Hi, I’m Syed @ The Hire Street and this is another in a series of interviews with founders and leaders of leading hire businesses. In this interview, we are joined by Will Turnbull of Casablanca Hire. Do post comments to let me know what you think and if you’d like to be interviewed see the bottom of the post for details of how to get in touch.
Syed @ The Hire Street Tell us a bit about the founder(s) before starting the business.
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire I started working as a labourer for a marquee hire company in North London as a summer job in June 2003. I enjoyed the work and thought I could probably start my own marquee hire business. While there, I met Heath Meek (the other original co-founder) and we decided to start own company which we did in April 2005. We initially bought a small marquee and kept in a broom cupboard in my flat and transported on the roof of my Fiat Uno. We quickly decided to buy more stock and expand the business. Heath left the company in 2013 and now I’m the CEO.
Syed @ The Hire Street What gave you the idea to start your business?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire 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.
Syed @ The Hire Street What did you think you could provide that wasn’t already available in the market i.e. what differentiates you?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire We invested 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.
Syed @ The Hire Street Can you share any numbers such as revenue or number of staff to give us an idea of where you are currently?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire We currently have 40 full-time members of staff and have an increase in turnover of 20% year on year.
Syed @ The Hire Street What were the biggest difficulties you faced when growing your business?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire The seasonal nature of the business is probably the biggest challenge. In the 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. 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.
Syed @ The Hire Street What would you do differently if you could start again?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire Not much!
Syed @ The Hire Street Do you have any advice for event organisers from your vantage point, that might help them get the most out of hiring?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire Planning is paramount. Due to the nature of the events business, there are numerous external factors which can make or break an event. Get your planning done as soon and as thoroughly as possible and when anything unexpected arises – and it will – you’ll be able to deal with it without jeopardising the success of your event.
Syed @ The Hire Street Have you noticed any effect on the business from Brexit and the election?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire There has been much uncertainty thrown up by Brexit and of course, individuals and businesses have every right to be concerned. We personally employ a vast multi-cultural workforce not only from the EU but across the globe and how Brexit will affect them and their capacity to remain here is a big concern.
Syed @ The Hire Street What are your growth plans for the next 1 to 2 years?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire We have a steady turnover to date which is increasing year on year and we intend to push forward with this trend.
Syed @ The Hire Street What are your biggest anticipated challenges to achieve that growth?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire Consumer uncertainty over Brexit may affect spending which is already becoming apparent.
Syed @ The Hire Street If you could go back to when you started the business and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire Believe in yourself and those individuals around you.
Syed @ The Hire Street Finally have you ever had any event disasters or near disasters? and how did you recover?
Will Turnbull @ Casablanca Hire The nature of the business means there are often ‘disasters’ large and small but our motto is ‘Get the job done and get the job done well’ which means when a disaster strikes we really go all hands on deck to solve the issue for our clients.
Syed @ The Hire Street Thanks a lot for taking the time to share your experiences Will.
Find out more about Casablanca Hire and their incredible range of marquees (and more) for hire:
Don’t forget to check out Marquee Hire @ The Hire Street
Do you run a successful hire business? If so we’d love to interview you and feature your business! Get in touch now at email@example.com
Thanks for reading 🙂