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home | 15 Top Tips to get more inflatable h . . .

Tips to get bookings

15 Top Tips to get more inflatable hire bookings - For free or low-cost! (Volume 1 - OFFLINE ideas)

Here is a special report written for members of the BIHA and (originally published in 2010 but updated and expanded on 31st May 2014) -- I hope you find it highly profitable!

15 Top Tips to get more inflatable hire bookings - For free or low-cost! (Volume 1 - OFFLINE ideas)

This short report will show you 15 ways that you can immediately use to get more bookings for your bouncy castles and other play inflatables. I have tried to focus on methods that are free of charge or low-cost.

Without further ado, let's get started.....

Over the years a few new members have complained to me that they can't get many bookings for their inflatables….

Someone who is a brand-new start up may be competing directly with well-established hire companies who perhaps have flooded the area with advertising in the past and now get the bulk of their work from repeat business and word of mouth referrals etc.

I've also had comments from both new members and old members alike that having a great website (with a good Google ranking) and an active Facebook page is bringing in a good level of business for them but there is still a lot more room for extra work -- especially lucrative events and weekday bookings etc.

This brief report will look at alternative (and some may say "old-fashioned") ways of promoting your hire business outside the realm of your website and your Facebook page.

Some of these ideas will be "old-hat" to you, whilst others will be a timely reminder of "forgotten" marketing tips and ideas to get you more bookings throughout the entire year -- not just in the peak season!

Idea 1: Get a few thousand leaflets printed, and then contact other companies (or agencies) which do leaflet distribution, and ask for a shared leaflet drop. A way to save money is to approach your local pizza / Chinese / Indian takeaway, and tell them that you will deliver their leaflets for free, if they pay for your printing costs!! Sneaky, but it works. Get another fast-food company involved, and you could make a small profit on delivering leaflets which could contribute to your other advertising and marketing costs.

Idea 2: Contact every school, nursery, playgroup, childminder, PTA, Scout Groups, Brownie groups, Youth Clubs, After School groups, childrens charities, family attraction centres, zoos, farms etc. which cater for families, in your LOCAL area, and tell them that you would be delighted to give them a FREE bouncy castle for the day or half-day (FOR FUND RAISING PURPOSES - make sure you mention this!! as you may be taken a lot more SERIOUSLY by the person in charge of the group. They can hardly say no to you - if it will help raise urgently needed funds).

In return for you providing a FREE bouncy castle for the day, they need to allow you to give out flyers to all the parents and children in attendance.

For the lucrative corporate market, a similar version of this idea can also be effective. Contact the Social Secretary of large and Blue Chip Companies in your local area, and offer to donate a free inflatable for the day, with the idea that any funds raised will go to their chosen charity. If they jump at the chance you can then contact your local newspaper who may well send a reporter to cover the event. All of a sudden, you have FREE newspaper advertising worth hundreds of pounds or more. A very happy charity, and hopefully a very happy company which may well use your services for future lucrative corporate events.

When I did this, I also found that I received food and other goodies throughout the course of the day. If you are too busy to attend in person, ask someone from the charity to help. They may even want to have a stand.

When using this approach, adopt the mindset of FUND RAISING, and you should be richly rewarded for your actions. In addition, you should get referrals from the parents in attendance. Also, word may spread to other companies in your LOCAL area who are interested in hiring inflatables from you.

Idea 3: This can be extremely powerful. Contact other local companies in the party and events industry such as your local party shop, your local face-painter, marquee hirer, childrens entertainer, events organiser, etc. and tell them that you would like to refer your customers over to them, if they can return the favour!! And also share mailings. (One entrepreneurial BIHA member even helped to organise a consortium of local companies to supply the various services and equipment for the weddings in his town, via the local party/wedding shop).

Idea 4: This is a similar idea, which some may disagree with....Get to know your local competitors! And get friendly with them!! Find out what equipment they have, and do not have. E.g. they may only rent out corporate play inflatables for the adult market, and are continuously turning away people wanting childrens bouncy castles, or vice versa.

Idea 5: This idea is not usually considered - even by veteran inflatable hire companies. It is extremely simple and simply involves taking a photo of your best and brightest bouncy castle or other play inflatable, printing it out, or gluing it onto a post-card (with your contact details at the top) and then putting it up in the window of your local busy newsagents or post-offices (Costs around £1 per week). Some supermarkets and hairdressers etc. also let you do this for free!

Virtually no-one else who advertise in shop windows do this, so your photo advert will stick out like a "sore thumb" on the newsagents window (Have you seen how some people just scribble out an advert and it is almost impossible to read!)

Idea 6: Get some quality clothing (e.g. Jackets, T-shirts, Sweat-shirts, polo-jumpers, base-ball caps etc.) and then get your company logo and contact details printed on them. I have known situations where a BIHA member has been in a queue to pay for diesel, and someone behind them has tapped them on the shoulder, and told them that they want to hire a bouncy castle from them, just because their name and logo was on the back of their jacket :-) Very powerful, and means waiting in a queue with lots of people around you can actually be profitable -- and it's free.

Idea 7: Always carry your business cards and flyers with you. You never know who you'll meet while you are out and about! There are some instances where a local public centre (e.g. your local library, community centre, vets, doctors surgery etc.) will allow you to place your flyers free of charge).

Idea 8: Local newspapers are frequently interested in featuring local business people and their accomplishments. This is free advertising and should always be used. You can also contact your local community magazine and offer to write a monthly or weekly guest column for them, and include your author bio and website URL.

Idea 9: It pretty much goes without saying that every time that you do a booking you should be asking the customer for referrals. If you feel uncomfortable asking them directly, then you can do it indirectly, For example, giving them vouchers to give to their friends, relatives and neighbours. I've even heard of members who will pay a small commission to their customers if they refer them to new customers such as: "Get a free bouncy castle for every 10 people that you refer to us".

Idea 10: Write to the social secretary or HR Department of local businesses and make them aware of your services. Even better make an appointment to go round to see them . Many medium to large companies have family fun days in the summer, team-building events and other corporate events throughout the year.

Idea 11: Get involved in your LOCAL community. Look for groups and associations that align with your priorities and values e.g. Your local Chamber of Commerce. Volunteerism is a great way to network as well. I knew a chap who connected with the local Asian community in his town. He did a good job, and within weeks had more than enough work to keep him busy during the season.

Idea 12: Get a magnetic sign made for your car as well as your business For the one-time cost of the sign, your business name will be on display everywhere you drive. (Don't cut people up though!) Many hire companies have gorgeous sign-written vans but forget to advertise their hire business on the side and/or back of their car!

Idea 13: Write good reviews for local businesses and send them off to them (Snail-mail or email). Local businesses love positive reviews, and the more they have on the internet and in their brochures and flyers etc. the better. So help out your local businesses by being a good customer, then getting online and writing about your experiences. You'll gain favour from your fellow business owners and potential customers who are researching local businesses will keep seeing your name pop up and, of course, the name of your inflatable hire business.

Idea 14: Start a FREE monthly (or quarterly) newsletter to all your customers and people who express an interest in your hire services. (Email newsletters are virtually free but more about this in next week's tip -- Volume 2)

Idea 15: You can use "affiliates" to help you get more bookings. There are plenty of "stay at home mums", students, fit retired people etc. who would be more than happy to get bookings for you using some of the above methods in return for a commission on each hire. If you are worried that this might eat into your hire profits too much, simply increase your booking fee by say £3 to £5 to take this commission aspect into account.

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