Our Single Minded Focus: Casablanca Hire
Having a single minded focus is an essential component of any successful Owner Managed Business’ strategy. As part of our ‘Single Minded Focus’ series, we’re bringing advice and insights on mastering this single minded approach to business from leading members of the Owner Managed Business community across Britain. This week we spoke to Will Turnbull of Casablanca Hire http://www.casablancahire.com, who gave us a fascinating insight into the day-to-day running of one of London’s busiest marquee and catering hire companies.
From humble beginnings in 2004, with just one marquee to its name (stored in Will’s communal house broom cupboard and delivered to clients in his Fiat Uno doubling up as the company’s only vehicle), Casablanca Hire has gone on to provide marquees and catering equipment to global events such as the London Olympics, the Tour de France, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In the extremely competitive event hire industry, Casablanca Hire has distinguished itself from the competition by its efficiency, flexibility, and a commitment to customer service.
Read on for Will’s insights into running the business and how he’s kept a single minded approach throughout.
Find a gap in the market
“We just thought, ‘What does London not have?’. In the marquee and events sector we had previously used large and bulky marquee equipment often unsuitable for London’s intricate gardens, forecourts and spaces. We started investing in equipment that was completely different to that which other companies were using. It was very flexible, you didn’t need too many people to set it up, and you didn’t need big vehicles to bring it in or out. Another unique asset was and is our close proximity to the very heart of London. Should a customer require additional equipment, we are often able to make changes to their event on the day, as Casablanca’s HQ is so close to central London. We will always go that little bit further to satisfy the client.”
Plan and budget for the year to ensure a steady cash flow
“The seasonal nature of the business is probably the biggest challenge. In summer months we often work day and night, sometimes starting at two o’clock in the morning. Throughout all this, we’re trying to keep our crews fit and fresh. We must avoid people making mistakes or having accidents. I think it’s a challenge for anyone in this industry to keep good staff and ensure that they have work all year round. We look at it as a 12 month project. There’s no point in just saying ‘I’ve got the summer season’ and then forgetting about winter. We keep our good core people throughout and look after them. Cash flow in any financial business is crucial, none more so than Casablanca Hire, due to the extreme seasonality of the marquee and events sector. Allied Irish Bank (GB) were quick to recognise this and have shown great support, allowing us to preserve a much needed cash cushion for those quieter months.”
Earning customer loyalty pays off
“Customer feedback is an essential barometer. We’ll always look to see what our customers require from us and how we can improve. It doesn’t matter how good we’ve been or how happy they are, there’s always something we could have done that little bit better. In a service-based industry, such as ours, we’re always looking for ways to improve. Our view is that we would like to keep all our good customers happy and loyal. Every client is potentially a repeat customer, of whom we have many. Repeat business is good because there are less surprises. The client can relax in the knowledge they know exactly what they’re getting. When we arrive, we can get on with the job unhindered, because the customer knows exactly what we’re doing.”
Cultivating teamwork is key to success
“Teamwork is important in most businesses, but in ours I’d say it’s even more so. When a prospective client is planning an event, initially our sales people introduce our services. From there, it goes through to operations who determine when it’s going to be set up, how it’s going to be set up, and liaise with the customer throughout. Sometimes on a big event you’ll have 30 or 40 people setting up, so the lines of communication are very important. Furthermore, these events tend to fall during the busiest months, so immediately one event is completed, we move straight on to the next, where a similar process will be repeated.”
Know your customer
“Market research is important to us, as we obviously need to categorise our clients into public, private and corporate sectors. We do a lot of corporate and public sector work in central and west London, and the geographical spread requires special attention as it affects logistics, labour and transport costs. We also have a very effective SEO team, which ensures we maintain the optimum Google ranking. Casablanca has a showroom which clients can visit, meet the team and have that all important face to face contact. It also gives the customer the opportunity to see and experience our goods and services for hire.”
Cultivate a good relationship with your bank
“I’d been round all the major banks seeking funding and nobody was able to help me. My previous bank, who I had been with for over ten years, knew almost nothing about my business and showed no real interest. Allied Irish Bank (GB) were completely the opposite. I can ring them up any time during the day and I know exactly who I’m speaking with. They’ve really worked out a way of giving customers like us what we want. They know a lot about my business, so if I were to call them now with a question, more often than not, they’d know exactly why I was asking that question. That inspires real confidence!”
Find out more about Casablanca Hire http://www.casablancahire.com and their range of event solutions. See how Allied Irish Bank (GB) can help you with any of your Owner Managed Business needs on our home page https://business.aibgb.co.uk