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

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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To connect with people is a great blessing, indeed.

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This is me and my sister Andrea in her kitchen in New Jersey, about 2 years ago.

We were joking around that day, I was talking about goofy stuff and making her laugh, probably because I had said something outrageous…. Andrea’s husband Jerry took the pic and it captured that specific moment perfectly.   

It’s important that we connect with other people, every day, in a non-social media way.

I spent this morning interviewing applicants for an admin position within Balloon Distractions, I met a bunch of nice folks, and in the process had some lively discussions with a pretty diverse group of people. One applicant had been a detective in London, who knew?

Social media has it’s place and it’s utility, but let’s not substitute this for REAL human interaction.

This is one reason why I enjoy volunteering in local community events, it gets you out there meeting people and interacting with real human beings, not staring at a computer screen.

Commenting to a post on Facebook is nice, but sharing a laugh with someone in person is far more powerful.

Those are my thoughts for this afternoon….

Ben Alexander

Tuesday afternoon, February 11, 2014.

The Simplest Business in the Ballooniverse.

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This is all the equipment you need to run a BD region with 10, 20, even 50 artists.

You can earn an excellent income with the simple objects in the photo.  

An apron, a hand pump and a few balloons to do tryouts and land new clients.

A phone to close deals and contact your team.

A laptop to access our online orientation and online X-scheduler. Here at HQ we handle the billing, payroll, licensing, background checks on new artists and all the other back office functions crucial to the smooth operation of a national company.

Of course, you also need a mode of transportation to get around, which was not included in the picture. Our Regional Partner in Los Angeles gets around on a motorcycle with his balloon apron in a backpack, you don’t even need 4 wheels to make this work!

Back in 2011 we entertained the idea of branching out into Balloon Décor. At our company HQ we bought heavy helium tanks, shelves of balloons, PVC, and all the other equipment you need to do balloon arches, columns, balloon drops, etc. We did a handful of jobs, but we realized that scaling a décor business nationwide would require tens of thousands of dollars in equipment that could be lost, stolen, damaged etc.   

By keeping this concept light and simple, with online tools that organize people and clients we have an enterprise that can scale anywhere there are restaurants and families.

We can scale this globally, the internet knows no borders.

If you are reading this blog from somewhere else in the world and you have a business background please reach out to us:

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

If you live in a city anywhere in the USA and you want to have a business that is super simple and efficient we would like to talk with you. You can go through our Online Orientation in under a week and start earning cash within about 10 days.  

There is no financial investment to join us other than balloons (which you can buy anywhere) the gas in your vehicle and your time spent building a team.

You will be a 1099 Independent Contractor, so you determine your schedule, the pace of your work, and the size of your income.

You determine the SIZE of your success.

Pay for COLLEGE with Balloons!

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Balloon Distractions PAID Internship Program

Balloon Distractions currently operates in 30 markets across the United States, from Seattle to Miami to Minneapolis. Each region is managed by a Regional Partner, many of whom started on the team as entry level entertainers, working their way through college.

Our company holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and is being featured on Season 5 of the top rated ABC show “Shark Tank” on January 17th, 2014.

This program seeks to partner with local colleges and universities to develop new Regional Partners in all 200 demographic market areas across the United States.

How it works:

Interns will learn how to entertain in restaurants, hire and train new staff and seek out and land new restaurant clients.  They will work closely with the local Regional Partner in a mentor / mentee relationship.

Interns will earn $12 to $25 per HOUR working in restaurants.

By working in a “real world” environment our interns will gain valuable experience inside a national company that will complement their academic work in the classroom.

Ideal candidate:

Any ambitious student with an expressive personality and a strong work ethic who is great at thinking “on their feet”.

An ideal candidate will be non-conventional, creative and personally dynamic.

Internship Program Goals:

This internship will teach a mix of pragmatic business skills; public speaking, customer service, hiring and managing staff and how to prospect and close new clients. Interns will work closely with Balloon Distractions staff as well as General Managers in national chains such as IHOP, Chili’s, Applebee’s, etc.

Within our pool of interns we want to identify and develop the future Regional Partners who will help us place a team in every metro area in the United States.

Specific timeline / schedule

The timeframe specified here is at the discretion of the intern and the Regional Partner who will be assigned to mentor them (the RP mentor). This internship is flexible and should work around the schedules of both the intern and their RP mentor.

Week 1-3:  Intern will learn the basic entertainer role and go to restaurants to fill bookings, while doing so the intern is guaranteed to earn a minimum of $12 per hour. Intern will also be taught our online scheduling system and navigate our Online Training Interface.

Week 4-7:  Intern will assist their RP mentor as they recruit and interview new entertainers.

Week 8-10:  Intern will assist RP mentor in prospecting and landing new clients.

During the entire internship (and after) the intern is encouraged to fill bookings in the local area. Intern has the freedom to log onto our scheduling system and choose bookings at will, so there is flexibility based on the intern’s college schedule.

Completion Requirements

#1. The intern is required to successfully fill 20 bookings in the course of the 10 week program, each booking is from 3-4 hours in length and are normally in the evenings from 5PM on.

There are also Saturday and Sunday breakfast bookings that run from 9AM to 1PM.

#2. Intern must hire and train 2 crew members alongside the RP mentor.

#3. Intern must sell 2 new clients alongside the RP mentor

Interns are expected to sign an intern contract which includes a non-disclosure and non-compete clause.

This program can be custom designed based upon the specific credit hour requirements of your university and / or major.

Regional Partners earn $40,000 to $55,000 in their first year, so this is a viable post graduation track for any 4rth year college student.  

Contact:

BenAlexander@BalloonDistractions.com

 

Lynch Mobs, Seduction and Balloon Twisting.

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Recent advances in brain science have revealed that when we watch another person do something there are complementary, or “mirror neurons” in our brain that fire off in parallel with whatever we’re watching, even if we don’t actually move from our armchair.

If you are sitting and watching your friend bounce a ball off the sidewalk there is a part of your brain doing exactly the same thing, even if your arm is not moving, weird, eh?

This is why if one person in a room starts yawning everyone else will start yawning.

This is why you are more likely to feel like dancing when you see other people dance, cry when other people are crying, and laugh when everyone in the room is already laughing, etc.

When I used to lead sales meetings in my previous career I would nod my head at the other people in the room, invariably the people watching me would start doing the same thing without even realizing it. Mirror Neurons at work.

If you are on a date and trying to look more desirable to a member of the opposite gender you can sit in the same posture, and adopt the same cadence and tone of voice to put them at ease.

Con men use body posture to establish rapport with a potential rip off victim.

Mirror neurons explain why angry people in a lynch mob will riot, murder and cause property damage in a way they would never do if they were acting alone.

Humans are highly social primates, and this weird mammalian quirk helps us blend in, and ostensibly survive. Since our brains (and our neurons) are more active when we’re younger it seems that people under the age of 25 are much more susceptible to the group activities surrounding them, whether in a church, a cult, or even in boot camp for the Marine Corp.

If the Marines tried to indoctrinate 50 year-old recruits they would have a much harder job building a cohesive platoon willing to take orders without question.

So how does this tie into making balloons for folks in restaurants?

If you smile at the customer they are more likely to respond back in the same manner.

If you have an awful attitude the customer will reflect that back to you.

I found that when I had a great attitude, my restaurant tips went through the roof, but if let myself get frustrated I would not do well.

Children respond very well to positive energy and a sincere smile, even as young as a few months old.

-Benjamin T. Alexander

written in 2012

The Unlimited Creativity of the Ballooniverse.

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Famous balloon artist Jason Szabo and his amazing Yoda….

Balloon art really took off in the 1990’s when people started sharing pics on this website:

http://balloonhq.com/

Previous to that there were a few basic books and some small conventions around the world, but once the folks in the Ballooniverse started to collaborate there was an explosion of new ideas.

Balloon Distractions has had over 4,000 people learn balloon twisting in our organization since 2003, so we’ve been a small part of the expansion of the Ballooniverse, no pun intended!  

Twisting balloons in restaurants is a great way to get very fluent at the art  and earn some decent cash as well, the CEO of our company worked in restaurants during his last 2 years of college and graduated with no student debt!

There is also the added benefit of bringing joy to people through balloon twisting…

Balloons represent a colorful medium for creativity all over the world, and we are proud to be a part of it!  

Shark Tank made us BETTER!

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written by Ben Alexander

Soon after we filmed our segment for ABC’s Shark Tank back in September I got together with our team and we talked about what we needed to do to prepare for the potential exposure (and rapid growth) we’d get in the months after the episode aired.

In September the Shark Tank producers made no guarantees about WHEN the episode would air, if at all, so we had to prepare for the exposure within a possible window of December 2013 to May 2014.

This meant that we had to upgrade our servers at a significant cost without being sure the episode would even air! We didn’t want to drag our tail on the upgrades and then watch our website crash when the episode finally aired.

Thankfully we got the call from ABC that our segment will air January 17th of 2014.  

There are several changes that we made in the last 3 months:

1. We brought on a CFO to look at our entire operation and prepare the organization for fast growth.

2. We upgraded our servers and website to focus on recruiting more Regional Partners, and handle more website views at one shot.

3. We partnered with the largest balloon distributor in the country to sell our Balloon Distractions Balloon Basics kit. When Shark Tank airs we might sell 5, or we might sell 5,000!

4. Right now we are drafting a new comprehensive Independent Contractor agreement that encompasses all the levels within the company, from Artist to Regional Partner.

5. We’ve modified the sales compensation to heavily incentivize recruiting and better training for our Independent Contractors.

6. We formed up an Advisory Board of successful business owners who meet once a month and look at this business with a fresh perspective. One of the recommendations of the board was to solidify our online footprint, hence the content in this blog.

….. Shark Tank forced me to look at my company in a new light, and take some steps that I probably should have taken years ago. 

These improvements made the company stronger not only for new people looking to join us but for all the Independent Contractors already working with us.

You live and you learn, right?