Archive for August, 2008

Marquee Hire Websites

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

If you’re starting a marquee hire business you should have a website. It’s not essential, to start with you’ve probably got more things on your mind but you should certainly get one sooner rather than later.

What should you put on a website?

  • Photos and lots of them. People will visit your website wanting an idea of what you do. Photos are the easiest way to do this.
  • Make all wording reassuring. People want to know you’re reliable and will turn up with their marquee.
  • It’s up to you whether you put a full price list online, certainly some ideas of prices will help.
  • Contact details
  • Keep it simple, clean and tidy. Don’t start putting loads of special effects or use coloured backgrounds -keep the background white or a very light colour and only use special effects if they’re functional (slide shows for example).

My next couple of articles will be about getting your website up the search rankings. If you want to do this you’ll need to be able to change several things – the title, description, and a few other features which some website design programs don’t allow you to do.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

DJ Areas

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

When planning DJ areas try putting yourself in a DJ’s shoes:

I was pointed to this forum recently: DJ forum

There’s one post that was perfect for us so I’ve quoted it in full here:

“Fortunately I only do a couple of marquee gigs each year, but there are four main reasons why I have a strong disliking for these functions:

1) The ground is always uneven, meaning you usually have to put piles of disco cards under your stands & tripods to level them up…and this looks rubbish.

2) If its been raining, then can be very muddy. I had this problem big time at one particular gig last year.

3) They often have a dodgy power supply, either from a generator or from extension leads from a nearby building…and you’re never sure if they are being shared by caterers or the lighting.

4) Lack of headroom. Being at the side of the marquee, we are normally in the area where the roof is at its lowest, and I often find that I don’t have the 9 feet height required by my main lighting tripod.”

Okay, so lets deal with these points in order:

1. There’s not much you can do about uneven surfaces. Don’t increase the dance floor to accomodate DJ’s – dancing will make the records jump etc.

2. Encourage customers to have flooring if there’s any chance of it being muddy. It makes for a better party and means DJ (and your) equipment stays clean.

3. Try to make sure you have a completely separate power lead for the DJ, either their own extension lead from the house or a separate lead from the generator so it doesn’t conflict with anything else.

4. When designing your customers’ layout try to have the DJ area at one end rather than to one side, this means they’ll have greater headroom and also looks more impressive.

I’d also add a couple of my own points too:

5. If possible allow for access in to the back of the DJ area, this saves equipment being carried through eating/greeting areas.

6. If you’ve got lighting controls position them near the DJ, this allows him/her to dim them down when starting their set and helps control the atmosphere.

Thanks to Rob James Entertainment for letting me quote their forum post & thanks for reading

Spencer

Toilet hire

Monday, August 18th, 2008

It may not be something you want to get involved in, but customers will expect you to provide toilets if required.

All loos are not the same!

There are luxury trailer units.

There are ‘bog standard’ plastic cubicles.

There are units in between.

Toilets are nothing to stress over, it’s just a lot easier if you have contacts in place and ideas of prices before you speak to customers. You should also have an idea of what kind of access is required for each method.

Building up a relationship with a supplier like Sweet pea luxury toilets is very useful. You can get set prices which are usually discounted to marquee hire companies -this means you charge the customer the same price as they’d be charged anyway and you make some commission for making the booking.

Luxury trailer units aren’t that manoeuvrable so allow plenty of access space for them to be reversed in if required and allow 10ft/3m headroom. It’s also worth noting which side the doors are when positioning them (generally on the drivers side).

Middle of the range trailer units are the same as the luxury ones but without the gold plated taps, piped music & fitted carpets. Space-wise you still have to allow for a large trailer to be manoeuvred.

Plastic cubicles are generally 1m square and can be moved up to 10m away from vehicle access (the cubicles are pumped out before lifting back so it depends on how long their pipes are). You need to allow enough room for a large flatbed van or lorry to reverse in and ideally the cubicles wouldn’t be lifted very far.

All the different toilet units should be self-contained so there’s no need for water supplies or drainage. Just remember that the trailer units will need a power supply (clarify if you run this or the toilet company) and the cubicles might need a light inside (they don’t come as standard).

Summary: Get some toilet hire contacts and get an idea of prices

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Getting yourself known

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Early post as I’m away next week:

Once you’ve decided to go into marquee hire don’t just sit on your backside expecting the bookings to come rolling in. Get out there making contacts (networking seems to be the popular phrase for this).

This is the bread & butter of marquee hire companies.

When organising an event some people won’t go to the marquee company first. They might go to the caterer, the florist, the DJ. Everyone’s different. Getting in with these people is a MUST.

Fill your pockets with business cards and leaflets, put your best charm hat on and if possible go and meet people face to face. If not send them some literature and follow it up with a phone call.
Do some research and find all the catering companies, DJ’s, Bands, florists, party planners and any site where you’ve seen marquees up or think marquees might be of interest -National trust properties, large pubs, hotels etc.
You need to explain:

  • How easy to work with you are (you want to work with these people)
  • How reliable you are (you want them to recommend you)
  • How new and well maintained your equipment is

Some people work on commission for recommendations. Personally I always avoided paying any commission and relied on a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ approach, however I think I’m in the minority and if you get regular business from such arrangements losing 10% of it is manageable.

As a final note some people will actually contact other local marquee hire companies to get on good terms with them. That way if you or they need to cross-hire anything you have communications in place.

Marquee electrics

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Marquee equipment generally doesn’t take much power, but as the marquee contractor you generally take responsibility for supplying power to the Band/DJ, the caterers and anything else the customer may need.

Get your customers power requirements clarified in advance.

Ask them -do they need you to supply power for the DJ? If so please ask him/her how much power they require. -do they need you to supply power for the caterers? Find out how much they need. Do they need power to the Bar?
Quite often they simply won’t know. A DJ will say ‘oh I just need two sockets’. It could mean he/she needs two 3kw leads, or the most likely answer is one 3kw lead is fine as long as it’s got at least two sockets on the end. Caterers will use the most power. One tea urn is 3kw (they often have 2 or 3) plus cookers, plus hot cupboards. Maybe they should watch the celebrity masterchef episode when they’re cooking in the jungle! Anyway, chances are the caterers will need 6-15kw of power.

There’s three options we used when supplying power to a marquee:

1. The easiest method is to use extension leads. We used blue arctic cable connected together using 16 amp plugs (places like Essential Supplies sell these made up)

  • When plugging these in to a house always use an RCD plug even if the house is covered on an RCD anyway -an RCD will trip the power if there is a fault (someone accidentally cutting a cable for example).
  • 1.5mm cable is okay for short runs (up to 15m say) but 2.5mm should be used for longer runs to avoid voltage drop.
  • One cable can supply up to 3kw.
  • If you run two or three cables have them plugging in to different parts of the house so they’re on different circuits (if more than three leads were required we’d use an electrician or generator)

2. Pay an electrician to take a large power supply out to the marquee. We used this a lot but since then Part P has been introduced. This means before installing a temporary supply an electrician must test the whole houses’ electrics to ensure it is suitable. This will get so expensive it’s simply not economic compared to hiring in a generator. If you do go down this route make sure:

  • The electrician is reliable and tidy – his work and attitude will reflect directly on you.
  • There is a fixed cost, you will pass this on to the customer but estimates that escalate leave a bad taste in the mouth for everyone
  • Make sure the customer is going to be in when the electrician arrives. You can put a marquee up while a customer’s out but you can’t connect the electrics.

3. Hire in a generator. It’s good to build up a relationship with at least one generator supplier -all generators are not the same:

  • Make sure you hire a ‘supersilent’ one, these are the quietest (to my knowledge).
  • Make sure the cost includes cabling, distribution board and spare fuel (these are all usually extras)
  • Make sure the spare fuel isn’t left by the exhaust of the generator. Sounds common sense doesn’t it? Apparently not for one of our jobs -I found the plastic cannister melted down on one side with diesel spilling on to the ground. I assume it’s only because diesel doesn’t have the explosive properties of petrol that there wasn’t a big bang!

Getting a generator company who deal with marquees regularly is ideal.

Thanks for reading

Spencer