3 Skills to earn an extra $600 per week.

I’m a big fan of the late, great, Jim Rohn.

He was a successful speaker and business leader who was always taught the value of learning new skills to expand your income. You can still find his speeches on YouTube, classic stuff!

One of his famous quotes was “Don’t ask for less challenges, ask for more skills.”

When I started Balloon Distractions back in 2003 I had no idea whether it would work in Tampa, let alone other cities across the United States. I was 29 years old with 5 years of sales experience, so pitching new clients was no big deal. After selling a bunch of restaurants I knew that we needed a team, so I went to the campus of USF and started to recruit on a daily basis.

In the past 13 years I made a ton of mistakes, I had no template to follow, no mentor.

Building Balloon Distractions was a continuous process of trial and error, mostly error, especially in the first 5 years!

We built solid training systems, designed an online scheduler, and basically figured out the most efficient and profitable way to send balloon artists into restaurants across multiple time zones a couple hundred times per week.

In doing this we identified three basic skills that our Regional Leaders would have to learn in order to build a region:

#1. You have to be able to personally fill a booking.

This means that the Regional Leader has to learn the very basics, enough so that they can go out and train a crew. This skill is also vital because the RL is the “fill-in” person if an artist calls out sick or staffing in the region is light.

#2. You have to be able to pitch and land new clients.

Again, this is very straight forward. We talk to the General Manager, we offer them a free tryout night, they either say yes or no. We have a Sales manual and a Sales DVD that I designed with our Orlando Regional Leader that steps through this entire process.

I’ve sold many different things, from cars to solar power to insurance to leadership education… selling restaurants on Balloon Distractions is the simplest sale I’ve ever done, hands down. If you walk into 10 restaurants you’ll land 6 tryouts and close 3 new restaurants. One afternoon in Atlanta I landed 14 tryouts in just 4 hours. If you can speak English and smile you can sell restaurants on our idea.

#3. You have to build a team.

This is the hardest skill to master, and this is where I failed many times until I began to read books like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. If you learn nothing else from my humble blog please become a student of HOW to deal with people.

There are a ton of books in this genre: Personality Plus by Florence Littauer, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, The Magic of Thinking Big by Davis Schwartz and especially Leading a Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward.

If you only read the 5 books recommended in this post you’ll have a huge advantage over your competition, no matter what you do for a living.

Here in Tampa I’ve trained multiple artists and developed many of my best artists into trainers. This is the key to a large and long term team. Many of our Regional Leaders only train artists, but once your schedule gets to 15 or more weekly bookings you need some trainers to help you out. We have a recruitment strategy that works every time, in every market (which I’m not going to reveal here).

Our appearance on national TV gave us some added credibility, which helps us in the recruitment process. Shark Tank gave us nationwide publicity at almost zero cost, its the gift that keeps giving, even 2 years later.

The biggest challenge to building a team is understanding leadership, influence, people skills, and how to inspire and motivate your team. You have to build a culture in which your new artists WANT to become trainers. As the Regional Leader for our Tampa team  I’ve developed 5 dedicated trainers in the last 9 months. Having multiple trainers allows me the time and flexibility to run a big region without having to worry about filling bookings that often. I personally fill 3-4 bookings per month, mostly to stay in touch with our clients.

In addition to training specific to Balloon Distractions we also give our Regional Leaders training in people skills, leadership and motivation. This extra step has produced great results in our growth and profitability.

We recommend that all our Regional Leaders become readers and daily students of success. 10 minutes today, reading the right books… it can’t hurt ya.


I’m sure that Balloon Distractions has imitators out there who look at what we’ve done and think it will be easy to duplicate.

If this was EASY there would be 100 companies out there sending people into 100 restaurants each week… but this is not the case.

I feel that the trial and error part of this business is the biggest barrier to entry, and we’ve already conquered that part. After 13 years in business across the entire country we’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff, and handled it accordingly!

Bust what about YOU?

You can start a region with BD at no cost, other than ordering some balloons for yourself.

This is NOT a franchise, we don’t have ridiculous fees, or rent, or even license fees.

You just need $60 to $80 worth of balloons, which you can order from any supplier in your region (we will show you how).

We have the online SYSTEMS and knowledge that will help you build a region to anywhere from $200 per week to $1,000 per week in extra income. In return we are asking for an ongoing booking fee per gig, the rest of the revenue flows back to you, your trainers and your artists. We handle the billing, the scheduling, all the basic back-office operations.

YOU control the pricing, size and profitability of your region.

If you have a full-time job and you want to make an extra $500 per month on the side we would like to talk to you.

If you want to LEAVE your job and need to earn $1,000 per WEEK we would like to talk to you….

First step?

Fill out our online form here:

http://www.balloondistractions.com/forms/regionForm.aspx

We are opening new regions in markets from Oregon to Texas to Iowa to Georgia!

Fill out our form and I’ll call you in the next few days,

Thanks!

Benjamin T. Alexander

Company Founder

August 2016

HOW to get your company on Shark Tank!

In our new book we share with you the specific strategy we employed to get Balloon Distractions on the ABC hit show Shark Tank!

From our initial online application, to our insane audition video, to actually filming the show in Hollywood!

Learn why NOT getting a deal actually INCREASES your shot at getting air time!  

You can download our book, We Twist for Tips, from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1502546671/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me

This book is a fun read for anyone who has ever wanted to start their own business, and especially for any of the ambitious entrepreneurs who want to appear on Shark Tank.

Happy Reading!

Teaching #Leadership to our young people, adding value to their lives.

In the picture above my daughter Claire is the young lady on the right, training her first new entertainer, Haley. Claire and I will be in a restaurant with Haley this Friday afternoon, showing her how to approach tables and getting her ready to fill her first gig.

Claire has been by my side as I’ve built Balloon Distractions since she was in kindergarten, she is helping me train new staff here in Wesley Chapel, and in the process Claire’s becoming a better entertainer herself and learning what it takes to develop and motivate a team.

Being an entertainer with our company takes a certain level of personal mastery, Claire has demonstrated that she can successfully fill bookings and garner compliments from restaurant managers. Proving yourself as an entertainer is the FIRST step. As a trainer Claire must recruit a team and influence her team by teaching them a skill and showing them how to earn an excellent income.

In this manner Claire is learning Basic Leadership 101, as she builds her crew her income will increase as she gets better at influencing her team in a positive direction.

Since the beginning of 2014 I have been taking the Life Leadership course, a system of monthly books and audio CDs that teach the dynamics of leadership in an organization as well as the importance of character and integrity in all aspects of your business. The lead authors of the series are Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, I read the books every morning and listen to the audio CDs in my vehicle.

Our Regional Leader Randy Crain introduced me to this system and my only regret is that I did not get this training ten years ago when I started my business!

Balloon Distractions has very specific training regarding balloon art, recruiting a crew and selling restaurants, but we did not have comprehensive leadership training, until now.

As a company we are paying half of the monthly cost for any of our trainers or regionals who want to take advantage of the monthly training. We want our people to pay for at least 50% of the cost because we feel that people value what they buy more than that which they are merely given.

As the leader of my organization I’m seeking to influence our people in a positive way by teaching them leadership and getting them involved in ongoing professional development.

In this way I wish to ADD VALUE to the lives of all the people on our team, including my daughter!

Happy Twisting!

-Ben Alexander

August 6, 2014

Save your marriage today.

Let me start by saying that if this post prevents just ONE divorce it will be worth it, if you pass it onto a friend (who is having marital challenges) they will benefit from this knowledge and you will make a difference in their marriage as well as the lives of any children who get to see their parents resolve their conflict and stay together.

A few months ago my wife Rachel introduced me to an amazing website:

http://www.MarriageBuilders.com

We began listening and reading TOGETHER and this material has SAVED our marriage!

We bought the books (used paperbacks) on Amazon for less than $10 and listened to the website for free, on my computer as well as on our smartphones. I’m not paid by these folks to promote their website, but I want to pass it along to help out other couples who are facing similar challenges.

We had already read other books like The Five Love Languages and Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus…..    but Dr. Harley’s material gave us a comprehensive understanding of what we needed to do to strengthen our marriage and stay together for the long haul.

Don’t get me wrong, if there is abuse or a substance addiction in your marriage staying together may NOT be an option, but what if you just have internal conflicts in your marriage that is driving you away from your spouse?  What if you just need some fundamental issues resolved?

Marriage Builders will help you fix these issues.

Our society makes it far too EASY to just get a divorce and abandon the most fundamental relationship in your life.

You see divorce on TV and in the movies, and it seems like every famous person in Hollywood has been married 6 or 7 times. When the negative impact of divorce is marginalized in the media it suddenly becomes a viable option, even if divorce is disastrous to our lives on so many levels.

IT is WORTH IT to look at this website and gain a better understanding of what it takes to stay happy in your marriage.

Any long term couple could benefit from the concepts taught on the Marriage Builders website, your marriage is worth saving, especially if you have children involved. Your children need you in their lives, even if you get an amicable divorce you will see your children LESS because they will live under a separate roof.

Divorce is NOT worth it especially if you can “work it out”.

Check out the website, show it to your spouse, if the website helps your marriage please leave a comment here!

-Ben Alexander

#Success advice for any #startup interested in #Sharktank!

1. Make sure you know who your competitors are, if any. Tons of great product ideas pitch on Shark Tank and then Lori says “Yeah, I’ve seen this before, we just sold 10,000 of these last week on QVC.” This same idea goes for smartphone apps, you have to create something really unique in the app space and make sure no one else has already thought of it and did it better.

2. Make sure it has a WIDE application. The Scrub Daddy did $14 million in sales right after Shark Tank because it was a product that anyone on the planet (with a kitchen sink) could easily buy and use.

3. Don’t make your pricing insane. Who remembers the marital confrontation Stuffed Elephant in a Box that was a plush toy in a plastic box for $60? It might make for a fun gag gift, but not for $60.

4. Don’t ever mention “I’m going on the show for national exposure” anywhere in your application,  phone interview and certainly not during your actual televised pitch. With 7 million viewers per show that is one of those blatantly obvious things that the producers hate to hear. It seems that there is a culture within Shark Tank in which the entire “free exposure” concept is taboo to talk about.  

5. Be entertaining. Shark Tank is about 90% viewer share and only 10% real business. The brilliant producers who handled my segment rigged a balloon drop to coincide with the moment when I said “Balloon Distractions”. This would never happen in a dry business meeting with venture capitalists. I feel that some entrepreneurs get on simply because they are entertaining, not because they have a decent business idea. We are both; Balloon Distractions has done $5 million in sales and booked entertainers into restaurants 100,000 times, but I feel that we got on the show because I own a BALLOON business and the producers felt it would make for a fun segment.

6. If you have fun / attractive personalities in your business use them on the audition video. There are plenty of Shark Tank segments that have included good looking / sexy / pretty folks. This is TV after all, if you have a “looker” in your business include them in your pitch. In talking to the Nardo brothers at Nardo’s Naturals I’m convinced that Barbara invested in them because she thought the boys were sexy! I’ve watched every episode going back to Season 1, there has been no shortage of cleavage on the show….. case in point:

http://sharktankclips.com/season-3-episode-3-you-smell/

7. Before you pitch on the show go out and sell your product to PROVE there is some type of demand, even if your business is less than a year old. The sharks are impressed by hustle and moxie, if you go and work trade shows and state fairs for a few months and sell 50K in product you have proof that regular folks out there in the market can be converted to customers.

8. There is nothing wrong with taking something obvious and putting a new twist on it, grilled cheese sandwiches have been around for a thousand years, but Tom and Chee turned it into a successful restaurant franchise with proven sales and strong business systems.

9. Build your business big enough to support you full time. The Sharks hate part-time business owners. Your loyalties are divided if you make 70K as a pharmacist and 10K from your business. The Sharks know this, none of them became wealthy by building their companies 10 hours a week.

10. Last but not least, keep it very simple. Tom and Chee, Scrub Daddy, Chord Buddy, Wicked Good Cupcakes, etc. all of the successful pitches can be summed up in a short sentence. Our company sends balloon artists into restaurants to entertain the kids while they wait for the food to arrive at the table, that’s why we’re called Balloon Distractions!

Hope that helps, and Happy Twisting!

-Ben Alexander

Founder / CEO

http://www.BalloonDistractions.com

100,000 bookings, #DONE.

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Balloon Distractions has now sent balloon artists into restaurants over 100,000 times, it took us just over a decade to reach that number.

What does it take to book 100,000 restaurant gigs? Over 4,000 people have been added into our entertainer orientation program since 2003, and these hard working folks filled gigs across four time zones, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to Miami to Minneapolis.

We had to design an online scheduler to organize all those entertainers and clients, it cost over $80K to build.

We paid out well over $4 million in payroll and billed out over $5 million to our restaurant clients.

I personally burned through 4 vehicles and traveled to every corner of the United States, I’ve sold restaurants and trained people in at least 20 states and counting.

We estimate that our team has twisted about 10 million Qualatex balloons since 2003.

So what does the 100,000 number mean? It means that we have a profound understanding of our unique niche, and the experience to make this concept work anywhere, from Miami to Rochester NY.

You see, 100,000 is just the very beginning. We’re going to hit the “1 million gig” mark in the next decade, maybe sooner. We have a specific plan and we’re working that plan every single day. 

We’ve had our share of critics, mostly folks who failed to grasp our business model….

…. the dogs will always bark, but the train is moving on.

If you want to start a business (and bring JOY to children) check out this page on our site:

http://balloondistractions.com/build-a-region.html

God Bless!

Ben Alexander

May 30, 2014

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

The 4 levels of #Leadership.

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These 4 levels of Leadership can be applied to any organization, whether its a church, a business or a local civic organization.

Level 1: Self-Mastery, becoming an Entertainer and a Performer.

The Entertainers on our team go through an extensive orientation process but ultimately they have to emerge as a self-starter, our people buy their own materials and log on each week to choose their own work. This requires a higher level of independence and discipline than most traditional employees in a traditional job. As an Entertainer on our team you do not need to ever talk to a supervisor unless you make a mistake or need to change your schedule.

In many ways self-mastery is the hardest skill to achieve for most people, it is the ultimate expression of self reliance. Once you have mastered yourself you KNOW what you need to do and you take action, no one needs to look over your shoulder or give you direction on a daily basis.

A child needs to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. A child must be constantly watched. To reach self-mastery is to become an true adult, one who is comfortable with responsibility and ready to grow as a leader.

Level 2: Building a Crew.   

Once you develop enough self discipline to order your own materials and show up for your bookings you must perform on a consistent basis over the course of a few months to prove that you can be reliable over the long term. Self-mastery is not something you do for a day or a week, it is a positive habit that you develop as a tool for the rest of your life.  

In our company you have to prove that you are consistent and reliable over 30 or 40 bookings before you become a Crew Leader. The reward in holding this position is that you can earn a commission each time your crew fills a gig.

Crew Leaders earn income from the wider organization, not just their own limited efforts. There are only 24 hours in a day, but when you have a crew out there working you are creating income for yourself, even if you are not personally working that day.    

A Crew Leader must learn several new skills: posting want ads, holding a professional interview, onboarding new Entertainers and making sure each new person goes through our online as well as in person orientation.  

Once you have gotten your new Entertainers started you must follow up and encourage them, our best Crew Leaders will ask their team to text them how much they earned at the end of each shift. If an Entertainer is averaging less that $25 per hour this is a clear indicator that they need further training and counsel.    

Level 3: Developing a Region.

Balloon Distractions never could have “gone national” without a team of Regional Leaders in place. This role requires you to not only become adept at developing Entertainers, but now you have to expand that out to developing Crew Leaders.

This role also requires mastery of a several new skill sets: making sure you have balanced growth in your area by selling this concept to the general managers of local restaurants and bowling centers. As the founder of Balloon Distractions I ran the Tampa Bay region as a Regional Leader from 2003 until 2009, during that time I filled gigs, developed Crew Leaders and sold enough clients to get the region up to 45 bookings per week.

As the Tampa Bay RL I was hands-on with my team, helping my Crew Leaders train new people and also showing them how to sell new clients.

Level 4: Developing other Leaders.

As the company grew I realized that I needed to take the Tampa management role off my desk and delegate that position out to my best Crew Leader. This was hard to do, I had gotten used to running Tampa Bay for 6 years!

With 20 Regional Leaders in the company back in 2009 it was time to focus on our leadership team, not just one region that represented a single digit percentage of our overall business.

I had to become a Level 4 leader myself by looking at the wider picture, how do we put this concept in every city in North America?

My role now is to make sure our operations can support that growth and that we are continuing to develop our own internal Entertainers into Crew Leaders, and helping the Crew Leaders step up into a Regional Leader role. Making it onto season 5 of Shark Tank gave us a huge dose of national media exposure and we are leveraging that into finding and recruiting as many Regional Leaders as possible.

Ben Alexander May 26th, 2014.