Inflatable rental companies need to make sure their bounce houses and their vehicles are safe and secure, as the loss of these assets could be catastrophic to the future of their business. We’ve compiled some of the best security advice for bouncy castle hirers. If you have any other suggestions, please contact us!
A common crime committed against jumping castle rental companies is that of the fake booking. The booking starts off normally, with cash handed over with a smile, and everything seems in order. But when the company comes to collect the inflatable at the end of the day, there’s nobody around and the product has disappeared. Days, weeks or even months later, the inflatable might reappear again for sale on eBay, or might be sold to other companies through back-alley deals.
How can you avoid this kind of crime happening to you?
- Take some personal information from every customer, and verify this information
A lot of businesses ask for proof of ID before they perform their services, and you could do the same. Some of the gold standards of ID include drivers’ licenses and passports, or documents that are registered to the customer’s address such as utility bills. If you’re not comfortable putting this obstacle in the way of your customers, think about other ways to verify the address – you could check the information they’ve provided to you against local records, or visit them in advance (perhaps under the pretence of measuring their garden?)
Be aware that it is exceptionally easy to spoof email addresses, and slightly harder (but still very easy) to spoof phone numbers. Criminals are well aware of the need for ‘burner phones’ and fake emails, so don’t rely on these as confirmation of a person’s identity.
- Print your business logo and contact information on your inflatables
It might not be a sure-fire way to prevent your products from being stolen and resold, but if your website shows that your inflatables have your branding printed on them, this could be all it takes to dissuade criminals. A scammer could think removing the branding would be necessary if they wanted to resell your products, and this hurdle might be enough to encourage them to leave you alone and target someone else instead. If you imagine a criminal is presented with two identical bikes, one of which has the owner’s name carved into it, the criminal would likely opt for the unmarked bike.
If you store test information, serial numbers and other information about your inflatables securely, then you will be able to demonstrate which items are yours with ease. The Bouncy Castle Network booking system, which was made for inflatable rental businesses, has a special area on the admin panel that allows for the secure storage of all this data.
Communicate with other local businesses
You could communicate with other people in your local area to share information about potential scams. If one of your competitors is scammed, they could share as much information about the crime as possible with other businesses so they know who to look out for.
Please note that you may be committing libel or slander or breaching people’s right to data confidentiality depending on the information you share! We at Start An Inflatable Business do not take any responsibility for any legal problems you may face – make sure you check your local laws.
The van is an integral part of your inflatable rental business and as such, you will need to take its security seriously. Depending on the size of your stock, the loss of an inflatable might not be too great a speedbump, but the loss of a van could be a pothole that sends your business off the road and down a cliff.
As you are choosing a van for commercial purposes, you should make sure it is secure enough for everything you need. Ask questions about security when you’re buying your van, research for secure business vans on the internet, and avoid being dazzled by any sales patter.
- Improve its security further
Did you know that thieves steal external parts from vehicles they can’t get into? It can take less than a minute for a dexterous criminal to steal your expensive catalytic converter for the valuable metals within, but replacing it and making your vehicle safe again could set you back a fortune. A cheap catalytic converter lock will prevent this from happening.You might also want to lock your tools and other valuable items away in a lockbox, add a GPS security tracker to it, and use your van locks all the time.
Take a look at the outside of your van like a criminal would. Is there anything that might encourage them to target you? If they can see your stock in the back of it, make sure this can no longer happen. It’s not unknown for criminals to smash a car window for a few coins in the ashtray.
Load and unload your van every day – don’t leave your stock in it overnight. If someone makes off with your van, they could take your whole business with them if it’s got all your inflatables inside. Park it up securely in a well-lit place, perhaps under security cameras.
Consider buying security cameras for your van that upload footage constantly – if ever someone tries to steal from you, you’ll be glad you made the investment.
Keep your stock in a secure storage facility, and only take out what you need. It might seem like a lot of effort to load and unload your van regularly, but it’s much better than keeping all your eggs in one basket.
There are many specialist facilities that would be happy to provide secure, insured, round-the-clock storage for your business, and the rates can be very affordable. Find the perfect location for you – check on Google and visit everywhere that is convenient.
When you’re marketing your website, you will be encouraged to provide a postal address on Yell, Google Maps and other directories. Using the same address every time will provide name-address-and-phone-number (NAP) consistency, which is important for marketing.
However, you don’t want everyone in the world to know where you keep your stock. If possible, keep your inventory at a separate address and don’t share this information on the internet.
- Invest some of your earnings in an emergency fund
If you increase your prices by just a little, and put the extra money into a savings account for emergencies, then the theft of an inflatable won’t spell disaster. Supermarkets and other large retailers realise that ‘shrinkage’ is impossible to completely eliminate, so they budget with the expectation that someone will steal from them, and pass the cost of this on to the consumer. You should do the same!
Although you should have public liability insurance already, as well as some kind of theft insurance for your vehicle, you may want to ensure that you are also insured against theft and other criminal acts.
Stoleninflatables.co.uk is a nationwide directory of stolen bouncy castles and inflatables, and is a great place for hirers to submit reports of any products that are stolen from them. The website is focused on the UK, but you may be able to find a similar website for companies in your country too.
You should also be sure to report all crimes against your business, however small, to the police. You might even invalidate your insurance if you fail to do so.
If you want to avoid being taken advantage of by criminals (other than tax collectors and bankers), you will want to avoid cash transactions and should try to take money digitally. Cash-in-hand businesses run the risk of having large sums of money held in insecure places, so it's best to transfer money to your account immediately. Online inflatable rental booking software will enable you to receive money up-front and avoid driving around with a fistful of cash.
Do you have any other advice? We’d love to hear it! contact us to tell us your best security tip.