Owners face small business growth dilemma and look at franchising down the road
When John and Jean Stranchfield explain their business, Trailers To Go, they’re often met with disbelief.
Trailers To Go is a trailer rental company, but setting it apart from other companies, the Stranchfields deliver and set up trailers almost anywhere a customer wants to go in the Northwest. They provide bedding, linens, dishes and utensils – everything but the food.
"Really? They ask," said John Stranchfield, "‘You really just deliver everything we need then pick it up when we’re done?’ They don’t believe it."
Now, customer demand is suggesting the need to expand. But the couple is unsure whether they want the extra responsibility of growing an employee base.
The couple started the business 14 years ago while they lived on Orcas Island. Their children participated in 4-H and during county fairs, the family lived in a trailer for a week at the fairgrounds. The Stranchfields learned there may be a market for affordable trailer rentals after their kids stopped showing and friends began asking to borrow the trailer for the same purpose.
Just over two years ago, they relocated to Ridgefield to be closer to family. The business was popular on Orcas Island, which they said has limited accommodations, and although the couple downsized their fleet from 16 to six trailers, they’re finding success here.
In 2005, they made 22 bookings. In 2006, they booked 78 trailers and by mid-March, they had already booked 42 for 2007. And they’re finding that while bookings on Orcas Island were highly seasonal, they are more evenly spread here.
The Stranchfields are becoming popular with local high school equestrian teams, religious groups, family reunions, construction crews and as extra "bedrooms" during the holidays. One trailer was booked for a month at the Madras Airport in Madras, Ore.
But the demand has put them in a bit of a quandary, said John Stanchfield. They would like to increase the trailer fleet, but in doing so, will have to hire at least one more capable driver to help haul trailers.
"It’s a nice quandary to be in, I guess," he said.
Now the fleet is made up of three 19-foot trailers, two 25-foot trailers and one 25-footer with a slide-out living room area. Fees start at $50 daily and $325 weekly for the 19-foot trailers and go up to $90 daily and $525 weekly for the slide out.
Towing is free within a 30-mile radius of Ridgefield and is $1 per mile to and from the site after that. The couple does not tow to snowy destinations.
If growth continues, the Stranchfields hope to open five or six more offices across the county, anywhere someone else wants to run them, and then franchise.
Trailers To Go Jean and John Stanchfield, owners Ridgefield, 360-887-4229 www.trailerstogo.com
Trailers To Go
Jean and John Stanchfield, owners