This site (partnered with the British Inflatable Hirers Alliance - BIHA.org.uk) offers resources, support and forums for owners & operators of: Bouncy Castles, Inflatable Slides & Obstacle Courses, Bungee Runs, Sumo, Rodeo Bulls, Gladiator Duel, and much, much more....
home |
 

Website makeover for your bouncy castle hire business.

I am aware that this time of year (January 2012)-- many of you are seriously considering a complete re-design in order to attract more customers ...and stay one step ahead of your competitors.

One of the regulars (Repsol) on the forum on www.BouncycastleOwner.com asked the following question a couple of days ago.

Hi Guys,

I am currently working with a website designer to redesign my website. I would love to hear from members about any impressive sites they have seen or their own sites, as I am struggling for inspiration!I don't want to end up with a dull website and creative flair is not my strong point

Thanks Repsol

There have been some great answers. I added my contribution as well, but I take a slightly different angle as I firmly believe that when designing (or re-designing) a website the first thing to consider is how to attract paying customers to book with you INSTEAD of your competitors. A professional logo, bright colours, lots of photos on your site, good navigation etc. are all extremely important, but the marketing should take priority.

This was my reply to Repsol....I hope you find it interesting and profitable!

Hi Repsol,

Very interesting post.

I have been creating websites now (and doing SEO) for BIHA members for a couple of years and I have come across several essential components that MUST be thought through in an inflatable hire website, before the site undergoes its colour scheme and overall look etc.

As an analogy, when you build a house, you lay down the foundations and build the walls and attach the roof before you do the painting and wallpapering, and installing the kitchen and bathroom etc.

My experience with dealing with a lot of customers over the last couple of years is that they sometimes get sidetracked (and distracted) with the actual design of their site, and forget about the vital components of that site which will result in more enquiries from customers.

E.g. Some of the prettiest sites I've seen cannot be found on Google.

In my honest opinion, having a well optimized site for the search engines should take priority over design. Having said that if you get both right - then that's great.

As a brief case study I will use www.1st2bounce.com (with permission) which I built for a BIHA member last year. (As an aside, he texted me last Thursday to let me know that he had taken 53 bookings (yes 53) the previous week, which all came from his website! - and they say January is supposed to be the quiet month!)

Here are some questions which you need to ask your webmaster. (Some of them are a little techie but they should understand what they mean)

1) Will they be optimizing your website so it goes to the top (or near the top) of Google (both on-page and off-page optimization) or will they be leaving this job to you?

2) Will they be including an hCard format on your site to keep Google happy?

3) Can your visitors instantly find your contact number and email address (or email contact form to hide your email) etc. (Several sites I looked at over Christmas - I just couldn't find the contact phone number!!! -- This could spell disaster for any business!)

4) Will the main towns you cover be mentioned on your website. Not too many, just the main ones (say a page or post dedicated to each of the towns you cover). This helps Google index your site more easily.

5) Will they be including a YouTube video? Have a quick look at the video on the left side of the homepage on www.fun2jump.co.uk It totally changes the look and feel of the site.

6) Will they be including links to authority sites such as PIPA, the BIHA, etc. (This is a good SEO practice as Google likes it when you link to authority sites in the bouncy castle niche and will reward you with a slightly higher ranking). To demonstrate this, I have recently linked the BIHA website to several authority sites such as the HSE, and have seen a small increase in rankings as a result.

7) Will there be a call to action on your website? E.g. an email capture form so that visitors can give you their email address in return for say a free garden game hire or a £5 discount off their next booking etc. When you have email addresses of your customers and prospects you can then email them if you have a quiet period and hopefully quickly fill your diary up!

8) Will they be including a section for reviews and testimonials? One of the reasons why Phil from www.1st2bounce.com gets so many bookings from the site I did for him is because he has several reviews published on his home page -- with the full name of the customer underneath, in most cases.

9) Will they be including a blog on your site which you can easily update every week or so. I cannot overemphasise it enough...if your website has a regularly updated blog then Google will love it and reward it with higher rankings.

10) Less important, but still useful...will they be including a weather forecast on your site?

11) Also worth asking them if you can easily get into the site and then start adding, editing and deleting content very easily with no real skills required. This can be really important as you don't want to be completely tied down to your webmaster. It's good to say, "I have a spare 10 minutes today, I think I'll update my blog".

12) Will they be claiming (or optimizing, or BOTH) your FREE Google Places listing?

13) Also, it's vitally important that you ask your webmaster the following question. Will my website render correctly when viewed on a mobile phone? E.g. if you look at www.1st2bounce.com on your desktop or laptop, you will see one site. HOWEVER, if you then view the same site on your mobile you will see a completely different website - as it has been designed to properly fit on a tiny screen and load up extremely quickly.

Also, it should have that all important "click to call" button, so the customer doesn't have to fiddle about making a call to you at the same time they are surfing!

More and more people nowadays are using their mobile phone to surf the internet, while out and about or in the office (because the boss won't allow them to use their work computer!)

If they look at your website on their mobile and it either doesn't load up or doesn't display your contact number properly, then you risk losing a booking.

Google reckons that in 2012 and beyond 50%+ of people looking at websites for LOCAL services will do so on a mobile phone! If your website is NOT auto-detectable on a mobile, then you could be alienating half of all the visitors to your website!

Please could you double-check your webmaster can add the necessary code to make your website "mobile friendly" - otherwise potential bookings could be lost.

Once all the above has been discussed with your webmaster and hopefully answered to your satisfaction, you can then go onto the other vitally important stage of discussing artwork, colours, designs, where the pics are going to go etc. etc.

Hope that all makes sense.

In a nutshell, I take the view that strong effective marketing of a website (and "Google Friendliness") should be top priority. If the site is also very pleasing to the eye, easy to navigate, and professional looking - then that is the ideal combination.

If any member wishes to have a website built by the BIHA, then we are offering a subsidized deal at the moment (We currently have 5 slots left).

Here are some examples which you can look at:

www.1st2bounce.com (currently number 1 in Google for the keywords "Bouncy castle hire Chelmsford" -- re-directs to www.bouncycastlehirechelmsford.org.uk )

www.1-stop.org (DJ site)

www.fun2jump.co.uk (Site just started)

www.longfordbouncycastlehire.com

www.bouncycastleowner.com (Our own site)

www.oaces.org.uk (Our own site)

Here is a breakdown of the fees...(This is about 30% of what we normally charge, but I like to give members a very good deal!)

Domain name £8 for two years.

Website (7+ pages) £100

Basic SEO - FREE OF CHARGE.

Advanced SEO (Fee negotiable)

Promotional Video -- FREE OF CHARGE.

Mobile compatible website (i.e. where your website will "auto-detect" and render on a mobile phone) -- FREE OF CHARGE.

Blog added to your website for good SEO -- FREE OF CHARGE.

Website hosting - £25 per year (FIRST YEAR IS FREE)

Website turnaround time is approx 2 -- 5 days from the time of domain registration.

Your website would be built on the popular Wordpress platform. This means that you can easily go in and add, edit or delete content on the site yourself (on the fly) -- without any technical skills required. (It's as easy as writing and sending an email -- we would show you how to do it if you need help).

If you are interested (don't forget we only currently have 5 slots left) please email me at: mark@biha.org.uk

  •  |tip bottom|
  •  Sponsors
  •  |survey bottom|
  •  Commercial FORUM
    • Forum for manufacturers, suppliers, repairers, testers and anyone else supplying goods or services to the inflatable hire industry.
  •  Survey
    Survey
    • How many seconds does it take for your main bouncy castle website to fully load up on the small screen of your mobile phone (smart phone).
      1 - 4 seconds
      5 seconds
      6 - 10 seconds
      11 - 15 seconds
      16 - 20 seconds
      21 - 25 seconds
      26 - 30 seconds
      31 - 50 seconds
      51 - 60 seconds
      More than 1 minute

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Do you hire out mini-marquees (AKA Gazebos, instant pop-up-shelters) and/or full-size marquees alongside your inflatables to boost cash-flow and profits?
      No
      Thinking about it now after the wet 2012 summer
      Yes - but mini-marquees and gazebos only
      Yes - we hire out full size marquees only
      Yes - we hire out all sizes of marquees

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • You discover that one of your competitors is illegally hiring out domestic "toy" bouncy castles to the public - which could cause a serious injury to a child as they are not robust enough for commercial hiring. What action would you take?
      Just warn them that they are breaking the law
      Call Trading Standards but warning them first
      Call Trading Standards without warning them first.
      Do nothing, but wait for others to report them.

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Do you charge your customers a "booking deposit" when they book an inflatable with you either through the phone or online? (E.g charge their credit card or ask them to send in a cheque, bank transfer or PayPal payment)
      Never - we're happy for full payment on delivery
      Sometimes - depends on the booking
      Yes - but only if they are a new customer
      Yes - for every booking, unless very short notice
      Yes - we won't deliver without a deposit up-front

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • How many bouncy castles and other play inflatables do you own which you hire out?
      1
      2
      3 - 5
      6 - 8
      9 - 10
      11 - 13
      14 - 16
      17 - 19
      20 - 29
      30 or more

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Which is your most popular add-on hire product?
      Jenga (all 3 sizes)
      Connect-4
      Croquet
      Giant Chess
      Giant Drafts
      Didi Cars
      Pitchburst
      Boom Blasters
      Giant dartboard
      Basketball Shooters

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Do you charge a little extra for hiring bouncy castles to weddings? (and other very special events?)
      No, we keep the same hire price
      We charge an extra £10
      We charge an extra £20
      We charge an extra £30
      We charge an extra £40
      We charge an extra £50
      We charge an extra £60
      We charge an extra £70
      We charge an extra £80
      We increase price in accordance with their budget

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Do you use Facebook and/or Twitter as a marketing tool to reach your local prospects and customers?
      Yes
      No

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • There are 10 main benefits of your membership to the BIHA and this sister site (BCO). Which one do you find MOST useful?
      Learning about Health & Safety / Legislation etc.
      Getting help & advice from the Discussion Forum
      Displaying the BIHA logo to increase your prestige
      Learning from the mistakes (& successes) of others
      Directory listing of your business on BIHA website
      Receiving ideas to help increase your hire profits
      Saving money on PL insurance and other services
      Getting the FREE Tip of the Week from this site.
      General sense of belonging / Less loneliness!
      Hearing about special deals etc.from manufacturers

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Which payment methods do you accept from your customers who hire inflatables?
      Cash and Cheque only
      Cash, Cheque and PayPal only
      Cash, Cheque, PayPal and Credit/Debit cards

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Do you ask your customers for referrals when they are happy with your inflatable hire service?
      No, never.
      No, unless the customer recommends me to a friend
      I sometimes ask for referrals
      I always ask for referrals at every hire
      I have a system to collect referrals at every hire
      I have a system & they get rewarded for referrals

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Should hire prices of your inflatables be included on your website?
      No, I prefer people to call me to discuss prices
      Yes, but only one price e.g. From £50 per day
      Yes, all my prices are displayed on my website
      Cannot answer as I don't yet have a website

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • How much do you charge for a standard 12ft x 12ft bouncy castle (including 12 x 12's with a 4ft+ safety step) delivered LOCALLY in your town.
      £35 per day
      £40 per day
      £45 per day
      £50 per day
      £55 per day
      £60 per day
      £65 per day
      £70 per day
      £75 per day
      £80+ per day

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • What is your most profitable type of inflatable which you hire out?
      Childrens bouncy castles
      Adult bouncy castles
      Small inflatable slides (Max 6ft to platform)
      Large inflatable slides (incl. mega slides)
      Castle/slide combis
      Sumo/super hero suits
      Bungee runs
      Rodeo bulls / surf simulators / multi-rides
      Bouncy boxing / Gladiator duel
      Activity centres / Obstacle courses

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Do you reduce hire prices in the winter?
      Yes
      No
      Only if the customer wants additional hire items
      Sometimes

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Do you own an Apple iPhone (e.g. 3G, 3GS or 4)
      No
      Yes

    • Show Survey Results
    • Show All Surveys
    • Has The Soaring Price Of Fuel Made You Stop Taking Bookings Further Afield?
      Yes
      No

    • View Survey Results
    • View All Surveys
  •  |foum bottom|
  •  Calendar
    Calendar
    • Previous Month
      November 2017
      Next Month
      S
      M
      T
      W
      T
      F
      S
       
       
       
      1
      2
      3
      4
      5
      6
      7
      8
      9
      10
      11
      12
      13
      14
      15
      16
      17
      18
      19
      20
      21
      22
      23
      24
      25
      26
      27
      28
      29
      30
       
       
      Bouncy Castle Hire
  •  |Members Directory bottom|
  •  Stolen Inflatables Forum
  •  Recomended Websites
  •  Example Websites
  • What do you think of this site and it's discussion forum?
    I love it!
    I find it helpful
    It's ok I guess
    It's nothing to write home about
    I am not keen

  • Show Survey Results
  • Show All Surveys