Running your own Bouncy Castle Hire business can be fun, exciting and profitable. Just like any business start up, theres lots to consider. Having a sound business plan in place will help ensure your bouncy castle hire business gets off to the best possible start. In this post I'm going to cover some of the fundamental aspects to consider when setting up your bouncy castle hire business. Before you head off out and buy the first bouncy castle you can find, you need to do some important groundwork. Having experience in the daily running of my company Cream Castles bouncy castle hire in Rotherham. I have some great inside knowledge into starting up a bouncy castle hire company. So read on and I will share some tips you will need to consider.
- Research, Research, Research
Sounds boring right? Quite frankly it is, however knowledge is power and this is important in any business start up, never mind bouncy castle hire. A quick type into Google "Bouncy castle hire in (your town)" will bring up all the top companies within your local area. Start with the top bouncy castle hire company, they are there for a reason. That reason is, they are one of the best at what they do. So once your on their website what are we looking for?
Things to look at are:
- Pricing Structure
- Branding (logos, business name etc)
- Website design and content
- Graphics, illustrations
- Style of inflatables or categories and manufacturers
- Other products on offer
There are many other ideas and information to look at when researching bouncy castle hire companies but lets start with the first on the list.
Look at all the top companies and what hire fee they are charging. Think about how you would implement this pricing strategy into your own company. Most start ups make the decision to undercut everyone and this always fails. So whats the problem with undercutting you might ask? Well, think about it, that would be great if your intention is to make a side line income and never grow your business. However, I presume your reading this because you want your bouncy castle hire business to flourish. In order to reach the withering heights of financial success, you need cash flow. Cheap bouncy castle hire or cheap anything for that matter will never help your business grow to its full potential. There are many costs to think about when running an inflatable hire company, insurance, testing, fuel, cost of equipment are some of the costs involved.
Another aspect when undercutting is not forming relationships with other hirers. Most inflatable hirers will be upset by a new company undercutting and will snub you right from the get go. Bouncy castle hire is no different to any other business sector and business relationships are very important. That one hire you're struggling to cover because someones taken ill, who can you turn to? Thats right, you got it, other companies will bail you out provided good working relationships have been formed.
So when pricing up you party rental equipment always remember to price up with these aspects in mind.
For me branding is one of the most important parts of any business. It sets you aside from the competition and makes your company a memorable one. Starting out in the bouncy castle hire business, sees lots of new businesses using a generic logo found on Google. This is very counter productive and you just look the same as any old bouncy castle hire business. A good logo design won't cost the earth and is worth every penny spent when trying to create your own brand. There are lots of graphic design companies to choose from to get a smart looking logo.
Business name is another important part in creating your image and standing out from the crowd. Im going to tell you a story now, how our business name was formed. Cream Castles is our business name, so whats the big deal you're thinking? We wanted a name that was unique, memorable and not just any old boring name. A lot of new companies may use something along the lines of "(your town) bouncy castle hire". Whilst there's nothing wrong with that name, it's not really catchy or has any ring to it. Cream is made up of the initials of my immediate family members, we have,
C - for Caitlyn,
R - for Rebecca,
E - for Ella may,
A - for Ashley,
M - for Michael. (Jacob)
Since founding our bouncy castle hire business, we have had another child called Jacob Michael Kelly. He kinda shares the M with me, having Michael for a middle name. Looking at our business name it's unusual and when we tell our customers, they absolutely love it. We hope this along with our impeccable service, sticks in their minds for a long time.
Website and content, Graphics and illustrations
I'm grouping these next few elements together because this all adds up to the design, feel and professionalism from a website. In the early days our website was a Wordpress website and was a very good useful and powerful platform. It had everything we needed to start our bouncy castle hire business. As our business grew, we found some features using a Wordpress site didn't quite suit our bouncy castle hire company needs. Don't get me wrong Wordpress is a great platform to use and was a fantastic starting point for our company, so who do we use now?
The simple answer is Bouncy castle network but I'm not going to give you the short and sweet. Bouncy castle network have developed their software around the bouncy castle hire industry. Bouncy castle networks platform uses a content management system with online booking capabilities. Online bookings are tailored to suit bouncy castle hire companies and their system goes hand in hand with our business. There's a vast amount of features to address here and could easily warrant its own blog post. So I'm just going to run you through the basics of the Bouncy castle network system.
Bouncy castle network have different levels of packages to suit all bouncy castle hire companies. From bouncy castle start up businesses to fully fledged established corporations. Some of the features included are a fully editable professional looking website that's mobile friendly with unlimited pages and products. An online diary that auto updates with online bookings, easily synced to Google calendar. Email templates and automated email and text message scheduling. An online booking system with fully customisable industry questions. Check live online availability and PayPal integration. Not to mention many hidden features such as marketing advice, how to guides and many more. As you can see this platform is a huge asset to any bouncy castle start up business. Using this platform you can easily implement graphics, illustrations and youtube integration. Again in turn this makes your website a fantastic design but also user friendly. Search engines such as Google will reward websites heavily that are user friendly with fast load speeds. You will need to do a lot of work to your site but the main building blocks are set to climb the Google ladder.
Style of inflatables and manufacturers plus other products on offer
The staple and most common first purchase of any start up bouncy castle hire company are 12 x 12 or 12 x 15 bouncy castles. This is a wise decision for any start up inflatable business. These standard sizes of bouncy castles fit on most back gardens. Since back gardens are going to be the first market you want to exploit, this is a good choice. It can be very tempting to get some lovely bespoke units right away but you want to cater for as many customers as possible. Limiting your audience to certain types of inflatables can be a very costly and unproductive decision.
Keep in mind the design of the inflatable you are buying. You want to again cater for as many tastes as possible to attract a bigger audience. Buying a Spiderman castle is all very well but you are limiting potential sales to Spiderman fans. Keep the theme generic, maybe a party themed bouncy castle with colours to suit boys and girls. Keeping your audience as large as possible is the main key to succeeding in the early years of bouncy castle hiring. Again using the all important pricing structure we discussed earlier in this post.
This leads us to the exciting part, buying your first inflatable, but where should I buy my new inflatables? Cream castles have their favourite bouncy castle hire manufacturer but there's lots of equally good bouncy castle manufacturers to choose from. Budget is often a deciding factor when buying an inflatable. Cheap is not always better and is a fair and true statement when deciding which bouncy castle manufacturer to choose. Consider buying bouncy castle start up packages for a fantastic cost effective bouncy castle hire strategy. Take into account your return on investment, how many hires would you need to get your money back. Every new bouncy castle comes with a manufacturer warranty and safety test certificate. So buying second hand sometimes isn't always the best route to go down. If you do look into buying second hand, always check with the seller that the bouncy castle carries a recent safety test certificate.
- The downsides and the daily struggles
Starting a bouncy castle hire company is a very exciting venture but comes with many pitfalls and hard back breaking work. Below are a few examples of the downsides and daily struggles you may encounter running a bouncy castle hire business.
Initial outlay for a bouncy castle hire business can be hugely expensive. You will want to get a return on your hard earned investment as soon as possible. Bouncy castle start ups can fail easily without the right input. This can often be a substantial amount of cash investment to lose. There are plenty of expenses from day to day running and annual costs that any bouncy castle hirer needs to budget for.
Buy a van or rent one is another pitfall to watch out for. A new van on lease is an option and you are generally covered for any breakdowns. However you are never owning the van outright and lease costs can be high. Buying a van is another option but you need to make sure you buy a good solid van. Repair bills can be considerably high and the initial outlay is a big chunk more than a lease.
Heavy lifting and long hours
Early mornings and heavy equipment are a huge downside to the inflatable industry. Our bouncy castle deliveries start from as early as 6am. Our last collection is stated as 8pm but in busy periods this is never the case and you can be still collecting at 10pm. Once back at base the vans need to be unloaded and reloaded for the following day. If you aren't particularly fit, this industry is definitely not for you. Small bouncy castles weigh between 60 - 80kg and some of our larger units are 150kg plus. You could always pay for staff but this would have a huge impact on your start up costs.
Hiring bouncy castles takes up a huge amount of your time including weekends, which is your busiest time of the week. Bank holidays and school holidays are a hugely busy period too and lead to a lot of stresses and strains on family life. Unsociable hours are the norm when it comes to hiring bouncy castles. This is a big factor to consider when starting a bouncy castle hire business.
Grotty unsafe inflatable equipment
Buying the wrong or unsafe equipment could land you in real hot water. Your initial outlay on equipment can be very expensive, so the last thing you want is kit that's grotty and unsafe. Image is a huge part for any business and keeping your inflatable stock clean and mould free can be a big challenge. Having a good amount of space to clean your equipment is a good commodity to have. Cleaning regularly is as important for your image as branding and everything else mentioned in this post. Imagine the scenario of looking like a professional bouncy castle hirer and turning up to a customer with a dirty castle. This generally will put customers off from hiring you again and at worst they will leave negative reviews about your company.
Annual testing is a fundamental requirement on all inflatable equipment. Your inflatable equipment should be tested annually by a competent person. There are a number of testing bodies you can use to test your inflatables. PIPA, ADIPS are just a couple of companies who offer inflatable testing. If you was to buy second hand without a safety test certificate, you must not hire any equipment until a test has been carried out. Safety in the bouncy castle hire industry should be at the top of your list. The average cost for a test is £60 so buying old inflatables that need testing can be a significant part of a bouncy castle businesses budget. However you should aways account for this within your bouncy castle hire business plan. One more aspect that is often overlooked within the bouncy castle hire industry is public liability insurance. Although this is not a legal requirement, you would be foolish not to take out this type of insurance cover. Today's growing compensation culture and overall safety should be in the forefront of your mind when it comes to PLI.
I hope this has been a huge insight into just a few of the many aspects to consider when starting a bouncy castle hire business. For some inspiration you can check out my company, Cream castles bouncy castle hire in Sheffield. Since publishing this blog post our growth has steadily progressed over the last four years, with lots of exciting times ahead.
Thank you for reading and good luck with your new venture.