Small Business Stories With Susan Lorimer of Big Bounce Fun House Rentals

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The transcription below was created by Artificial intelligence. Please excuse any mistakes or typos.

(00:57):

Hello everyone. My name is Vince 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 as a client of ours long time 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 Detra, and give her an opportunity to introduce herself.

(01:29):

I’m a marketing advisor at the sink, and I’ve been working with the think since March of 2020, and I’ve helped clients set their digital marketing strategy. And Susan is one of my clients.

(01:41):

Awesome. Thanks Shannon. And here’s Susan from the North pole it scenes.

(01:47):

We are from the North pole.

(01:51):

Absolutely. And Susan, go ahead and say a few words about yourself and then I’ll jump into some of the questions.

(01:55):

Sure, absolutely. So Susan, a lot of them, a lot of people know me as the 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 bang 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.

(02:28):

Awesome. Awesome. Thanks. so let’s just jump right in to me, I want this to be a little bit about you as a, 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 where are you, what do you like to do? What keeps you busy?

(02:47):

Absolutely. We’ll be in a model Ford, definitely Houston busy, although they’re 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 less than enough to be able to do that with my family in tow and do it well, this and grow with us and teach and learn definitely mentor. I would at 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. You know, I kind of, I don’t laugh. I, I appreciate the moms reaching out to me know, Hey, my son or daughter would like a job. And my replies, I saying, then 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 pushed them along the way to, to learn right aside with us.

(04:11):

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 in interviews or be interviewed, like where do you learn that? Right.

(04:31):

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 cause they tell on themselves, I might hire, but you know, when you put themselves sear 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 and going through the process of learning about the business. Sure,

(05:07):

Absolutely. That’s awesome. So I 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.

(05:26):

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 a lumberyard and rental company, and we were married and moved out to, to green 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, to help out. And we were homeschooling family and a mom of four, and then it was my husband’s 40th birthday. Huh. I’m going to tell ages and years

(06:12):

My husband’s 40th birthday.

(06:16):

And we were 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 and 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 have 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, if we’re going to do this, let’s find her. So bam, there we go. We decided on the name, big bounce, Funhouse rentals with the jump to number.

(07:10):

And that’s a whole story too, but it kind of went hand in hand with a tree service with a name and big bounce fund. Reynolds was worn 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, Funhouse 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 distinct 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 the movies and the ice skating rink one of our, our big things now is X throwing.

(08:19):

You can come and throw real axes with a, 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 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 work Brit 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, of doing and services that we can offer. Yeah. And I have

(08:56):

To vouch for the ax throwing. It is as fun as it looks. Definitely find a reason to either check that out at, at the big bounce warehouse or

(09:08):

Absolutely give, give us a call a weekend. We can book parties, bring in, let’s throw axes.

(09:18):

I think Vince may have frozen on us there. 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?

(09:42):

So let’s talk before, COVID we talk about COVID pre we ran about 70 employees. We have several different trucks and trailers capable of doing multiple events in a day. You know, I people 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 corporates, bins, backyards you know, as long as we have the inventory, which that inventory grows every year, we’re capable of, of doing more than one job a day. And I would love to,

(10:30):

Yeah, no pre COVID my family. We had get togethers at least twice a year and we used big bounce for that every time.

(10:38):

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 ask for a certain employee, or when my employees see the jobs coming up, they say, Oh, that’s that true 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.

(11:17):

So I apologize for whatever connection issues I’m having. Can you guys hear me all right. Now we can hear you. Great.

(11:24):

I

(11:26):

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 had 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, what does that look like to you

(12:09):

Or 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 11:00 PM. 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 7:00 AM because we travel out of state 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 we’re out there and the terminology that we use flipping the trailers and equipment and get ready to go again.

(13:15):

So those are, are a lot of our weekends. 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 a Monday through Sunday, around the clock, a 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 knew the late nights, early mornings as well with us. But I, 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.

(14:14):

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 of 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 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, to watch the employees jump as well.

(14:56):

Oh, did he freeze again?

(15:00):

I was waiting to see if you were frozen.

(15:02):

I know. I was like, Oh, I wasn’t sure what it meant. And I can start from having, coming from a race production and triathlon production background, you know, it’s 3:00 AM and you’re 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 it makes a lot of sense.

(15:25):

Absolutely. When we built our warehouse you know, we were talking about starting with the two bounce houses. We ran things through our garage and then we build a pole barn and then that 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. Cause a lot of them don’t know that it’s back on the property that we work at. But what I was getting to is with all those late nights, when we were thinking about building there’s definitely a bed and a place to sleep back there too. Cause sometimes when you’re not getting back to our warehouse at 2:00 AM and these guys, especially in gals have the driving for out of state coming back, we want to make sure that they have a place to, 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.

(16:32):

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? You were talking earlier about, you know, those long nights what, what keeps that drive going?

(16:46):

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 vent and see the eyes light up and the customer or the participants come into us and thanking us or saying, you know, this is just more than what we have imagined or 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.

(17:18):

Yeah. That’s great. I can relate to that.

(17:22):

Absolutely. I think we’ve been there for you a couple of times as well.

(17:27):

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 going to be the biggest, you know, social distancing is over. Hopefully by then, it’s going to be a big bang. Oh yeah.

(17:46):

But your brain will make you the conductor of the, how about that? Can I throw

(17:50):

The ax is while I’m on the bull or is that not allowed?

(17:54):

That’s kind of like fun. I’m always open to,

(17:57):

Oh boy. 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.

(18:16):

Yeah. So, so COVID yeah. The, the other C word for going on. Yeah, it, it has definitely made us pivot this year. We have looked at things quite differently. Some of our equipment that would normally go out or hasn’t felt the love that year. It’s been very hard to hear the phones ring and they say we’re canceling. We lost a lot of contracts, a lot of jobs or refunds push into 2021. Just a, 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 tent. 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, for drive-ins, for graduations church services, so on and so forth. Again, we’ve always had that service, people are becoming more aware and meeting the premises. So that kind of leads us into go ahead and ask me, what’s going to be good for next year. What’s it going to be? Oh, Hey, I’m glad you asked.

(19:56):

So we are planning on doing some more led trucks because that is with everyone doing the movies, the led trucks and more versatile for the daytime shows also for wind and for weather with our inflatable movie screens, once it gets so cold, you can’t have that vinyl out there, but the led trucks will, will be different to, and we really see going forth in 2021. Those that we did 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 coven virtual, virtual virtual, which if you had 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.

(21:03):

I would have probably said no, but here we are. I’m in San, his workshop, fear at the North pole, we’re doing virtual visits, keeping Santa’s safe and you guys have helped us along with that. So I think you’re on a Sansa’s nice list or helping us get the word out there and having virtual cause with Santa. The biggest thing for the virtual calls, if 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 and Santa we’ve made that a reality as well. So you can get your picture still taken with Santa.

(21:44):

I love it. I love it. And I had Santa’s visit a coworker of mine. And it was a great experience. It was, it was a really great experience.

(21:54):

Did he? Okay. I’ll Vince I’ll I’ll clarify. So Santa, on that end, didn’t do a virtual visit. What Santa did for you was a prerecorded message, which by can plug that Santa could do that as well. So those are reaching out, wanting Santa to do a prerecorded message. So they can play it at their zoom Christmas party or Santas sending messages to military or to coworkers as well. And I think Vince yours was to coworker. Correct. So give us some feedback. Did he, did he watch it?

(22:31):

His initial reaction was shock and awe that I had Santa able to communicate to him and Sansa knew so much about him. But overall he loved it. It was just a, such a surprise because he had no idea. And it was, it was great. I’d sit here and probably we’ll 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 I know I’m watching the replay a link to where they can see more about having a virtual visit. Is that okay with you, Susan?

(23:03):

Yeah, absolutely. You know talking about that and the whole COVID and, and pivoting right. When all of this hit, it was right during the Easter season. Right. So guys, should we were, we tried to be really quick and on it to where we offered 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 trivia. We’ve done some magic shows as well, so, Oh, bingo. We even ran some post prompts virtually and doing a bingo or trivia as well deal or no deal. So yeah. Give us the call, give us a call. I say the sky is 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. We’ve had events where a camels have shut up. And so I love to do what others think are the impossible of it. That’s a challenge to me.

(24:25):

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 visits 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 know, you pivot so cleanly you didn’t wait around and feel doubt about all the negativity you just said, all right, this is what we’re doing and we’re going to do it. And I love that. I truly love that. And I love getting to work with business owners like you, who, who can do that?

(25:06):

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 altogether, I laughed. 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.

(25:30):

You’re very thorough detailed, which I appreciate.

(25:35):

Yes, yes.

(25:36):

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

(25:46):

With as few bumps as possible. Right.

(25:48):

Exactly.

(25:50):

So you know, I think I have one more question and Shannon, obviously, do you have any questions jump in and then Susan, at the end, 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?

(26:21):

Yeah, absolutely. It’s pick up the phone and call Vince and Shannon say that that’s in a nutshell period. No, we, we definitely try to reach out many different avenues with a marketing. So for us keeping our website up to 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 sales person 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 talks the jargon.

(27:26):

I’m like Shannon, I rent mechanical bulls and bounce counsels. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Do it have that trust in a marketing company is untouchable for, 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 at that way. I don’t know, but I’m not a marketing firm and I’m going to trust. So thank you to, for, for pushing us and your vision for our business.

(28:06):

Thank you. Yeah. Thank you, definitely. Gentlemen, are there any questions that you’re itching to ask? What what’s the what’s been most successful, do you think for you in terms of gaining business and exposure?

(28:25):

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 up 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 our visit our website this year, we’ve also added more in depth of a virtual store on our website as well. So we’re most people think of us as a rental company, which we are we have had Santa is reindeers have been making yellow, snow really magical yellow snow.

(29:34):

It tastes like cotton candy banana, our opinion of gelada. So that’s one of the funds 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 it again. Would we have thought that we had been doing that? No, we usually rent the cotton 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 yellow still. It’s really okay to eat.

(30:13):

Yeah. I need to get some of that. It looks good.

(30:15):

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?

(30:28):

Absolutely. Absolutely. So yes, that, that is one of the things that I hear quite a bit and I, 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 event and just stay quiet and listen, because we’re going to learn so much about their vision. And then that just leads us. You know, I, 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, 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. Cause we do have staff here. But having a turnkey event is very important. So yeah. Ask us about the tents, the lights, the porta-potties, the catering, the camels,

(32:06):

That

(32:06):

Skating rink, the ax trailer love 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 wishlist. Let me know what your wishlist is. We can always modify.

(32:23):

I love that. I don’t know if if you saw it come across the screen, but we have a comment from Cameron Humphreys about the wifi at the North pole. I think it’s a really impressive how good the wifi is up there. Exactly.

(32:41):

I haven’t been freezing us over here, Vince. I think it’s,

(32:45):

Yeah, I’ll have to have another visit with Santa to make sure I get everything straightened out.

(32:51):

Speaking, speaking of Cameron. Hello, Cameron. 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 deal black Jack 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. I get to give them a way, see the smile. So yeah, it’s, it’s very rewarding.

(33:28):

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 or anyone who watches in the future. Yup. Tell them whatever you you’d like to tell them about you, your business and how you can help them.

(33:52):

Absolutely. So the biggest thing is exactly what we said. Give us a call one eight, six, six, jump to that’s J U M P T O O. Even if it’s for, like we said, the ax, throwing the catering, anything, just tell us your dreams, tell us your vision. There are a lot of people who will call up a weather 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 or all three in the office and all happy to help you. I know that Vincent Shannon put some websites or web links down there. So hopefully you can be able to click on that. Santa’s 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 Susan CEO fund. Thanks for the chat.

(35:23):

Awesome. Well, thank you very much, Susan. Thanks, Shannon. In, let’s do this again soon. Thanks guys. All right. Happy plan. Signature. Alrighty, take care. Hello Sunday.

(35:46):

[Inaudible].

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