Balloon drops can net big profits with impressive results
Most retailers know that the quickest way to turn an ordinary event into something spectacular is to suggest a balloon drop to the client. All in attendance can see what is about to unfold and eagerly anticipate the moment of release of a balloon-filled net suspended above a fixed height.
While they look dramatic and complicated, the concept is actually quite simple to do. Party & Paper talked with Ben Rines of The Smoky Mountain Balloon Co. about his experiences with balloon drops and what those new to the concept should know.
PPR: First of all, please provide a bit of background about your company.
BR: The Smoky Mountain Balloon Company is east Tennessee’s premier balloon company, well rounded in Balloon Drops, Balloon Twisting and everything else in between. We are the first Certified Artists in east Tennessee and have developed relationships with some a variety of different clients.
PPR: For those who aren’t quite as familiar with balloon drops, what are they exactly and when are they most often used?
BR: A balloon drop is an exciting way to celebrate any event – from New Year’s Eve to graduations and corporate anniversaries. Balloons are inflated then placed in a prepared net to be hung from the ceiling, and a cord will be pulled at just the right time to create a memorable event. By getting creative and adding elements like mini Megaloons, squiggles or twisted pieces, you can make a customer for life – and secure a few more – with successful drops.
Many companies prepare balloon drops differently, and we use certain methods and techniques so that we can guarantee a full balloon drop or we promise to refund the job cost. Without giving away all of our trade secrets, we meticulously prepare our balloons, the balloon net, and we even use a special pull line to guarantee no tangles or possibility for failure. Our standard balloon drops are prepared and delivered using a box truck, as larger ones must be done on site.
PPR: Please describe the process from start to finish in creating and completing a balloon drop.
BR: Procedures for a successful balloon drop include inflation of balloons to proper size, filling the balloon net, properly threading the pull line and executing a proper secure rig of the balloon net, and finally securing the pull line so it cannot be accidentally pulled.
PPR: What kind of supplies and education are needed?
BR: We use the old fashioned net with no bells and whistles because we feel more comfortable and we know the end result, and against industry advice, we use magnets to hold up many balloon drops. Of course you have to know the capability of the hold and the logistics of the pull, etc.- there is a time when you must have professional riggers to hang the net.
PPR: Depending on the size of the balloon drop, how much time and money will retailers have to invest?
BR: The cost of the net and balloons are minimal, so balloon drops are very high profit. However, the labor and will command a suggested retail price that results in a handsome profit. For instance, New Years Eve would bring top dollar due to holiday scheduling and the fact that you’re basically spending New Years Eve with your client.
PPR: Do you also offer balloon drop kits for customers, or is it strictly something you deliver?
BR: No, we will not support customer do-it-yourself balloon drops and will not set up a drop where the clients can pull it themselves. We now make it our policy that we must pull all of our balloon drops for our money back guarantee to be valid.
PPR: What has been your most memorable drop?
BR: We offered our first balloon drop only because we had no fear. It was to be held in a high humidity water park, so we had to consider the heat and the moist conditions. It was 18 to 20 feet from floor to the beam where the balloon bag was to be attached. We finally got the balloon bag mounted by using three magnets – two solid on the ends, but the one in the middle was half on and off the Ibeam. We were worried, but when we pulled the line, the balloons cascaded beautifully down onto the crowd.The client is always so happy this coming year is our 4th year providing Balloon Drop service for them.
Then in April 2012, we get a call from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) to do a huge balloon drop to celebrate the 100th commencement. This was our easiest one ever, with the exception being that the ceilings were more than 40 feet high. On the first day, we met with the client and got the balloon drop and rigging specs. On day two, we went to site to inflate hundreds of balloons and rig. The third day was the final pull and not one balloon remained!
The client loved us, it made newspapers all over the state and got some TV and Internet exposure. When we had 12,000 excited graduates waiting for that special moment, it had to be successful!
PPR: Is there anything else you would like to add?
BR: Preparation of balloons and the balloon net is important. Know when and how you will rig – sometimes a professional rigger is required – and understand the different methods of center balloon cascade or side balloon cascade.
Balloon Drops are a very high profit job, so let your fears go and be creative – put foils, 260s and other balloons in the drop. Be creative and put coupons or silly bands into the balloons to make it more fun.
Make sure you agree on balloon cleanup after the drop, and finally, remember to always have a good camera for great pictures.