Let’s face it: Inflatables are an investment, not an impulse purchase. That is why it only makes sense to purchase inflatables from long-standing companies who have proven track records with design -and product quality, on-time delivery, post-sales customer service and more.
But honestly, how would you know? If you contacted an inflatables company (or they contacted you), how could you determine with a fair amount of certainty that your project would turn out exactly the way you wanted?
Based on years of experience and hearing tales from clients who eventually came to X-Treme, we have compiled a checklist of things to consider, things to make sure of and things to avoid like the plague. Using our inside knowledge, you’ll be able to make a more confident decision on the supplier that’s right for you.
Things To Consider
While answering “no” to any of these is no cause to sound an alarm, you would do better to work with a supplier who does/offers everything below.
☐ Has the company asked about more information of your campaign or the primary use of the inflatable? This could have a profound effect on how the inflatable performs, the size, shape and more.
☐ Do you like your concept illustration (quote sketch) the supplier provided ?
The supplier should be able to adapt the initial design in order to make it work ..
☐ Did the supplier explain the type of artwork and extra information you or your agency are supposed to deliver.
☐ Is your potential supplier prepared to give some names of existing customers to whom the company provided similar inflatables ? Does he allow you to contact them ?
☐ Is there a more technical sketch or model at a certain stage ? If not, what reassurance do you have that you’ll get the same level of creativity ? Specify in detail what can be 3D and what should be 2D (just print) and also important: how to install ?
☐ Does your contact have a long history within the company ? How long have they been employed and what position do they hold? Often average sales persons do not have enough technical and design experience and to change contact person mid-stream certainly can complicate and delay matters.
☐ Are all needed accessories provided ? Do EU-approved blowers, strong anchors and other needed accessories like transport bags, etc come with the inflatable or do those cost extra?
☐ Are they trying to sell you what they want you to buy? Don’t be pushed around. You’re paying for your inflatable and it should be exactly what you want and need, not what the supplier is trying to get rid of, or finds easy to make…
Things To Make Sure Of
If you find yourself answering “no” to one or more of these, you will want to treat carefully. Each of these questions will show you about the level of quality provided by the supplier as well as their ability to stand behind their products.
☐ Do you like the inflatables pictured on their site? What you see on the company’s website should be a representation of the best they have to offer. If you are not pleased with what you find online, chances are very high you will not be pleased with the final product they deliver.
☐ Has the supplier not only references shown by pictures on a website but do they also have detailed information to give about the specific projects and for example pictures during the installation (where exactly, how did they install, how long did it take to install, how did they proceed, ….) Platform sites like Alibaba with plenty of stolen images are a common plague ..
☐ Do they offer a warranty? How long is the warranty? What does it cover? Ask to get details about the small text, their sales conditions they have on the back of their invoices. Some companies offer a 5 year warranty at first sight until you start to read the details … It is nearly forbidden to use the inflatable if you want to keep the warranty
☐ Is the company’s physical address clearly stated on their website? Will you be able to reach them when needed ?
How fast can they react in case of urgency ?
☐ Has the business been operational for a significant amount of time? Can they prove it ? Unfortunately, we know plenty of horror stories from clients. Can the supplier provide customer testimonials or media coverage that shows they have been in business as long as they claim?
☐ Do they use top-quality construction practices? Without double-stitched seams and internal tethering you run a serious risk of incurring damage to your inflatable, even with normal wear and tear.
☐ Are they aware of EU regulations and local laws applicable to the production and the use of inflatables ?
Things To Avoid Like the Plague
If even one of these questions has a “no” answer, run with the wind ! These are warning signs that almost always lead to a poor performing inflatable and an overall bad experience.
☐ Does the vendor provide referrals? If they are unable to offer a minimum of three recent referrals, don’t bother working with them. If they do offer referrals, be sure you call at least one.
☐ Are their sales conditions realistic? There are certain factors that come into play with every inflatable project. Lead times that are far faster than others or pricing that is exceptionally lower than competitors’ quotes should send up a red flag.
☐ Are their salespeople professional? Using hard-sell tactics and bashing competitors to try and gain business is not only unprofessional, it is often dishonest. Companies that participate in these sales practices will not be a pleasant to deal with in an after sales or maintenance relationship. This should be a deal breaker.