to attend the IAAPA tradeshow at some point. It offers the latest, most innovative inflatables on the market at the very best prices. The venue for IAAPA changes occasionally so visit the website for the most recent information.

Your Website

Having a website for your jump housesis becoming the norm. Analysts predict that in the not so distant future we as a society will do most of out shopping and errands online. Change is the fundamental nature of out culture; 20 years ago the World Wide Web was unheard of. 30 years ago no one had a PC, answering machine, cable television, or cell phone. 100 years ago if you wanted to travel across the country you would board a train.

The point is that people change their habits as innovations come along to make life more convenient. The ability to see the bounce house before it is delivered and possible schedule the unit online at your leisure is more convenient. It is information at your fingertips.

Having a website for your jumper compnay will only cost you in the area of $25 per month. It is an inexpensive form of advertising. There are many web designers available, some more costly than others. It's best to work with someone familiar with the industry, who might make suggestions on how to set up your site to enable your customers to access the information they are most interested in. Industry trained web designers are listed in the back of this book.

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