Bounce houses, moonwalks, jump houses, air castles and slides are popular rentals at children's parties. Operating your own inflatable party rental business can be a fun way to earn a living. Keep in mind, though, that outdoor inflatable party rentals are seasonal, unless you can find a suitable indoor venue to rent to during the winter months. In addition to inflatable playscapes, you may consider adding items like popcorn and snowcone machines to your line of rentals for extra income.
Determine your budget. You can start your own rental business for just a few thousand dollars. There are many models of generic inflatable fun houses, slides, moonwalks, and so on, for under $2,000, including the blower system that keeps them inflated. Some models, however, are trademarked, such as Disney bounce houses. You will need to purchase a license for these products in order to offer them as party rentals. Most dealers of trademarked rentals will help walk you through the licensing process in your state.
Additional costs include a full-size pickup truck or panel van to carry your equipment, basic office supplies like a computer with a good scheduling program, and employees. Your inflatable party rentals must be supervised by a qualified adult at all times. Determine how many employees other than yourself you will need in order to run your business; if your budget is small you may want to keep your operation small so that you can run it by yourself.
Obtain the proper business licenses. Requirements vary from state to state, so contact your state's department of licensing to get the rundown on what you'll need for your company.
Think of a clever name for your bounce house business — something humorous and easy to remember. You will likely have to file for a business or DBA (Doing Business As) name at your local county courthouse or city hall.
Insure yourself to the maximum. To start your own business in inflatable party rentals, you will need liability insurance. It is mandatory, and you should buy as much as you can afford. You may also be required to have your party rental equipment inspected once a year and be subject to surprise inspections. Contact your insurance agent and ask if they offer liability insurance for children's party rentals or if they can direct you to a local carrier of such insurance.
You'll also need insurance for the company vehicle and the policy will need to cover all employees who plan to drive it.
Keep your equipment super clean to avoid lawsuits. Learn proper disinfecting procedures for your rentals — this is particularly important with inflatables because disease outbreaks spread quickly amongst children. Also, learn about how to keep kids safe in the party rentals. When purchasing bounce houses, look for a feature called a safety step that is sewn in around the bounce area to protect kids from hitting the ground. Some dealers of inflatable party rental playscapes will offer training courses in operation and safety to buyers at a discount or for free. You should be familiar with how to quickly evacuate kids from a deflating bounce house.
Set up your equipment and test it rigorously before offering it as a party rental, so that you know the ins and outs of how it works. Items like spare blowers, hoses and patch kits are good to have should one part fail. You should be familiar with how to quickly patch leaks in your inflatable party rentals to keep them up and running.
After you have your license, insurance, training and equipment you can begin to advertise locally. Hand out flyers and cards to parents and place ads on Craigslist and in local papers. Create a professional-looking website with good-quality photos of the rentals. Design an eye-catching logo and paint it on the side of your vehicle to draw in potential customers.