After lots of thought and debate we have reluctantly decided to stop offering self drive hire after the end of this summer season.
This is our third year of Custard Campers and I have ploughed my heart and soul and along with a good chunk of money to get it up and running successfully. We soon found our feet and increased our fleet of campers. Last year we had a tough to start to the season with Delia having numerous engine problems and being badly let down by the mechanic we then used.
We got past this, found a new very helpful and honest mechanic, got on with our season. We ended having to replace 3 of the campers engines last summer, which was incredibly costly and stressful as each one is around the £2000 mark, plus all the time to fit them, and lost hires while the work was carried out. This pretty much wiped out a lot of last years profit.
Through out the summer months we spend vast amounts of time at the barn preparing the campers for their hires and valeting them on their returns. Dan despite working full time, ends up joining me at the barn in the evening to work on repairing the campers. Something we have learnt a lot about and now try to do as much as we can ourselves.
I started this season refreshed and pushed forward with a rebrand for Custard Campers. I spent thousands on Delia’s bodywork and she had a lot of welding work and a lower body respray along with various other jobs. Everything was looking good for a successful summer and we were busier than ever with bookings for the season.
Then disaster struck when both Nigella’s and Delia’s engines packed up on the same weekend, despite spending time completely stripping them down, neither were salvageable and I had to bite the bullet and purchase another two new engines. We obviously also had to let down the customers for that weekend something that I absolutely hate doing as it is awful to ruin peoples plans. Mix it to that the idiot who sold us an engine for £800 online, we weren’t able to view first and took his word that is was ready to use, sadly it arrived and needs quite a bit of work, thanks for that mate, just what you need when your battling life!
All the campers are now running well and I believe we are on top of everything however the money it has cost has once again depleted a lot of our profit and therefore my wage. Add this to the stress I feel every time there is a problem with the campers and things are not looking good. It had just about got to the point where I dreaded the campers going out in case I got a phone call to say there is another problem.
This has taken all the enjoyment out of the business and for the time and hours we spend working it made me re-evaluate what we are doing. I have 3 children and one is now an adult but the other two are still at primary school and I end up dragging them up to the barn every weekend and school holiday (they have no issue with telling me how much they resent this!) We are unable to get away much in the campers as if we have any out on hire I feel we have to be around in case there are any issues that need sorting out. Mix that with the fact you can’t take the kids out of school anymore and it makes it impossible to get away.
So sadly we have decided to stop the self drive at the end of August and concentrate on the wedding side of the business. This is a lot less stressful as the campers do not have to travel so many miles and it is only us driving them.
Typing this does make me sad as I have no shortage of work on the self drive side but just not the will to overcome it all.
It has been a very tough year for us personally as a family, due to my lovely Dad having such a rapid decline into Alzheimer’s and having to go into a care home. The stress of trying to find a place with absolutely no support or help from social services, pushed my stress levels through the roof. Sadly he only managed a few weeks in the home before he passed away in April. The speed the illness struck him down is something I am still struggling to come to terms with. We have also had other issues to deal with, bills to pay and work ups and downs.
All of the above has probably pushed me into the decision I have made when another time I probably would of pulled my big girl pants on and battled on.
However the future for weddings is bright and we still have the summer to keep our lovely Delia and Floyd. In September we will be putting both Delia and Floyd up for sale. They are both still taking hire bookings for dates up to the end of August 2014.