Since having my son, I've become a sort of a detective. I research shirt materials before buying it for him, okay I didn't but you get the idea. As I was planning his first birthday, I did a lot of searching for the right party rental company and there was always something I didn't like, either they weren't clean, prices too high, too far, or my favorite, awful customer service. So I made the decision to start my own company in the hopes no other parent (especially single parent) wouldn't have the extra added headaches that I went through.
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So what exactly you need to start a home party rental business?
1) Make a business plan: Have an idea exactly what you want, how much time you have to dedicate to your business. Let's be honest if you don't have the time to put a plan together, your are going to be in big trouble.
2) Market research: I know this sounds obvious, but an often neglected or not well thought out part. You have to know your surroundings, another word, study your competitors. What is the going to rate on a bounce house, how congested is the area, what seems to be the trend in your area etc...
3) This sort of goes with the first one, but know your budget. I read a lot of places that states you can start with just $5,000 and I say they are INSANE. Don't get me wrong, you could get a lot done with that amount but you will be pulling your hair out once you start paying fees, licenses, and not to mention buying your units.
4) Research, research, research the manufactures for your unit purchases. They are hundreds out there. Understand the terms Made in the USA, Vinyl, Commercial strength, blowers, generators, warranties, unit size, etc...SIOTO is a great place to start. They offer training and certification where you can get a real good understanding of inflatables, slides, and mechanical rides.
5) Get acquainted with your state rules and laws in respect to running an inflatable business. In south Florida, you need to register your business with the State, get a City license and County license.
6) Research, research, research insurance companies. This is the second costly part of your business so know what you need and don't need. (s/n: Don't just get the liability, also get Inland Marine, which covers your units. That stuff is expensive so protect them just in case).
7) You are going to need a place to store your units. When you just starting and you're most likely going to have just a few things, a decent size storage is good enough. Warehouses spaces are expensive. (s/n: Check with your city in respect to what address you can use for your "mailing" and city license. Like Miramar, Florida are very strict about what address you can use).
(you see why you need to know your budget)
8) You are going to need a website and business cards. They are plenty of sites that offer "free website design" check them out before putting out thousands for a custom build one. (s/n: If you have a name for your company, you better register it fast. Register the domain name with GoDaddy or any other, and Register your fictitious name with your state). It stops others from using your name and you want to make sure you're not using someone else name.
9) (FUN STUFF) as you start to look for your bounces houses and stuff, I found it easier to purchase a "package" deal, better prices. Try to stay away from the theme-bounce houses, for now. I mean what if you buy a Disney Cars bounce because your kid loves Cars but you never rent it out because your customer just want a plain bounce house. that unit will be sitting there collecting dust. remember you want to have at least a few hundreds left to buy at least one to two fun food machines (which are not cheap either). (s/n: You can negotiate the package price, they are looking to make sell.). Things are going to start off slow, so don't limit your business by having specific designs that are hard to rent.
10) Market, Promotion, Market, Promotion. Start letting your family and friends know of your business. They will be your first customers. Create a Facebook business page. Insert you business wherever and whenever possible in your life. Marketing is expensive and word of mouth always work, you just have a lot of talking to do. Pass out your business cards. Leave them EVERYWHERE.
(Do you still have any hair left)
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11) Your accountant will be your best friend (yes, you need one) keep meticulous records of your business both expenses and profits. You still need to file your quarterly taxes even if you're not claiming any profits. Uncle Sam wants to know everything.
It all sounds like a lot of work, it is, but once you get all the paper, legal, and boring stuff out of the way, all you have to do is focus on marketing. That sometimes gets stressful because of lack of money, but surf the web and look for low to free ways to market your business and don't give up.