Put the word out, tell all the parents you know about your business. Price your hire to allow for a discount to anyone who passes business to you by telling a friend, or otherwise reward these people in some way. Advertise in the local newspaper, get in the yellow pages, and get some business cards and leaflets made up. Be aware of where you will do your business. Most hires will take place in back gardens, community centers or halls. However, you may find bookings taking place at nurseries playgroups, pubs, hotels, clubs, shopping centers, fetes, car boot fairs, shows, charity events, football clubs, barbeques, beach parties, wedding receptions, balls, open days. It’s therefore a good idea to make yourself known to such establishments in your area so that if anyone suggests these places as venues for a bouncy castle, the venue will be able to suggest your business as the supplier of the castle.
When you arrive at the booking, be aware that there will be parents there – potential customers – so make sure you take advantage of the marketing opportunity. Have your business cards and or leaflets to hand and don’t be shy about handing them out. Everyone’s child has a birthday every year, and as all children know, bouncy castles are a riot – so feel free to suggest to parents that they give you a call around the time of their child’s birthday.
How to deal with enquiries
Be ready to give enquirers your pricing information, the exact dimensions in height, depth and width (feet and meters) of the bouncy castle, what age groups can use it, and how many at once. Tell the customer that there is a bouncy castle rain-cover included in the price. Make sure you take details of the date of the party, the venue, and the age groups of the people using the castle. Then you can suggest a size to fit the requirements. Remember that most of the time you’ll be suggesting a 12ft x 12ft bouncy castle.
Explain to the customer the arrangement for delivery, setting up the bouncy castle, collection – all of which will be your responsibility. It’s a good idea to arrange to call the night before delivery just to confirm the delivery time. This is all pretty much common sense, but when you start out you’re bound to be a little nervous, so you may forget to ask for, or give, crucial information crucial bouncy castle information.
Needless to say this must be a paramount consideration. Give your customers the bouncy castle safety information sheet and make sure that you also explain its content. Many parents may be too busy to read it.
See the BIHA website http://www.biha.org.uk for a specimen bouncy castle safety information sheet. You will also find details of the legal requirements and codes of practice pertinent to the hire of a bouncy castle.
It is your responsibility to make yourself aware of your legal obligations – which will of course apply to you whether you are aware of them or not.
Since you are running a business, you’ll need to keep a record of all your bouncy castle income receipts and payment. All expenses which are incurred in connection with the business (advertising, printing, fuel, telephone calls, etc) are deductible for tax purposes, and you’ll only pay tax on the money you make after deduction of your expenses. When your bouncy castle business is small you may be able to do your own tax return, but once you expand you may decide that you need the services of an accountant. You can get one to do your tax return for a small sum. It’s a simple process for them, just make sure that you give them details of all your receipts and expenses for your tax year.
Expanding your business
If everything goes to plan, within a few short months you will be turning away business since you won’t have enough castles for customers! At this point you will need to decide whether you wish to expand. Of course you don’t have to expand but if you do then consider going for variety: different types, shapes, colours of bouncy castle and inflatable – and don’t forget accessories, like slides for castles. Once you have a slide, make sure you offer this to enquirers as a ‘popular extra – that kids just love!’ Bouncy ballponds are another popular extra; these are enclosed small bouncy castles where you put roughly 1000 multi-coloured balls and are ideal for young children.
Membership of BIHA
(British Inflatable Hirers Alliance)
We strongly recommend that you join this organization. Visit the website http://www.biha.org.uk and see the benefits of membership.
You can also obtain further information and help with starting up your business, including a free guide to new members on making the most out of your booking.
Author: Stephen Turner, http://www.bouncycastle-web.com