|Partnership FAQ - 2016
Updated November 1, 2016
C. PARTNERSHIP BENEFITS & COSTS
E. OPERATIONS & PROCEDURES
F. APPLYING FOR PARTNERSHIP
A1. What is the mission of Balloon Planet?
To be the premier balloon delivery and decorating network in the US and Canada.
B1. Who owns and manages Balloon Planet?
BalloonPlanet.com was started by Jim Parker, the VP, co-founder, and co-owner of The Red Balloon Company, operating in Seattle, Washington since 1980. BalloonPlanet.com is currently operated as a separate division of The Red Balloon Company.
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: 100
B2. Qualatex balloons are heavily featured in this program. Is Pioneer Balloon Company involved with Balloon Planet?
Pioneer Balloon Company is not involved with Balloon Planet.
Qualatex balloons are featured in the product line of Balloon Planet because of their high quality and broad distribution. Anagram and Betallic products are also included on the site.
C. PARTNERSHIP BENEFITS & COSTS
C1. What is the cost to enroll and participate as a partner with Balloon Planet?
There is an enrollment fee of $125, which provides you with the following:
Branded web site
50 Greeting cards
50 Sand-balloon weights (without sand)
3 Gund teddy bears
There are no on-going fees. The only additional costs are related to inventory (see C15 below). Replenishment orders for greeting cards, weights, and Gund teddy bears are provided at cost, as needed.
C2. What are the benefits of partnering with Balloon Planet?
Please refer to our program introduction.
Click here to see an example of a partner's branded BalloonPlanet.com web site
C3. How much business do you estimate I will receive from being a partner?
Some partners receive orders daily, while others receive one to three orders a month. There are several factors that will play a role in how many orders you receive:
a. The population and demographics of your territory — The larger and more affluent your city, the greater the opportunity for locally generated orders.
b. Your availability for service, including same-day availability — The more available you are for service the more orders you will receive. Half of our customers request service with less than 48 hours notice.
c. How well you market your own web site and how well you link to your branded Balloon Planet web site — More on this in the marketing section that follows (part D).
C4. What are the requirements for partnership?
a. During the past two years you must have actively offered and operated balloon bouquet delivery service as a licensed business.
b. You must have the skills and equipment that make it possible for you to provide basic classic balloon decor as shown on the Balloon Planet site.
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.
g. If you have a web site you must provide an approved link from your site to your branded Balloon Planet site.
Note: A retail store is not required for partnership. Home-based operations are welcome.
C5. What skill level is required for partnership?
The ability to inflate and properly deliver the balloons which are sold on the web site. Partners that operate in our most basic program levels may request an exemption from all decorating products, with the exception of basic balloon centerpieces.
C6. How much of each order's revenue does my company keep?
Partners earn 74% of each order (which includes the product and delivery charge, but does not include the Processing Fee). More details can be found below.
C7. What is the Processing Fee listed with each order?
Every order usually includes a Processing Fee, used to cover fluctuating marketing costs and credit card fraud. This fee is a separate line item on each order form. The standard Processing Fee is currently $12.00.
C8. What is the average value of a Balloon Planet order?
In the first half of 2016 the average order was $110.00 with delivery, not including the Processing Fee.
C9. How are taxes handled?
Tax Processing in the USA
Balloon Planet is grandfathered into legislation enacted by the US Congress to provide FTD and other nationwide floral networks with a sales tax exemption, except in the state where the network is headquartered. Consequently, only those orders destined for delivery in Washington state are subject to sales tax. All taxes collected are sent to the partner. It is the partner's responsibility to file these taxes as required by law.
Click here to see a statement from our accounting firm.
Tax Processing in Canada
GST and other required taxes are collected on each sale and remitted to the parnter. It is the partner's responsibility to arrange with Balloon Planet for the correct tax to be collected on each order.
C10. When am I paid?
Checks 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.
C11. Am I paid if an order is paid for with a stolen credit card?
Yes, assuming you made the delivery on time and followed standard operating procedures.
C12. When will I see my monthly statement?
Monthly statements are posted in your account beginning with the first day of the month. The figures change in real time as orders are posted to your account. It normally takes 9 days following every month 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 check will be issued.
To repeat, only those orders delivered during the month will appear on that month's statement.
C13. How much inventory do I need to stock?
Please see C15.
C14. Can I start the program with no inventory and then order inventory as I need it for incoming orders?
Only if you reside close enough to a balloon distributor to pick up items as needed. Otherwise, you must stock inventory sufficient to offer same-day service.
C15. What is the estimated cost of the inventory I need?
We recommend that new partners enroll as Zone 1 or 2 partners. Lowest mylar pricing is offered by Loftus International. Your estimated investment in mylar balloon inventory is noted below, and represents the cost of purchasing 3 of each required item required for each Zone, as noted in the online catallog. Your investment should be less than these estimates, depending on inventory you aleady have on hand. The cost of latex balloons is not included in these estimates.
Zone 1: $800
Zone 2: $1,700
C16. Where do I get inventory?
Inventory may be purchased from any balloon supplier. Balloon Planet works closely with two preferred suppliers, Loftus International and Rainbow Balloons. 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
Loftus International has an e-commerce web site, allowing partners to place orders online (www.loftus.com), or orders can be placed by phone. No minimum order applies and items may be purchased individually. Once you register as a Balloon Planet partner, your discounted pricing will be shown on their web site when you log in.
Rainbow Balloon does not have an e-commerce web site. Orders must be placed by phone. No minimum applies if you advise the sales clerk that you are a Balloon Planet partner.
C17. I see many bouquets on the web site which include inventory that I am not required to carry. Why is that?
When customers initially visit the Balloon Planet web site 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 web site will reset and post only the inventory and pricing for products available in that zip code.
C18. 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.
C19. Is there a buy-back program for unused inventory when an item is discontinued.
We do not usually offer a buy-back program for discontinued inventory. The best way for a partner to utilize discontinued inventory is through that partner's local sales.
C20. 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.
C21. What are my guidelines for being available for service?
- Partners are free to control the days that service is offered.
- On any day that you do offer service, you must offer service during the standard delivery time frames, currently established as:
- You have the option to offer additional special delivery time frames that are shorter, for a surcharge to the customer.
- You are required to accept and deliver any order that arrives into your account as a result of your service calendar indicating you are available for service on the requested delivery date, provided there are no special requests made by the customer that are outside of standard service limits.
C22. 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.
C23. 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.
C24. 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 $20. 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.
C25. Is partnership in BalloonPlanet.com automatically transferred to the new owner if I sell my company?
Such transfers are at the discretion of Balloon Planet.
D1. 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 web site 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 web site 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.
D2. Does Balloon Planet take orders by phone, and if so, is there a toll free number?
Yes. A toll-free number is available to customers in the USA and Canada (866-340-1268). Customers outside of the toll-free area may reach BalloonPlanet.com at 206-340-1268.
Approximately 5% of our customers place orders by phone, with 95% using the web site.
D3. Is each Partner provided with their own branded Balloon Planet web site?
Yes. You will have a branded web site built for your company shortly after becoming a partner.
Click here to see an example of a Partner's branded BalloonPlanet.comweb site
D4. What marketing activity is required of a partner?
a. Partners with web sites are required to provide a link from their web site to their branded BalloonPlanet.com web site. This permits partners to earn additional commission income.
b. Partners must join the Affiliate Marketing Program.
d. Partners are required to use Balloon Planet greeting cards with each order.
e. Partners are encouraged, but not required, to use Balloon Planet stress-ball anchors (printed 16in latex balloons which the partner fills with sand).
E. OPERATIONS & PROCEDURES
E1. How do customers place orders?
Orders can be placed by phone or online. Orders placed by phone are uploaded to the web site by our staff.
E2. 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.
E3. How far in advance can a customer place an order?
Orders can be placed up to 60 days in advance.
E4. What delivery times are offered to customers?
There are three standard delivery time frames offered to all customers.
Any partner may program their account to offer additional special delivery time slots, which are offered for a delivery surcharge.
E5. How do I receive my orders?
You will receive an email notice immediately after an order is placed on the web site. A copy of the order will accompany the email. In addition, a copy of the order will appear in your online account.
E6. What is my online account?
All partners are provided with an account on the main Balloon Planet web site. Access to this account is password protected. Only you and the webmaster 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
E7. How do I confirm receipt of an order?
Once you receive notice of an order, we request that you confirm it 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.
E8. 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.
E9. 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 deliver. You do not need to get a signature, but 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.
E10. How do you determine who receives an order if two or more partners represent the same territory?
The web site 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 rotate distribution of orders equitably between the partners.
There is one exception to this priority system. If a customer begins their purchase on a partner's web site, 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.
E11. 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.
E12. What is the prescribed preparation process for Balloon Planet orders?
a. All latex balloons must be hand-tied.
b. Ribbons must match the balloon color as closely as possible.
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.
E13. How can a partner black-out delivery dates?
Service for any date can be blocked using the online calendar in your account.
E14. 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.
Click here to view our complete Customer Service Guide
F. APPLYING FOR PARTNERSHIP
F1. How do I apply for partnership?
Use the online application, which can be accessed by clicking on the arrow at the bottom of this page titled APPLY NOW FOR PARTNERSHIP.
F2. If accepted into the program, how soon can I expect to become an active partner?
The process takes approximately 30 days.
F3. Is the partnership agreement binding for any length of time?
No. The partnership agreement iis open-ended and partners may resign at any time and for any reason, with a 30-day written notice, without further financial obligation.
F4. 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
g. Repeated failure to respond to communications from Balloon Planet
F5. What is the enrollment fee?
There is an enrollment fee of $125 USD which can be paid by credit card or check once an applicant is approved for partnership.
New partners will receive a starter kit that includes 50 greeting cards, 50 sand-weight balloons (without sand), and 2 Gund Teddy Bears.