The echoing words of "Inventory Control" resonate in the expansive realm of Balloon decorating and event planning. The temptation to embrace every new trend, every new balloon color, and have the opportunity to plan every diverse-themed event often leads to an overwhelming inventory accumulation. This blog post explores the importance of organization, sharing insights from my journey of trying to manage an eclectic inventory accumulated over the years from various themed events.
A Burden of Plenty: Balloons, Shimmer Walls, and Props
Picture this: I have a two-car garage, a 26-foot storage unit, and a bedroom overflowing with event planning decor. Thousands of balloons, shimmering walls, linens, and props – a treasure trove curated for various themed events. Yet, reality strikes; I use these items sparingly, sometimes twice in three months. Despite my excitement to plan diverse events initially, the eclectic inventory has become a burden.
The inventory problem is real. Imagine that vibrant orange shimmer wall, orange and blue linen, and Nerf props purchased for a Nerf-themed 1-year-old's party three years ago now languish in storage. With fewer kids' parties being booked, the cycle repeats of you picking up some kids' parties here and there and continuing to purchase all the glitz and glam items to go with each one of them, but those parties are few and far between while you start to get more and more bookings for adult birthdays or corporate events. The new inventory starts to push the old to the back, and the old starts cluttering your space and complicating your business. So, out with the old and in with the new
The solution? It's a work in progress, but here's what I've learned.
1. The Art of Renting: A Game-Changer
Are you overwhelmed by inventory? Renting is the game-changer.
Take my love-hate relationship with shimmer walls – a hit with clients but a logistical nightmare. I own three, yet I rent from another planner for easy pickup and dropoff for a mere $30 charge. The myth that more inventory equals more profit is debunked. It often means more storage space, monthly fees, labor, and upkeep costs. Find your niche, stock accordingly, and rent the rest. This saves storage space and minimizes monthly fees, labor, and upkeep costs.
2. Find your niche
Adapting to unforeseen circumstances is often the key to survival in the dynamic world of event planning. When the pandemic forced a shift in focus, I juggled various aspects of the industry. I jumped into the world of yard cards, accumulating a staggering $10,000 inventory that dominated my garage and backyard.
The initial excitement of venturing into yard cards during the lockdown soon gave way to the reality of managing a surplus of supplies. As events resumed post-COVID, the yard card business became a distant memory, leaving me with a daunting inventory challenge.
Determined to regain control, I reflected on the advice that echoed when I first entered the business: Find your niche. Embracing this wisdom, I realized that niching down could be the antidote to my inventory nightmare. Instead of spreading thinly across multiple ventures, I needed to identify my specialty – my "Avatar," my ideal customer.
While narrowing down one's focus may seem daunting, especially when the allure of diverse opportunities beckons, the benefits become apparent. Imagine a scenario where your primary focus is kids' parties. Every inventory is tailored to this niche, consistently generating revenue rather than collecting dust.
Beyond the immediate financial gains, finding your niche facilitates targeted marketing efforts. Understanding and catering to your ideal client saves money and establishes a more meaningful connection with your audience. This is a whole blog post in itself.
The path to adequate inventory can sometimes involve finding your niche. Embrace the challenge, streamline your offerings, and watch your business survive and thrive in a clutter-free, purpose-driven environment.
3. This is for you, my Balloon Friends
The Strategic Approach to Balloon Colors
Being a balloon artist comes with its unique challenges, and one of them is managing the vast array of balloon colors available in the market. Whether you're tempted by the latest Instagram trend or enticed by a distributor's announcement of a new hue, the mantra is simple: resist the urge, my balloon friend.
For those of us with a surplus of balloons, often in specialty colors, waiting patiently in storage, it's time to rethink our approach.
The key lies in strategic inventory and storage control. Consider creating your personalized color chart instead of impulsively ordering every new color that catches your eye.
This doesn't mean you should never embrace new colors; it's about doing so with purpose and efficiency. By curating a color chart based on the shades you're frequently asked for, you streamline your inventory to meet the demands of your unique clientele. This is especially crucial for artists catering to specific communities or events with distinct color preferences.
Let's break it down.
Suppose you operate in a college town where a particular shade of blue is a staple for university events. Even if you use this specialty blue sparingly, your fellow balloon artist across town might incorporate it into their designs every weekend. In this scenario, having that color on your chart ensures you're well-equipped for diverse client requests. Or let's say you find yourself doing gender reveal balloons every weekend; having a large inventory of Black balloons may not make much sense for you, but keeping blue and pink on hand will allow you to stay ready.
The beauty of this approach is twofold. First, it prevents your balloon inventory from spiraling out of control. No more neglected balloons tucked away in storage, slowly losing their vibrancy. Second, it's a conscious financial decision. Specialty balloons often come with a hefty price tag, so ordering them on a per-need basis ensures your budget remains intact.
By encouraging clients to choose from your carefully curated color chart, you manage your inventory effectively and elevate the customer experience. It's a win-win situation that marries creativity with practicality. Balloon artistry is as much about creativity as it is about thoughtful resource management. Say no to balloon Waste, and let your creations soar!
4. To Accessorize or Not
For balloon artists, the struggle also involves storing bulky backdrops, marquee lights, and other items we use to add flare to our balloon decor or deciding whether to carry these items. Having a handy guy around is excellent, and at first, I fell for the trend
to have my guy create all the Instagram trendy backdrop walls, you know, the hefty ones that are a nightmare to transport, not to mention constantly having to sand and paint them
different colors for each event. Consider collapsible metal backdrops for which you can order other color clothes and evaluate the cost-benefit of keeping intricate backdrops in stock versus renting when needed. Embrace opportunities to invest in trending items, such as the recent trend with the Barbie box; I say buy that prop and make your money, all while ensuring a balanced inventory approach.
5. Balloon Storage
How do you organize your balloons? How you store your balloons will vary for everyone. I found some jars on Uline that fit at least 200 12-inch balloons inside, and they are easy to throw in my work bag and easily return to my shelf when I return home. Whether using shoe boxes or small totes, the emphasis is on developing a system that works seamlessly, especially one that can be easily incorporated into the day-of preparations.
In event planning and balloon artistry, the big chop is not just about reducing excess; it's about strategically shaping your inventory to align with your business goals and client demands. Embrace organization, resist unnecessary additions, and let your creativity shine streamlined and efficiently.