Business Owner Spotlight: John Bennett of Façade Theme Party

Today, we’re starting a new series on the blog focused on business owners in the industry.

This first post of the series is of one of Inflatable Academy’s strongest advocates. A guy that really has the right attitude toward business, collaboration and the success mindset.

John Bennett was the first member of the Inflatable Academy Partners Program, and has contributed as an objective participant toward making it what it is today. We welcome all Inflatable Academy readers to do the same, and I just want to say thanks to John for all his support.

Last, being featured on a Business Owner Spotlight is something that’s available to all, but members of the Inflatable Academy Partners Program will have first priority. Please comment below if you’re interested in being featured. Your story will also get a linkback which can be valuable for SEO.

So let’s jump in… Here’s John!

Brief Intro

I would like to start off by saying that I am unquestionably honored that Mike asked me to be a part of this and at the same time very humbled by the extreme talent around me from whom I can gain incredible incite and knowledge from. I am in comparison fairly new to this industry but do have over 25 years of experience in sales, service and manufacturing.

My name is John Bennett and I am the owner of Façade Theme Party a rental business based just outside of Los Angeles. I am located at 1501 7th Street in Suite “A” Riverside, Ca. 92507 about 50 miles from LA.

Façade Theme Party opened its doors 3 years ago in September of 2012 and spent that first year building inventory, researching the market and defining what the customer base would be. I wanted to be a customer driven business so finding out what our customers wanted and what their past experiences were Façade could move forward in the right direction. September 2013 we officially opened the doors for business ready to give our customers that experience they were lacking. Façade still has a ways to go but in 2014 we quadrupled our sales from 2013 and we are on track to double that this year taking us to a new tax bracket.

I am excited in the direction Facade is headed and Inflatable Academy is a great resource for me to take this business to the next level.

What do you enjoy most about the inflatable and party rental industry?

Where to start… there are so many aspects of this business that can bring excitement and fun to an owner in this industry. I am in a trade with an industry that is all about fun. I get excited about bringing enjoyment into people’s lives it makes me feel like a kid with candy.Making people happy and bringing them an awesome experience is something I absolutely love and to be a part of that brings fulfillment into my life and for me that is success.

Then there is the whole family attribute of the business being able to spend time with them and getting them involved brings you closer together and you are able to share bringing joy into others lives. This industry is sincerely exceptional, it is full of family, fun and enjoyment. Another remarkable element to this business is the relationships that you build that turn into long term friendships, not to mention you able to make a good living at doing something you actually love.

What are your current goals in this business?

My immediate goals are to take the lessons I’ve learned from Inflatable Academy and the advice from the other interviews that Mike has organized and put those into action. I want to begin to utilize the tools I now have before me to change some things I’ve been doing to work even smarter than I have in the past.

I have had incredible success up to this point but implementing and incorporating these new tools from the Inflatable Academy all I see is tremendous growth opportunities for my business. I also want to be a part of helping to take this industry to new heights with better service and new opportunities to make the customer experience extraordinary. Being actively involved with those who desire to take this industry to where it needs to go.

What opportunities do you see for the industry as a whole?

This industry has been around for a while now and has become well established but I think that it has reached a plateau and is now starting to move in a new direction. Many jumper businesses have become complacent in the way they do business. They have come into this industry just to make a quick buck and have inundated it with standards that simply aren’t up to par making it far more difficult for those who are here for the betterment of this industry.

I see those who are stepping out to make changes and put it on the right track, to restore it, by bringing new and exciting inflatables to the table as well as a better customer experience. With the launch of Inflatable Academy this is the change that’s coming, educate people, support structure, new tools and an easier way to do business and spend more time on focusing on what matters, the customer.

With inflatable manufacturers out there like eInflatables designing new and fun inflatables it is no longer the back yard jumper but events with amusement park type rides bringing that experience closer to home. It is an exciting time to be in this trade changes are coming and they are very positive ones.

Tell us about a particularly memorable day as a business owner.

There are many days that come to mind where my customers were happy and I got lots of leads and bookings from parties and events I have done. Nine times out of ten I get the opportunity to see those smiling faces and excited kids that can’t wait for the next event but the one I choose to tell is not one of those but my very first delivery.

I had an event planned with a husband and wife tag team and it was for a sizable baby shower. The tip off for me should have been the margarita machine, water slide, dunk tank combo… I mean she was pregnant. Anyway it was a phone call or two daily to constantly change their order and demands. This went on for about two weeks prior to the party. They wanted a 27’ water slide that just would not fit in their yard and didn’t want to pay that price it had to be 27’ at a 14’ price. We finally settled on an 18’ slide that would fit and at the 18’ slide price. They wanted canopies as well choose the color and changed the quantity several times. There are additional issues and changes I won’t get into.

Finally it is the day before and I called to confirm their event details. They asked if I could be there at 5AM. I told them no, I had other deliveries that were before them and I would be there at the agreed time we had already set. They said they would need to cancel the order if I can’t be there at 5am. I told them they could cancel but good luck in finding someone on short notice so they resort to begging.

I accommodated them because I want happy customers. I show up at 5, but they weren’t there until almost 6am. My employees and I began to set up for them, while they complained about almost everything and at one point said that the canopies I brought ruined their party (which I let them have at no cost at the beginning of the order).

I won’t go into everything but it was a very discouraging first order and delivery. I tell you this story to share with you not all orders will be good ones and you have to find your “most desired customers” (taught in “How to beat the lowballer down the street”) but don’t give up and don’t get discouraged.

Needless to say this story was, to this date, my one and only unhappy customer. Use all your experiences good or bad to make your business better. What was a negative experience for me turned in to dedication to focus on that ultimate customer experience for my customers. I shared this one to show that even a negative experience can be made positive.

What advice would you offer someone who’s considering starting a business in this industry?

I would tell anyone entering into this business to come in with a heart and enjoyment to serve others. Make sure that you have a desire for this industry, be patient and don’t get easily discouraged. It will take time to build your desired clientele and inventory. Have a goal and be focused on that goal. Build solid and lasting relationships with your customers and vendors.

Most of all, have fun! Remember what they say… if you do what you love you will never work another day in your life.

Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve had in growing your business. How did you handle it?

One of my biggest challenges has been employees. I know employees need to work and have a job with a steady paycheck and sometimes in this industry that can be challenging. There are down times… months with less work than others and face it we are all in the business to make a living for our families and paying employees hits the bottom line.

I have 3 employees 1 permanent and 2 floating I have made the decision to keep 1 permanent employee and pay him in the slow times with other work to make sure I always have someone who knows the business as well as me. My 2 floaters have other jobs and if their scheduling conflicts with my deliveries I work harder but now that I have grown I am looking to put on a second permanent employee and at my current growth rate I’ll need to hire and keep 7 employees by next year. This is one of those “be patient” moments.

Promote your business, be fair with good morals and work hard. With the right attitude you will become successful and overcome all the challenges that come your way.

What is your typical day like?

A typical day for me is focusing on my customers first and foremost. I come in and check on my emails for customer questions and to support them in their upcoming events helping to build that extra value. I go on to the shop floor, check my outgoing and upcoming orders to make sure the orders are filled correctly.

I check out the details such as are we providing extension cords when applicable, providing water bags or sandbags, are there the proper tie downs for the units, tents etc. Is there a water hose for the water units or dunk tanks. I do a count of tables and chairs just basically go over the order to make sure nothing gets left behind.

I’ll do research on new inventory what to acquire next call vendors and check on existing orders. I am a very hands on kind of person and am very focused on details. I talk to my employees about how they are doing and if they need anything. I get input from them to see how I can make their jobs easier and quicker. I then check current inventory for the extras such as cups, cones, flavored syrups, popcorn kernels, etc. Then I’ll make the deliveries with my employees for a face to face with my customers still building on that customer focus.

After deliveries I take my employees to lunch we head back to the shop and do our cleaning of units and equipment rented out the day before. Finally we go do the pickups for that day. My growth has exploded and I expect my day to day to change though but I do intend to remain as hands on as possible.

My motto is I would never ask anyone to do anything that I myself am not willing to do.

Any last words?

Yes, I would love to thank Inflatable Academy for this opportunity and for the support you’ve giving to me and for starting this platform and community. I think with this as a resource that we can all use to become incredibly successful.

I challenge anyone who is even thinking about joining the Inflatable Academy to quit thinking and just do it. Now is the time for action you are not just getting training but an entire support system with people who care and you’ll make not just relationships but friendships as well.

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