Make sure your inflatable rental company is a success by avoiding these pitfalls. If you learn from the mistakes of the companies that have come before you, you'll be well-prepared to grow your company without any unnecessary hassle or hardship.
Cheapest is not always best
If you buy cheap, you buy twice! There are a lot of inflatable rental companies who never throw their stock away, and instead resell it on eBay or over Facebook for very little. Don't think that this is an investment - it's usually junk, with tears and holes that you will need to patch up and fix. Furthermore, your customers won't be impressed if you turn up with a product that looks dirty and scruffy - nobody will want to pay a reasonable hire price for a low-quality inflatable.
The same applies to all other aspects of your business - a free inflatable hire website will not get you as much custom as a professionally-made website, and a cheap insurance plan might leave you significantly out-of-pocket should you ever need to make a claim.
Research, research, research
If you know what the market is offering, and know what your competitors are doing, then you will know how much to charge, where to advertise, the types of inflatables that are popular, and where gaps in the market might be. Make sure you know your targeted rental areas, too - make a note of every community centre, school, local authority, playgroup and learning centre, and contact them to let them know who you are and what you offer.
Don't be afraid of asking for help
You might have got involved in the industry because you long to work for yourself and by yourself, but don't be afraid of asking friends, relatives and local experts to give you a hand when you need it! If you've got too many jobs in one day, perhaps you could pass one off to a competitor rather than simply turning the customer away (and sending them to the same competitor) - if you build up a close relationship with the other businesses in your area, you might find that they pass work to you too. You can twist the arm of friends and loved ones to see if they'll quickly run errands for you when you're pressed for time, or contact people based on their skills when you need something proof-read, or if you need legal advice, or if you want to know what van to buy.
Plan for growth
Understandably, you might want to start off with some cheap products and relatively low-income hires, and could hope that these will give you the cashflow you need to increase your stock and inflate your profits. However, you should bear in mind that your competitors have already invested in this high-value, high-profit stock, and they'll leave you in the dust if you don't catch up with them. Don't be afraid of investing in a quality, profitable inflatable (or even several). Adult bouncy castles, disco domes and moon bouncers are very popular and are a good choice for start-up inflatable hirers.
Plan for problems
But don't spend all your money the moment you get it! Your van might break down, your inflatables might need a repair, and you might need to invest in more inflatables. Keep track of your incomings and outgoings, set some aside for tax and some more aside for emergencies, spend some on improving your business, and keep a smaller portion for yourself.
Put effort into marketing
A professional website, a nice logo and some leaflets in the village hall will not be enough for a sustainable bouncy castle business. You will need to put time and effort into getting the word out about your business, and will need to do so regularly. Learn about SEO and Adwords - these words might seem like jargon to you, but they're simple skills that could transform your business. Always plan to advertise - there's no harm in handing out some leaflets and business cards at every event you do. And keep a database of your customers - you might find that repeated business forms the bedrock of your company.