Headlight on Small Businesses
At Fluid Truck, we are liberating small businesses from the restrictions of vehicle ownership and traditional rental shops, helping them slash their overhead costs & reach their full potential. No two day is ever the same here - the diverse small businesses we serve keep us busy and inspired.
This is why we’ve decided to shine a headlight on some of the incredible small businesses who use Fluid Truck. Keep reading to learn the story of one of our fantastic small business customers.
Meet the Balloonies of Tampa, Florida
Since 1981, Balloonies has been providing the Tampa area with balloons of all kinds - for parties, events, advertising, and more.
In the early days, Balloonies’ bread and butter was supplying balloons to car dealerships decorating cars in the lot. After about 6 months, through word of mouth their business expanded to serve 15 different dealerships. “At one point, we were doing 27 different lots. Five of them were everyday drops! We’d go out at 3 or 4 in the morning. We don’t do that anymore - now we’ve got help for jobs like that!” Charlie explains.
Like any business, Balloonies has endured many hardships. As Charlie recalls one of their most notable challenges during the 2008 recession, “there were bankruptcies everywhere.” With car dealerships suddenly cutting costs, their balloon business lost many loyal customers overnight, many leaving substantial balances for services rendered in their wake. Nevertheless, Balloonies weather the storm and flourished in years to come.
One of the many attributable reasons for Balloonies endurance is its unique service - with only 3 businesses like them in the bay area. Lisa tells us, “there are little popups here and there, but only a couple who’ve been established for years and figured it out.”
Of course, being in a business like balloons for 40 years, we had to ask about the funny mishaps and memories made along the way.
A few of Balloonies favorites include Charlie's recollection of a day where “one of the dealerships called and said ‘Where are you? I thought you were going to deliver balloons?!’ My crew and I had already been by about 4am and had put the balloons out - we were done for the day, getting breakfast down the road. Turns out, the porter came by and thought they were balloons from the previous day and cut them all loose!”
Another fond memory, Lisa recounts through laughter, “Once we got a wrong number call. We started chatting and by the end, I sold him balloons!”
While we could listen all day to the lovely stories from decades of growing a beloved family business, we would be remiss as a business solutions provider if we didn’t inquire into the problems Balloonies faces.
In line with the hardships faced in both the crash of ‘08, as well as the Gulf Oil Spill that brought Florida to a grinding halt, Balloonies faces a challenge that plagues many small business owners: unexpected income loss resulting in daunting overhead draining financial reserves.
One change that Balloonies took on to overcome more challenging times was to shift their delivery operations from supporting five vans with fixed overhead costs, to owning just one van, and using Fluid Truck to flexibly scale based on demand.
For Balloonies, the transition to Fluid Truck was easy. “We have one ProMaster van, but when the transmission went out unexpectedly we had to call Fluid Truck. Within the hour, we were loaded up and heading out for the day,” says Lisa, who had been driving their Promaster when the transmission failed. “I thought I’d been rear-ended!”
“We’re most proud of our ability to adapt. One door closes, another one opens. COVID-19 comes along, we do no-contact deliveries. You figure out what’s going to work, and you do it- whatever it is.” beams Charlie, adding “the first two weeks of March of 2020, we had all this corporate work set up. Then everybody shut down - and nothing. No business for two weeks. By the third week of March, we started doing drive-through birthday parties. We’d make an arch at the front of a street for a drive-by birthday party.”
And Fluid Truck has proven to be just the partner to help Balloonies adapt. “It’s a great on-demand type business,” Lisa states. “We were demanding! We called Fluid Truck and within an hour and a half we were loading. That’s good customer service. That’s what our business is built on too.”
With over 40 years of experience, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Lisa and Charlie what their best piece of advice for other small business owners is. “Get it in writing!” Charlie instantly replies. They urge business owners to get a contract for anything, from work forms to invoices and contracts, to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of.
Want to add some playful decor to an upcoming party, and have the pleasure of meeting a super-sweet husband & wife team? If you’re in the Tampa area, we highly recommend checking out Balloonies. You can visit their website here to learn more.