85 Mistakes which some Inflatable Hire companies make which is hurting (or even killing) their businesses

I hope you find this post useful. If you think of any other serious mistakes which could potentially harm the profits of inflatable hire businesses, please could you post on the forum. Thanks.

1) Not attending the main industry Trade Shows i.e. The Leisure Supplies Show and next year the INPAS 2015 Show to source new products, ideas, “add-on” hire products etc. to grow your business.

2) Not asking customers for referrals

3) Not joining the BIHA. See: www.biha.org.uk

4) Having a home-made, non-professional looking website

5) Not accepting PayPal payments on your website

6) Forgetting to occasionally check the threads on the online discussion forum for the inflatable hire industry: See:

7) Not having your van sign-written

8) Not having a Facebook Page for your business (Twitter is also a good idea as well)

9) Forgetting to contact the customer to confirm a booking

10) Not having a spare back-up blower – particularly when doing far-away bookings.

11) Not carrying a ‘tyre weld’ or a spare wheel in case of puncture.

12) Forgetting to carry a first aid kit

13) Failure to get friendly with your competitors

14) Forgetting to have two diaries -one as a back-up. (Online booking systems helps to alleviate this problem)

15) Naming your company using the end letters of the alphabet e.g Zebedees Bouncy Castle Hire.

16) Forgetting to renew your domain name

17) Having too long an e-mail address

18) Not having a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) i.e. why should a customer use you instead of a competitor.

19) Using an old rusty van which creates the wrong impression

20) Not checking e-mails regularly enough

21) Not backing up your emails and data onto a portable hard drive or flash key drive etc.

22) Not taking pictures of your bouncy castles and inflatables to put on your website

23) Forgetting to wear corporate clothing with your logo on the back!!

24) Forgetting to collect a customers email address

25) Forgetting to email customers when you do have their email address

26) Forgetting to optimise your website for the search engines (especially Google!!)

27) Not having the occasional day off or mini-break during the summer!

28) Not delegating enough!

29) Trying to run the business single handed – which can cause burn out

30) Sending stuff in the post by 2nd class when you should use 1st class

31) Using a sack trolley which does NOT have pneumatic tyres

32) Using poor quality stationery like writing paper and envelopes

33) Forgetting to outsource routine jobs

34) Working too hard!!

35) Forgetting to display accreditation badges and logos on your website, flyers and other promotional literature. E.g. That you are a member of the BIHA and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

36) Paying too much for disposables, stationery and other consumables. Shop around for printer ink, cleaning products, printer paper and envelopes for castles etc – Tescos and Aldi’s are often the cheapest! Also, try Pound Shops.

37) Forgetting to ring the customer the night before to confirm the booking

38) Being overweight and/or unfit. When hiring out inflatables you need to be in tip-top physical condition or the job will be that extra bit harder

39) Forgetting to “cold-call” local larger businesses, to see if you can provide the inflatables for their Summer Fun Day and Team Building Events etc. etc.

40) Forgetting to thank customers for their business, and for referring other customers onto you.

41) Not having a plan (and clearly defined goals) of where you want your inflatable hire business to be in 1, 3, or even 5 years time.

42) Forgetting to consider or invest in “add-on” hire products (E.g. Mascots, didi-cars, mini-marquees etc.) to boost your hire profits – especially in the off-season.

43) Leaving your mobile switched off, or allowing the battery to go flat and not having a spare phone charger in your van.

44) Using a mobile hand set while driving and not using a blue-tooth or hands free kit

45) Forgetting to get customers to sign a disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions of Hire forms

46) Forgetting to show the BIHA cartoon safety sheet to your customers and users of your equipment.

47) Forgetting to hand out flyers and business cards to the guests at the event (or not asking the customer to do it for you)

48) Forgetting to use pics of your very best inflatables to go at the TOP of your website (above the fold)

49) Forgetting to add high quality pics of happy children (and/adults) on your website, depending on what market you cater to. (These essential pics can be bought from Stock photo websites)

50) Having poor quality graphics and photos on your website

51) Forgetting to provided smart uniforms for your supervisors including your company name and contact details on the back (or front)

52) Forgetting to stake the bouncy castle down correctly

53) Not being creative enough, e.g some hire companies will provide add-on hire products (e.g. Mascots) for that added ‘wow factor’

54) Forgetting to properly dry out bouncy castles/inflatables after they get wet

55) Forgetting to use talcum powder sprinkled on the inflatable to help prevent the build up of mildew and smells, when it is being stored away

56) Forgetting to put crash mats at the front of the inflatable

57) Forgetting to add video to your website to make it more of a fun, multi-media experience for your site’s visitors and their children!!

58) Forgetting to add words of praise, reviews and testimonials to your website. The easiest way to get a testimonial is to provide a free bouncy castle to a school, playgroup or nursery. Ideally ask for lots of referrals as well

59) Forgetting to ask the customer to measure their garden and forgetting to check Google Earth. The number of times I have turned up to a booking to find the garden was too small :-((

60) Forgetting to ask the customer the ceiling height for an indoor booking in a hall or good sized house.

61) Forgetting to tell the customer that your castles and ballponds are clean and hygienic

62) Not washing the balls from the ballpond

63) Not backing up the sim card on your mobile phone!

64) Forgetting to carry a spare mallet in your van (if you leave your only mallet behind at a customers house, you will have to go back to collect it).

65) Forgetting to check when your website domain name expires

66) Forgetting to check when your van or car MOT expires

67) Forgetting to check when your van or car TAX expires

68) Not having a back-up job sheet (this could be kept in your wallet for safe keeping)

69) Not charging the customer a deposit for putting the balls back in the ball pond

70) Not providing a rain cover (or a sun-cover)

71) Forgetting to join the AA, the RAC or Green Flag in case of break-down.

72) Being a perfectionist! Instead, ‘do it first, perfect it later’

73) Not running a diesel van (petrol vans cost a lot more to run)

74) Not getting to know the caretakers of community halls

75) Not asking your customers for testimonials

76) Forgetting to look at lucrative opportunities in the corporate market

77) Having a too long domain name e.g. johnsmithsbouncycastlehirecompanyltd.com , if your competitor has jsleiesure.com. Make it easy for your customers to enter your name in a browser

78) Forgetting to check your junk mail or spam folder for any missing bookings

79) Using a non-geographical number e.g 0870/0800 which are controversial and could cause you to lose bookings as a potential customer may think that the company they are phoning is not local.

80) Not keeping a close eye on business expenses and keeping costs down

81) Not using an accountant

82) Not being courteous and polite to your customers and competitors and staff

83) Forgetting to register your hire company with the BIHA. See: www.biha.org.uk/add-your-listing

84) Forgetting to claim your red marker-pin listing on the BIHA Map powered by Google See: http://bit.ly/1uDQ0Ku

(N.B. If you are not on this UK map, please email your postcode and company name to: mark.jerram@ntlworld.com )

85) Not taking adequate precautions with storing inflatables to guard against theft, e.g padlocks not being strong enough.

Article originally posted on 25th April 2010 and updated on 4th October 2014.

Reproduction of this report is strictly prohibited without prior written permission from the BIHA