Jim and Prince, Summer of 2020, Seattle
Dear Balloon Professioanal,
Welcome to our site, and thank you for your interest in joining the Balloon Planet Network. Great partners have been the key to our success. If you consider yourself a Balloon Professional, we'd love to hear from you.
Caution — what follows is a long document, including our online application. Before you embark on reading, let's make sure a partnership is available in your area.
Please send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org and provide me with the name of the city you would like to serve as a Balloon Planet partner. It is important that your subject line read NEW PARTNER REQUEST. You can expect a reply within 72 hours.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Jim Parker, Founder
This document was updated on August 12, 2020.
A. THE MISSION
B. MANAGEMENT & MARKETING
C. PARTNERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS
G. ADMIN MATTERS
H. OPERATIONS & PROCEDURES
I. A FEW MORE DETAILS
J. APPLY FOR PARTNERSHIP
A. THE MISSION
A1. What is the mission of Balloon Planet?
Our mission is to build and maintain North America's premier balloon delivery and decorating network, while providing our partners with a new and growing revenue stream.
B. MANAGEMENT & MARKETING
B1. Who owns and manages Balloon Planet?
BalloonPlanet.com is owned by The Red Balloon Company Inc, based in Seattle, Washington.
Owners: Jim Parker, John Gallant
Director: Jim Parker
Assistant Director and Webmaster: Christo de Klerk
Accounting Manager: Cody Hargreaves
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington
Number of partners: 105
B2. How does Balloon Planet work?
Balloon Planet is an internet-based network of independent small business owners operating balloon delivery and decorating companies in the cities where they reside. As part of their local delivery and decorating operations, these partners fulfill orders for Balloon Planet. A typical order is uploaded by a customer on the Balloon Planet website, then routed by email directly to the partner serving the city where the order needs to be delivered. Balloon Planet collects all revenues and redistributes earnings to partners every 30 days.
B3. How does Balloon Planet market its services?
Balloon Planet marketing includes five tiers.
Tier 1: Pay-Per-Click Advertising — online sponsored ads placed with Google, Yahoo, MSN, Bing, and other search engines.
Tier 2: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) — SEO is the creation of website pages and page titles created specifically to increase the chances of BalloonPlanet.com appearing near the top position in natural search results.
Tier 3: Partner Referrals — Referrals provided by our partners through their website links and telephone messages.
Tier 4: Affiliate Marketing Program (limited to Balloon Planet partners)
Tier 5: Product & Service Awareness — Balloon Planet counts on each customer experience to generate repeat business by the sending customer and new business from the recipient.
B4. Does Balloon Planet offer order-taking by phone?
Yes! Our staff is available to assist customers by phone during the following hours, Pacific Time.
Mon-Wed — 8am - 530pm
Thu, Fri — 8am - 5pm
Sat — 8am - 4pm
Sun — 11am - 530pm
Our toll-free number (866-966-8964) is available to customers in the USA and Canada.
Callers from other countries can reach us at 206-966-8964.
B5. Is each Partner provided with their own branded Balloon Planet website?
Yes. You will have a branded website built for your company shortly after becoming a partner.
Click here to see an example of a Partner's branded BalloonPlanet.com website
B6. What co-marketing activities are offered with partnership?
a. Partners with a website will receive additional commission income by providing a link from their website to their branded BalloonPlanet.com website.
b. Partners are provided with automatic enrollment in the Balloon Planet Affiliate Marketing Program.
c. Partners are required to use Balloon Planet greeting cards with each Balloon Planet order.
d. Partners are encouraged, but not required, to use Balloon Planet stress-ball anchors (printed 16in latex balloons which the partner fills with sand).
C. PARTNERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS
C1. What are the qualifications for partnership?
a. During the past two years you must have operated balloon bouquet delivery service as a licensed business.
b. You must have the skills to replicate and deliver the bouquets and decor which are sold on the website.
c. Your company, if US-based, must maintain minimum liability insurance coverage of $500,000. This is not required of our Canadian partners.
d. You must provide a cell number that makes it possible to contact the owner or manager of your company after hours and on holidays.
e. You must operate with an internet connection at your business location, with an email account.
f. You must agree to the customer service policies and operating procedures established by Balloon Planet and posted in your account.
g. You must operate a vehicle that will allow you to deliver a bulk order of 100 11-inch latex balloons in one trip.
h. Unless you have been sponsored by a current Balloon Planet partner, you must provide a reference letter from your primary balloon supplier. Note: A retail store is not required for partnership. Home-based operations are welcome.
C2. What skill level is required for partnership?
Applicants must be capable of fulfilling orders for balloon bouquets, centerpieces, air-filled and helium-filled arches and columns, as posted on the site in the Balloon Decor Department. As a general policy, Balloon Planet limits the sale of decor to indoor events, and exceptions are made only with approval of the fulfilling partner.
D1. What are the benefits of partnering with Balloon Planet?
The opportunity to increase your income without incurring additional advertising costs, without spending time on the phone to take orders, without processing payments, and without the risk of credit card fraud.
D2. What is the average value of a Balloon Planet order?
The current average order is $119 USD (sum of product and delivery without Processing Fee).
D3. How much of each order's revenue goes to the partner?
Partners earn 74% of each order's product cost and 74% of the delivery charge. Your income on an order of $119 would be $88.06 (74% x $119).
D4. How much business do you estimate I will receive from being a partner?
We do not release sales and performance data. However, if you qualify for partnership, and a partnership position is available in the city/territory you want to represent, we will provide you with a sales forecast for your prospective territory based on data from other territories of similar size.
There are several variables that influence how many orders a partner receives, including the following.
a. The population of your territory — As a general rule, the greater the population, the greater the opportunity for orders.
b. The demographics of your territory — If you serve a small town with a large university, student deliveries can provide a steady stream of orders. If the median income is higher than normal, that can also increase the number of orders above what would normally be expected.
c. The number of days you are available for service — Balloon Planet does not require that partners make themselves available every day, but each open day increases the chances of additional orders.
d. Same-day service — 20% of our revenues are from same-day orders. Partners may opt-in or out of offering same-day service. Those that opt in may set ordering deadlines as desired for specific zip codes.
E1. Is there an enrollment fee?
There is no enrollment fee, but there is a $95 charge for a Starter Kit which will be shipped to you from the Seattle office. It includes the following:
- Vinyl press-on Letters for personalized name balloons
- 50 Greeting cards
- 50 Sand-balloon weights (without sand)
- 3 Teddy Bears
Payment of the Starter Kit is made as a deduction in your first check.
Replenishment orders for greeting cards, weights, and Teddy Bears are provided at cost, as needed, with easy on-line ordering.
There are no on-going fees. The only additional cost is for inventory.
E2. What is the estimated cost of the inventory required?
Balloon Planet has 5 levels of partnership which we call Zones. Think of a Zone as a membership category, or level. The difference between each Zone is the depth of inventory required. The 5 current Zones are Zone 0, Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, and Zone 4.
Zone 0 is currently not being offered. As of August 2020, bew partners begin in Zone 1 and upgrade as they desire to Zones 2, 3, and 4.
The inventory cost for Zone 1 will range from $1,500 to $2,500, depending on which balloons and what quantities you currently stock. An inventory spreadsheet will be sent upon receipt of your application. This document will allow you to review the Zone 1 product line and calculate your costs, with no obligation.
E3. What other items will I need?
Non-balloon inventory you will need to purchase from your own sources are:
Narrow curling ribbon in a wide range of colors
Gift bags for candy and Teddy Bears
Cello bags and twist ties for candy
Hereshey's Kisses in Silver foil
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
Silver and gold foil pyramid weights by Amscan
E4. Where do I purchase inventory?
Balloon Planet works with two distributors — Loftus International and Rainbow Balloons. New partners may purchase inventory from distributors other than Loftus and Rainbow, however, both carry 100% of the Balloon Planet inventory with discounted pricing for our partners. Check directly with these suppliers for current discounts offered.
- Loftus International, Salt Lake City www.loftus.com 800-453-4879
- Rainbow Balloons, Woburn, MA (Boston area) www.rainbowballoons.com 800-200-8181
Both Loftus and Rainbow offer Balloon Planet discounts with orders accepted by phone or online.
There will be times when one of our preferred distributors will be temporarily out of an item. For this reason we encourage all partners to open accounts with both Loftus and Rainbow, which provides a backup.
E5. Do inventory requirements ever change?
Yes. As manufacturers discontinue old products and introduce new ones, Balloon Planet must keep pace. Partners need to make inventory changes as requested in order to keep up with this process. A minimum thirty days notice is provided.
E6. Is there a buy-back program for unused inventory when an item is discontinued.
We do not offer a buy-back program for discontinued inventory. The best way for a partner to utilize discontinued inventory is through that partner's locally based sales.
F. PRICING AND SALES
F1. Do the prices shown on the site apply to all cities, or does pricing vary between cities?
Pricing for products are displayed in US Dollars and are the same in all cities we serve in the USA and Canada. In addition to the posted price, a delivery charge will be added, which is set by each partner.
F2. Which Zones offer decorating in addition to bouquet deliveries?
All partners in Zones 1 and 2 offer basic classic balloon decor — arches, columns, centerpieces, and a few additional basic decor elements.
All partners in Zones 3 and 4 offer all of the decor items in the Balloon Decorating section.
G. ADMIN MATTERS
G1. How are taxes handled?
Balloon Planet collects sales tax on retail orders in those states/provinces requiring this action. Balloon Planet files appropriate documents and remits collected taxes to each state/province. You will be asked to send a W9 form during your enrollment.
G2. When are partners paid?
Payments are issued on the 15th of every month for all orders delivered in the previous month. This can become confusing if an order arrives in one month and is delivered during a subsequent month. To clarify — you are paid for orders based on when they are delivered, not when they post to your account. The website takes care of all the accounting work, providing you with a clear picture of each month's incoming orders and a separate statement listing each month's delivered orders.
Payments are made by direct deposit. You will be asked to send a blank voided check during enrollment. Depending on your bank, it can take 3-4 business days for direct deposits to post to your account.
G3. Am I paid if an order was paid for with a stolen credit card?
Yes, assuming you made the delivery on time and followed standard operating procedures.
G4. When will I see my monthly statement?
Monthly statements are posted in your account at the end of the statement month. It normally takes several days to update statements with special accounting adjustments. By the 10th of the month the net income amount showing on your statement will be the amount for which your direct deposit will be issued.
To repeat, only those orders delivered during the month will appear on that month's statement.
G5. What is the Processing Fee charged to most orders?
Some orders include a Processing Fee which contributes to the costs of online marketing and credit card fraud. The Processing Fee is currently $9 and is added to the base delivery charge during a customer's ordering process. Balloon Planet retains 100% of Processing Fee.
The partner receives 74% of the Balloon Bouquet price and 74% of the Delivery Charge.
Balloon Planet retains 26% of the Balloon Bouquet price and 26% of the Delivery Charge, as well as 100% of the Processing Fee.
The Processing Fee is visible as a separate line item when viewed in a partner's account. From the customer side, the two charges are merged and appear as one line item titled DELIVERY CHARGE.
H. OPERATIONS & PROCEDURES
Special delivery procedures are now in place due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Please click here to view details.
H1. How do customers place orders?
Orders can be placed by phone or online. Orders placed by phone are uploaded to the website by our staff.
H2. What is the deadline for a customer to place an order?
Every partner controls their schedule with online account controls, making it possible to create any desired deadline for incoming orders. New partners receive an indoctrination to these controls prior to the launch of service.
H3. How far in advance can a customer place an order?
Orders can be placed up to 60 days in advance on the website.
H4. What delivery times are offered to customers?
There are three standard delivery time frames. Each partner is required to offer at least one of these, and ideally, all three.
Any partner may program their account to offer additional special delivery time slots, which are offered for a delivery surcharge.
H5. How do I receive my orders?
You will receive an email and text message notice when an order is submitted. A copy of the order will accompany the email. In addition, a copy of the order will appear in your online account.
H6. What is my online BP account?
All partners are provided with an account on the main Balloon Planet website. Access to this account is password protected. Only you and our operations staff have access to your account.
All of your orders and statements are posted within your online account. In addition, the following links can be accessed from your account home page:
- Calendar access for scheduling days on and off
- Controls for offering customers special delivery time slots, with or without surcharges
- Inventory Catalog for your Zone of partnership
- Territory zip code controls (delivery charges and order deadlines)
- Marketing links
- Operations Manual
H7. How do I confirm receipt of an order?
Once you receive notice of an order, we request that you confirm receipt electronically as soon as possible. This is done by simply clicking on a link provided within the email notice. If we do not receive your confirmation we will call you to make sure you have received the order.
H8. Do I need to confirm that the delivery has been made?
Yes. Partners are required to confirm that a delivery has been made as soon as possible following delivery, via the internet.
H9. Do I need to get a signature when a delivery is made, and are there any other details that need to be recorded?
You are required to record the time of delivery and the name of the person accepting the delivery. If the order is delivered to a third party, you will need to record the name of the accepting party and take a photograph of the order being delivered. Ensure that the first and last name of the person who accepts the order are both clearly recorded. This information must be recorded in the order notes of the specific order number. The photograph should be retained for 30 days in case it is needed to settle a customer dispute.
H10. How do you determine who receives an order if two or more partners represent the same territory?
The website uses the following criteria to distribute incoming orders:
a. Product availability — selects those partners which stock the requested products
b. Service availability — selects partners who are open for service on the selected date
c. Lowest delivery charge — selects the partner with the lowest delivery charge
d. If all partners serving the territory stock the requested inventory, are available for service, and charge the same delivery charge, the site will distribute orders equally between the partners.
There is one exception to this priority system. If a customer begins their purchase on a partner's website, the order will stay with that partner if they stock the requested inventory and are available for service, even if that partner's delivery charge is higher than that of other partners serving the same zip code.
H11. What is the policy regarding product substitutions?
The number one complaint of customers making online purchases is not receiving what they were promised. Unlike the floral industry, Balloon Planet does not make substitutions without customer approval. If you find yourself short of inventory for an upcoming order, your options are as follows:
a. Place an expedited order with a local supplier or one of our preferred distributors.
b. Contact Balloon Planet Seattle to see if we can overnight what you need.
c. Contact the customer for approval to substitute.
d. Substitute without approval, but be prepared for a refund if the customer is not satisfied.
H12. What is the prescribed preparation process for Balloon Planet orders?
a. All latex balloons must be hand-tied. Clips are not acceptable.
b. Ribbon colors must match the balloon color as closely as possible, unless the product description directs you to use different colors.
c. Ribbon lengths must be at least 8 feet long before being tied to the balloon.
d. Ribbons must be attached to a weight using a knot that is capable of being untied. Ribbons should not be trimmed short after being tied to the weight.
e. The BalloonPlanet.com greeting card should be attached to the weight.
f. A business card promoting the partner's company may be attached to the Balloon Planet greeting card.
g. If a gift item is included, it must be packaged in a gift box or a gift bag provided by the partner. In addition, candy should always be enclosed in a separate cellophane bag.
h. Partners should use a non-latex weight for hospital deliveries.
H13. How can a partner black-out delivery dates?
Service for any date can be blocked using the online calendar in your account.
H14. What are special procedures for hospitals, schools, and residential deliveries?
a. With school deliveries, prior to inflation, partners are required to confirm that the school will accept a balloon delivery.
b. We do not deliver latex balloon orders to hospitals. If you receive such an order, you may substitute latex balloons with an equivalent value of mylar balloons, without approval. We request that you use a non-latex weight of your choice for hospital deliveries.
c. With all hospital orders, prior to inflation, partners are required to first call the hospital and confirm that the patient has not been discharged and that the patient can receive balloons. Many intensive care units will not permit balloon deliveries.
d. With residential orders, prior to inflation, partners are required to call the residence to confirm that someone will be home to accept the delivery. When making arrangements for a residential delivery, the initial call should be placed by mid-morning of the delivery date. This call can also be made the day prior to delivery. Same-day orders should be called as soon as possible on the delivery date. If you are unable to get an answer by early afternoon, please advise the customer. It is acceptable to make the delivery after the designated deadline if such an arrangement has been made with the recipient. If you are unable to deliver the order on the assigned date because you have been unable to make contact with the recipient, advise Balloon Planet and the customer. Make the delivery the following day, or later, only with permission from Balloon Planet or the customer.
I. A FEW MORE DETAILS
I1. I see many bouquets on the website which include inventory that I am not required to carry. Why is that?
When customers initially visit the Balloon Planet website they are able to see all bouquets which we offer system-wide, including many which may not be offered in your city. However, once the customer enters the postal code for the delivery location where they need service, the website will reset and post only the inventory and pricing for products available in that zip code.
I2. Is the area I serve exclusively served by my company?
Balloon Planet will carefully gauge how many partners are required to optimize customer service for a region. Generally, this means multiple partners will serve a city, with no company representing any area exclusively.
I3. What are my guidelines for being available for service?
a. Using their online BP calendar, partners are free to control the days that service is offered.
b. For orders submitted at least one day in advance, partners must offer one or more of the following delivery time slots:
c. Partners have the option to offer additional special delivery time slots that are shorter, for a surcharge to the customer.
d. Partners are required to accept and deliver any order that arrives into their account as a result of their service calendar indicating service on the requested delivery date is available.
I4. Am I required to accept same day orders?
No. You may control whether or not your account accepts same-day orders, and you may control the deadline for same-day orders if you elect to offer same-day service.
I5. How do I determine the size of my territory?
Partners are able to establish their service territory boundaries by uploading the desired zip codes. Partners are free to add or remove zip codes and to make changes to delivery charges at any time. You may serve as large or as small an area as you desire, as long as you are able to provide reliable service within the entire territory.
I6. How much can I charge for delivery?
To be competitive with florists and other balloon delivery services, we encourage partners to keep delivery charges below $30. However, you are free to charge whatever charge you like. Keep in mind that the site is programmed to give preference to partners with the lowest delivery charge if more than one partner serves the area. All partners are able to view the delivery charges of other partners who share their territory. This information is posted in each partner's online account where zip codes are listed.
If a customer links from a partner's home site to their branded Balloon Planet site, and more than one partner represents the delivery zip code, the delivery charge preference feature is disabled, and the order goes to the referring partner, regardless of the delivery charge. However, this applies only if both partners offer the same inventory. If the customer is purchasing an item that the referring partner does not stock, the order will automatically revert to the partner who has the item, regardless of the delivery charge.
I7. Is partnership in BalloonPlanet.com automatically transferred to the new owner if I sell my company?
Not necessarily. Such transfers are at the discretion of Balloon Planet.
I8. Under what conditions can my partnership be terminated?
The following conditions may lead to termination of partnership.
a. Repeated missed or unexcused late deliveries
b. Failure to maintain adequate stock of delivery products
c. Not using prescribed procedures
d. Unprofessional behavior
e. Use of information from the membership roster for personal or commercial gain, or providing this information to any other organization
f. Copyright infringement
g. Failure to maintain adequate communication systems, resulting in a loss of satisfactory two-way communication with BalloonPlanet.com
h. Repeated failure to respond to communications from Balloon Planet
i. Using social media or any other communication tool to post hostile and inflammatory remarks related to Balloon Planet policies and procedures, staff, or partners.
Click here to view our complete Customer Service Guide
J. APPLY FOR PARTNERSHIP
1. How do I apply for partnership?
Use the application link just below this message. It reads APPLY NOW FOR PARTNERSHIP.
2. If accepted into the program, how soon can I expect to become an active partner?
The complete enrollment process usually takes about 4 weeks. Here is a typical time-line.
Day 1 — Send us an email message to see if a partnership is available in your city.
Day 5 — Balloon Planet confirms that a partnership is available.
Day 8 — You complete the online application and submit it to Balloon Planet.
Day 12 — Balloon Planet sets up your accound and sends you an e-contract to sign.
Day 15 — You sign the contract and submit it to Balloon Planet.
Day 20 — You place an order with a distributor for the necessary balloons and other items noted above.
Day 25 — Balloon Planet contacts you by phone for a one hour indoctrination.
Days 25-30 — We're ready if you're ready!
3. Is the partnership contract binding for any length of time?
The partnership contract is open-ended and partners may resign at any time and for any reason, with a 30-day written notice, without further financial obligation.