Interview with Mary Hamley - founder of Wanderlust on Wheels
Read her personal tips, how she financed her business idea and how she got her first client
1) Tell us about your business journey, Mary - you've achieved a great deal from your personal interest with Camper vans - how did it all start?
We’ve always wanted our own camper van and love the idea of being able to drive off with everything you need tucked away with you. Living in Altrincham we are so close to such amazing countryside, we're always spoilt for choice where to visit next.
We have many friends who love the idea but wouldn’t want to commit to actually buying their own campervan, which is where hiring one for a weekend or longer makes perfect sense! It takes camping to a whole new level, being able to park up, put the kettle on, and use fresh milk from the fridge. There’s a memory foam mattress and even plug sockets to charge your phone or tablet in our campervan.
We decided to invest in a campervan and see how many people might be interested to actually hire it, and if it turned out no one wanted to then we’d have quite happily used it ourselves every weekend! It turned out that people were interested and we’ve been booked up almost every weekend since we opened for business. Even on a rainy weekend we’ve had last minute bookings from people who have a campsite booked and want to upgrade to a campervan instead of a wet tent!
2) What it was like in the first week or two of starting your own business?
Before we could advertise the campervan as available to hire there were so many checks and regulations we had to meet. It was a huge relief when we tracked down the correct people to help us and had the work completed. For example we have a gas hob and there are strict regulations, so as well as it being safely installed, it must be signed off by a qualified Gas Safe engineer. Turns out Gas Safe engineers who are qualified in signing off gas hob installations in campervans for hire are few and far between. But when we started receiving enquiries to hire it made us realise the extra effort is all worthwhile.
3) How did you fund your business idea?
We managed to secure a bank loan for be able to acquire our first campervan. With interest rates so low it seemed like the most sensible way, with small monthly payments every month.
4) How did you get your first few clients - have you any tips for our readers on how to attain clients as a new business?
Our first clients came from a variety of different routes. I was surprised to receive lots of enquiries via Gumtree, which was such a simple way to put up an advert for the business. We’ve even had a family hire the campervan who found us on Instagram and were inspired to upgrade their camping trip! So my best tip is to use all the free outlets you can think of, such as Gumtree, Facebook and business directories, and regularly update your details and add new photos.
5) Tips on how to make it past the 12 months mark ?
We are still working our way towards the 12 month mark and we’re not sure how popular the campervan will be as we get towards the winter months. It’s fully insulated and we have a gas heater so maybe there’s some adventurous people out there or don’t want to let a bit of rain and cold stop their fun!!
My names Mary, and I live with my boyfriend James and cat Polly. We live in Cheshire and love the outdoors, whether we are hiking, cycling, or just sitting outside with a wine or beer J You can find more info about our camper and plenty of photos at https://www.wanderlustonwheels.co.uk/ or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.