Join Vince Aguirre, Shannon Detro, and Susan Lorimer to learn more about Big Bounce Fun House Rentals.
Small Business Stories is a series created by Distinct to highlight the stories of business owners.
Hello, everyone, my name is Vincent Aguirre. I'm the president of distinct and I'm really excited to kick off our inaugural small business stories. This is something I've wanted to do for quite some time, and really just trying to figure out the best way to go about it. And here today we're going to hear from Susan is a client of ours, longtime business owner and someone who I really enjoy working with and hearing her story. Before we get into that, I'm going to introduce a teammate of mine, Shannon Detro, and give her an opportunity to introduce herself Hi, everybody. I'm Shannon dentro. I'm a marketing advisor at the same time, and I've been working with distinct since March of 2020. And I've helped clients set their digital marketing strategy and Susan is one of my clients. Awesome. Thanks, Shannon. And here's Susan, from the North Pole, it seems we are absolutely tuning guide, say a few words about yourself. And then I'll jump into some of the questions. Sure, absolutely. So, Susan, a lot of them. A lot of people know me as a CEO of fun, that's kind of thing given to me throughout the year. So you know, when something like that is handed to you, you take it with honor. And absolutely. We are a family owned business, my husband and I have been running the business since 2006. When we started big bout, and gosh, there's a story there. We'll get into that later about how that came about, and where we're growing and what we're doing and what we're looking forward to next year. Awesome, awesome. Thanks. So let's just jump right in. To me, I want this to be a little bit about you as who you are, but also about the business. So can you tell us, you know, who are you and you're not the CEO of fun? Like what do you what do you like to do? What keeps you busy? Absolutely, well, being a mom of four definitely keeps him busy, although more on the older end now and adults, but you know, first off a child of God, wife, Mom, sister, aunts, you know, all those roles are filled, and pretty much live the CEO of fun 24 seven, so been lucky enough to be able to do that with my family in tow, and do it with us and grow with us and teach and learn. Definitely mentor, I least like to think that with all the employees that we've had with us, you know, a lot of them have been on the younger side of age. So you know, I get to be the first to teach them about going through their interviews. I kind of don't laugh, I appreciate the the moms reaching out to me know, hey, my son or daughter would like the job. And my replies is saying that your son or daughter needs to contact me. So I want to teach those lessons. Right right now. So we have done that. And it's been fun throughout the years to to watch employees, regardless of their age, grow and interact. And I hope that I've encouraged that and push them along the way to learn right aside with us. That's awesome. I, I can only imagine how bad of an interviewer I was in my first interview. So I laughed not at the people who may be interviewing with you. But just thinking back to myself, and just how, yeah, I was so unsure. And if you don't jump in and interviews or be interviewed, like where do you learn that right? You're right, and we try to go through, I put them through their own self evaluation. So you know, every year every two years, they're they're still with us. And I go and evaluate them. But before I evaluate them, I hand them this piece of paper that they get to fill out and I absolutely love it because they tell on themselves. But you know, they put themselves here and then you can boost up their confidence and truly need to be but it's kind of fun to see what people think about themselves. Going through the process and learning about the business. Sure. Absolutely. That's awesome. So I'm really curious. I don't I really don't know this. Tell Tell me more about how big bounce and came to be right? Like what led you to that moment. Just get into as much detail as you can about what led to that. Yeah, sure. So often asked that question and happy to answer. So growing up. My husband and I both worked in Indianapolis and that's where where we met we worked for a lumberyard and rental company and we were married and moved out to Tipperary and castle and started having children. We have had a Tree Service, DNS Tree Service that we worked as well and Just thinking, you know, we wanted to get into something else to help out. And we're a homeschooling family and a mom of four. And it was my husband's 40th birthday, I'm going to tell ages in years for you. And we're going to have a party here. And we decided, you know, hey, let's let's give the kids something to do. So I started making telephone calls, I thought, you know what, I'll run a bounce house. So as soon as we got ahold of someone, they gave us a price and gave us a price for delivery, and hung up the phone was like, You know what, we've been talking about something new as another business. And we had experience with inflatables, and doing something like that from our job in Indianapolis. It's like, you know, what, what if we just buy a bounce house, and let's see how it goes, I'll get the insurance. We'll go about all this. And he looks at me and says, You know what, we're gonna do this, let's, so bam, there we go. We decided on the name, big bounce Fun House rentals with the jump to number and that's the whole story too. But it kind of went hand in hand with a tree service with a name. And big bounce funhouse rentals was Warren now looking back as to what we were in 2006. And we bought, you know, to bounce houses. We were going to just start out with that, well, years goes by, and we really try to keep up, we go to the conventions and all the different learnings and we just kept growing and growing and growing. You know, looking back would we have named it big bounce Fun House rentals, because people have the perception that we are just a bounce house company. And yes, we started out like that. But my goodness, we do a whole lot more than just bounce houses. And with your help at this thing. You've helped us kind of get that word out, as well as to what all we we do do. Many people are very surprised to find out that we aren't just bounce houses. But you know, from the LED trucks and movies in the ice skating rink. One of our big things now is axe throwing, you can come and throw real axis with us. So it's fun to see the progression throughout the year. We've kind of split off to Cornerstone events, but you guys have helped us with that too, as well. So maybe reach a little bit different clientele that doesn't think of us as a bouncy house company. But more on the corporate and as well as staying with the bouncy houses. So we just really wanted to educate the public of what all we're capable of doing and services that we can offer. Yeah. And I have to vouch for the axe throwing it is as fun as it looks. definitely find a reason to either check that out at the big bounce warehouse or absolutely give give us a call. We can we can book parties bring in. Let's throw axes. I think Ben's may have frozen on this there will probably come right back. Well, just kind of playing off what you were talking about. I know. Looking at your website, I was just floored by the depth of everything that you do offer and how many employees you have. How many how many employees do you have? So let's talk before COVID he talks about right, right? We ran about 70 employees. We have several different trucks and trailers capable of doing multiple events in a day. You know I people will call and very important they'll say block off this day for me. Make sure you're available. And with a smile. Absolutely. I'll block off that day for you. But we can we can handle more than just one customer a day. We have several festivals, corporate events backyards. You know as long as we have the inventory which that inventory grows every year, we're capable of doing more than one job a day and I would love to know pre COVID my family we had get togethers at least twice a year and we used big bounce for that every time. Absolutely. And my staff would love to come out to your place too and set up when they would hear the name come through. And that's fun. as well for us, you know the clientele that we have and the loyalty that we have absolutely love when they call in and they asked for a certain employee or when my employees see the jobs coming up they say that's the debt to home I want to go there that's fun for me that those relationships are built not only with myself but with my employees and my clientele very important to us awesome so I apologize for whatever connection issues I'm having Can you guys hear me all right now? We can hear you Yeah. I was a running joke around town where I like to bash on one internet provider and talk about how good mine is. I'm not going to do that anymore because this is all connectivity issues right now. So I do apologize. So the next question I have on my list was kind of talking about the highs and lows of What's it like being a business owner right. I know a few years ago before I jumped in full time in my business, it was all it was all rainbows and butterflies when I looked ahead to what my future would look like and I quickly realized there there are rainbows and butterflies and I wouldn't change it for the world. But I'm curious kind of what your experience has been, you know before this year and we'll talk a lot more about this year before this year what does that look like to you before this year Absolutely. So like you said, rainbows and butterflies I think you forgot about the storms storms in there as well but like I said it's a 24 seven with us and what we do and events and Shannon like you were talking about you know doing the multiple events, there are many sleepless nights where we have a truck and trailer packed we go do for one client that event may not get over till 11pm by the time we take things down and get back to our office, that same equipment on one trailer may need to be dispersed and packed onto another trailer and that trailer may leave at six or 7am because we travel out of state with with that trailer. So there's a lot of through the evening or through the night or through the morning however you want to look at it that were out there and the terminology that we use flipping the trailers and equipment and getting ready to go again so those are a lot of our weekends. Where whereas you know, we thought that that was going to be our weekends when the summers come along especially we do so many parks and RECs and camps and those are all throughout the week as well so we're a lot of people thought that we were a weekend company or a backyard bouncy house place It was really it grew into Monday through Sunday around the clock job and a lot of people you know don't don't realize everything that it does and how we have to do that I kind of joke with my employees who have been by our side and they do the late nights early mornings as well with us but I remind them you know we might get tired we do this day in and day out around the clock with a lot of team members but when we show up at a person's home their place of business the town the chamber wherever we are this is maybe their once a year event so you know there's there's a smile, we're happy to be there. And that is our focus for the day is is your event so our staff is is great at remembering that philosophy that this is a one time event for for this client even though you did this yesterday. That's in the past we're doing it now for this client. So that's a lot of fun to watch the employees jump in as well. Oh, did he freeze again. I was waiting to see if you're frozen. I know I was like oh I wasn't sure when Ben and I can start from having coming from a race production and triathlon production background. You know, it's three AM's and your luck loading and unloading trailers and you know everybody's there for a race on that day. And if they don't have a good experience, you might not ever get them back again. So makes a lot of sense. Absolutely. When we built our warehouse, you know we were talking about starting with the to bounce houses. We ran things through our garage, and then we build a pole bar and then absolutely trailers then we built this wonderful warehouse, right? We try to open up that warehouse once or twice a year for the community to come through. Because a lot of them don't know that. It's it's back on the property that we work out, but what I was getting to is All those late nights when we were thinking about building, there's definitely a bad place to sleep back there too. Because right times when you're not getting back to our warehouse at 2am, and these guys, especially gals have been driving for out of state and come back, we want to make sure that they have a place to rest before they get back in their own personal car and drive home. So that was very important to us to make sure we had a facility that could allow that. That's great. I do apologize again, for this internet. I think it's good now but we'll see. So what keeps you motivated and engaged? We were talking earlier about you know, those long nights? What what keeps that drive going? Oh, definitely our clientele. Definitely the clientele. You know, we can we can be tired from the night before we could have an early morning. But once we get to the event and see the eyes light up, and the customer or the participants coming to us and thanking us, or saying you know, this is just more than what we have imagined are we then expect you to do this and look what happened? That's, that's the extra push that definitely keeps us going for sure. Yeah. That's great. I can relate to that. I think we've been there for you a couple of times. Oh, man, I meant to say this earlier. Next year, I'm going to have a 30th birthday party, even though my 30th birthday was this year, and I'm going all out with big bounce stuff. It's gonna be the biggest, you know, social distancing is over. hopefully by then it's gonna be a big bang. Mechanical. Oh, yeah. Crane, but we'll make you the conductor of the train. How about that? Can I throw the axes while I'm on the ball? Or is that not allowed? like fun. I'm always. Oh, boy. Um, so what's this year been? Like, I know, we're all going through various struggles in some capacity. Kind of all in it together. But if you're if you're willing to share some of what you've been going through this year, as a business owner, and both personally, I think people can really appreciate hearing that. Yeah, so so COVID Yeah, the other C word for going on? Yeah, it has definitely made us pivot this year. We have looked at things quite differently. Some of our equipment that would normally go out, hasn't felt the love that year, it's been very hard to hear the phone's ringing and they say we're canceling. We lost a lot of contracts, a lot of jobs or refunds pushed into 2021. Just a whole array of emotions up and down. We have bought equipment this year that we didn't necessarily have planned to buy in 2021. But it's what has our 2020 which is what's kept us going this year to, for instance, more into the tips. You know, people wanted the tents in their backyards, although we've always offered them. Now we have a bigger selection, our outdoor movie series, we had so many people call us and want to book the outdoor movies for drivings for graduations, church services. So on the sofa forth. Again, we've always had that service, people are becoming more aware and needing those services. So that kind of leads us into go ahead and ask me what's going to be good for next year. What's it gonna be? Oh, hey, I'm glad you asked. We are planning on doing some more led trucks. Because that is what everyone doing the movies. The LED trucks are more versatile for the daytime shows. Also for wind and for weather. With our floatable movie screens once it gets so cold, you can't have that vinyl out there. But the LED trucks will will be different and we really see going forth in 2021. Those that we did that the graduations for on our screens or LED trucks for this year have already said regardless or not, if COVID is around we really liked this concept and we want you to for next year. So we're trying to just really wrap our arms around that and bring that closer to home and make that a reality. This year also for for COVID virtual virtual virtual world. If you would have asked me if this time this year I'd be sitting in the North Pole, I would have packed up the family and went to the North Pole for Santa. I would have probably said no, but here we are, and Santa's workshop here at the North Pole. We're doing virtual visits, keep in Santa safe. And you guys have helped us along with that. So I think you're on Santas nice list, helping us get the word out there and having virtual calls with Santa. The biggest thing for the virtual calls, people are missing their pictures with Santa this year, I'm really disappointed that they're not going to be able to get their annual pictures, but you know what? Big bounce the elves in Santa, we've made that a reality as well so you can get your picture still taken with Santa. Love it. I love it. And I had Santa visit a co worker of mine. And it was a great experience. It was a really great experience. Did he get did he Okay. Oh, Vince I'll clarify so Santa on that and didn't do a virtual visit what Santa did for you was a pre recorded message which by can plug that Santa could do that as well. So yeah, those are reaching out wanting Santa to do a pre recorded message. So they can play it at their zoom Christmas party or Santas sending messages to military or to co workers as well and I think Vince yours was to co worker correct it was so give us some feedback did he did he watch it? His initial reaction was shock and awe that I had Santa able to communicate to him and Samson knew so much about him but overall he loved it it was just a such a surprise he had no idea and it was it was great i'd sittard and probably will do a few more maybe for some family members so definitely worth it and I'm putting this in the chat right now that should go out to anyone watching and anyone watching the replay a link to where they they can see more about having a virtual visits that okay with you, Susan. Yeah, absolutely. You know, talking about that and the whole COVID and pivoting right when all of this hit was right during Easter season, right So guys, we were we tried to be really quick and on it. So where we offer the Easter Bunny, and we still have so many people email and so happy about the Easter Bunny coming back for for Santa Claus. They got their photo there. Currently we're working on the tooth fairy as well. So so that's in the works as well coming up. But other virtual events we've done character artists, we've done the the trivia, we've done some magic shows as well. So if Oh, bingo. We even ran some post proms, virtually doing bingo or trivia as well Deal or No Deal. So give us a call. Give us a call. I say the sky's the limit. Run it past us. If we don't have it here. You know, just like Santa Claus. We know people we can we can get it done. You had events where camels have shown up. And so I love to do what others think are the impossible of it. That's the challenge to me. Yeah. And I must say, when Easter came around, and you came to me with that idea, I knew it would be a great idea, but I just had no idea how much that would blow up and the Easter Bunny visit would be just so incredibly, incredibly successful. And you know, to me when I think of the people, the business owners I have the privilege of working with I love when someone I'm working with someone like you who can just be so you pivot so cleanly. You didn't wait around and feel bad about all the negativity you just said alright, that's what we're doing. And we're gonna do it. And I love that I truly love that I love getting to work with business owners like you who can do that. Well, I can tell you I appreciate working with this thing. And I know the first time I met Shannon and we sat down at the table all together I left she probably thought Who is this crazy lady? Okay, this is something not but Shannon, I think you're getting to know me a little bit better and, you know, over and beyond is where we like to stretch and do your very thorough, detailed, which I appreciate. Yes, yes. But you have great vision for you know, knowing where you want to end up and go and how to get there along the way. So that makes it easy to work with you with as few bumps as possible. Right? Exactly. So um, you know, I think I have one more question and Shannon obviously if you have any more jump in and then Susan at then I want to give you another opportunity just to pitch anything you want. But really what are you know, you've, we've touched on marketing a few times, probably because we're a marketing company. But what are kind of your goals when you think about how you market yourself and you've talked about, you know, getting out the word about the other services you offer, things like that. So kind of what are your goals and strategic goals when you think about marketing? Yeah, absolutely. It's pick up the phone and call Vince and Shannon. You say that I love it. That's it a nutshell period. No, we we need definitely try to reach out many different avenues with a marketing. So for us, keeping our website up to date, trying to pay attention during the whole busy part of things that need to be changed update, definitely appreciate what you all been able to do with us with a social media. You know, me as a business owner, I'm trying to focus just like what you said, what the vision is down the road, what we need to do with our employees, what's happening this weekend, so to have that part of it taken off of me and know that it's in great hands is another salesperson for us. So we appreciate you guys keeping up on all that, you know, I'm sure Shannon may get frustrated with me or she comes and types and tucks the jargon. I'm like, Shannon. I rent mechanical bulls and bounce houses, I have no idea what you're talking about. Do it. have that trust in a marketing company is untouchable for my husband and I, we just thank you to give you the reins and to lead us down the right path. You know, there's been a few suggestions that you guys have had that I thought what I do it that way? I don't know. But I'm not a marketing firm. And I'm going to trust. So thank you too for for pushing us and your vision for our business. Thank you. Yeah, thank you definitely. Are there any questions you're itching to ask? I'm sure what, what's the what's been most successful Do you think for you in terms of gaining business and exposure? So definitely the marketing as far as our Facebook you know, our sales program has to where we can send out emails long before we came to you. I used to you know, make those Well, we still do the catalogs but the postcards and try to send those out and put a stamp and mail them out. I think we're we're past that point, right. And just the social media is is so important to get it out in front of everyone you know, just like we are are talking I'm seeing the links pop up for how people can go ahead and do the Santa Claus visit or visit our website. This year. We've also added more in depth of a virtual store on our website as well. So where most people think of us as a rental company, which we are, we have had Sanchez reindeers have been making yellow snow really magical yellow snow, it tastes like cotton candy. Banana or pina colada. So that's one of the fun stocking stuffers that we've been able to add to our store on the big bounce website. So that's kind of fun to see things evolve again. Would we have thought that we had been doing that? No, we usually rent the cup candy machine and go out to a job site and make it but we have definitely moved on and pre packaged and marketed that and send that on its way to so make sure you get your elstow it's really okay to eat. I need to get some of that it looks good. I know you touched on this a little bit earlier, but I think it is important just to note like to call you guys or email you guys if there's something that you don't think that you do you probably do it like I think catering is a good example of that you do catering, right? Absolutely. Absolutely. So, yes, that that is one of the things that I hear quite a bit and I have our other gals in the office too. There's there's three of us in here who's working the phones, answering the emails, and it's one of the things that I just press press press. When you're talking to the client, ask them about their vision and what all they want at the And just listen, because we're going to learn so much about their vision. And then that just leads us. You know, I really don't feel and I say this to my clients as well. I'm not trying to be a pushy salesman, I just want to educate you and help you. You are welcome to do as much of the event with us or as little of the event with us. We are grateful and humble for whatever is thrown our way. But to have one contact to have a turnkey event, I think is one thing that our customers really appreciate. And so many you know, they they call into our office, but so many have my my cell phone number, which I don't mind at all. I tell them the same thing. You may not get a hold of me right away. If you call the office, that's better because we do have staff here. But having a turnkey event is very important. So yeah, ask us about the tips, the lights, the porta potties, the catering, the camels, skating rink, the x trailer, let me know what your vision is, and we'll put it together you know, they're either going to be extremely happy, extremely surprised. I call that the wish list. Let me know what your wish list is we can always modify. I love that. I don't know if I'm if you saw it come across the screen. But we have a comment from Cameron Humphreys about the Wi Fi at the North Pole. I think it's a really impressive how good the Wi Fi is up there. Exactly. Better than in Greencastle than freezing us over here. Vince? I think it's been real. Yeah. I've done another visit with Santa to make sure I get everything straightened out is speaking speaking of Cameron, hello camera. And I don't know if he's still on here or not. But you know, last year with Cameron and their business, we went out and did some casino events for them. So that was really fun as well. I love when they pick up the phone, you know, and we go out and dill blackjack and roulette, all for fun to give away Christmas gifts. So you know who wouldn't love a job that would give away someone else's prizes? They bought it, I get to give them away? see the smile. So yeah, it's very rewarding. That's awesome. That is awesome. Well, you know, what we'll do now is, I'm going to give you the floor, I'm going to shut down our cameras, it's just going to be you with your phone number. And go ahead and give your elevator pitch. For anyone who's watching this far anyone watches in the future. You know, tell them ever you you'd like to tell them about you your business and how you can help them? Absolutely. So the biggest thing is exactly what we said Give us a call 1866 jump to that stay you MP t o even if it's for like we said the axe throwing the catering anything. Just tell us your dreams. Tell us your vision. There are a lot of people who will call up with their vision, whether it be for graduation or even Christmas of 2021. And they ask us you know, how soon do we need to reserve? The answer is always the same. It is a first come first serve. So if we have the availability, we can take care of you the next day, or we can get you secured with your order a year from now. So biggest thing is just give us a call and let us know you can ask for Susan Laurie or Paula who are all three in the office and all happy to help you. I know that Vince and Shannon put some websites or web links down there. So hopefully you can be able to click on that. Santa still has availability for tomorrow evening from four to six for some virtual visits. So if you do that we can get your right into visit with Santa tomorrow. I still think there might be some availability for Friday and this Saturday as well. But we are filling up. Just make sure that you come and visit us virtually here at the North Pole. I'm Susan CEO fun. Thanks for the chat. Awesome. Well, thank you very much, Susan. Thanks, Shannon. Let's do this again soon. Thanks, guys. All right. Planning happy plan. Yeah, your signature. Alrighty, take care. Have a fun day.