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2-10-2016

Hi to all BIHA Members,

The latest "BIHA SPOTLIGHT on an Inflatable Hire Company"  features Ben Efron.

 I hope that you enjoy reading his answers and benefit from some great ideas and tips he mentions.

 Just before you read Ben's answers - please could you join the BIHA Facebook Group (if you haven't done so already).

 www.facebook.com/groups/biha4u    Thanks!!  (You can read some recent posts on this FB Group below)

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SPOTLIGHT ON AN INFLATABLE HIRE COMPANY.

 

YOUR NAME?

 

Ben Efron

 

 

NAME OF YOUR INFLATABLE HIRE COMPANY?

 

Bounce Buddies Wakefield

 

www.bouncebuddieswakefield.co.uk  

 

 

YOUR LOCATION?

 

 Wakefield, West Yorkshire

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR AGE?

 

 23

 

 

WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU STARTED HIRING OUT INFLATABLES?

 

 Full-time chef in a deli  (and I still work there!)

 

 

WHAT MADE YOU START AN INFLATABLE HIRE BUSINESS?

 

As a kid, I always loved bouncy castles.  One day last year, I was surfing eBay, and  they recommended a used commercial grade bouncy castle for £300 - £400.

 

I was shocked at how cheap it was because I knew that they hire out at £50 per day or more.

 

I decided instead to buy a brand new castle and haven't looked back.

 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES?

 

I own and maintain a 150 litre aquarium with loads of tropical fish and corals etc.  (I used to own a 300 litre one!!)

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIE?

 

Hairspray  (John Travolta)  2007

 

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL?

 

McDonalds

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE UK HOLIDAY DESTINATION?

 

Cornwall

 

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION ABROAD?

 

 Benidorm, Spain

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TV PROGRAMME?

 

Great British Bake Off

 

 

YOUR FAVOURITE SONG?

 

You can't stop the Beat  (From Hairspray Musical).

 

See:  https://youtu.be/RutoivMEmCE   

 

 

 

WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT THE INFLATABLE HIRE BUSINESS?

 

 Making people really happy and making their day.

 

Seeing lots of excitement on the kids' faces when I inflate the castles. 

 

 

IF YOU COULD WAVE A MAGIC WAND WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT THE INDUSTRY?

 

1) I would stop the "bitching" on the Facebook Groups, unless it's something that could seriously affect safety.

 

2) That the parents would behave themselves, and stop getting drunk and unruly in front of their kids. 

 

3) More PIPA testers throughout the UK. 

 

4)  Have more independent PIPA testers who just test and nothing else.  From my experience, some manufacturers (who are also PIPA testers) will refuse to test an inflatable, simply because they did not manufacture it.  This is unfair in my opinion.

 

 

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HIRING FROM "HELL" ?  (i.e. Horror story or a weird booking?)

 

Yes, I once delivered my Disco Dome to a back-garden party.  On the Met Office website, the wind was forecast to gust up to 20mph (just 4mph less than the maximum).  Nevertheless, I made sure that the Dome was very well staked down.  A few hours later I got a phone call from the customer to tell me that the music speaker was no longer working, and could I come and fix it.   I arrived at the house, and to my dismay realised that the customer had UNPEGGED the Dome and had dragged it over lots of dog poo and dirt to the other end of the garden, and re-inflated it without pegging it down again.   But it got even worse, some of the kids had grabbed the electric cabling from the speaker, pulled it and broken the wires - which explained the lack of music inside.   I explained to the customer that by moving the inflatable and not pegging it down, they had put the children's safety at risk.   They didn't seem to care.   I re-pegged the dome and drove off.   Just to add to the irritation and misery of this booking, when I arrived back the following morning to collect, the customer had moved the Dome a second time, dragging it through more mud and poo, and guess what, despite my "safety talk" earlier with them, they had again not pegged the dome down.

 

I charged the customer £180 for the repair to the electric cabling, and an extra £50 to have the dome cleaned.

 

I now do not do any more over-night hires.

 

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HIRING FROM "HEAVEN" ?   (i.e. a very good booking!)

 

Yes, I once took a booking from the very worst area of my town for my Dome.  It was very much a no-go area, and I was very reluctant to take the booking.  However, I made the decision to take it, delivered the Dome, and was absolutely dreading what I would come back to -  even perhaps no Dome!!   All day, I worried about the collection.  However, on arriving back at the house, I was absolutely amazed and delighted that the customer had got every single one of the party kids to clean my Dome both inside and out, with Flash, and it looked absolutely immaculate.  The kids (some as young as four) had even cleaned all the crash mats!!  As I left, the nice lady customer also gave me a £10 note as a tip, and 4 cans of beer.  I was very happy that evening!   This true story shows that you should never assume that a bad area means bad customers!!   Some of the nicest people live in these run-down areas.

 

 

DO YOU HAVE ANY USEFUL TIPS OR IDEAS THAT YOU COULD SHARE WITH THE OTHER BIHA MEMBERS?

 

1)  Don't quit your day job until your inflatable hire biz is providing you with a proper wage.

 

2) Don't expect to make the big money in your first year of trading.  You should be using your profits to plough back into your business to grow it.

 

3)  Don't see your local competitors as an enemy, but instead see them as your "best friend".  Work closely with them, and you should see your hire businesses grow. 

 

4)  Get banners, (including feather banners) bunting and flags etc. to promote your hire business when you provide inflatables for an event.  People will notice it more - and you should get extra bookings as a result.

 

5) Provide party bags for the kids at the parties you turn up to - even if you only charge £1.50 per bag, there's a healthy profit margin and it can mean an extra £100 profit or more per weekend - this could pays for a driver, and even some of your fuel cost - so it's a win-win!

 

6)  Don't forget to offer your customers add-on hire products!!  Similar to the party bags idea above, the profit can pay for your driver's wages and fuel.

 

7)  Hold onto your prices - never ever discount!!!   You provide an amazing service, and your customers should respect you for that.

 

8)  If you have mascots, put a (over-sized) tee-shirt over the mascot - with your logo and phone numbers on it (both back and front),  You should pick up a lot of extra work from this idea.

 

9) On your website, include a page which says something like "TEN reasons why you should CHOOSE US for your inflatable hire needs".

 

10) When you post on your Facebook page, always try to include a top quality photo or image - as it instantly grabs the attention of your readers and customers.

 

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TYPE OF INFLATABLE?

 

Helter Skelter Slide

 

 

 

HOW HAS THE BIHA HELPED YOU IN YOUR INFLATABLE HIRE BUSINESS?

 

I have made a lot of new contacts through my BIHA membership, and there are a lot of networking opportunities to help me with my hire business.  I also love the BIHA Facebook Group.

 

Mark Jerram from the BIHA, is also re-building my website for me for free, as part of my BIHA membership.   See:  www.bouncebuddieswakefield.co.uk   He will also be doing the SEO for me in order to get it as high up in Google as possible.  Hopefully ranking at the number one spot.

 

Also, I have noticed that my customers and prospective customers love the BIHA logo.  Sorry Mark, but I'm convinced that some of them don't know exactly what it means, or what it stands for, but they seem to like it anyway, because it looks good and official, and this helps me get more bookings.  Likewise, when people see other logos on a website (e.g. Trade Association logos), they don't know what it means but it looks reassuring - like the BIHA logo, and this converts to more business!!  I also think the BIHA Code of Ethics reassures some customers.

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------

 

Thank you Ben for spending some time answering these questions.

 

- it's greatly appreciated.  Some very interesting info you have shared there.

 

If anyone else would like to be featured in a "Spotlight on an inflatable hire company" - please email me at:  mark.jerram@ntlworld.com 

 

Thanks.

Mark Jerram

www.biha.org.uk ;

 

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