How To Choose Inventory & Equipment For Your Bounce House Business
So what rental equipment should you buy to start out with? The biggest mistake you can make is buying what your future competitors have. Many of your businesses have items on their website’s that do not rent well. Most new operators make the mistake of looking at what other websites have and buying whatever they think looks nice. BIG MISTAKE! Much of what you should be buying depends on your location among other factors but here’s a general guide guide of what you should start with.
What To Buy For Your Bounce House Business:
- Wet/Dry Bounce House Slide Combos: If you’re getting into inflatables then this is definitely what you want to start off with. They are great Summer renters and can also be used in the colder months. Customers love the perceived value of “2 in 1” since it’s a bounce house with a slide. Many units are even considered 3 in 1, 4 in 1, and we’ve even seen 7 in 1 units that include double slides, basketball hoops, pop ups, and more.
- Water Slides: Great summer renters.
- Obstacle Courses: Popular for schools and churches but wouldn’t recommend buying one your first year. You want to start with items that go out frequently. You can easily rent out 10 bounce house combos for every 1 obstacle course so be mindful of items that take up space but don’t get rented often. It’s easy to fall into the mentality of wanting to have at least 1 of everything so you don’t turn away any calls, but this way of thinking ultimately hurts your bottom line.
- Inflatable Interactive Games: Popular for schools and churches but wouldn’t recommend buying one your first year or two. You want to start with items that go out frequently. You can easily rent out 20 bounce house combos for every 1 interactive so be mindful of items that take up space but don’t get rented often. It’s easy to fall into the mentality of wanting to have at least 1 of everything so you don’t turn away any calls, but this way of thinking ultimately hurts your bottom line.
- Dunk Tanks: Dunk tanks have a lot of potential and are usually easy to set up since they are usually designed for “drop and go”. But they usually need to be towed so you often have to decide between towing a dunk tank or a trailer. You can place the dunk tank in the trailer too (there are also collapsible dunk tanks) but you have to consider how often they get rented out. You want to start with items that go out frequently. You can easily rent out 10 bounce house combos for every 1 dunk tank so be mindful of items that take up space but don’t get rented often. It’s easy to fall into the mentality of wanting to have at least 1 of everything so you don’t turn away any calls, but this way of thinking ultimately hurts your bottom line.
- Mechanical Bull: While there is demand for mechanical bulls, the safety and insurance requirements make them highly NOT RECOMMENDED for newer operators. Insurance costs skyrocket for having one of these in your inventory and they are high risk when it comes to injuries. From a logistical standpoint you’ll need to leave an attendant to operate the bull so these are good rental items to add to your inventory when you have a large amount of staff.
- Games: These are great addons to build up your order. The most popular options are Giant Connect 4 and Giant Jenga. Most games can be purchased on Amazon and require little maintenance.
- Concessions: Cotton candy, snow cone, and pop corn machines are the top 3 addons that you’ll find on most websites. They’re honestly overrated and require a lot more work than they’re worth. After offering them for 5 years, we decided to discontinue them because the cleaning and repairs (usually due to poor handling during loading/unloading) just weren’t worth what we could charge.
- Tables & Chairs: While there are many addons you can add to your inventory, tables and chairs are the what your customers will ask about most. But should you rent out tables and chairs? It’s a very tough call because while they are in high demand, you have to rent out a high volume of them to be profitable and the space, cleaning, and transportation requirements make them a big hinderance on smaller companies. I personally would recommend you start with no more than (8) 6′ folding tables that you can get from Walmart or Sams Club and 50 black chairs from a company like Tent and Table.
- Tents: If there’s one thing you need to approach with TONS of caution, it’s tents. Tents can be a great source of revenue and are typically in high demand. But they also come with high risk since they can collapse and serious injury can occur if you make a mistake during setup. They also require a larger team than inflatables do so it’s important to consider how much help you actually have and the level of experience your helpers bring to the company. Hiring high school kids may work for inflatables but you’ll need to make sure that those setting up your tents are more mature/responsible.
- Foam Machines: Create an experience rather than just renting out an item. There are drop and go foam machine and staffed foam machines that are meant to create an experience rather than a rental item.
- Yard Cards: Grew in popularity after Covid. Good addon item but challenging to store/keep track of.
Where to buy:
Here’s a list of manufacturers, their website, and in stock lists if they have them. It’s important to know when you’re order will ship as sometimes it can take 6-9 months for you to receive your order.
Things to look out for:
- Ship dates: When will your items ship?
- Reviews: What kind of reputation does the company have?
- Insurance: Is the company insured in case someone gets hurt due to manufacturing defects?
- Warranty: Will the company cover repairs/replacement due to manufacturing defects? For how long?