Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Jumping 4 Joy

Jumping 4 Joy
1 October 2012

Jumping 4 Joy?  Perhaps not always so much.

I have my own business, ‘uniquely’ called Jump 4 Joy.  And yip, you guessed it – I rent out Jumping Castles.  Hey, in the beginning I thought it was a really awesome name.  Until I eventually cottoned on, that people often assumed that my name was Joy.  Will I ever forget the time my friend Gill’s husband phoned me and tried to prank me from Gill’s phone?  He tried to muffle his voice by speaking through something and in a horrible accent he said “Ah, hello, is that Joy?”.  To which I replied “No, Pete – it’s Helene.  I have call line identity on my cell phone, you chop!”. 

I love my business.  I make children happy.  So what’s not to love?  I seriously like children, so making them happy for a living is just sooo cool.  I’m every kid’s hero and chances are that my Jumping Castles just add that little bit extra to a birthday party and really help to make the day fun for the kids and easy for the parents.  There are loads of positives to my business and for them I am deeply grateful. 

I get to work from home – which anybody else who works from home knows, is both a blessing and a burden.  The plus side is I never have to drive to work and spend absolutely zero time in work traffic.  Bonus!  I do however never get to escape work either.  My hours are pretty flexible (particularly in the week).  But they’re also only really flexible if everyone plays by the rules and sticks to the collection and drop-off times.  I don’t require a fancy working wardrobe.  In fact, if anything, I actually dress down for work – wearing my oldest, rattiest, torn jeans (they’re always clean mind you).  My clothes take a pounding and get dirty from lifting and loading, so dressing up would be pretty daft.  I don’t have a boss – which is my absolutely fave.  I don’t have a problem with authority and I’m a rule follower, but I don’t really like being told what to do in a bossy type of manner – a horrible characteristic, I know.  However, I’m a pretty hard task master myself so perhaps a boss would be better?  I never allow myself sick leave or holidays.  If I was my own employee I would take myself to the labour court – slavery, I tell you!!!  I decide on my own prices for my Castles and therefore I set my own salary – obviously given that clients rent from me and I get the bucks in of course.  And while I may seriously suck at giving myself leave, I am a rather generous employer.  I give myself a small annual increase in October every year, when I marginally increase my prices.  Twenty bucks extra per rental, is not a lot of money to the individual paying me, but given the volume and turnover of clients it does surmount to a little raise at least.  I am mainly busy over weekends, so I’m able to lift and cart my kids around during the week – a job I oddly enjoy doing.  I am not stuck in an office, for which I am eternally grateful.  I fear I would wither away if I was.  I get to do my kids’ sport and extra-murals in the afternoons and help out at their schools during the morning if needed – you know odd little jobs, like counting raffle sheets, or helping with décor for a farewell, or prop painting for a concert, supervising a class or cake sale duty.  Arb little things like that that make my kids feel so chuffed and proud when they see me at school (lots of waving and hugs are my reward) – until they become teenagers of course.  Luke would rather die than see me at High School.  Perish the thought!  I’m home in the holidays, so I’m not stuck with the same dilemma that conventional working parents are stuck with in terms of what to do with their kids in the holidays.  So all, in all – loads and loads and loads of perks.

But sadly and more realistically, for every silver lining there is a cloud.  And I suppose rightly so.  Because without those clouds, the silver linings wouldn’t seem half as bright.  Now I’m not prone to negativity or dark thoughts and I’m sure that most who know me can vouch for this.  In fact, I consciously make an effort to always be positive and upbeat.  But jeez, sometimes work can be a bit annoying.

So this is my main beef.  I get to spend absolute aeons waiting for people.  No, I don’t think you completely understand – AEONS!!!  The lack of consideration simply takes my breath away at times.  I am always very precise in explaining my collection and drop-off times.  There is no grey area.  It gets discussed verbally over the phone when the enquiry is made.  It is re-iterated in all my e-mail communication.  And I send confirmation to clients again the day before their parties, just to make sure and remind them, in a friendly yet exact manner.  But, would you believe it, things don’t always go according to plan.  Now, I’m not rigid or unreasonable.  But being four hours late in collecting a castle is rather trying.  It might surprise some to realise that I don’t just sit around at home all day long waiting for clients.  I have children, a husband and a life.  Chances are my kids have sports matches or I have another commitment – hence the whole time frame thing.  I try and be flexible, make allowances and exercise patience.  And then, despite signing a contract stipulating times when they collect, when it comes to dropping Castles off again, the time thing rears its ugly head once more – even more profoundly.  Obviously people are slightly more conscientious about fetching a Castle on time, as their party depends on it.  But dropping it off again?  Well, no, not so much.  They would rather stretch the usage – sometimes even by days.  Yip, days. 

So obviously my little whinge comes on the tail end of a particularly tedious waiting weekend.  A castle that was supposed to be dropped off on Saturday evening at 6pm, only ended up coming in again on Sunday evening after 9pm.  Very stressful, particularly as I was unable to get hold of the client.  Were they doing a runner on me and stealing my Castle?  Stranger things have happened.  Another one that was supposed to be fetched at 8h30 on Sunday morning, was only fetched at 12h00.  Not a train smash I know.  But on this particular Sunday, I had other plans.  Which resulted in my family leaving without me to go for lunch to friends – only for me to join them later.  Yet again, not a train smash.  But slightly irritating?  You betcha!

So what to do?  What to do???  Well, I suck it up.  Even though they’re at fault, I play nice.  Good news and a positive experience spreads fast.  Bad news or a bad experience spreads even faster.  So, I am polite back, despite being irate on the inside.  I am courteous and friendly.  I don’t burn bridges.  I give people second, third and fourth chances.  I imagine being in their shoes and having difficulty with transport and time management skills (something I sometimes suck at as well).  I smile at the kids, joke with the parents and lend a helpful hand.  And for my efforts, I get repeat business.  I hopefully have a good name out there, as a friendly and polite person.  Yip, I’m a sucker!

But you know what?  It’s all worth it.  Seeing the smiles on the faces of the little kids when they come along for the drive to fetch “their” Castle for their party.  I get to show them the pictures of “their” Castles when they’re inflated and see the wonder and excitement on their faces.  I get spontaneous hugs and lisping thank you’s.  And let’s not forget the deep appreciation from the parents for keeping their kids occupied so to speak.  Not to mention their relief at having little party guests playing and being entertained outside, rather than in their homes.

And to be honest, the cash doesn’t hurt too much either and really seems to soothe my pain.

I took a Castle along to a friend's house when we had a get-together once, and some of the little girls donned wigs and posed for a pic on the Castle - too cute!
Gladiator Boat
Gladiator Slide, fondly dubbed MF01 - sure you can figure it out
Gladiator Slide again - it's friggin heavy!
Slide @ Side - a Castle/Ballpond combo
Fun House
Slip 'n Slide fun
The kids absolutely love it and often end up queueing
Giving my new baby a bash at home - quality control and all that
A delighted foam covered Cole
Best view ever - empty garage.  All my babies out for the day.  Show me the money!!!

1 comment:

  1. Good reading as always Helene, Thanks.
    To over-come the lateness of returns you could always stipulate that there will be be a late-return charge, and stipulate the hourly rate for that. Have used it and it works a charm. They then pay for your inconvenience, sorted!