Having lived through a helium shortage previously and still grown my balloon business, in this blog I am going to share with you top tips for managing your business during the current helium shortage and manufacturer rations.
,I am sure all of you will have heard the dreaded news that helium shortage is upon us again. For those of us that have been around a while we will still recall the impact of the last helium shortage here in the UK around 5 years ago. For those who are newer to the industry the news that helium rationing is starting again will be most likely very alarming! Don’t throw your arms up and despair, or consider giving up though – you can still have a thriving business even during a helium shortage! Here are some top tips to stay ahead in your business despite the shortage.
Ensure you have helium accounts with more than one wholesaler.
There may be times when helium gets really scarce and some wholesalers may run out so its most sensible to have helium accounts with more than one wholesaler in your area. As a general rule of thumb although we all have our favourite wholesalers, all sorts of stock outages do happen, so it is sensible to have several accounts to ensure you can fulfil customer needs even when helium rationing is not in place.
Make sure you also order other supplies from each wholesaler regularly too
If scarcity happens wholesalers will, of course, always try to supply regular customers who purchase supplies other than helium over random customers or helium only customers. It’s also essential to build good relationships with wholesalers so they can give you the inside knowledge of what might happen moving forward and so you can give back to them as they strive to support you in growing your business.
Be prepared to use different types of helium cylinders
Moving forward, there is a good chance, your preferred type of cylinder may not be available and you may have to use a different manufacturer or different type of cylinder. It’s actually a good idea to carry a cylinder, right now, of both BOC and Air Products or an alternative helium supplier. At the moment here in the UK BOC is rationing one cylinder in one out, on a like for like basis, but all the other helium manufacturers are likely to follow suit so make sure you have one now in case the alternative manufacturer cannot keep up with demand and bring in a similar system. Make sure you have at least the standard valves for each type of cylinder so you can use whatever is available should your preferred cylinder not be available.
Get organised & keep yourself well stocked with helium
It goes without saying – you really need to keep a healthy stock of helium. I am not talking panic buying but just if there is a temporary out of stock at the wholesalers you use, then you have enough to cover you for a few weeks when hopefully more stock will arrive (this is where carrying more than one type of cylinder will really help you). Be sure to keep an eye on the diary and what is coming up so you can ensure you are able to fulfil the helium designs in coming orders.
DONOT return an empty cylinder unless it can be replaced with a new cylinder.
With the rationing BOC is already saying that its only supplying like for like with cylinders. You may have to pay extra rental on the cylinder by holding on to it but if you don’t there is potential to not be able to get another cylinder moving forward until rationing is over because you don’t have one to exchange.
If you have other members working in your team make sure they are aware of this!
Up-sell air filled designs
You should always be up-selling air designs anyway, because, there is far greater profit in them. Helium is one of the most expensive costs to any balloon business. Helium prices have already escalated 135% in recent months and they are likely to go up further with scarcity. Take a look at your portfolio, right now, and consider what air designs you should add to it, to make it a popular alternative with your customers. Customers always purchase what they can see, so schedule time in your diary to create some air filled pieces for the events you do the most. Make sure you put marketing time into show casing them and so driving their popularity with your customers.
Avoid large helium filled balloons
Moving forward if helium becomes more rationed you will want to avoid the helium hungry designs such as 3 ft latex, giant aqua balloons air walkers and large foil hearts. Consider investing in a 60/40 valve to reduce the amount of helium needed for these designs or incorporate them into air filled columns eliminating the need for helium at all! this way your customers still get the impact they are looking for without the helium normally required.
Make sure you are pricing helium designs correctly!
Helium prices are at an all time high at the moment and the sad news is they are not going to go down! In fact prices are probably going to rise further. Ancillary costs associated to helium like cylinder rental and handling fees are also becoming more prominent and likely to rise. In order to ensure profit in your business, it is essential that you are pricing your designs correctly. I have created a print out for you to calculate the cost of your helium for your most widely used balloons. You can download it below. I also offer a free masterclass showing you exactly how to calculate helium costs and overall pricing in 3 quick and easy steps to ensure you are creating enough profit in your business to grow and thrive even during difficult times such as the helium shortage.
FREE Helium Cost Calculator printable
As well as getting access to this amazing resource you will be added to the wonderful Balloon Biz Academy Community eMagazine, you are free to unsubscribe at any time if it’s not for you AND I absolutely promise I wont send you off down a funnel of automated emails, I am not spammy – Its all about tips and advice to help you grow your balloons and venue decor business – and I keep your details super safe.
Not Sure you are pricing correctly in your balloon business? Check out our free Masterclass to help you grow your profit!
FREE Masterclass - 3 simple steps to Quickly and Easily Calculating your Prices.