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#1 CHUGALONG HIRE COMPANY

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 02:43 PM


Narrowboat Hirers please help

I have just bought a great name in the narrowboat hire industry

MIDDLEWICH NARROWBOATS

I have been a customer with this company myself many times over the last twenty years and always had a fantastic time but I have heard mixed reviews from recent hirers.

I really would like to understand the company’s reputation.
Have you hired from us? What can you tell me about our reputation? Would you hire again, why?

Any other advice gratefully received. There is a lot to do at Middlewich Narrowboats for next season to make sure that our hirers have a great time, It will be done. Thank you all for your help

Greg
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#2 Albion

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:03 PM


Narrowboat Hirers please help

I have just bought a great name in the narrowboat hire industry

MIDDLEWICH NARROWBOATS

I have been a customer with this company myself many times over the last twenty years and always had a fantastic time but I have heard mixed reviews from recent hirers.

I really would like to understand the company’s reputation.
Have you hired from us? What can you tell me about our reputation? Would you hire again, why?

Any other advice gratefully received. There is a lot to do at Middlewich Narrowboats for next season to make sure that our hirers have a great time, It will be done. Thank you all for your help

Greg


I have never hired from Middlewich Narrowboats and it is some time since I have been past the hire base but, in the past, MN had a reputation for aging, basic craft that were usually more traddy than most other fleets. The impression was that they kept their boats way past the normal sell by date but that this suited a certain type of customer who wanted traddy and basic, but would put many others off because the hire boat market had moved much more up-market by then, leaving MN stuck in the past. It seems to me that MN gradually reduced their market appeal by appealing more and more to hard core enthusiasts rather than the ordinary hirers, as the fleet got older and older.
Roger

Edited by Albion, 03 December 2011 - 03:03 PM.

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#3 journeyperson

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:21 PM

Are you going to keep the name? I hope so.
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#4 Mac of Cygnet

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:32 PM

Are you going to keep the name? I hope so.


Well I certainly hope it's not going to be the Chugalong Hire Company
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#5 hamsterfan

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:38 PM

pretty much what albion has already said.
are you aware of the security problems last year? batteries were being nicked at a steady rate!
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#6 CHUGALONG HIRE COMPANY

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:46 PM


THANKS FOR THE COMMENTS
Yes, aware of the battery pinchers
Name, Probably keep the name unless it's reputation is too bad to save
I understand the comments on the fleet and plans are being made appropriately
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#7 Graham Davis

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:51 PM

We looked a couple of years ago, but thought the boats basic and jaded.
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#8 Athy

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:57 PM

Basic good, jaded bad. There is a market for basic hire boats at popular prices - not everyone wants granite work tops and three types of exotic wood inlay. But if the boats look clean and fresh inside and out, that would increase their appeal.Are you the ones whose fleet includes a real trad with a vintage engine in a centre engine room, or am I confusing you with someone else?
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#9 The Dog House

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:19 PM

Basic good, jaded bad. There is a market for basic hire boats at popular prices - not everyone wants granite work tops and three types of exotic wood inlay. But if the boats look clean and fresh inside and out, that would increase their appeal.Are you the ones whose fleet includes a real trad with a vintage engine in a centre engine room, or am I confusing you with someone else?


We spoke to a family of Middlewich hirers last year who were waiting for their boat to be readied - very unhappy as they had arrived on time and their boat was no where near ready.

They were first time hirers and it was not a good first impression and they had no intention of hiring with you again as a result.

My impression of your boats is the boats look tatty and uncared for and as a result I would be reluctant to hire from you.

You did ask.....
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#10 Athy

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:31 PM

I have had a look at the Middlewich site and I see that I do them an injustice: they have several trads with boatman's cabins (don't know what engines they have!). Certainly, as MJG says, a prompt, punctual get-away is important - first impressions etc.
I can think of one Midlands hire fleet whose boats are probably basic and certainly externally rather tatty, as well as being fairly ugly, but one sees them up and down the Oxford all the time during the season, so the demand must be there.
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#11 CHUGALONG HIRE COMPANY

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:31 PM

Basic good, jaded bad. There is a market for basic hire boats at popular prices - not everyone wants granite work tops and three types of exotic wood inlay. But if the boats look clean and fresh inside and out, that would increase their appeal.Are you the ones whose fleet includes a real trad with a vintage engine in a centre engine room, or am I confusing you with someone else?

YES
The fleet has a few stunning traditional boats, beautiful chugging engines in the engine room like a warm beating heart. These have been badly marketed though, for next season these will all be tidied up, make sure they’re solidly reliable and probably grouped into a traditional fleet so people can easily understand that these are the heritage boats. What do you folks think of that idea?
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#12 classicstove

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:36 PM

Whether they are heritage boats or not, people who hire/rent expect a clean with everything working when they are away for a week

An external repaint with a traditional sign writing would be a very good start and you can protect the value of the expensive sign writing by over coating with varnish to protect against the bushes/trees that the hirers love to seem to put hire against
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#13 CHUGALONG HIRE COMPANY

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:36 PM

We spoke to a family of Middlewich hirers last year who were waiting for their boat to be readied - very unhappy as they had arrived on time and their boat was no where near ready.

They were first time hirers and it was not a good first impression and they had no intention of hiring with you again as a result.

My impression of your boats is the boats look tatty and uncared for and as a result I would be reluctant to hire from you.

You did ask.....

Yes I did and thanks for your comments.

I have heard this too. This will not be happening on my watch. To be fair to the team that were there they struggled against the odds a bit to get the boats out. I cant say much because of the contractual legal stuff but the right staff and processes will be in place in future.
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#14 Athy

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:38 PM

They are described on the web site but one has to look carefully; not much is made of how distinctive they are. They could be more prominent in your advertising material - although I have heard of someone else who offers s ingle such trad boat for hire, I think that yours must be the only ones which are part of a hire fleet.
What type of "beating hearts" do they have?
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#15 CHUGALONG HIRE COMPANY

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:38 PM

Whether they are heritage boats or not, people who hire/rent expect a clean with everything working when they are away for a week

An external repaint with a traditional sign writing would be a very good start and you can protect the value of the expensive sign writing by over coating with varnish to protect against the bushes/trees that the hirers love to seem to put hire against

I Agree....we'll do that.
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#16 dor

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:45 PM

Reputation locally is one of poor reliability, poorly prepared boats and often not very clean. One recently was sent out with a nearly-full pumpout tank.

It can only get better!
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#17 CHUGALONG HIRE COMPANY

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:50 PM

Reputation locally is one of poor reliability, poorly prepared boats and often not very clean. One recently was sent out with a nearly-full pumpout tank.

It can only get better!

unforgiveable
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#18 Albion

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:51 PM


YES
The fleet has a few stunning traditional boats, beautiful chugging engines in the engine room like a warm beating heart. These have been badly marketed though, for next season these will all be tidied up, make sure they’re solidly reliable and probably grouped into a traditional fleet so people can easily understand that these are the heritage boats. What do you folks think of that idea?


I agree with Athy. There will still be a market for a clean, tidy, up-together basic boat at the right price but, as tastes and expectations change, that will be a diminishing market IMO.

It is just the same with new private boats. At one time you had veneered ply and wooden work surfaces now the market has tended towards exotic timbers and granite surfaces with masses of electrical gizmos. I don't think that this move would have happened if the market didn't drive it.

Where MN got it wrong, particularly towards the end was getting a reputation for ONLY doing tired, basic, ageing boats. If you have a bottom-end fleet kept separate from a better fleet then I think the older boats will serve that market well. Where you have to make a distinction though is that you have two sorts of customer for that fleet:-
1. I just want a cheap boat, don't care what it looks like but it must be cheap. This type won't really care whether it has a nice trad engine in an engine room or not as long as it goes.
2. I want a traddy characterful boat with a trad engine and I'm prepared to accept that it won't have all the mod cons because I like that type of craft and there aren't many other places I can get a similar craft from.
These two sorts of customer will treat the craft entirely different from each other and you will have to decide whether you are prepared to serve both types or only type 2.

To break from the past though, particularly if you retain the name Middlewich Narrowboats, I think you should have some better boats marketed well in a different 'class' from the inherited boats. This works OK in a fleet at the port where I keep my boat in France and I don't see why it shouldn't work in the UK.
Roger
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#19 Athy

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:09 PM

I agree with Athy. There will still be a market for a clean, tidy, up-together basic boat at the right price but, as tastes and expectations change, that will be a diminishing market IMO.

Thanks Roger, though my O differs from your O in one respect. I do not believe that this section of the market will diminish. Are most people getting richer? You may have noticed that many of them are not, so a product, be it washing powder or holiday hire boat, which is perceived to offer Value For Money will appeal to lots of those who haven't had a pay rise for two years! Keep the cheapies (but empty their holding tanks).
Chuggy, third time lucky: what engines do your "heritage" boats have?
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#20 CHUGALONG HIRE COMPANY

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:20 PM

Thanks Roger, though my O differs from your O in one respect. I do not believe that this section of the market will diminish. Are most people getting richer? You may have noticed that many of them are not, so a product, be it washing powder or holiday hire boat, which is perceived to offer Value For Money will appeal to lots of those who haven't had a pay rise for two years! Keep the cheapies (but empty their holding tanks).
Chuggy, third time lucky: what engines do your "heritage" boats have?

3 cylinder Listers.
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