A step by step guide on how to start a bouncy castle hire business
In order to make any business venture a success, lots of planning and research need to be done. This will be the foundation of any Bouncy Castle Hire business plan or any business model for that matter.
There's lots to think about and with so much information or misinformation out there, it's hard to know exactly where to start. Fear not, you don't need to have a degree in business to make your Bouncy Castle hire business venture successful.
This post will teach you some of the best ways to get your business off the ground and some of the many pitfalls to avoid along the way. I will give you an insight into my own business and the best strategies I have found to building an awesome bouncy Castle Hire business.
Many entrepreneurs jump in feet first and go out and buy the first bouncy castle they clap eyes on and are set for failure before they even start. We're going to cover lots of ground in this post but by the end you should have the perfect recipe to running a successful bouncy castle hire business.
STEP 1 - Research
This is by far the most fundamental part of your bouncy castle hire business strategy. Getting this part right is crucial for any entrepreneur wanting to run a profitable bouncy castle hire business. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes and also the groundwork of starting your bouncy castle business.
The first thing I did when starting my bouncy castle company was to search into Google, Bouncy castle hire in my area and you should do the same. Whatever City or town you live in, you need to find and research the top companies in your local area.
This may sound like an obvious thing to do but we also need to know exactly what to look for because not all bouncy castle hire companies are created equal.
Okay, so once we have Googles finest in front of us, go ahead and click the top organic result. And by "organic result" I mean the furthest top underneath all the Google ads. We will talk more about Google ads later but for now research is what we are doing and it's "organic results" we want.
Once you're on their website, there's a few things we need to take a look at. Grab a pen and paper and take some notes of the following.
By branding I mean business name, logos, slogans, and brand colours. These are the things that stick in our minds when we remember where we last purchased something.
I'll give you an example! Somebody asks you "the best place to buy car insurance?" you're struggling to remember where you got the best deal and suddenly that annoying song comes into your head. Go compare, Go compare, aha that's the one, I remember now.
This is a great example how branding leaves a lasting impression on our minds and thats exactly what you want to create for your own brand too.
Branding your bouncy castle hire company is exciting, thinking of a catchy name, the colours you want to associate with your company creating a lasting impression your customers. When thinking of your bouncy castle hire name, try to be creative and this helps to leave the lasting impression we're looking for.
Our company name is made from the initials of my immediate family. CREAM spells Caitlyn, Rebecca, Ella-May, Ashley, Michael. We now have Jacob Michael too but he wasn't born when our business was formed so he shares the M with me.
When we tell our bouncy castle hire customers what our company name stands for, they always comment how clever it is. Hopefully this helps them to remember us the next time they're having a party or special occasion.
So get creative and try to express yourself a little when you're thinking about branding. Don't worry to much if you aren't the creative type, just have fun and see where it takes you. Ask your friends and relatives to try and help too, this can be more fun than you would think and the industry you are going into is all about fun.
This aspect for me is one of the most important things to get right when starting your bouncy castle hire business. Too expensive and nobody will hire from you, too cheap and your business will never grow to it's true potential.
Every area across the UK will have varying pricing structures. The south of the UK is always going to command a higher price than further north. So, checking out the pricing structure of lots of bouncy castle hire companies in your area is key when setting your own hire prices.
Many entrepreneurs will try to undercut everyone and win as much business as they can. This however, is possibly the single worst mistake you could make.
There's definitely a business model out there for high volume output and high turnover but in my experience you would need a substantial amount of investment capital to make this business model work.
My advice is to match the prices of the top companies in your area. These companies obviously have experience of setting prices to cover the many running costs of owning a bouncy castle hire business.
One more important factor when pricing your bouncy castle rental business, is forming good relationships with other local hirers. If you dive in and undercut everyone, your'e going to upset many established bouncy castle hire company owners.
Forming good working relationships with other companies is a sound way give your business boost along your way to the withering heights of bouncy castle hire success. Local bouncy castle companies will be more open to helping out and lending a hand if good working relationships are formed.
Types of inflatables to buy
Okay, so we're now looking at what inflatables to buy when starting your inflatable hire business. The bouncy castles on offer today are simply mind blowing. The days of a simple medieval style bouncy castles and simple bouncy castle designs are gone.
You can buy some really awesome inflatables in today's bouncy castle market, the question is what should you buy and why? I'm going to break this down a little bit here and describe each inflatable type and what sort of hire market to aim at with it.
Standard Bouncy Castles
This is the type of inflatable I started out with, a standard style bouncy castle up to size fifteen feet by twelve feet. This type of bouncy castle is perfect to start out with because it isn't too heavy, they aren't too expensive to buy and they fit on lots of domestic gardens.
Since your'e just starting out in the bouncy castle hire industry, you want to target as big a market as possible and domestic gardens is where to start. These bouncy castles will make up the core of your bouncy castle hire business.
The back garden bouncy castle hire is the single largest market of the bouncy castle hire industry. Getting the price of these inflatables right, as i mentioned earlier is crucial to expanding your inflatable hire business to bigger and better inflatables and higher rental prices.
Cash flow is very important when trying to grow your business and the more surplus cash at your disposal, the faster you can grow.
Adult Bouncy Castles
The adult inflatable hire market can be very lucrative but this market isn't the best pace to start. However, once you think about expanding from your core inflatables, the adult bouncy castle hire market could be the next step.
There are higher rental prices to be had here and this is perfect when expanding your inflatable business. Higher prices also bring higher pitfalls, there's potential for unruly drunken customers, late collecting times and potential damage to inflatables.
Choosing the right bouncy castle hire manufacturer is a fundamental part to avoiding damage to inflatables hired for adult use. Cheap and flimsy materials used by some manufacturers is prone to damage and will need constant repairs.
Choosing a bouncy castle built to en14960 standards and built with adult use in mind using strong webbed beds, seams and high grade PVC will help prevent any damage from adult use.
Slides & Combos
A bouncy castle combo is a bouncy castle with a slide attached. These can be front facing slides or added onto the side of the bouncy castle. Bouncy castle combos are perfect to add into your hire fleet, giving customers more choice than just standard bouncy castles.
I prefer the front facing slide because it is easier to keep an eye on the children and also fits gardens better than a side slide. These inflatables along with adult bouncy castles are going to be the next step when expanding your bouncy castle business.
Slides on their own are also great fun inflatables and a great commodity to have on your bouncy castle hire fleet. Don't go too big to start off with, small slides will fit on lots of gardens and you have to remember your market when buying inflatables for hire.
Larger slides above ten feet platform height should be targeted more towards the corporate inflatable hire market.
Inflatable assault courses are fantastic fun inflatables and are a hugely popular hire product. However, try to resist the urge to buy a large inflatable obstacle course. These look fantastic in design but again your target market is domestic garden hires.
You need to think carefully about size before buying any inflatable equipment. Larger assault courses certainly have their place in your hire fleet. At some point you will want to target the corporate hire market and an inflatable obstacle course is a great way to do it.
Bespoke Inflatables & Custom Designs
This type of inflatable hire product is perfect to target the corporate sector. To catch the eye of the corporate inflatable hire market, you will need to be innovative and set some trends.
Some innovative inflatables to think about buying are disco domes, interactive inflatables and inflatable games. There are lots of innovative designs and products on offer but don't get too carried away here, walk before you run.
Step 2 - Heath & Safety
This might not be the first thing you think about when starting a bouncy castle hire business but it is a very important aspect and should be given plenty of thought.
Health and safety in the bouncy castle hire industry is often overlooked or corners are cut when starting out in the business. You should never do this and any self respecting person should never do this no matter what industry you carry out your work.
Getting the part right will help your business to flourish. It will help make lots of good connections and relationships with organisations and companies wishing to use your services.
When you expand your business you will be asked for lots of important health & safety documents by would be customers. These can be public liability insurance, method statements, risk assessments, inflatable test certificates, PAT testing and so on.
I will list below the fundamentals that all bouncy castle hire companies wanting to promote safe inflatable use should be able to provide.
Public Liability Insurance
Strangely, this is not a compulsory requirement but I would strongly advise against not having public liability insurance. Cream Castles hold public liability of £5 million pounds. This figure is recommended and will be asked for by many schools, organisations and councils when supplying them inflatable equipment.
Some councils may even ask for £10 million pounds of cover. However, you aren't going to receive this type of customer until your business is established. So my recommendation would be at least £2 million public liability.
This part is compulsory within the inflatable hire industry but is often not done by many bouncy castle hire companies. When hiring inflatable equipment you become subject to the health & safety at work act 1974.
This places onus on the hirer and it's employees and the manager/owner of anywhere the equipment will be used to ensure the equipment is safe to use at all times.
Provision and Use of Play Equipment Regulations (PUWER) require that all work equipment, including inflatable play, must be tested by a "competent person" on a regular basis.
Inspection by a "competent person" prior to first use and annually thereafter satisfies the provision that the equipment is suitable and safe for its intended use.
In order to comply with this provision there are a number of testing bodies you can use. We choose to use the PIPA brand of inflatable inspection due to it being industry recognised.
PIPA uses an online database and once under the PIPA scheme all details for the inflatable can be brought up online.
Method Statements & Risk Assessing
Managing the health and safety of any business must control the risks in the workplace. risks are assessed by thinking about what might cause harm to people and decide whether reasonable steps are taken to prevent harm. This is known as risk assessment and it is something that is required by law to carry out.
A visual risk assessment is suffice for a small garden hire and no paperwork is needed, although I would advise to get a good disclaimer form signed by the hirer at every hire. Large events I recommend a check list which is signed by yourself and any event organiser on the day of the event.
Method statements are not lawfully required to be carried out, however I recommend method statements to ensure all your employees have a good knowledge and understanding of safe set up and supervision of all your inflatable equipment.
Demonstrating good inflatable hire practices
keeping everyone safe when using your inflatable hire equipment should be paramount on your list. There are a number of safety procedures you can implement into your bouncy castle hire business to achieve a high level of safety.
The following points are a guide only and not an extensive list of safety procedures. I recommend buying a copy of bs en 14960. You are then armed with all the knowledge you need to keep everyone safe when using your inflatable hire equipment.
1) Make sure any inflatable you purchase has been built to the bs en 14960 standard. All reputable inflatable manufacturers will use this standard when building their inflatables.
2) Make sure your inflatables are anchored properly. Most inflatable products will be used on a grassed surface using steel anchors at 380mm length and a diameter of 16mm.
If you are using the inflatable on a hard surface outdoors a ballast of 163kg should be used on each anchor point. We achieve this on our inflatables outdoors by drilling and bolting to any solid surface. Block paving and slabs are not suitable for this method.
3) Visully check the inflatable before every use and make sure it is fit for intended use. Check all electrical equipment and make sure the blower is tested at regular intervals to prevent electric shock.
4) Always supply the hirer with inflatable operational instructions and safety procedures in the event of failure. Many accidents happen whilst in the care of the hirer and simple safety practices could avoid many injuries sustained by this type of negligence.
Step 3 - Getting Customers
So we've thought up our name, designed logo, researched our market and pricing structure and looked at the many inflatables to buy and the best ones to start a bouncy castle hire business with. We've also looked into how to safely manage our bouncy castle hire business and uphold the best practices.
Next on our list is, where do we find the customers to hire our shiny new inflatable products. In todays fast moving digital market, you are going to need some online presence. The old days of sticking your advert in the yellow pages and the local newspaper, simply don't work.
There are some other options to think about for example, leaflets, flyers, business cards, which we will cover in more depth later. Top of the list is one or both of the following, a website and/or Facebook page. Without a website or a Facebook page you simply will not be able to compete.
Firstly, we will talk about a website as I believe this is the better of the two methods. However, this method is also the hardest way to go.
There are plenty of easy ways to get a bouncy castle hire website online in a few clicks. This is likely going to be the very thing your customers see first and first impressions really do count.
You will want a colourful, lively and fun looking design for your website. Try to remember you want to create the impression that fun and friendliness is what your customers can expect if they choose to hire with your business.
Your website running costs will be on your mind when choosing who and what platform to use to start your bouncy castle hire business website.
DO NOT let cost get in the way of choosing the right platform to use for your bouncy castle hire business. A cheap website is no good and will not rank in Googles index, therefore nobody will find you online.
Our website is provided by The Bouncy Castle Network and is a perfect platform, geared towards the bouncy castle hire industry. The website offers a full content management system with online diary and online booking capabilities.
This system can be tailored to your individual needs with extra booking questions, different layouts, colours, designs and a whole host of advantages.
The Bouncy Castle Network websites also offer a huge amount of information about content marketing, link building and SEO in general, which is needed to get your site ranking high on Googles index.
This information is invaluable and very few platforms offer the depth of information provided by The Bouncy Castle Network. I won't lie, there's stacks of work to do here to get your site ranking high and customers flooding in.
This is going to be one of the biggest hurdles you will face on your bouncy castle hire journey. However, get this part right and everything will fall into place.
This method is the easiest route to an online presence and is probably the preferred and most used method by many bouncy castle hire start up businesses. Setting up a Facebook page is simple and can be up and running in less than ten minutes.
I won't go into detail on how to set up a Facebook page because you most likely know how to do this anyway. There are some things to consider, if you are going to use only this method to gain bouncy castle hire customers.
Price is the most definitive factor when it comes to bidding for customers on Facebook. I say bidding for customers because it can get like a bidding war on this platform. Facebook in my opinion is sadly becoming like eBay but in the wrong direction, bidding down instead of up.
The temptation for business owners to drive down the price of inflatable products to win business is a real challenge on Facebook. This is generally where most of the above advice if not all of it would not be followed. Driving down hire costs, not following good health & safety practices and putting the whole industry in a bad light.
Facebook does however have it's uses and should be used for social signals to your website. Creating a buzz around your bouncy castle business with great videos, images and cool content.
The more interaction on Facebook will signal Google to rank your website higher up its index. In fact all social platforms should be utilised in one way or another to receive these social signals.
Sadly, to survive on Facebook alone, you will become a victim of the bidding war and that is one direction you don't want your bouncy castle hire business to go.
Business cards, leaflets, flyers