Archive for September, 2008

Which marquees give the greatest return on investment?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

A recent email exchange with someone in the industry annoyed me a little bit so I thought I’d explain on here -writing a blog is a form of therapy after all 🙂

 

For those who don’t realise there’s basically three types of marquee appropriate for marquee hire companies to use:

  • Traditional canvas marquees
  • Aluminium frame clearspan marquees
  • Steel pipe frame clearspan marquees (like our DIY marquees)

There’s other gazebos, pop-ups and party tents available but none of them are really suited to the hire industry.

 

-Neither of us like traditional canvas marquees. They have their place for some companies but neither of us wanted to get involved with them.

-Both of us like aluminium frame structures, no argument there the 9m & 12m wide stuff is very impressive.

-But he’s missing a trick by not using steep pipe marquees for his 6m wide stock.

 

When I ran our hire company we had 6m, 9m and 12m wide marquees. 6m wide steel pipe marquees are the most lucrative, offering the best return on investment (ROI) of any of the 3 sizes.

In fact about the only thing we had that offered a better ROI was fairy lights (buy for £30, hire out for £30).

 

So for all you entrepreneurs out there who don’t suffer from marquee snobbery, here’s some figures:

 

 

6m x 12m DIY Marquee

6m x 12m Aluminium frame marquee

Cost new (with linings)

£1350

Approx £8500

Expected rental (varies greatly with area)

£600+

£600+

Expected life span in the hire industry

Marquee: 2-4 years

Linings: 4-5 years

Windows 2-3 years

Linings: 4-5 years

PVC 5 years

Metalwork 20 years

 


 

I think it’s reasonable to assume:

-you have £8500 to spend

-you rent out a marquee for on average 20 weekends a year

-your profit is 50%

 

 

DIY Marquees

Aluminium frame marquee

Initial outlay

-£8,100 (6 lined marquees)

-£8,500 (1 lined marquee)

Return from 2 years hiring

£72,000 (6*2*20*£300)

£12,000 (2*20*£300)

Profit after 2 years

£63,900

£3,500

 

 

 

Replacement stock

-£5,100 (replace 6 marquees)

-£400 (replace 4 windows)

Return from further 2 years hiring

£72,000

£12,000

Profit after 4 years

£130,800

£15,100

 

£130,800 vs £15,100!! I really don’t see there’s any argument.

 

As anyone will recognise this is a simplified version of a business. You can’t rely on getting 20 bookings all paying full price if you’re starting up a new company, but then that’s the case no matter which style of marquee you use.

This doesn’t take in to consideration extras like flooring, lighting, furniture etc which are all lucrative in their own right –a lot of companies refuse to do an empty marquee. Surely having 6 marquees gives you greater opportunity to make money from extras than having one marquee?

 

If you’re starting a business or replenishing your 6m wide stock buying DIY Marquees gives you the best return on investment available.

 

I’ve tried to state the facts and figures in an unbiased manner, I just think there’s a few people out there who need to remember why we’re in this business -putting food on your children’s plate/putting beer in your pint glass, whatever’s your motivation.

 

Thanks for reading, I hope I’ve given some people something to think about.

 

Spencer.

Coconut matting

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Ever gone in to a marquee and the matting looks like the waves on an angry sea? Assuming it was laid correctly there’s actually a very simple reason.

As mentioned in a previous post coconut matting is a very popular way of flooring marquees. Harder wearing and longer lasting than carpet, more attractive (in a lot of peoples opinion) and cheaper than plastic flooring it’s the flooring most marquee hire companies use.

So why does it ruckle up so much even if noone’s been walking on it?

The answer is it’s because it’s a natural fibre and absorbs moisture. If you floor a marquee with matting on a sunny afternoon no matter how tightly you stretched it the following morning it will be all ruckled – it absorbs the moisture from the dew and expands.
So the lesson is if you’re faced with ruckled matting (whether it’s you in the marquee or your customer panicking on the phone) don’t relay it! Wait until the afternoon for it to dry out and it should go back to it’s previous flat self.

Of course if it’s still ruckled in the afternoon it means it wasn’t laid correctly -try stretching it tighter or space the nails closer together.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Getting your marquee website up the search rankings (part 2)

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Lisa from County Marquees made a good point after part 1 -google offer a free tool to research keywords. In my experience this is very useful but not detailed enough to get more specific data (impressions for marquee hire Reigate wouldn’t appear for example).
If you haven’t read part 1 you should go read that first otherwise this won’t make sense (or be practical to carry out).

Optimising your website for your chosen keywords

This step is the hardest. You can do it yourself but it takes a lot of trial and error -it took me over a year to learn. Apparently there are some programs available to do this step but most people seem to pay a professional to optimise their site(s).

Optimising takes 2-3 days and the going rate seems £600-£1000. If you’ve bought some of our marquees then I’d offer to do this at the same rate I charge my mates (£300 currently). I’d prefer not to though as my workload is pretty big but we try to make sure we look after existing customers.

Creating a linking strategy

This sounds complicated but actually is pretty easy.

Inbound links (links from other sites to your site) count as a ‘vote’ for your site. The more relevant the website that’s linking to you the better quality the vote. So a link from a marquee hire advice blog like this would count more than a link from a carpenters for example. Make sense?

If you do nothing else apply for a link from the marquee hire section of the Open Directory although this might take 6 months it’s a very highly regarded directory.

Lastly try to build up links slowly, you’re punished if all your links appear overnight.

I’m not sure I’ve explained this incredibly well, if you need clarification of anything don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll talk you through it.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Getting your marquee website up the search rankings (part 1)

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Website’s are great things (you’re reading one so let’s assume you know that already!). The bigger you get the more time work and effort should go in to it, especially getting it up the search rankings.

There are 3 steps to getting your marquee hire site up the rankings:

  1. Do some research on what keywords and phrases you want to target
  2. Optimise your website for your chosen keywords
  3. Carry out a linking strategy

I’m going to cover number 1 today and 2 & 3 next week.

Researching keywords & phrases

Ignoring the fact I can’t legally set up a marquee hire company due to the contract I signed when selling our old company let’s imagine I was starting a new hire company -Spencer’s marquees (I like it already).

The first thing is to be realistic.  You’re not going to get top of the rankings for ‘marquee hire’ without paying a professional upwards of £15k/yr (actually good value, we spent more on Yellow Pages years ago). But think about it, unless you’re covering all of the UK you don’t want to be.

I live in Reigate so I’d imagine the terms I want to get are ‘marquee hire reigate’, ‘marquee hire redhill’, ‘marquee hire surrey’ that kind of thing. But before I go any further I need to make sure & do some research.

First thing is to set up a google adwords account -there’s always offers & vouchers around for adwords so look around for those before you sign up. £20/£30 free is typical (when you pay £10). For those who don’t know google adwords are the paid adverts that appear on the right (and sometimes above) any google search. It’s how they make their money.
The next thing to do is put as many phrases into that keyword list as possible. We all know there’ll be lots of searches for ‘marquees’ and ‘marquee hire’ but you need to get inventive, when researching I’ll typically have 60-100 keyword phrases in this list (google suggests some too). Set each bid to the minimum bid 2 or 3p.

Here’s the ironic thing -obviously it’s nice getting people to click through to your website but you’re not bothered if they do or not. What you need is the column marked ‘impressions’. This shows the number of people who have searched through google for that keyword phrase since you started your campaign. Easy research huh?

Check back regularly to make sure no keywords have become inactive then leave it for 2-8 weeks until there’s an established pattern and you know which keywords you want to use.

Until this research is finished you can’t move on to step 2.

A lot of companies will call you up promising to get you “to the top of the google rankings”. The problems with these companies are:

  1. What keywords are they promising to get you to the top for? It’s pointless getting to the top for googling ‘Spencer’s Marquees’, that’s not going to bring in more business it’s just going to increase my ego (which I’m quite happy with)
  2. These companies will only do step 3 of my list above. They’ll quote ‘a recent google white paper’ that mentions you need quality inbound links, which is true but ignores keyword research and optimising your site which is far more important. Don’t give them your money, it’s not worth it.

Don’t believe I know what I’m talking about? Google ‘marquee hire advice’ and this blog is usually number 1. Google ‘marquee for sale’ and our domestic sales site is usually number 1.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer