Equipment for your Inflatable Rental Business
Choosing your Inflatables
Obviously, you are purchasing inflatables! It's time to determine the size, style, and prices of the units you are going to purchase.
Usually, you can't go wrong if you start out with 13x13
's. One person can handle them, they fit in most driveways or yards, and are big enough for festivals and larger events.
If your target market lives mostly in cluster homes with small yards, you may prefer a 10x10. These will not be as versatile as the larger size but if they suit your target market, it makes more sense to start with the smaller units. They are also easier to handle. If you think you may have trouble handling the inflatables and plan to do the setup yourself, a smaller unit is the way to go.
The 15 x 15 size moonwalk is extremely versatile. It is heavier than the 13 x13 but can still be handled by one person. Small enough to fit in most yards but big enough to handle enough children for festivals and large events, the 15 x 15 is a good choice if you are only purchasing one bounce to begin.
If you live in a colder climate, you may want to consider an Garage or Indoor Bounce. These are smaller and lower to the ground so that they can fit in a garage. The 10 x 10 size fits in almost any small space, including some living rooms! The 10 x 13 and 10 x 15 sizes are designed to fit perfectly in 1/2 of a 2-car garage- leaving room for the party in the other half of the garage. The Indoor Bounce has multiple uses- great for rainy days and winter time, it also functions as a mini bouncy-boxing ring or a party bounce for young children all summer long. It makes an excellent addition to your regular bounces, giving you the ability to adapt to weather and other unusual setup conditions. At least one Indoor Moonwalk is highly recommended for all moonwalk rental businesses.
How do you choose from so many styles available? It's hard to go wrong on a style unless you get something extremely specific that goes out of style next year. Classic styles such as the castle or fun house or birthday cake are best if you are only starting out with one unit. You don't want something to "boyish" or "girly" if you only have one or two units.
Buy more specific characters as your business expands. Of course, if you really want a certain character, go for it!
Another idea is to ask a "focus group" which one they would like best. Ask kids and moms and daycare workers which one they would want. But make your own decision- if you have 50 choices, you are likely to get 50 answers!
Yes, you can fit a single bounce in the back of a truck or van to start out. Your life will be much easier if you get a trailer if you can afford it. A 5'x8' trailer can handle 2 or 3 15'x15' bounces and is a good choice for your new business. A trailer will make loading, unloading and possibly even storage easier for you.
Don't buy the cheapest handtruck you can find. You will need a commercial quality handtruck with inflatable tires. The tires are important because the inflatable kind are wider and have better traction for moving heavy equipment over lawns and gravel. The hard rubber type of tires are more likely to tear up lawns and cause you to have to struggle to get the equipment where you want it.
We highly recommend the Inflatable Mongo Mover, a hand truck specially designed for moving inflatable rides. The fenders prevent the wheels from rubbing the vinyl and the specially angled wheels take the strain off your back. A Mongo Mover is a MUST if you are buying a slide or other heavy piece of equipment.
If a Mongo Mover is out of your price range, try buying a hand truck designed for moving appliances. They come with straps conveniently attached and are designed for heavy loads.
Sandbags and Sandbag Covers:
Follow your manufacturer's instructions on stabilizing your equipment. You will need sandbags for hard surfaces and the easiest way to connect sandbags is with sandbag covers. The minimum you will need is 4, with one on each corner. We recommend you use 8 sandbags per bounce, with 2 on each corner. It is a small price to pay in extra covers and a little extra effort when you consider how much an insurance claim may cost you in the long run. You can usually purchase sandbag covers from your manufacturer at the time you buy your equipment or you can buy them separately later.
If you don't have sandbag covers, you can purchase duffel bags and place your sandbags inside. Secure the handle to your tiedown rope. Remember, nylon duffel bags will not last as long as vinyl sandbag covers and will need to be replaced sooner.
If your manufacturer does not include a tarp with your equipment purchase, you will need to purchase one. It is not a bad idea to go ahead and purchase backups as well. A tarp is very inexpensive in comparison to your equipment and you should always use one, whether you are setting up on grass or concrete. Buy the highest quality tarp you can get, whether locally or through your manufacturer. It goes a long way towards protecting your investment. We recommend you ALWAYS use a tarp- then there is no question as to whether or not you should use one for a specific setup.
On potentially rainy days, it is a good idea to leave an extra tarp with the client and ask them to deflate the ride and cover it with the tarp in the event that it starts raining. If the rain then stops, they can re-inflate the ride with no worries. If it is pouring down rain, the tarp won't help- you are still going to have to deal with a wet, heavy unit!
Stakes will be used to secure your equipment on grass. Follow your manufacturer's instructions. You will need lightweight tent spikes for securing the tarp and heavy duty stakes for securing the inflatable. We recommend that you purchase landscape spikes at your local home improvement warehouse for about .30-.50 each and find washers to fit. Get a heavy hammer or a mallet to pound them into the ground. If you use a hammer, you can use the claw end to pull the stake out later or you can purchase a claw-type tool to help you remove the stakes.
While 4 spikes are adequate, we recommend that you use 8 spikes per unit with 2 stakes on each corner secured to rope loops for maximum stablity. See the Setting up a Moonwalk page for more details. Always follow your manufaturer's recommendations on securing your unit and check to see if your insurance company has any specific requirements as well.
Purchase heavy-duty outdoor type extension cords. A good idea is to purchase one with a small LED light on the end so that you can tell if there is a problem with the power source. The ones that have a locking mechanism are great for added safety against the cord pulling out. One 50' cord per unit should be enough; you really don't want to extend the power any farther than 50'. It is a good idea to have a longer one just in case you need it, though.
If you live in an area where you know you are going to be setting up a lot in areas with no power, look into costs for gas generators. As a rule of thumb, start out renting a generator when you need one until you can determine how often it will be needed and what size you will need to purchase. It is a good idea to call around and get rental rates so that you will have answers on hand when a customer asks. Plan your pricing accordingly.
This is a great idea. Place a large carpet remnant in front of the moonwalk, under the safety step. This gives kids a place to sit and put their shoes and it minimizes grass and dirt that get tracked into your equipment. Definitely worth the effort because it will save you a lot of time cleaning.
Buy the most powerful cordless hand vac you can find, one with a hose and a crevice tool. This will help you quickly clear the moonwalk of any grass or debris before you deflate and roll it up.
Broom and Cleaning Supplies:
A smaller broom with an angled head is better than a bigger one since you are dealing with lots of crevices in the moonwalk floor. Spray Lysol and a small towel will help you to quickly clean any spots before they become permanent.
A stopwatch is a nice touch to offer your clients. They can play timed games with it or time turns if there are a lot of children at the event. If you are attending the rental, you will want a stopwatch to ensure that the length of the turns are fair.
If you are attending an event, take a whistle to get the attention of the riders. You don't know their names and often there is a lot of noise to overcome. This is really a safety issue as you will often need to get the attention of a rider who is misbehaving before an accident happens.
Inflatable rides should not be operated in winds that exceed 25 MPH so it doesn't hurt to have a wind gauge on hand to help you or your customers make that call. These run about $125-$150 in camping/sporting goods stores. Nice to have but not essential.
OK, so you don't NEED a Bubble Machine
, but they are a lot of fun and add to the rental fees for almost no work. Don't forget to stock up on bubble solution!