Start Up Bouncy Castle Business Guide
Bouncy Castle Hire is a great business and the next two years are going to be very profitable. In order to start up in this business you may wish to consider the experience I had with AJL! Hopefully, you can learn a couple of things to make it easier. This is not a get rich quick scheme. You need to put in the work to generate the rewards. It is however a good way to produce a second income without too much hard work, good luck.
There are several excellent companies selling bouncy castles, with good products and keen prices. As a hire operator which is the best design for your customer?
Size is critically important. Do your customers have large gardens or small? A high proportion of your potential clients are likely to be on low to average incomes with gardens to match. A bouncy castle is a low cost alternative to taking a group of 15-20 kids to a restaurant or play center.
12' (3.6m) and 10' (3m) square castles are the most popular sizes and will fit in most places. They are easily handled and stored. Larger castles are more suitable for 'pay per play' situations where you can fit more kids on at the same time and they can be seen from further away. Box bouncers being walled on all sides stop kids accidentally falling off, but visibility is restricted.
There are many companies offering many different castle designs. Some of these look great and some are good quality, but as a hire operator you need to consider the return you will get on the investment of purchasing a bouncy castle. This is why AJL concentrates on providing standard designs at excellent value for money. Your customers will be as pleased with a standard design as they would with something fancy which costs you half as much again. In order to make some profits you should consider how quickly your investment will start paying for itself. Take a look at our SUPERDEALS & SPECIAL PACKAGES.
Kids are born on every day of the year so there is an endless supply of prospective customers. But widening your potential customer base is healthy and you should also consider setting up in shopping malls, at the beach, car boot sales, school fetes and galas, street parties, play schools and nurseries, garden centers and so on.
Anywhere that attracts family groups will make good business because the kids will pester mum and dad for a go, while mum and dad will be keen to stop the kids getting bored. Every child that sees your castle will end up having a go. Charging 50p ( or $1 ) for 5 minutes play should see you with over £150 ($300) at the end of the day in the right location.
Some suggestions are family parties, pubs, hotels, shopping centres, playschool, after school clubs, on the beach, in the town centre, social clubs, church halls, school fetes, galas, car boot sales, charity events, business promotions, open days, and so on.
My experience is that you need to advertise initially to build up a customer base. An advert in the local telephone directory under Bouncy Castles and/or Party Supplies will draw in clients like play schemes, school fetes, and more serious customers. A second advert in the local press, the minimum they will allow( Bouncy Castles (your number)), placed nightly for the duration of the season will attract parents looking for ideas, if you can then sell your service they are likely to book.
Enquiries will take several forms. How much do you charge? What sizes do you do? How many can use it? How old can they be? I sell my service on several things. We have a castle to suit most situations, indoor or out. We do it all for them, deliver, set up and take away. We are flexible to fit in with the customers plans, and we always turn up on time. We always phone to confirm the night before and all our bookings are guaranteed, if we don't turn up we pay the hirer the hire fee. We don't require a deposit as customers very rarely cancel, would you if the kids were expecting one.
This service helps to create trust with our customers, which will bring them back next time.
We strongly recommend taking insurance cover for third party liability. This is to protect you if anyone has an accident while using the equipment. Talk to your insurance broker. Insurance is also available for loss of the equipment and employers liability.
Dealing with the client
Happy customers are the most valuable part of a business. Treating our customers well is integral to the way we do business at AJL. Identify services which fill the needs of your customer, and fulfill your promise to the customer. Hire customers are, I believe, looking for 3 things.
- They want good value for money. Price your service to match your competition.
- They want you to have a castle available for when they want it. Have enough stock to fill the demand.
- They want you to turn up. Keep your promise and offer to pay them the hire fee if you don't.
Customers will book if your prices are what they are expecting to pay, if you have one available and you are there to pick up the phone when they call. If you are not there to answer the phone they will ring the next company who will get the booking. Many customers phone during the evening and at the weekend so be prepared for them. Have your diary available and sell your service.
I offer a no fee cancellation service, the customer can cancel at any time without penalty. This makes clients who are not 100% sure book with us. Once they've booked, they tell the kids and then can't back out. It would be a brave parent who spoilt their child's birthday party by canceling the bouncy castle man. I find we get very few cancellations and lots of last minute calls to take over the booking when they do.
Some businesses take more bookings than they have castles, to cover themselves for any cancellations. Inevitably someone is let down and a kids birthday is ruined. Would you use that company again? I wouldn't, and I'd tell all my friends not to as well.
Legislation and codes of practice
You should familiarize yourself with the legal requirements and codes of practice which apply to the operation of inflatable games in your country.
Accidents involving breach of health and safety laws can lead to criminal prosecution of not only the individual responsible but also the owner of the business, including company directors. This is quite separate from civil claims for compensation which are usually covered by insurance. In the UK, Magistrates have the power to send offenders to prison for up to 6 months and impose a fine of up to £5, 000 per offence; more serious cases are dealt with by the Crown Courts. They can impose unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to 2 years for health and safety offences.
Please be careful!
The following list applies to the UK only and is not intended to be exhaustive:
STATUTES AND REGULATIONS:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Occupiers Liability Acts 1957 and 1984
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992
- Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
CODES OF PRACTICE (HSE APPROVED):
Some HSE approved Codes of Practice/Guidance Notes:
- Safe operation of passenger carrying amusement devices - inflatable bouncing devices". Guidance Note PM76 (April 1991)
- "Code of Safe Practice at Fairs". HSE Guidance on Regulations L23 (Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992).
- "Management of Health and Safety at Work" HSE L21 (1992).
- "Maintaining portable and transportable electrical equipment" HSE (G)107 (1994)
OTHER CODES OF PRACTICE:
- "Soft Play and Inflatables" by The Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management
- "Safety in Indoor Adventure Play Areas" - A Code of Practice by ILAM/NPFA/RoSPA
NB breach of an approved Code of Practice is not an offence but if you are prosecuted and it is shown that there was a failure to observe the relevant Code, contravention of the Act or Regulation will be considered proven unless you can satisfy the Court that you complied in an alternative, acceptable manner.