Having fun is a key to his success
For Jerry Rachwalik, success and fun are closely tied together. The owner of Bounce U since July 2015, he knows that the total experience for his young clients is crucial for repeat business. “We have seen steady growth over the past two years. Some new business owners want to see a huge jump, but that is hard to sustain in the long run.” Over the two years, additional businesses with a similar concept have opened, but Bounce U has remained strong with the consistent level of service that parents receive.
Bounce U is a franchise, so there are operational guidelines that the franchisor has put in place and must be followed. However, there were changes he could make to improve things. First, he increased the staff, having two managers on site instead of one to provide more observation and support in the two bounce rooms. The number of attendants at birthday parties was increased to two since there are a lot of details and activities involved with those events. The key was having people that wanted to be there with the kids, not just be there for a job. Feedback and discussions are encouraged so that operations can continually improve and motivate the employees.
There have been other additions that parents appreciate. Curtains were added to the windows to reduce heat and glare. More toddler items were added to the play area. The next inflatable purchase that is being considered is one for younger children. “Moms are there with children aged 1-3, so we need to have something for them too.” The fact that Rachwalik has toddler grandchildren himself was also a big motivation.
"My wife says I come home energized after being there. When the kids come for field trips and birthday parties, you can see the excitement on their faces. It's really a great thing."
- Jerry Rachwalik
It’s the “little things” that people may not see. A commercial sewing machine was purchased so that the vinyl could be repaired in house. That saves several days – repairs can be made overnight and the inflatable is ready the next morning. Most mechanical issues and equipment maintenance are handled by the owner himself if it doesn’t need to be outsourced. A hands-on business was what he was looking for, but confidence in the staff also means that he doesn’t have to be there all day.
These changes are positive, but there are some things that will not change. Weekends are often booked with parties, so there is a strong commitment to continuing to provide family bounce on Tuesday nights and Parent’s Night Out every other Friday. These things are popular with families, so parties will not be scheduled during those times. This is all part of the focus on what customers want. The goal is to continue to grow and have more inflatables so more kids can bounce, but if there is no opportunity for families to be there together, then that can’t happen.
Bounce U was not the first business he considered. In fact, it took three years to find it. Rachwalik came into the process with what he describes as a narrow focus on the type of business he wanted to buy. After not finding what he was looking for in those industries, he decided to change his way of thinking. “When a different type of business was presented, I tried to think about what others were seeing that made them think it was the right fit for me.”
His advice to prospective Buyers has stayed the same: be open to the possibilities because you never know when the right opportunity will come along. And when you find it, don’t be afraid to take the next step or it may pass you by. He wouldn’t change the process he went through, even though it took some time to find Bounce U. Looking back, he made the right choice. “My wife says I come home energized after being there. When the kids come for field trips and birthday parties, you can see the excitement on their faces. It’s really a great thing.”
The Firm Deal Review
Location: 11144 Q St, Omaha, NE
Years Owned: 2
Activities: Birthday parties, open bounce and more
Business Plan: Have fun and grown