- Business: Space Walk Inflatables
- Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
- Interesting Fact about Chance Clifton: He enjoys going on cruises. Saint Kitts and Barbados have been his favorite cruise destinations so far.
- Interesting Fact about Space Walk Inflatables: Chance owns the state’s largest branch of the Space Walk Inflatables franchise, and the fourth largest in the country.
Fireman Chance Clifton started a side business renting inflatables for parties, then grew it until he was able to focus on the business full time. After struggling with paper time-tracking and scheduling options, his payroll person recommended ezClocker. The app saves him hours every payroll period, and time is money for a small business owner. He’s able to reinvest that time and money back into his business – and he knows that will lead to company growth.
A Hero Starts a Business
Chance Clifton was working as a full-time fireman in Little Rock, Arkansas when his grandmother passed and left him an inheritance. He’d been looking for a way to fund the cruises he likes to take as well as his son’s travel baseball hobby. So he decided to invest his inheritance by starting a local branch of Space Walk Inflatables, a franchise that rents inflatables and other party entertainment equipment.
Chance had no business background, and he started small, with just six inflatables. But through advertising with the Chamber of Commerce and cold-calling churches and schools, the business grew quickly. Chance also reached out to mom’s groups on social media, and of course, word-of-mouth helped a lot. “If you do a good job, people are going to recommend you,” he says.
Then COVID hit, and rentals came to a halt overnight. “It was like running into a wall,” Chance says. He had to get creative if his business was going to survive. So instead of renting out his equipment for a few hours at a time, he started renting to families stuck at home for the entire weekend. Parents with energetic kids were thrilled to have an option to keep their children busy. Chance was able to continue growing his business despite the pandemic. Three years into starting the business, he and his wife decided that he could quit being a full-time fireman. Today, Chance has grown his business from just six inflatables to more than 60, plus mechanical rides, climbing walls, and games. Plus, he still volunteers as fireman, so he still gets to be a hero.
For the first few years that Chance operated the business, his employees clocked in with handwritten timesheets. Doing math by hand led to math mistakes and payroll errors.
A Messy Dilemma
For the first few years that Chance operated the business, his employees clocked in with handwritten timesheets. He’d spend hours on Monday mornings doing math by hand. Often, he would get interrupted, which would lead to math mistakes and payroll errors. This method was especially complicated when employees would clock in and out for breaks. “It was messy,” Chance says.
He was also keeping track of employees’ schedules by writing them down and then texting the schedules to individual employees. If he changed the schedule, he would often forget to text the affected employees. Crew members wouldn’t come to work because they didn’t know they were supposed to. Clearly, Chance needed a better solution for time-tracking and scheduling.
When Chance looked into ezClocker, he immediately liked how simple and affordable it was – and it offered the right plan to suit his company’s size.
The Right App
Chance tried a few time tracking apps, but didn’t like any of the ones he tried. A lot of them didn’t offer the option for him to see when his employees were clocking in and out. He needed to be able to check for time theft. Others were too expensive, or they weren’t easy to use. Some apps required inputting a lot of data before using the app. Some of the apps even allowed employees to see each other’s pay – a clear violation of privacy. And a lot of the apps weren’t designed for a business with only a few employees.
Chance asked the person who does his payroll if she knew of any time-tracking solutions. Another client of hers used ezClocker and liked it, so she suggested it to Chance. He looked into it, and immediately liked how simple and affordable it was – and it offered the right plan to suit his company’s size. “It’s very easy to use,” he says. “And I can do 15 employees on $10 a month. It is absolutely worth $10 a month.”
Chance likes that he can do everything from his phone – emailing timesheets to his payroll person, doing scheduling, fixing problems.
Chance likes that ezClocker has a break option. This allows his employees to clock in and out multiple times for a single shift. And the app offers the option to prevent employees from clocking in more than 10 minutes early. This saves Chance money. “You can change that to be five minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes – whatever you want it to be,” he says. “Or, you can make it where they can’t clock in until their exact scheduled time.”
The app also has a scheduling feature, so employees are updated immediately when their schedule changes. This means no more no-shows due to scheduling confusion. Plus, within the scheduling feature, ezClocker allows for notes to be added. Chance can use this to tell his employees what to do when they get to work, all in one place.
Chance also likes that he can do everything from his phone – emailing timesheets to his payroll person, doing scheduling, fixing problems. “That’s phenomenal,” he says, “to have just as much power from my phone as I do from the computer.”
Stellar Customer Service
Once, when Chance added a new employee to his team, the employee accidentally signed up on ezClocker as an employer, rather than creating a profile under the Space Walk Inflatables account. Chance called customer support. “I got through immediately,” he says.
The customer support person solved his problem on the phone in only a few minutes. Chance was able to get back to running his business right away.
Chance spends the money he saves with ezClocker on buying new rental equipment, so that he can continue to improve his customers’ experiences.
Improved Customer Experiences
Now that he’s using ezClocker, Chance is saving loads of time on payroll and scheduling. He went from spending 15 to 20 hours a month on these tasks to now spending an hour to an hour and a half total. This includes creating the schedules, approving time, and correcting mistakes when employees forget to clock in.
Chance is able to reinvest the time that he saves back into his company. Instead of being tied to a computer for several hours on Monday mornings doing payroll, he can get out and help his employees pick up equipment, get other Monday morning paperwork done, and go to the bank. Chance used to dread Monday mornings because of payroll, and now they run much more smoothly.
Time saved means money saved for Chance, and he is able to reinvest that money into his employees. He pays higher than people around him. He sometimes buys lunch for his crew and makes sure they have drinks. And he periodically gives his team a half day of paid vacation. “We try to keep a family feel with our company, so our employees don’t feel like a number,” he says. “Because I’ve learned over the years, if your employees feel appreciated, it doesn’t matter what’s going on, they’ll stick with you.”
Chance can also spend the money he saves with ezClocker on buying new rental equipment, so that he can continue to improve his customers’ experiences. He’s more focused on providing a good experience than on growing his company, because he knows that when he invests in his business and his employees, growth will happen. And he knows that he can upgrade or downgrade his ezClocker plan at any point, so as his business grows and changes, ezClocker will grow with him.