Running the Bases with Small Businesses

3 Monkeys Inflatables - Inflatable Rentals

March 07, 2022 Randy Rohde & Pam & Steve Corsner Season 2 Episode 13
Running the Bases with Small Businesses
3 Monkeys Inflatables - Inflatable Rentals
Show Notes Transcript

Running the Bases today with Pam & Steve Corsner the Founders of 3 Monkeys Inflatables - a PA-based Entertainment company.  For 15 plus years, Pam & Steve have been building their entertainment business of inflatables, party rentals, extreme games, and mechanical rides.  

Starting from the garage with three inflatables - 3 Monkeys has grown to offer over 300 inflatable products, party rentals (think tables, tents, chairs, etc) mechanical rides, and extreme games - rock climbing walls, Euro Bungie Jumping!

We talk about the challenges of growing a business, investing everything back into the business, and finding the right team members to make it happen.  Delivering incredible customer service is a major component of success.  

Check out the meaning behind the name - “3 Monkeys”

Learn more about
3 Monkeys Inflatables and Bounce House Rentals York  at https://www.3monkeysinflatables.com/


Get Local SEO and Digital Marketing information from 38 Digital Market

Listen and subscribe to our show on
iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcast, iHeart Radio, Pandora or TuneIn.

Follow 38 Digital Market on our Social Accounts:

Facebook

LinkedIn

Twitter

Youtube

Instagram

Follow our guest today at:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Pinterest

Youtube


Randy:

I'm Randy Rohde and I'm fascinated with entrepreneurs and small business owners. Plus I love baseball. Every show I sit down with the small business owner and we discuss their running the basis of entrepreneurship. We throw the ball around on strategy management, execution and innovation, plus a little fun baseball. Hey, thanks for joining us today. Settle in, grab your cracker jacks and you know what they say? And it's a great day for Apollo game. This is Randy Rohde and you've got running the bases with small businesses. And today we are talking to a couple they're in business together, not just a couple they're married actually. And I think you guys are celebrating like 26 years together, even this summer, which is kind of fun. So congratulations on that. But you guys have been in business since 2007, so that's. 15 years. And as I was saying, what I think is a fun industry. But I'd say because you've got a great product, but I also know that it's a lot of work. You guys are in the inflatable business, but before we hit that, I'm super excited to have Pam and Steve from three monkeys inflatables. Welcome to the show. Pam's.

Pam:

I thank you very much. We appreciate that.

Randy:

Yeah. So, married 26 years. That's that's quite a feat. You have some, some marriage advice, you know how people w I have not hit that that milestone yet coming up, but

Pam:

I would say you just have to grow together instead of. You know, a lot of people grow apart in that timeframe and we've grown together, I think. Would you think that I

Steve:

was looking to say the exact same thing? We're both, I think not very different, but different people than me today than we were 26 years ago. And the key is to, you know, as you're both growing to understand that and figure out ways to work together. As you become a little bit different than you were back in the day instead of, you know, just giving up and, and, you know, trying to move on to something.

Randy:

Grow together. I love it. All right. And folks, you can tune in next week when we have our next chapter in marriage counseling. That's great. 26 years. So that's that's terrific. Congratulations. But you have this fantastic inflatable business and inflatable. Do you wear everything and you know, you sent me this list, this, you know, I, there probably isn't something you don't have that I can't even imagine. And there's some stuff that I think, oh my gosh, I didn't even know. Like, I love that you have ax throwing. Escape rooms, mechanical bull riding. And one that I think is really is then, especially because my son just turned 16, this distracted and drunk driving simulators. Tell us about that. When do you, when do you use that? Obviously you didn't get into all of those things at the beginning when you started your business. I am curious. What's the popularity of some of those, what I think are more kinda modern kinds of things today in your business. And why did you decide to to kinda I guess maybe dabble in that and especially the drunk driving, distracted driving simulators.

Pam:

Yeah. So when we got into the business, obviously we didn't have any. Aspect of doing that. It kind of fell into our lap when we bought out another business and we really loved it. Having three sons, we, we love the educational part of the business and it also gave us winter work, which was important for us being in Pennsylvania. So, the distracted and drunk driving simulators are a fun part of, I think. Giving to the community to on making sure that safety is in mind, we work for police stations, community events, hospitals universities, and high schools with the distracted driving simulators. And it's just really a fun part. A different niche for our business. Do you have anything to answer that

Steve:

you've covered it pretty well.

Randy:

That's good as part of that good marriage advice. Yeah, no, honey. He did great. Nice job. Yeah, I think that's kind of fascinating the the, the driving simulators, but is it a big, I mean, is it a big thing you like have to haul around in a trailer? I'm I I've never seen, I don't think one of these things, so. It's

Pam:

kind of like a, like, I think you usually word it. Yeah. So

Steve:

if you're an arcade and you see the racing games at like there's maybe five or six of them side by side, and they look like kind of the front of our it's that, but mostly a mobile version of that. So there's a, you know, we had a seat pedals the steering wheel and the shift are all mounted to kind of a frame. Which is one piece in each one of those are two sets. So there's two seats in each set. And then we have a box system that two TVs come out of and set up in front of you. So you're, you're in the seat just like you would be in a, in a car and you're looking at a screen in front of you. So, but we can spit we, we have six of those. We can fit them all in a, like a six by 12 trailer. They fall into like a gymnasium or a, you know, any sort of, you know, inside menu.

Randy:

Oh, that is a great product to be able to have out there for all of those different kinds of curves. So. All right. Well, that's good. So I'm going to step back in time now and go through a little bit of progression. I am kind of curious. So, you've been in business 15 years, so I'm guessing. You've been married 26. So I'm guessing this was not your first job out of college. And you know, what did you do kind of prior to starting the business and how did you decide I'm going to get into and floatable rentals?

Pam:

Well, I'll just briefly touch on, I was a retail manager all through our marriage. I moved my, I didn't go to college. So I moved my way through the ranks and eventually became a store manager with bath and body works, limited Corp. Loved it and stopped doing that. When I had my first son, I kind of retired and became a stay at home, mom and Steve worked the whole time.

Steve:

So, I have two degrees, four year degrees, one in accounting. Primarily accounting and finance is my background and the work done a CPA. And I worked for private industry for about 20 years. But being in, you know, when I started in private industry in the mid nineties, you know, it was very family oriented and you felt there was, there was a lot of engagement and a lot of loyalty, but I saw as the years went on less and less of that and more and more of, you know, it's all about the shareholder and the employees aren't that. It was kind of always like thinking I'm only one thing slip away from being laid off and I want to have, we should have something to fall back on, you know, should that happen. And kind of kept, always had that in our mind, we ended up having, we had a birthday party for our middle son. He was turning, I believe, six or seven. It was in oh seven August of oh seven and he wanted a water slide first. First of all, And we have, we looked and looked and look and had a real tough time finding the slide. We finally found one, it was like $469, which is even a lot today, but it was a lot back into seven. So we decided we're gonna go ahead and pull the trigger and, and bring, get the water slides and get the water side. The guy showed up to set it up. He was very impersonable. It was very, just like, you know, hi, I'm, so-and-so here with your style. Where do you want it? But what I'm where I wanted the unit. So he don't kind of go on about setting up the slide and that was one of the back deck. You know, getting that grill, ready and setting out the sodas and stuff for the party, kind of watching was. He set it up and his slide went straight down to a pool. A lot of our slides run off to a landing and kind of have a slip and slide at the end. But his went straight down to a pool, which is just the design of that particular side. It didn't seem right though. Like just drop in like 16 feet to a pool, you know? But he, he blew up an air mattress. Like you would go when you go camping, you will put it in a tent and put it underneath the pool, which I thought was weird. It didn't look like it was part of the slide, but I figured he's an expert knows. Then he had also put a blanket out around like the brander blanket, like you would sleep in the winter time, cover up with, on the grass, like in front of the unit. And then, you know, turned on the water and left and he was like, okay, well, I guess it's ready to go. So the kids were on having a good time. I decided I'm going to go on I'm I'm 6, 2, 200 pounds. So I go down the slide. I go right through that mattress and smashed my tailbone on the ground. I'm rolling around on the ground in pain, like, oh, that's that? Wasn't good. So I was like, well, it was only six inches of water in that's in the pool at the time. Maybe it needs more water. So I let it fill up to about a foot. Tried it again, same exact experience, right through the through the water, through the pad. So I stopped that. So, he came back the next day, picked up the unit. And what happened with the water? If you're familiar with, in our industry, if you don't put a tarp down and let the water run across the grass, it becomes a mud pit where the water splashes or the kids are walking around. Well, that's what happened because he put a blanket down that apart. So we're sitting the next day looking at this like 20 foot mud pit in the backyard with my hurt tailbone and her and I are talking. And like, that was the best we could find. And we work hard to find. So we kind of came. We said, you know what, we could do better than that. So we started to research and how to get in how much it was insurances registrations and the new licensing of the today, and then bought our first three units, you know, the winter of oh eight and started going with it. And originally it was just going to be kind of a side gig. And then, you know, it started to take off and, you know, here we are later, we got about 300 pieces of inventory now, so wow.

Randy:

300 pieces. That's quite a growth from three units to over 300 now.

Steve:

Yeah. Pam says are kind of like potato chips. Like, you know, like

Pam:

you can't get enough of quoting me now.

Randy:

Oh, that's fun. Wow. So, so now you flash forward, so you started. Three units. What was that growth like? So now, you know, 15 years later now you've got 300 units. I mean, you've grown a hundred fold. How has that growth? So Steve, as a CPM, I'm sure you're looking at and kind of plot it out cashflow and capital reserves and you know, how do you expend capital to fuel growth? What was that like? I think kind of going on that ride.

Steve:

So, yeah. So one of the things that I I'm extremely number of numbers oriented, I run the company by the numbers and I'm particularly passionate the most important thing to a small business, in my opinion. But it's interesting. So our growth really for the first six, seven years, it was very slow because I was working full-time as a, you know, for in private sector. And we didn't really even need the money per se, cause my salary supported the household. So it was really just kind of a fun thing to do. We ended up, you know, originally, like I said, we were planning on growing to maybe 10 units out of the garage, just doing ourselves on the weekends. We ended up getting in trouble with the neighbors about year two or three. Cause we, we had. Maybe five or six units. We were in a residential neighborhood. We had made a cup, made some noise coming in late at night with, you know, low unloading some stuff and got a letter from the township that you can't have a business in a residential neighborhood. And we didn't even think about it honestly, you know, cause it was like our own little. So then we ended up having to either sell what we had or get a little shop. So we got this little, two car dilapidated garage, no power, no water, like, you know, five minutes from the house. And then all of a sudden, why don't we have a shop? I mean, it was barely a shop, but it was like, well, we got some space. And we had, you know, now we have more space. So let's

Pam:

also say that it was a blessing in disguise. Like we were mad at first, but then we were like, wow, they kind of pushed us to do more with our business than we ever would have done because we were in our comfort zone. So they pushed us out of our comfort zone. And that's when we really started rolling. Yeah.

Steve:

Because now we had some fixed overhead, you know, we had a shop, we had, you know, each month. So it was kinda like, well now we, we should probably grow it a little bit more so it can sustain it. And then it just, you know, more from there. So we got a couple more units and, you know, got some more events. And at the time we weren't even doing, you know, this is kind of old school back, you know, this is what probably. 11 or 12 before, like SEO and all that stuff was a real big thing. So the growth came real slow. A lot of word of mouth flyers, kind of that sort of, yeah, we

Pam:

did. The, remember we went out in the neighborhoods with our boys and we had doorknob flyers and our boys and us would run around the neighborhood and do like a walk like a family walk while we were doing doorknob flyers. And it was fun. We paid the. You know, like a quarter or a fly or something like that to go run it up to a door. Yeah.

Steve:

Yeah. So then you know that about five or six years in, we had moved to our second shop and then it, it really didn't. I would say, start turning into a, like a legitimate, like, wow, this can really be something until probably year five or six. Is slow, especially in our industry, because we talked to a lot of new people in the industry, you know, three years in and there where we were at year seven or eight. You know, I think, I think part of that is, is the focus because we weren't as focused on it early on. And I also think part of that is due to the new, you know, the new systems and how you can grow. I mean, if you rank obviously number one, two or three on Google you're going to get a lot more business now than you would, you know, then, then, then that strategy back in the 10 or 11.

Randy:

That is a really quite fascinating, but at a certain point, Steve view, as the CPA, you know, realize w w what, 6, 7, 8 years in that, Hey, we're at a crossroads maybe. And do you. Kind of leave your cushy, you know, job that's been covering the household and the needs and everything. Was that a hard decision? I mean, I obviously it's played out well for you, but

Steve:

I'm extremely conservative. You know, obviously by nature being a numbers guy and an accountant. So I never wanted to give up that job. I shouldn't have years ago. I, I was at a point probably in 17 or 18 where I was very resentful of both the business and my full-time job, because I didn't get any time off. Especially in the, in the season, it was work all day with a full-time job, then come home, do schedules and fixed up and do routing. And then a lot of times I'm in a truck on the weekend. And I got to a point where I would say, you know, I was probably, I was pretty negative person. Although things were going well and we had good income coming in, it was just work, work, work all the time. So, we had 19 was our,

Pam:

and I got to put in, I got to throw in a little marriage tip there when he was being super negative. Of course, I was like, wow, I could, I could be resentful for him for being so negative, but instead I would leave quotes on his desk. And I would tape up fruits and things about like how grateful you should be for everything you have. And I would tell them all the time, like I'm so grateful, we have three boys that have great health and we have each other. And like, I I'll live in a box with, you know, the five of us, whatever it takes. So if you hate your job leave because like we'll figure.

Steve:

Well, it wasn't that I hated my job. It was that I didn't feel like I was giving a hundred percent either. I was giving 70 or 75 to both, and I'm a give it a hundred percent time of guide. So it was hard for me to struggle through that. But at the same time, like I didn't want to give up the benefits and I was getting paid very well. My full-time job. So I didn't, I just didn't want to walk away from that. So in 19, we had our best year ever. And we were poised to have a fantastic year in 20. So the plan was. I was going to leave my job in March of 20. I was going to get my bonus in March. We had a good 19, so we get paid the bonuses for 19 and 20. It's going to get the bonus, leave the job, and then go full-time in the business. In 20, they were, my company was owned by private equity. So they were preparing for sale around that same surround actually late 19. They beat me to the punch. They laid me off in September of 19. So it was funny cause

Randy:

they pay

Steve:

your. I get the bonus, but I got like two or three months of severance. So, but we were, you know, had a great night. We were going to have a great 20, we went to dinner that night. I find them celebrated. This is awesome. You know, I can enjoy the holidays now in 19, don't have to worry about like, cause we used to go to I APA, which is a trade show for our business in November. And then usually a cruise

Pam:

in the middle of buying a building. We

Steve:

were at that time. So we were, you know, yeah, everything's cool. So I got laid off, so I never made the decision to leave. They, they traded for me, you know? But then of course, parts of 20. So, you know, we, we had our worst hobby in the last seven years in 20

Pam:

by the building. We didn't, we didn't buy the

Steve:

building. But we regrouped, you know, we got some help with the PPP to, you know, we have always done backyard, but we, you know, we, all the events were gone, but we focused more heavily on backyards. We eat our way through 20 and then in 21, we came back and had our best. So, you know, and now I'm able to laser focus my efforts on the business and not, I don't feel resentful toward it because I'm able to focus my efforts. And I think I'm giving it, you know, I'm definitely giving it more than I used to give it because now I'm focused solely on it.

Randy:

That was an incredible story. And I love this story because as well, Pam, where you came in and you're like, Hey, I know it was hard. And you were there as being supportive. I mean, first, Steve, I'll tell you, I can't imagine. Cause I'm sure you were working two full-time jobs basically. And, and then some and but I loved. The partnership. I think that you've you're able to underscore here on kind of how you survived at both as a business and as a as an end in marriage. So, and is.

Pam:

Different things that were happening to each of us, you know, like I had him in, in a low and kind of the, you know, like I always told him he's in a hole and I'm like, you know, you can either climb out or you can stay down in that hole, you know, but I suggest you climb out. Cause there's a lot of good stuff up here.

Randy:

Yeah. I like, why don't you climb out of that hole because we're having fun up here. Yeah. Wow. So tell us about the business today. I, you know, I kind of rattled off a bunch of stuff maybe, but if you were given like the elevator spit a speech on three monkeys, inflatables w w.

Pam:

Well, Bree monkeys had to evolve into lots of different things, everything from, you know, bounce houses to obstacle ports as the waterslides. But then on top of all that we have, you know, Rockwall rentals. We have mechanical bull. I think you talked about our mobile max throwing, which I think is super cool. That's one of my. Along with our 27 foot lava or my two favorite things, but then we have bumper cars. We have, did I say escape rooms? Gosh, it's hard to remember everything that we have giant games, carnival games obviously this distracted and drunk driving simulators, photo booth. The old parties, their stuff, everything that you can think of, you know, we do tent rentals and tables and chairs, but we also do catering. So we do everything from a backyard party to a corporate event. And we have a lot of fun doing that. In addition to that, we have a great team. And our team consists of two of our oldest boys who are the monkeys. That's where the three monkeys came from

Randy:

with the three boys. If that could have introduced the name.

Pam:

That's exactly where we came up with. The name is we were like, you know, we have three boys and their monkeys and they're climbing all over there. The typical boys, you know, and I'm the typical boy mom. And so we were like, you know what, let's go with three monkeys. And so we added inflatable to it and that's where it came from. And you know, there are now. Starting to become, you know, managers in our business and, and help learn the business just this year. And we're excited about, you know, the direction that they're going to take us as well as, you know, us trying to stand back a little bit and let them, and I say trying, but we're going to try to do more coaching. For them and less like here, let me just do what I know how to do it. Right. Which is hard to do when you're working with, you know, your kids in business. But we're going to try to learn from them and, you know, and, and them learn

Randy:

from us. Well, just working with your kids can be challenging, let alone in business together with them or, yeah. Wow. So you mentioned a few of the items. I love the x-ray and we did that once. We had to go somewhere and do it, but I love the idea about they haven't like, Hey, come out and deliver this thing for us. So how many different so I'm sure like some of your categories are pretty big Bounce houses themselves. And, and just in working with you then I should offer and say, Hey, you know, Pam and Steve have been clients of ours for, for quite some time. So knowing your categories, you have bounce house, you have water slides, you have the combos slides that kind of do both a dry slide or, and, or a bounce house in there. How many of those, like how many water slides do you.

Steve:

We've got about 15 row. So we're, I mean, we, as far as waterslides go in our niche, we're probably probably decent for our area, but I mean, you know, compared to like people in Texas and Florida 60 or 70, I mean, we just don't have the winter slide season that they do now. We got about three months. They they're working with like five or six months. Right. So it it's a big item for us. And certainly in those three months, I mean, they're out on pot sometimes. But we've, you know, we've never turned our back on the backyard party and we never will. But we've also, our company has grown kind of more, you know, a little bit more event focused and some other companies have in our Mar in our kind of our.

Randy:

So you do. So when you're saying event focused, meaning with businesses with corporations, cause I know I've seen on your, on your site as well. You've got some great images of where you've, I don't know what this thing was and whether it was a big company event or something, but you've got probably like eight or 10 different, you know, of your inflatables out and all kinds of stuff set up like. Just look like a fun place to be, but fun company maybe, but

Pam:

yeah, we'll do like camps and community events and corporate focus on church events

Steve:

schools, colleges, high schools, middle school. So that, that that's well back prior to night, well, in 19, that was probably about 50% of our market was, was those sorts of events and the other 50% with backyard. And then in 20 it was all bad. And then even last year, it was probably 80 to 85% backyard and 15% event because the events 90 came back a little bit in the fall last year. Really not long at all. And we're finally seeing this year, you know, it looks like the events are back. The schools are bookend, the churches are booking for April may. So, you know, we, we think we're in pretty good shape this year to have a, you know, it's kind of back in at the B 50 mixed up, we were doing anything.

Randy:

Yeah. Well, if you had 21 is being one of your best years ever, and that was primarily backyard. Now, if you can do that same pace and to add back on your corporate, you guys are going to have a blistering 22. Exactly.

Pam:

That's what we're hoping for. And a lot of loyal employees that are coming back. And in fact, we, we did end up buying another shop. It wasn't the shop that we had during COVID, but we bought another shop and now we're here in Belton and we're loving the shop. We actually, our middle son brought up the idea of like, Hey, can we make like a three monkeys gym in the. And we were like, sure. So we gave them money to do that and they did the build-out and now we have guys that we don't usually see in the winter time they're coming out and they're working out together and we're able to see them and, you know, have that connection. All season long I'm with them. And

Randy:

oh, so you're saying, so the gym is really for like, some of your staff that you would normally work with you during the summer, but you've like created a space where they can come and maintain the connection with you during the winter as well.

Pam:

Yeah. So it's the three monkeys or the invoice. You know, w banners and they want to put mirrors up and all that. It's still in, in process, but but they're super excited. And right now it's in our one electronic shop right now on that side of the shop until the gym is actually fully finished and painted, but the guys are awkward,

Randy:

super stoked. That's a great idea. So you're in, so you are in Felton red line. Area Pennsylvania. How, w what is your, I guess, kind of geographic reach? Cause I know we talk about like getting you in Maryland and you know, but how far do you go.

Pam:

We actually, our main areas are central PA and Northern Maryland, but honestly, we'll go anywhere. If somebody wants to pay the travel fee, we love going to different places. We've been to Canada with our distracted driving simulator. We've been all over the world with that. Which is so fun. My employees love it. Great for them. So, what our general area is. Central PA and Northern Maryland, we go typically within an hour is just a normal day for us.

Randy:

So I want to hurt kind of go back to this point about being a family business. And sometimes that can be great. And sometimes that can also be challenging. Can you speak a little bit to either of those sides of the coin and what are some ways that you can I guess maybe manage it to, to keep the peace and keep it moving in a forward in a positive way?

Pam:

Yeah, I mean, We've always built it as a family business. I mean, it is a family business, but we built it even with our employees. So, we've just made sure we have a hierarchy and it's not our boys that are the top of the hierarchy. We, we actually have a operations and customer acquisition manager, Beth, who we love, and she is like family. And you know, she cares about our, our business. Almost as much as I think we care about it, which is awesome. And so I think, yes, working with family can be difficult, but if you make sure that, you know, if your guys are having a bad day, you're, you're touching base with them, whether it's your son or, or one of the other guys, I think they know we all have each other's back there you know, within the business. So I think What can you add to that? I would add down

Steve:

probably spinning, but I would add that, you know, so I think that we've, we've had our ebbs and our flows and our ups and our downs and that as well. And, you know, I think in the last year and a half, we've, we've managed it better. And we've learned things that, you know, back in, you know, five, six years ago, Well, we would've sweated more things also like we have to be out on everything, you know, we, we can't trust anybody to do anything. Like if it needs to be done, right, I'm going to do it myself. And part of that was our, you know, we, we weren't hiring well, we weren't training well you know, since then we've developed better training processes. We've put checkpoints along the way to make sure people are doing the right things. We've given people more responsible. More accountability and more trust, which goes a long way, you know, especially with today's you know, generation and not, not certainly not just turn it over and said, okay, go ahead, go ahead, add it. But, you know, put the steps in place where they can, they can be more accountable and have, have a say, instead of it always being our way. And one of the things that I will add with that with regard to the family part is like, you know, You know, for the last, well, probably 10 years, you know, forget about having a weekend off in the summertime. It just doesn't happen. You know, if you're getting married on a Saturday in may, you're just not going to be there. And we've realized that we've made sacrifices, but we're also, as we're bringing the boys in to more of a leadership role in, and working on a slow transition for them to, you know, own the company in five, 10 years, we don't want that. So we're setting them up with that knowledge and saying, Hey, you know, you don't want to, you know, be a prisoner to the business. I mean, obviously everybody's got to work hard and, you know, in my opinion, you work harder and smarter and harder to, to if you're going to be a business owner, but you can also. Set it up so that you can have people that you can lean back on. And if you need to take a weekend off for something in the summer can so we're investing more in staff paying more, doing more training and, you know, yeah. The profit might be a little bit less, but the headaches are less as well. And you can have a little more freedom. I think we're

Pam:

more grateful of the staff too. And I think it shows to them and I think it also We've found that it just creates a better team. Like this year, for example, we told the guys we're going to assign them their own trucks. So they'll each have their own trucks. We didn't think it was a big deal. It's a huge deal for them. It's a huge deal that they will have a truck that is specifically. There's two use and nobody else is going to be in there who knew that was such a big deal, but it really was. There are so pumped about that. It's like I gave him a raise or something.

Randy:

Well, it's a little thing sometimes that you can do for your staff that really carry the most weight. It's not just always, you know, a few extra dollars, but it's the things that, you know, give them some ownership, give them some. Control on their environment and their Workday. That can be the most meaningful.

Pam:

Absolutely.

Randy:

All right. Well, it sounds good. It sounds like you've navigated the family business fairly well. Now I know I asked you earlier if you like baseball, but it's that time of the of the show we called the seventh inning stretch. This is our opportunity where I get to ask you a. And a little fun baseball question here. That's relative to your industry and the research team who does such a great job in pulling this stuff together here came, came up with the idea about bouncing and pulled out a couple of questions in regards to bounces in the baseball stadium. So, we'll see if you can nail any of these. If the ball bounces in a stadium and meaning after it's been hit, right. And then it bounces in the stadium and then goes out of the stadium. Is it ever a home run? That's the question?

Steve:

If it cleared the wall in the first place, then yes, it would be a home run.

Randy:

All right, Pam, you want to add anything to that?

Pam:

Yeah, I think it's a

Steve:

long as it's fair and in play and cleared the outfield wall, it would be a home run.

Randy:

Yes. There's actually several kinds of instances that it's kind of interesting. MLB has kind of created rules around. So if the ball lands in the outfield grass and then bounces over a wall, that's called a ground rule double. So that's not a home run. If the ball kits, the tap of a retaining wall in fair territory and then bounces out, that's a home run. So I think Steve, you're kind of hitting on that one. If it bounces off a foul pole, it's a home run. If it bounces on the ground, then hits a foul pole. And then it goes out that's a ground rule. Double is what that had. And then of course, an inside the park home run, usually it always bounces around somewhere. And so, you know, and then that's dependent upon the runner doesn't necessarily go out of the stadium. Here's another little, kind of a follow-up question. Let's see how you do this. If the ball hits a player and then bounces out. Is that a home run?

Pam:

Yeah. For some reason I'm thinking that's like a penalty. Like, I don't know.

Steve:

So I think if, if, if an outfielder is trying to catch the ball and it bounces off the outfield or over the home run wall, that's a home run. Really? Yes, it will be if it never, never, never touched the ground. If it bounced to say off the person that would be.

Randy:

Steve, you got it right. Very good. It is a home run. So play resumes, you know, when everybody can probably stop laughing and, and, and offer the bounce off for the outfielder. But yes. And to give you an example of this Jose can say, You may know that name I'm known for slugging home runs. But one of his crazy plays actually happened right here in Cleveland in may of 1993. Conseco and the Rangers were playing the Indians. Weirdest moment in MLB history, took place. He was out Carlos Martinez hit the fly ball. Conseco is rolling back, rolling back to the warning track and boom pings right off of his head and then bounces over the wall at that point. And then it was ruled a home run. There's some great video on, there it go. Check that out on a, on YouTube, because everybody's just cracking up just laughing hysterically. But yeah. So if it bounces off the player, arm, head, whatever and then bounces out of the stadium that is a home run. So that's the. That's the answer to that. Well, nice job. Nice to have plenty. All right, well, let's get back into it. All right. So, back to our inflatable business that we have here. So you mentioned earlier that during the season, and you know, we're in early spring right now, I guess, or, you know, end of winter, early spring. And you mentioned, you know, and I can imagine your staff really swelling up. And I think in our notes, we've state that, you know, your staff during the summer, it can be like 25 to 30 people during the season. Has that been challenging? And, and especially, even though in this last year you know, finding staff, are you just able to hold onto staff? I'm curious because so many people employers out there right now are struggling with this staffing issue. I'd love to hear your insights.

Steve:

Yeah. So, we've always struggled with staff to some degree because you know, what we do is, is seasonal. We work long hours on the weekends. We're out late at night, we're out early. It doesn't matter if it's 95 degrees out, you know, and. No bullets, or it's 40 degrees out and rain. And I mean, when, when the work has to get done, it gets done. So it makes for a difficult you know, work environment sometimes from that regard. So that's always been a problem, but I will say, and in 20 wasn't, wasn't really hard because we were kind of slow. So we pretty much just leaned on the few guys we had, you know, me and my two, my two boys and a couple of other. Last year was the most difficult year we've ever had in staffing. You know, we, we did better than a lot because primarily of our sons, our sons were able to recruit some of their buddies. We had, I think in season last year we peaked out at like six drivers. Typically like in 19 we had 10 or 11 drivers. And we did. Last year than we did in 20 earnings. I'm sorry. In 19 revenue wise. So we did more with less last year. So what we did, I've always been as a finance and accounting guy. I've always been a real stickler on overtime. Like with the we'll be of overtime, we'll just hire on more guys and work. Last year we worked a lot over time and I will say a side effect of that was a better quality of person, a better guy and more satisfaction. So, you know, we are still in the wintertime. But because guys got overtime in the summertime, they're okay with the slow in the winter time. So I learned that lesson last year. But with regard to, you know, we were trying to hire and, you know, I mean, it was, we would post an ad. We would get 10 or 15 reply. We were lucky if one or two of them would show up and then if we did hire anybody, most of them wouldn't show up the first day. So there, there was, it was a real struggle for us last year. You know, I'm not sure what's in for us for this year. Cause we're, you know, we're probably about to get into hiring season in the next few weeks. So I don't know what it's going to be like. But it, it was very difficult last year. But I will say that the staff, we did have stents. Work the hour didn't complain and, and got it done. You know, we left some revenue on the table because there was just some weekends. We just physically, we had the equipment and we had the trucks and we had the trailer. If you just physically didn't have the manpower to get more equipment out. But it wasn't nearly as bad as some of the other people that we've spoken to that are in our niche market and other areas, for instance, California, you know, as it's been, you know, we have some buddies out there who really. And I, like I said, I, I, I, we owe a lot of that to our boys, because if it weren't for, I mean, we had, like I said, we peaked at six drivers last year, deal with them where our boys and three of them were our boys buddies. And so we had five out of six really came in because, you know, we have two boys, 1 22, and one's 20. You know, the other guys in the industry are in gals, in the industry that don't have, you know, two boys of that age didn't have that to lean back.

Randy:

Right. Anything. As you're thinking about approaching this year and this hiring season, you know, you've had some more time to kind of think about it here through the winter. Is there any new approaches that you're going to experiment with in regards to building this.

Steve:

Well, one we're in better shape already. So we're actually going into the season with, I believe seven right now. Cause we had two of our assistants last year who, you know, who were 17 are now 18. And there, so we're working on doing some trailer training with those guys right now. They're real solid. So already we're ahead of the game compared to. Well, with regard to,

Pam:

we're actually trying to be more selective, unbelievably enough, because we don't want to get, we have such a good team that we don't want to get somebody that doesn't want to be on the bus. We've found that, you know, one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. So we don't want the wrong person coming into our team and like messing up what we've. And continue to, you know, do with

Steve:

them. So to answer your question directly, I don't know that we had. New ideas on how to, I mean, we were paying, we're paying a little bit more than we have in the past. And you know, we're doing the, the, the truck thing, which is putting more ownership in but really, you know, we need to get people coming in the door, you know, looking for employment. So I don't, I don't know how, how it's going to go this year if it's going to be any different than last year, but I am thankful that we're starting out in a better spot already. So, so the need for hiring. Quite as bad for us as it was like this time last year. But you know, if the events do come back as strong as we think they will, then the need is definitely going to be there.

Pam:

So, are in a new town. So I was planning on like reaching out to the town for their board and try to get, you know, their assistance and letting people know in our new area, you know, maybe we'll get some new. Customers out of it or maybe we'll also get some new employees.

Randy:

Okay, good. I know your market, your industry is incredibly competitive. And working with you guys, I just, I know this and I probably didn't realize it nearly as much until we started working together, but Considering how competitive it is. How do you define your edge in the marketplace? And I think it would be great to, to hear this because as others are in, you know, that may be listening. We've got a large audience of entrepreneurs and small business owners and thinking about, you know, management and how do they compete. How do you guys maintain that competitive?

Pam:

I think, honestly, we do it by just following our gut and being who we are instead of worrying about too many people, worry about what other competitors are doing now. Obviously I know what my competitors are doing. I'll periodically check, but, but not very often. Will I check on them? I kind of keep my head down and focus on my. Staff and my customers and we focused and, and let our gut, you know, navigate on what we purchase. And that's what defines us as being unique is that we have unique self because w you know, we have three boys of three different ages, 15, 20, and then 22, when they're all so different from each other. And. So many different aspects that, you know, they became our trial run of like things like when we'd go to our APA attractions expo, we would have them lead us on. Oh, that's cool. Like, okay. Oh, that's not a cool thing to have. Okay. We'll move on from there. And then we try out the equipment and, you know, as a mom, if that didn't look safe, you know, I use, my mom got other moms aren't going to like it either. So, you know, we. We look at that a lot. You know, as a mom, I use Lysol, you know, to clean at home and I trusted at home and that's what we ended up doing in our best for, you know, since 2007, we've used Lysol, all purpose cleaner for sanitizing and cleaning our inflatables. It did me proud when COVID came out. And that was one of the first cleaners listed against that. I was like, wow, like, so there, my mom got helped me because I had friends with doc in it because that's what we've always cleaned with. So we've always kept a good amount. So we were able to still continue to clean, like we normally cleaned. I think those are the things that sets you apart, you know, we're, we're being. And that's coming out in our company. We're being fair with our customers. We're, we're trying to answer everything that the customer needs us to answer on, on the website. And we're saying, Hey, you know, even though we have all this stuff out there, if you still want to just have the, you know, connection, stop by our office, call us on the phone, email us. We're super quick on email because I know your time's valuable. You got, you know, to clean the house and do housekeeping and you're holding down your jobs. So we make it so that you can book online at anytime of the day or night. So that it's flexible to your schedule. But then we also realize sometimes you're not sure what you want to book. So give us a call and like, let's talk about what you're trying to. You know, accomplished and let us make you the superstar. And that's what we've. You know, falling back on is we want to make you the Superstore of your event and we want to make it hassle-free so that you're not spending a ton of time trying to figure out what's going to be best. We want to know little Johnny and what he likes so that we could then give you ideas. Maybe you haven't even thought about for a little Johnny and give us your budget. And we can, we can do wondrous things with, with. People are always afraid to tell you that. And then they realize like we can really put together some really awesome packages if we know what we're shooting for. So that, I think that's what makes us unique to

Randy:

great. Yeah. So you've had this incredible growth over the last, you know, 15 years gone from three to 300 units. What's in store around the corner. What do you, what do you see like in the next three to five years? Is three monkeys inflatables going.

Steve:

So, one increase utilization of our current equipment. So we have, you know, we, we're always looking for something new and exciting and one that. Turn our back on that. So that's one of the things that makes us unique like Pam was saying is, you know, we, we do have a large variety of equipment, but not that that's necessary to pull off the events we do, but for us, it's what keeps us fresh. And it's what I think what keeps a lot of our customers coming back because, you know, they know we're going to give them good customer service. They know the equipment is going to be clean and they know it's going to be set up. But they may not want the same slide year after year after year. Well, we, we provide all that stuff and you can get something new from us every year, so that's going to continue to happen. So we're just going to continue to keep our eye out for the next new, exciting thing. But from an internal perspective, you know, when I'm looking at how we're doing with our current, you know, return on investment and utilization of our current. We we can do better. So we, we, you know, on on our busiest day of the year, our warehouse is still two thirds full of stuff. So that tells me that we need to continue to market ourselves, continue to do the SEO, if they need to do all this stuff that's hand does. And, and you work on as well to get our name out there to more and more clients, because we can serve more needs with the equipment we have. That's what I see for us

Pam:

as far as the website goes and even just the customer and of it. I think we have plans Randy, to, to make better videos. When we have. Our equipment out there during our drawing and cleaning days, my goal was to have a video for every single piece that we have so that we can really show the customer, you know, what the outside looks like, what the inside looks like. We try to get event pictures to really show them what it would look like in their yard. We try to answer the questions and we'll continue to evolve that because everything that we do is a living, breathing document. Con continue to evolve by the customer it's led by the customer experience. So if we find that, you know, for customers are asking us the same question, then we add that into our, into our website. So we're constantly trying to make sure that, you know, we're staying in the know, but also keeping our customer in the know that's important for us. And we do a lot of things with our repeat customers, where they get first level. Of any of our new equipment. We send that out a month before it even hits the website. Our, our previous customers know about it. And I think that's just right. I think, you know, I want to ha I want to be. Thankful or have somebody thankful for my business and that they, you know, give me a little bit of an edge for continuing to come back. And that's what we do for our previous customers is we want to, we want to thank them every year because obviously we're nothing without them, but we also want to make sure that they feel valued.

Randy:

I love the the, I don't know if I can quote it exactly what you said, but essentially if you get the feedback though, from the customers that you implemented into your process or in your service, and I just think that's great advice for any business, Hey, listen to your customers, what they're telling you and learn from it and, and react, I think. And so, that is great advice. So thinking about advice, we're coming down to the bottom of the ninth, and this is the section of the show really where I really ask you, what advice do you have for the rookies in the game? People who are, have had a business maybe for a year or so, or those who are thinking about going into business, what are some things that it's a bed. On the old bus, your old veterans, you've been at this for 15 years in the business. What, what's some advice that you could have for some of those folks though?

Pam:

I would say obviously keeping yourself unique in your business, make sure the business speak to who you are and that it stays with your morals and, and you know, it just speaks to. That it's you, that you could tell too many people try to put too much of what they. The public wants to see in the business and just make it your own invest in the business, how you think it will do. I think it'll do really well. And taking care of your staff. And I know you probably have something to add financially.

Steve:

Yeah. My advice would be one, no, your numbers. I think too many small businesses don't know their numbers and they're kind of flying blind and that's, in my opinion, no way. I run a business and no way really to run your life. And number two is don't be afraid to go all in. So from my experience, you know, I lived in that, you know, three, four years of, you know, I probably should leave. I'm not doing enough here. I'm not doing enough there. And then when I finally got that, I got the courage to leave. Like I said, they, they let me go, you know, they decided for me, but you know, when that happened, it really. Allowed me to clear my head and laser focus on one thing instead of a bunch of things. And you know, it was, it was a good move and I should've made that. I should have decided to make that move long ago. And I think a lot of, you know, especially conservative business owners, hang on to, you know, the safety of something are too long. When if they, if they just applied themselves to, you know, what they, what they really want to do and what they love, they could make a go at it a lot sooner and generally be a happier.

Randy:

Hmm. That's great advice. Great advice. Well, listen, Pam, Steve, I think is so much for being on the show and for those folks who are in the central PA Northern Maryland region, you need an inflatable. You need an ax throwing event, whatever you, whatever you need, these people have probably have it. So go check them out. Three monkeys, inflatables.com. And and again, Pam, Steve just been great having you on the show. It really pretty.

Pam:

Thank you. We appreciate

Randy:

your shell. All right. So folks, that's the ballgame. Thanks for joining us today. And if you like our show, please tell your friends, subscribe and review, and we'll see around the ballpark. Running the basis with small businesses is brought to you by 38 digital marketer, a digital marketing agency, committed to client. With lead generation higher conversions and increased sales connect with us today 38digitalmarket.com.