What To Know Before You Buy An Inflatable
A lot has changed in the inflatable industry since its beginning. Companies are now coming up with all sorts of intricate designs and ideas. Inflatable manufacturers are popping up around the country, each offering a range of units that are very similar or very different. This is a good thing. For the customer, it keeps prices competitive, and keeps manufacturers improving their inflatable designs. There are some things to look for, however, since not all inflatables are created equal. What are the warning signs of a bad investment? How do you pick the right inflatable manufacturer for your inflatables? Is price all that matters? Let us discuss these and see if we can help you make an educated decision when buying your inflatable units.
Is the manufacturer established?
With companies sprouting around all over the country, you have to ask, would it be wise to invest in a company only months old? A company with a track record would be a better pick, since you know that they have been around and are reliable, which also means that they will be around and can stand by their warranties.
Are they just out to make a buck?
One cause for concern worth mentioning is how some recently established companies are going about with their workflow. Some of these mom-and-pop shop type manufacturers offer their workers money per unit, instead of per hour. What ends up happening is that these workers work as fast as they can -not as accurately as they can- to finish a unit and move on to the next. We have seen the results of some of these inflatables- they are sloppy, inefficient, and wouldn't last half as long as an efficiently sewn unit.
How strong is their brand?
Might sound like a weird question to ask, really you may say "what does that have to do with anything?" But in reality, especially in this age where companies are represented through websites, logos and their overall brand, these say a lot about its professionalism. If a website looks like it was just thrown together, you can pretty much expect your inflatable to just be thrown together. On the other hand, if a company goes out of its way to provide clients an easy way to navigate and search for units on a professionally designed website and catalog, you can expect professional service when you call in. Now, this does not always mean that a nice website and catalog guarantees good service or a good product, but if a company is successful in providing a good product, and is established in the industry, you can almost always tell from their branding. Exposure is always a good sign as well. Who else has purchased their inflatables? How are they holding up to the demands of the rental and indoor center industries?
Does the company understand the demands of the industry?
Why is that an important question to ask? For a few reasons. Foremost, a company who also rents out their units learns a lot about how to improve their product. What works? What doesn't? Is the unit too heavy for easy renting? What are the points of most wear-and-tear? The answers to these questions help a manufacturer improve its units, and a manufacturer that rents out its units learn these things at its own expense, instead of having to rely on the feedback of its customers, which ends up costing the customer.
Where are the inflatables manufactured?
Yes, we mean is the inflatable made here in the U.S.A., or in China, India, or another country? This is becoming common practice with even the big players in the industry. The problem here is that when a company buys its units from China, they win, and you lose. They make more money in the transaction, or they are able to offer you the inflatable at outrageously low prices-but don't be fooled, its only because the unit isn't worth anymore than what you are paying for it- that's right, cheap materials, bad construction, and a lifespan of a fly! Almost everyone is turning to getting their units oversees because, the bottom line is, they save a bundle on making the units themselves-but they have little or no control over the materials that are used on the inflatables or its craftsmanship. Buyers beware, many have suffered from investing in these companies only to receive a cheap flimsy inflatable bounce house or other unit that doesn't hold up to the demands of the rental industry or indoor centers. Make a sound decision and buy from a manufacturer that hand crafts its own products.
Is craftsmanship a concern?
A professional company differs not only in what you see on the outside, but also in what goes on in the background. What that means is that in order to take an inflatable unit from design to a complete product, many steps are involved. First, a design team comes up with a unique idea. From there, planning is involved in how to make thin inflatable practical, easy to use and built according to industry and safety standards. From there a team or engineers takes the design and plans out the patterning and cutting of the pieces. This isn't a randomized process, but a thoroughly thought out and detailed technique that lays out the best workflow for the inflatable to be assembled after it has been cut. This also involves producing a graphic chart for those sewing to be able to easily and efficiently piece the parts together. To aid this process, there is also an assembly manager who assists in organizing the pieces and supervising the sewing so that no mistakes are made. This is important because if pieces are not sewn together correctly the first time, they have to be taken apart and re-sewn, which weakens the piece, and makes it more susceptible to tears. Once the unit is sewn together, it is blown up for inspection and testing. If the unit needs any further adjustments, they are noted and the adjustments are made for that unit and future units. A professional pattern maker then analyses the inflatable for any improvements that can be made to each pattern. Every detail is inspected for seam integrity and inflation distress.
After the sale
Are you going to be left high and dry? Keep in mind just how important peace of mind is in any transaction, but especially in a large investment. You want to be sure that experts are standing by to assist in questions, concerns, and any issues that may come up after the purchase. The transaction doesn't end when you place your order, there is also how you are going to receive your product as well. So shipping reliability comes into play. Does the manufacturer have a good relationship with freight companies to get you fair rates and peace-of-mind service, knowing that the unit won't arrive damaged, and incase it does, the issues will be resolved to your liking? Or are you going to have to fight the shipping company, the manufacturer, and in the end, come out the loser? Don't make that mistake, do your business with a company that has build a good relationship with large, reputable freight companies, not brokers. Such a manufacturer will handle any issues that may arrive during shipping, such as delays, damages, and mistakes while in transit.
Report Licensed Knock-Offs
Have you come across counterfeit licensed inflatable knock-offs? Knock-offs are bad for your business and the entire amusement industry. Learn why and how you can report them.
Take advantage of Magic Jump's wealth of resources and information to keep ahead of the curve in the inflatable industry. Below you'll find several invaluable links to keep your business running smoothly.