Running the Bases today with Chanda McFarland the Founder of Inflatable Party Magic - a Texas-based and Texas-sized Entertainment company. For 20 plus years, Chanda has been building her entertainment business of inflatables, party rentals, extreme games, and mechanical rides. As she likes to say “We deliver Fun!”
Starting from her garage with three inflatables - Inflatable Party Magic grew to offer 30 inflatable products in the first year. Now 20 years later they offer over 160 inflatables, party rentals (think tables, tents, chairs, etc) mechanical rides (Mechanical Bull Rental - it’s Texas!) 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.
Come ride along as we talk with the “Queen of Vinyl”.
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I'm Randy Rohde and I'm fascinated with entrepreneurs and small business owners. Plus I love baseball. Every show I sit down with a small business owner and we discuss they're running the basis of entrepreneurship. We throw the ball around on strategy management, execution and innovation. Oh, little fun. Baseball tart. Hey, thanks for joining us today. Settle in, grab your cracker jacks and you know what they say? All right. It's a great day for eight ball game as just a really about any day is, and super excited to have the queen of vinyl with us today. The provider of fun. I don't know. I was trying to think of all kinds of little antidotes there. We have the founder and CEO. Oh, of inflatable party magic all the way from Cleburne, Texas was, is really just kind of south of Dallas. Is that. Yes. Yeah. Okay. So anyway, today we've got from Cleburne Chanda, McFarland from inflatable party magic. So Chanda, welcome to the show. Glad to have you on it is great to be here.Chanda:
Thanks for inviting me today.Randy:
So I love Texas by the way right now today. So we're just outside of Cleveland and we get. Thunderstorms rolling through is going to be like 95 or something like that here today. But that's probably like an every day occurrence. I'm guessing for you. Is that right? Or no, orChanda:
yes, there's no rain here, but our heat index is like 105 today and we'll hit right at a hundred, just a lot of humidity and no rain, no rain today, but you do get a fair amount of rain there. Not usually in the summertime.Randy:
Okay. . Well, inflatable party magic . So you have got this, I think. Like an incredibly fun. Now you work it. So, you know, but you deliver fun for people. I mean, we have had, so I have kids and, , we have had on a number of different occasions, whether it's birthday parties or we do a big barbecue every summer. Kind of, or at the beginning of summer when we've had inflatables come do all of that stuff. And it's just fun. You know, the people you're delivering fun, I think. And, I'm anxious to hear if it really is as fun as I think, you know, any job as a job. Right. But I think, you know, it's gotta be somewhat fun. Seeing the people enjoy what you do.Chanda:
It is, it is a lot of fun. And that is what we do. We deliver fun. We bring it to you. I mean, it definitely has a lot of work to it behind what everybody sees the brand, it blows up and all of a sudden there's something fun to play on. But behind the scenes, there's a lot of work. Of course, that goes into it. You gotta clean them. You gotta, oh, Yeah. Yeah, there there's a lot. Yeah. And it's, it's hard. Cause you're dealing with a piece of vinyl that when y'all see it, you think it's, oh, it's just fun. We can jump in it. But that piece of vinyl ways, the lightest ones weigh like almost 400 pounds.Randy:
Okay. Well I know, I think no, this was years ago. I think. I don't remember him. It was for my daughter's birthday. I remember. And I was being cheap and I'm like, oh, I'll come pick it up and set it up. It'll be traveled like, oh my gosh, that was. Most foolish thing for that, because that thing was heavy. I mean, I had to have like a couple of other guys like, listen, you got to come over and help me with those things. This is huge and heavy. , several hundred pounds here. This thing is crazy, but, well, listen. You were not always the queen of vinyl, you started your career in human resources. So I, I do have to tap on that because you know, that's quite a departure from where you are today was, so that was your first kind of job first career. And you're in HR and for a corporation or a company.Chanda:
It was, I was in HR for 12 years. That was my first, I guess, real career. I worked for an MHMR center and through the course of working for an event that I mentioned where, so we were relatively small, we had maybe two or 300 employees. Then we took over more and more counties. So it got bigger and it got bigger. We became huge. And during that 12 years, it got to where it occupied a lot of my time in the course of working there, I had. I had two little girls thought I was done, then I had twin boys. So I had four children that were relatively small, pretty quickly. And I was doing a lot of traveling because I did HR for a governmental entity. I had to spend a lot of my time where rules and legislation. Yeah. I was gone a lot. It was hard on my kids. It was hard on me. Didn't ever think I would leave that job. In fact, I had went to college at an entrepreneurial school and thought I was crazy, had to make business plans in college and all this thought and never use that. I'm an HR director. I'm never going to use that. And little did I know my husband, one day we were planning a kid's party and he looks at me and he's in, instead of being gone all the time, you're great at playing in parties. Why don't you quit your job? It's take your annuity money. Let's start an inflatable company. Not thought he was crazy, but I thought, you know what? It's worth a try. I don't mind working. Yeah, I did it. And here I am.Randy:
Here you are. So that's great. So that's why you kind of left that career, the HR, you start then this incredible inflatable company. So tell us about the company today, how it sits today. , and then I want to kind of go back into the kind, the, the origins of it, but, so what is inflatable party magic as it sits.Chanda:
Today we're more than just bouncy houses. We are a complete entertainment company. We have inflatables. I have bounce houses. I have waterslides. I have obstacle courses. We have giant mechanical rides, such as rock climbing, walls, Euro Benzie, trampoline. We just added a mechanical bull being in Texas should have had one of those long ago, just out of that. So I have a mechanical bull. All we do tables and chairs. We do tents. If you need it, we do it. We do everything from the backyard birthday party to corporate events, church events. We do a lot of churches, lots and lots of churches and schools, but corpse, we've got into doing some big corporate events. We have about 30 employees at this point in time and we we've become a pretty large company. Inflatable wise. I have about 160 inflatables now. With everything else as well. So we're pretty big. We stay very, very busy with it a lot bigger than what I had ever envisioned 20 years ago. God, no kidding. Wow.Randy:
So you made this jump from HR, , in this very nice cushy who knows, , kind of corporate life, , traveling a lot, went into the inflatables. Now you have this massive inflatable. Let me ask you this. What is, so you've been doing this for a while. What's the most popular inflatable that you, theChanda:
most popular inflatable that I have is probably going to be our waterslides we're in Texas and it gets really, really hot. So water slides are there.Randy:
They are insane. , I know just in looking at your website, you've got, I don't even know how many different water slide variations, 70 and other like combos you've got, you can do all different kinds of things. Are there. I went onto your YouTube channel because I thought, oh, there's got. Fun stuff. Now we're not going to show, , obviously, cause this is the podcast, but I love how you describe this particular thing. Everyone is knew what it was like to be a hamster involved. This is it. This was our hamster balls inside of our Zuora ball track. There's sometimes called Zuora balls. So you hear that time? I got Courtney and Jacob. Ah, they are rolling through this. Big ball kind of thing. So they're like bodies in a ball and rolling down like an obstacle course. Right. So I could, they're literally like you put a hamster in a ball and you let them run in it and CFS that can run. You put people in these balls, that's still up and they run them as fast as they can. And try to get from one end of the track to the other. Halfway in between. They have to cross sides though. So if you see that they have to cross sides, the one that's on the ride has to cross to the left and they have to cross each other, get to the end, come back, cross again, and do the same thing and end up back in their home. Crazy. Now you said there is this job fun. That is, those are my employees that you see there that I video doing it. When we got the hamster walls. You have to have some fun. So once a week we set up something cool and let them choose what they want to play in. And that's what we do. See. That's that's your good HR individual coming out and you're losing like, alright, I gotta have fun with the staff as well. So waterslides the most pipe. What is if I had to say, okay, Chanda, what is your favorite? , I'm throwing a party and I've got my choice of anything I'm going to have fun was what, what, what is it that you're setting up in your backyard with the, with the barbecue? It be an obstacle course course because I am an extremely competitive person. And the obstacle courses are inflatable, but they're double lanes. So you raced, you've got two people racing side by side. You're going through all these obstacles, like little tire races through pop-ups through climbing walls. Then you get to that final climbing wall and you got to beat your competitor to the top and be, yeah. Slide and I like to win. So I like to see how fast I can do that. I can't pick these things. So like the obstacle course. And when you're describing all of that, I mean, that sounds like, what is it like the size of a football field? It can't be that big, but it's, it's gotta be, we have some that are like first smaller kids that are like 30, 40, 50 foot long. But then we have the ones that go to a hundred foot long and then I have one called the rat race and the rat race is actually over 200 foot. It makes like a figure eight and it's over 200 foot. And about a time. I thought I was just getting old because when we first got that and I went there to the end, I was dying, I was huffing and puffing. I was buying and one of my staffs there's was like 23 is right beside me. He comes out and I'm like, okay, you're dying too. So it's not just me. Oh, that is hilarious. I love that. So you have these obstacle courses and then all inflatable, but you also have, so, and you kind of mentioned actually, so you've got some smaller ones that are kind of, I'm assuming more designed for kids for younger, but. Like the one that the last one you were just describing, I'm sure is more adult kind of sized for adults. Right? , so you do all different kinds of events, but a lot of events I'm imagine that you do and clients that you service are for adult kind of things, corporate parties or adult, you know, barbecues. Hey, we're having a party in the backyard. I get 50 people coming in. Yes, we do. , adults, bounce houses. We get calls all the time. Do you want adult bounce houses? Well, that would be the obstacle courses in the interactive games. A lot of companies focus more on just the small kid inflatables. I had kids that started getting into their teens while I did this. So I quickly realized, Hey, I've got to grow. I've got to offer something for teens and for adults as they got older. So we quickly became one of the first companies that offer teen inflatables and adult inflatables and things that challenged them. Made them happy. That's kind of what got me into the corporate side of it in the church youth group side of it is because they're like, oh, this stuff is cool. Because when I first started this company, I didn't have many, many competitors, bounce houses were bounce houses. Right. In fact, you had like a balance. There wasn't many obstacle courses. I had one of the first waterslides there ever, where it was called a slip and slide on. Honestly, I had one of those, so they didn't have a lot, but they started expanding and as they would expand, I would grab it and add it to my inventory.Chanda:
And it was great. I mean, it was great for older kids and adults.Randy:
So you're operating. Huge business. Now you've got like 30 staff members, but it's a family business as well. So you have, your son has been working with you for awhile. I've got my twin boys that do it with me. One son owns it with me. Now, when my dad retired, my one son bought into it. He owns it with me and then his twin brother recently joined us. My husband left his 24 year career in the freight business to join us this year. And then let's see, as two of my cousin's kids work for me, I mean, it is a big family enterprise. Um, my daughter-in-law answers our phones and then one of my daughter's best friends also helps me in the office and answers that. But it's just, it's big. We're all connected in some way. So sometimes having a family business. Lot of members in the family working in, you know, can, yeah, there's some good. And some, you know, could be a little stressful at times as it creates you ever run into issues like that. It's definitely, I mean, especially between my two boys, cause they're twins and they're brothers and they still have that brotherly connection. They don't always agree on everything. I think it depends on how you, how you work it out and how you set the roles from the beginning. You know, you've got to set up the expectations and the roles they're going to play in the beginning and where to draw the line. Yeah. And that that's helped. Yeah. I mean, it's even, my husband has stepped into it this year and my son's his boss, you know, so that's really, really different. I really had to work on that before my husband came in here, you know, I really had to work on that and you realized Erin's your boss, you know, but ultimately you're the boss. Ultimately that's good. Yeah. Well, that's gotta be fun. I think I'm sure that it poses some challenges. So over the course of time, just having family involved with businesses, I know how that goes. Um, it's fun too. I mean, yeah, it is fun. And I get to work with my kids every day, so yeah, well that I could see, I'm actually trying to do that with my kids. Now, get them involved in doing a few different things that we're doing and that kind of works. Some, . So Chad, do you like baseball? I love baseball and my husband's a fanatic. Right? Well, the Texas Rangers are one of our clients, right? Oh, very good. Well, here we are. We're at this point in the show that we call the seventh inning stretch so it's here China, that we we, um, we ask kind of some baseball question that. Yeah, my research team kind of goes through, pulls out some ideas of something that's kind of relative to your industry. And so they did a little digging, thinking about this whole thing about fun and all of this stuff. And so we wanted to kind of dig in and see your thoughts Janda on the best kids zone at MLB stadium. So you were just at the Dallas there, you said the Rangers are one of your clients. Now they are noted by the way in MLB as a very good family friendly baseball park. So I'm sure you do some stuff. You send some stuff up there once in a while, right? For probably some special events maybe that they're doing. So that's. So the question to you, you know, in thinking about baseball. So this is, this is almost more informational rather than a hard question that we would do, but any ideas on any, any stadiums that come to mind that you think that might be like, oh, that seems kind of. Well, you know, probably Chicago, the Chicago Cubs. Yes. Well, you probably know I'm a Cubs fan, so it was good. I didn't, we went to. The Cubs play the Rangers. Ah, yes. Ah, well we lived years ago. We lived about a mile from a rig land, so he used to walk to games all the time. Loved living there. Chicago actually is not noted the Wrigley field as being a great, however, in the last few years they've done some stuff on the outside and created some parks. Beautiful, but inside the stadium. So listen to this. So obviously there's a lot of different activities. You know, you've got mascot all running around. You've got the racing, hot dogs or racing sausages, you know, that'll run around the bases actually in Washington, the Washington nationals, they do racing presidents in the little costumes, I think is kind of funny. So they, everybody kind of does their version. Kid zone or a fan zone in Detroit, the tigers have a carousel and a Ferris wheel at their stadium in their kid's zone, which is kind of fun. Yeah. A lot of these places have batting cages and pitching cages. You know, you can go in and enjoy this one. I thought was kind of unique in St. Louis at Busch stadium. They have a build a bear station. Now I never. Thought about that. My daughter would have loved that in her build a bear. You could go to San Diego to the Padres and they have just outside of center field, a place that's called the beach and the kids can go and play in some California sand out there and their kids zone. So that's a lot of fun. That is pretty cool in Philadelphia. They have something called. Fun zone. Now this is getting a little bit into your neck of the woods here. So they call it the fund zone and that's spelled with a P H to kind of cue on the like Philadelphia, right? All PHS. They've got a thing where they do. Fanatic shoe slide and rock climbing wall. So you can go and do that with the kids. However, this one, which is somewhat in your neighborhood, Houston Astros are thought of, of having some of the most fun kind of family and kids zones. They do something on their family, Sundays inflatable games. Giant slides and they call it a sea of balls, which I didn't see any pictures of those, but I'm imagined you have one of those things, like the big pit with the balls in it, and people jump into it and that kind of thing. Do you have something like that too? Those are going to be more for your stationary signs. That's probably something that they keep there and keep the balls in there because when you're done with the balls, they have to go through a sanitation device. I can't even imagine them be pumped back in there. Yeah. Yeah. All right. So there you go, Houston. I don't know how to get down to Houston. Go catch up. It's pretty cool. Say they just need to let me set up one of these and I can set up the best one. Yeah, exactly. Well, that's what we need to do is reach out, reach out to Houston, to their management and say, Hey, let's, let's connect. All right, well, let's get back into it. Thanks for playing. So Chanda. So you talked about, and you just even kind of mentioned it there just about the sanitation and all that. What is the process? I don't necessarily like the day in the life of, you know, the inflatable world, but I can only imagine you guys go, you set the stuff up. There's gotta be somewhat of a qualifying process in that as well. I'm just thinking about your business from an operational standpoint. , As a small bit. I mean, you certainly you've got everything else going for you. You're looking for clients, you've got product, you've got employees, but from an operational standpoint, because you take stuff out to sites, you have no clue what these places are. Some probably repeat business. Certainly, bud. I have to imagine that that really creates. Operational challenges. So do you do like a qualifying process to like, well, Randy, what's the size of your backyard that you want to put this 200 foot inflatable obstacle course in and we do, we do. Now speaking of the sanitation of them, we actually bring those back after every rental and we set them up just like we inflate them at your house. We inflate them and we wet dry vacuum and we use sanitizers three different sanitizers on them to sanitize them and get them ready to come back to you for your. Wow. So that's a bit of a process. Then when people rent on our website, it has the sizes on there, but a lot of people look at that and they can't do size in relation to what their yard looks like. They'll call us and we'll walk them through how to appropriately measure that and take into account any trees or any swing sets that can be moved, trampolines, those kinds of things, to make things fit in Texas. We are not as logistically challenged as some states because everything's bigger in Texas. Our yards are big. Our yards are big for the most part, and we have lots of rooms. So people don't have problems even fitting our biggest items in there. In fact, we have taken a rock climbing walls and set them in people's backyards and front yards. Like w like how tall are these things like? Wow, well, that would be fun. 100 foot long obstacle courses fit in people's backyards. . Okay. So, so when you earlier, before we started recording here and talking about kind of running routes, so you have people though that they are, that's kind of their day, right. They're loading up the truck and then they drop them off, set them up. And then I didn't know that and they pick stuff up. They on like a Saturday, a typical Saturday. My guys will put in about 12 hours. They'll put in a 12 hour day. They'll start early that morning. They are done by usually noon or one. If all they have is customers. Then they go home, they take a little break, they start back picking up at about six or seven o'clock at night. And they finished up around midnight is when they're through. Now, if we have churches in schools, those usually fall in the middle of that and I'll have it's different crew. That'll go out and do those. Yeah. Yeah. . That is a day. Well, those there's a lot of logistics. We run about 10 to 12 trucks on a Saturday. . Trucks and trailers. Yeah, I can only imagine it. Some of the challenges with that from an operational standpoint. So you started with three back in the day out of your garage. I dunno. You know, that's what you always kind of thing, but is that what you did? You actually like, it was out of my garage because I was going to buy just three bounce houses and I was using a manufacturer that did this, a small manufacturer out of Garland, Texas. And he told me at that time, he's like, Don't just buy these bounce houses, try this new slip and slide water slot. And I was like, I don't know about that. And he said, no, I'm telling you it's going to be the biggest hit it's going to be. And so I did, I took those two bounce houses and it was in may and I took that water slide. The first place I taught, it's not taught to school and taking that Waterside. Once that school ticket, I kept him busy the rest of the summer. He could not manufacture those slips. Fast enough for me. So they were running as fast and as much as I could get them. So by the end of the season, we had 30 inflatables. You started with three, and I know these things are not cheap and you grew to 30 in the first year, so you actually had to drop some. Capital investment into this, and now you're a hundred and what'd you say, sixty a hundred and sixty, a hundred and sixty inflatables alone. So, you know, the challenges first, I want to just kind of talk about the, the first year of that kind of growth. , had to be. I, whether you anticipated it or not, but absolutely had to be a challenge in so many different ways. How did you approach that? I guess, especially in that very first year.Chanda:
It was a challenge and we didn't expect it to be that successful that fast. In fact, a friend of mine, one of my lifelong friends started this business with me and yes, we're still very good friends today, but she started this business with me and it was so overwhelming that they realized a few minutes into it. We can't do this. You had to devote every bit of your time and to grow the way we were growing, we weren't able to take money. We were having to take everything we were making and flip it back into more inventory, more inventory, more inventory. And like it is every weekend. That is the thing you have to make up your mind that you're okay with giving up your weekends and. We were. So we, that, that was our first challenge is getting through that and how we were logistically gonna make it happen. So then it was just me and my husband. I was actually at, believe it or not delivering these things. I had gotten to build up to where I could delivering them, me and my kids, my kids were helping me and we were delivering and my husband would have a route. And then my dad decided to join me. And then a friend of mine decided to help me. So by the end of that season, we had four people delivering and that was it. That's all we had. I was the only person. Um, that was hard. So it took us a little bit. And like I say, investing all of the money and trying to develop policies and procedures, even though I came from a very structured HR environment, when you start your own business, a lot of that structure goes out the window and you're just flying by the seat of your pants. I did that for three years. Yeah. Yeah. No, and actually that's very true. And I'm sure, , many of our listeners are small business owners themselves and they're like, oh yes. , they're just. Going as fast as they can just to keep up with whatever the demand is, let alone some of the operational and or procedural kinds of things, , to record and memorialize those things and have them.Randy:
I'm just really am fascinated. We had a show not too long ago, actually a gentlemen on talking about credit and business credit and building your business credit profile and all of that. And then when I think about you have started. And then building from year one up to 30 inflatables, , credit had to have been, , you had to utilize it or were you just like every dollar we had, we just utilized and bought and we didn't do anything else. Aside from buy inventory, we literally, for the first three years we pumped everything. This business made back into it. I didn't take a dime and I was able to do that because my husband's still had his job. If he had not still had his job, there was no way we could have done that. But I literally made the decision. I wanted to grow big and I wanted to get there to where this could be my only source of income and my kids could work it as they grew up and we could provide for other families as well. So we literally pumped everything the first three years back into it. I took not one dime until the fourth year. That is amazing. Well, good for you. So you've had this incredible growth super fast in the first year. I'm imagining over the course of these 20 years, you probably continued to expand your footprint from deliveries and service areas. Going, I know we you know, to be transparent, we do work for you from a digital marketing standpoint. So I I'm, I'm intimate with your website. So you have this website, that's got everything, which is a inflatablepartymagictx.com folks, go check it out. We'll have the links in the show notes. So you can go check out some of her stuff as well of her fun YouTube channels. So you can see all the fun videos that Chanda has there. So you've done this growth over the course of these 20 years. What have been some of those real hard challenges that you've had to face? And how did you approach it and how did you overcome some of those things over the coach of these.Chanda:
No employees are probably going to be the single hardest challenge, because you've got to realize where they fit into your business. And as somebody that's controlling it all at this point in time, you have to figure out what pieces of it. You're willing to let go of how you're willing to let go. And then finding the right fit of people. I mean, we, we go through a lot and we go through, I think ours is probably a challenging business because ours is physically demanding. So you've got to find somebody that's willing to give it their all and a very physically demanding world. So we had to, we went up, we just had to figure out a lot to make that work. Um, the other, I guess, hard pieces to making it all. To making it all come together where the fact that we had limited resources, like I said, this was not a huge type of business. When I first got started, there were not a lot of insurance companies that would take us. And I was always insured from day one. That was something that I found very, very important. But as I stepped, started stepping into the corporate realm that I was finding out I needed different types of insurance, more insurance, and that was a learning process. A very big learning.Randy:
I can only imagine just from some of those other kinds of support functions that you would need as a business. And certainly now in thinking about not only you have to ensure because of people jumping around in these bounce houses, Because you have a number of trucks that are going out there and delivering you've got commercial vehicles, essentially, that you're insuring as well. . Now you're probably, . Maybe you are out still delivering. I, I doubt that you're making deliveries on the weekends as you are. You're probably are much more now through just managing logistics and the business. End of it. Now at the capacity. If you see me out there delivering now, it's because we're, we are really, really, really busy or we are short-staffed for some reason, but every once in a while you were see me out there. And I, I do go on some of my corporate setups. I do go on some of my church, my larger church set ups, just to make sure that everything's going my way. Cause I, I have a pretty. Tied hand on what goes on and what my employees do. So I just, I, you know, I've got to applaud you for what you've done and what you've built over the, over the years. So that is just so encouraging and um, to see how this has come about, how about some of them. A memorable event or a couple of things may, maybe that you can think of that you've supplied products for inflatables for, you know, is there some big bash that was like, oh, you know, this was so cool that you can rememberChanda:
my favorite things that we did. Um, we did a thing for, they have, they have it every year up in Denton and it is a week long festival that they have. Well, they ended that week-long festival. They asked us to bring a water slide up there. One of the Coca-Cola. Was had become one of our backyard clients. And he's like, I want you to bring this water slide up here. I'll talk them into it. So they did, they let us bring a water slide up there, a trackless train and an obstacle course, we spent a week up there, but then at the end of it was the Bellamy brothers and the Bellamy brothers are like my favorite. Okay. We met the best people up there they're out that week. And we just, we had the best time that was when I volunteered to go work on their brothers. I had to, I had to go to work and, and get to see the belly. That was probably one of my best events. And then we've also, we've done some events on the more solemn side of it. Um, we've worked with like the children children's miracle networks and things like that. Um, for kids that are really going through some tough things and those have always been great to work with and supply we've used, talked about building. We do. What's called creative bear, which is a version of a home delivered, build a bear. We've taken those out and we actually do them at big public events. And I'll go on those. I enjoy doing the Build-A-Bear. I enjoy interacting with the kids while they do it and then getting to choose it and put it together. And that's just fun. So yeah, we have the traveling build the bears and I enjoy that side of it. Crazy. I never would have thought that you would have that even. I mean, You truly are an entertainment company you provide just, wow. All right. So, so really, if there's, I should just call you up and say Chanda, I'm thinking about a party. I've got, you know, a 15 year old boy here. What can I do? And you've got something I'm sure. Yeah, I keep high and entertain. That is crazy. It's something that can fit a smile on someone's face I'll. I'll try it. I had someone want me to get bumper cars, so I just added bumper cars. Like we would love to see bumper cars and I found an inflatable ring forum in here we go. I now have bumper cars. Okay. Now I've got, I've got to ask you about this, cause this is crazy.Randy:
So the cars aren't inflating. No, the cars aren't inflatable. The ring is the bumper cars. Believe it or not are very similar to what you go and ride at six flags except they're battery operated and they're fast. They're fast and fun. Well, that sounds fun. All right. So you've mentioned about competition when you started relatively little or no competition. Now I know it is really a competitive endeavor. What is your edge? What do you believe is your edge inflatable party magic. We hands down and I know you're quite successful in your area. What is your edge? I think customer service. I think that's the number one thing is that we believe in customer service, anybody can offer the products that we offer, but not everybody can offer the same service that we offer and the same personalization. I try to make it personal. Most of mine. Clients, if they want to have a personal conversation with me, I'm, I'm not off limits. My staff will give them my phone number to call me and I'll, I'll have that conversation. We'll do what we need to do, but we try to personalize everything. Well, I think that's 100% of the success in business is if your customers like you or not, and they feel like they can trust you. So you've got to create that. Well, clearly you've tapped onto a good formula because being in business for 20 years especially in in the 20 years that you've been in business. Come, you know, you've gone through a couple of, you know, major, you know, you had the oh eight recession that you continued to go through. And I would imagine in Texas, you probably have had different kind of micro economic issues, you know, with up and down with oil and maybe the oil industry gas industry might not be as impactful as it once was in Texas, but I'm sure that it still has. And now of course, obviously the pandemic battling COVID and, um, how have you Kind of surfed, I guess. I don't know. What's the best way to describe it. How have you kind of navigated really over the last 18 months or so with COVID and with the pandemic and with your industry? Because obviously you've got a product in, in the industry. Pulling people together doing a lot of events. And a lot of that stuff was squelched or reduced over the last 18 months. And I know this summer has come on strong for you, but walk us through kind of those last 18 months or so, how did you guys navigate that? What was your approach to survival? Because now you're come out and you're doing it. First few months were a little bit tough, a little bit scary. Obviously events were gone. My corporate events were done. I had many scheduled that we're canceling. We were refunding all of our church events, canceled all of our schools. We have contracts with many school districts to provide all of their end of the year stuff. And then some of them, we do every six weeks for different programs. All of those were gone immediately. I mean, A week of this happening, everybody was on the phone canceling, canceling, canceling. So we had to sit here and regroup. Instead of, as a team, we sat together and thought, how, how are we going to get through this? What do we have to offer people that are now home? They're home with nothing to do. Their kids are no longer in school. Their kids are going crazy, being trapped inside. They can't go anywhere. So we thought about it and we thought, you know, the cleaners we use kill COVID 100%. What we could do is come out with rentals that people could do at their homes. We were already doing home rentals anyway, but we started offering week long rentals. We were like, okay, for this amount of money, you can have a water slide or whatever. From Monday through Friday, we will bring it to you. That gives your kids something to do. Monday through Friday, we had little areas that would go in together that one week, this family would do it the next week this family would do it and they were all those kids were together. Anyway, they were already together and. Area. And they were seeing each other daily COVID bubble, so to speak. And it was, it was their own little COVID bubble, their own little COVID family. So they would just take turns running. And some of them had them all summer long that way. Um, and then we started having families that are like, you know what, we're still going to do. Just small get togethers. And so they would rent them or they would rent them just for home weekends. You know, mom, mom, or dad was essential worker. They were still working Monday through Friday. They wanted something and. Away from it. During the weekend, we provided that we found a way to provide that and get that out there. And we got busy and we stayed really busy, um, through COVID, which was amazing. We didn't start out that way, but we got that way. We just started sending out emails and started marketing that away and started gearing it towards at home, stay fun. And then when they came back, we did, in fact, before my guys would even touch them and pick them up all back up, we were lost selling them just to make sure they were lost, sewing them. Then when they came back to us, we. We use a medical grade cleaner that kills 99.9% of all germs and including COVID. So we would set everything up, clean it with that, take it back to the customer. The next customer, we, we just made sure everything was clean. Everything was sanitary and provided safe, fun entertainment had to have something to do, or you, what. No. I know. I absolutely believe me because I have two kids that were at home and driving my wife crazy. But I don't, I want to be sure we don't gloss over because you were you highlighted a couple of things that I thought was exceptional in an approach to a business challenge that you hit on. One was. You pulled your team together and I'm just going to say, Hey, this is Chanda. And she's, you know, the HR background and very focused with her employees, but you pulled the team together and said, okay, now what? And so you really involve them in helping to kind of create a solution. And then you guys just got really creative with products that you're already doing. And I love that innovation on, well, instead of just an afternoon or a four hours of a rental. We'll create a package where you can do it for a week. So you took something that you were doing and said, we could live with this, um, in the interim, right. To create something like that. That was, I think that was very clever and probably, , enabled you to survive and continue the cashflow in order to maintain the business. So good for you. Is that something that you've continued maybe as a practice, as an office? Yes. Um, we did have to, to summer because people got used to that last summer and we have had many customers that wanted it back. Um, I've got several customers that are still doing that at least once a month, they'll do the week long rental and we're like, sure, we'll extend it. We did it. And it worked once. We'll do it. So we have, we have several customers that it's still like say once a month through the week. What do you see around the corner at this point? You know, you've got. You've been in business for 20 years. You're still growing as it sounds. What do you see either for the industry or more specifically for inflatable party magic? , Chanda: you know, I think It's probably more corporate. Yeah. We'll we'll become larger in that respect. Um, as far as adding more inventory, we will grow with what, what the industry grows with. I, what I've always tried to do is every year, there's at least one innovative thing that comes to our industry. And I try to grab it. I go to a show every year. In November that introduces all the latest and greatest and I'll come home. It lived at least one of the latest and greatest. And I think that's part of it is just keep being innovative and I'll grow with the industry. I mean, like I say, I was one of the first to have water slides and that was something big 20 years ago to where now the water slide I had was a Flatwater side and now they're 30 foot tall, you know what I mean? You just keep growing with them. There's going to be something new and better every year. I love the idea. So you go to like an inflatable conference. Do they have these things set up when you can go check them out and check, inspect them? Look at them. All of that. I do. It's called and it happens in Orlando every year, the week before Thanksgiving, every year, that was my kids vacation every year and they liked it. They, we would go to Disney. We would go to Orlando. Universal and all those places. And they would beg you to go back to IAP because it was more fun. And then I hope it wasn't just the inflatables. I act as a big enterprise, it brings together like rods. They had at six flags and things like that too. But, um, yeah, it was more fun that I have because this is like a week long thing and everything's set up, you can play on it. Experiment with it. It's fun. Oh, I'm sure your kids love that. Hey, what are we going? They did great. They love it. Now. I'm taking my grandkids now. My grandkids love it. What a great business. All right. So here we are. We're at the bottom of the ninth . This is a time when we talk about, , you know, kind of your advice that you have for rookies in the game. I mean, you've been in for 20 years, you've got just incredible experience. How about folks that are starting out in their own business venture? Not necessarily inflatables could be anything, you know, what kind of advice or guidance do you have for those.Chanda:
The first thing is don't get discouraged and don't let people tell you that you can't, because you're going to be told you can't or that you're crazy. And many a times when you start your own business and you just have to power through that. The number two thing is don't be afraid to work because when you start your own business, you may have worked 40 hours a week for somebody else. When you start your own business, you're going to work 80 or 90 hours. The first year to get it up and going. And if you think you can start a business without putting the hours or the time in you can't, you can't, so don't be afraid to work. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. The other thing I learned is what really helped me in the beginning. And I don't think it's an old school thing cause I still do it today is do not hesitate to go and knock on the door. Walk in, I, I walked in churches, corporations, Hey, this is what I have to offer. Who can I talk to? And just be upbeat, be bubbly. I still do it. And I still land those customers. So don't be afraid to talk to them in person, not everything's online or through email people like personal contact. And don't forget that. I love that those are some of my biggest thing and plan, always plan for the worst. And I always want to say that, start building your cashflow and plan for the worst and hope. Well, let me tell you a great words of advice from the queen of vinyl, because you've been in 20 years that is a great success in itself and still growing.Randy:
So that is, um, that's good stuff. I love the one, especially going in and kind of the face to face thing, because there is way too much kind of reliance and especially coming through the last several months right. Of being online and zooms and everything else, but yeah, just going out and, um, Getting known and meeting people and making that connection. So that's good. Good advice. Well, listen, Chanda, thank you so much for being on the show. It's been great to hear more about the inflatable world and everything that you do and what the business and how successful you have grown that enterprise. So, um, I really appreciate you being on the show.Chanda:
I appreciate you giving me the opportunity.Randy:
Yeah. Yeah. All right, folks. Well, that is the ballgame. And thanks for joining us today. And if you liked the show, please tell your friends, subscribe and review, and we'll see around the ballpark. Running the Bases with small businesses is brought to you by. 38 digital market, a digital marketing agency, committed to client growth with lead generation higher conversions and increased sales connect with us today at www.38digitalmarket.com.