2022 The Year of the small business
2021 may be the year of the Ox but Bubbling With Energy Entertainment believes 2022 will be the year of the small business. A year is a long time for a small business.
Let’s go back to 2019, which seems like a long time ago now!. Two Businesses were booming for Mark Rubiolo owner of Bubbling With Energy Entertainment. It’s Sydney’s largest provider of inflatable amusements such as Jumping Castles, Inflatable Water Slides and Obstacle Courses and Mechanical Bulls.
Mr Rubiolo said “2019 was going to be our year. Turnover was up over 40% heading into Summer with the amount of bookings we have never seen before. Then the fires hit, the Sydney smoke haze hit and the floods, and we saw our income drop to levels we had not seen for 10 years.”
Then Covid arrived
The effect these natural causes had on the business was minute compared to the monster lurking in Wuhan China.
Mark remembers sitting on a plane in January 2020 (ironically the year of the Rat) heading to Canada and reading about an outbreak of what we now know as Covid19. Within days of landing in freezing cold temperatures in Canada Mark was feeling unwell. “It was like I was hit by a bus. I was unwell for 4 weeks and no vitamin or drug could fix it. I slept for most of the day until we departed“. Whilst un-diagnosed, Mark knew what he was suffering was Covid19. Since then Mark has suffered from Long-covid where symptoms like blisters on his toes come and go.
On his arrival back in Sydney Mark’s jumping castle business was starting to see how Covid19 was decimating his business plan. “I was watching daily the cancellations we were processing. In one week alone we saw a drop of $200,000 in bookings“.
Mr Rubiolo said “We closed the doors in March 2020 and placed one of our businesses in administration. The next few months were stressful and scary. I was sad that the staff relationships I had created over 20 years were being unravelled in days“. The stress was so high that Mark collapsed in his apartment one night and woke to paramedics dressed in full protective gear looking over him.
“The federal government assistance saved our other business and gave me time to reflect on how we would get through this pandemic.“
Mark used Lockdown 2020 to work on a plan to get the business through. He looked at how the lockdown was affecting the people of Sydney and also came up with a plan that included automating his business via new technology.
Back to Work
By July 2020 Mark selected a few essential staff to the business and called them back to work. Their “whatever it takes” attitude to get the business back up and running again inspired Mr Rubiolo to work 14 hour days. “Before meeting restrictions, we were offering Inflatable Pubs for backyards for 18 year olds who could not go to the pub on their birthday. We also set up contact free delivery of sanitised Jumping Castles throughout Sydney.”
By August 2020 the business was experiencing enquiries never seen before in the business. “We were processing twice as many bookings with half the staff“.
Schools were booking our Jumping Castles and Water Slides for school fun days as excursions were banned and they wanted our inflatables for incursions.
But we couldn’t stay on site!
“The issue was that we were not allowed to stay on site. So we set up online training videos that school teachers were required to watch“. Bubbling With Energy ground crew would set up the jumping castles and then hand over to the school to supervise the kids. “We gave the teachers wind meters to watch the wind. Our ground crews uploaded pics of the set up so our office staff could confirm all set ups were installed correctly.”
Christmas 2020 was huge for the company as the government stimulus money was being spent. “If you want to get a guide on how the economy is going, have a look at what parents were paying for their kids parties. We had parents working with us for dates of parties just so they could get the right Jumping Castle for their kids party“.
Since last year the company has expanded their range of Jumping Castles for hire in Sydney. Also they have launched a mobile video gaming trailer to fire and smoke proof their business. “The Gaming trailer has gone beserk. We bring a fully air conditioned video gaming trailer to kids parties. No worries about fires, smoke or floods and we can easily sanitise between hires!”
The NSW Government Dine and Discover vouchers were a boom for the business. Bubbling With Energy Entertainment offered to match a $25 voucher with a further $25 discount. “We had parents scrambling to use the vouchers with us and that actually increased the average spend on a Jumping Castle for a backyard party … so we all won“.
Planning 2022 Year of Small Business Strategies
Fast forward to September 2021. The business, whilst unable to operate since late June, has been planning their 2022 strategies with new products to add to their Jumping Castle range and a great new idea around foam parties. Mr Rubiolo also placed all his vehicles on Car Next Door, a vehicle sharing app. “It’s all about working with Covid19 and not letting it beat you“.
“Once again the recent government stimulus has helped our business to stay afloat and we know our business will see unprecedented demand once the lockdown is over” Mr Rubiolo said.
“Staffing will be our issue moving forward. We have plans to incentivise our staff to bring other employees on board just to keep up with the demand“.
“Bring on 2022 … it’s the year of the small business!“