Archive for March, 2010

Commission: Greed, bribe or part of business?

Monday, March 29th, 2010

In the marquee hire business commission rears its head from many places. People see you taking £1k for erecting a marquee? They want a part of it. Some are deserved, some aren’t and some fall in between where you have to judge if it’s a sound business idea or not.

There are some sites like National trust properties where part of the agreement in being on the ‘recommended suppliers list’ is paying 10% commission.  Whether you increase your normal charges by 10% or pay it out of your normal prices is up to you in all of these cases.

Some caterers ask for commission for any work you pass across and offer in back for return business. Personally I’m not keen on this. Recommendations between people in the industry should be based on a genuine recommendation otherwise it could reflect badly on both parties. Would you choose to recommend someone so you can take commission over someone you knew could do a great job?

Wedding suppliers, wedding coordinators, wedding directories all promise to bring you a whole host of new marquee business in return for commission. To me this is a step too far but hey it’s up to you.

Remember after paying all this commission you have to be still making money 🙂

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Life, death and dog poo

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I know of 2 fatalities that have happened in the marquee industry and whilst I wouldn’t expect you to be in the same circumstances it does show that you should be careful.

I should point out that neither of these happened at our company, the closest we ever came was my old mate Dougie standing on a roof rack waving round 6m long metal beams in a thunderstorm in Regents Park. We were all laughing until lightening took down a tree 500 yards away and we nearly needed a change of underwear!

Incident no. 1
This was very similar to Dougie’s metal beam waving but replace thunderstorm with overhead high voltage power cables.  Not good. Now if you’re using our standard marquees the longest pole is 2m so this shouldn’t be an issue but personally I still wouldn’t put a marquee up underneath power cables. It may seem like common sense but remember to look for this when inspecting any site.

Incident no.2
Sometimes you need more power than standard extension leads will give you. At this point you should either hire a generator in or get an electrician to connect a large mains supply across to the marquee.  What you shouldn’t do is try to connect an electrical supply yourself if you’re not qualified – that’s what this guy did with fatal consequences.

Any industry will have it’s nightmare stories and marquee hire certainly isn’t high risk but use some common sense.

My last point is something I remembered the other day, and that was the number of times we used to turn up to a garden and the customer hadn’t cleaned up all the dog mess in the garden. It’s genuinely unpleasant and technically from a health & safety point of view is probably a health hazard. Yes you can borrow a shovel but the best thing is to politely mention to any dog owning customer to please ensure their garden is clear before you arrive.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Starting out – get a website set up pronto

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Setting up in marquee hire? Get a website up as soon as you can.

  • websites take a while to appear in google, hence the need to get something online swiftly
  • don’t underestimate the effect search engine optimisation (SEO) can have on your website, getting it on the first page for ‘marquee hire your local area’ will add a LOT of business
  • when people come to a marquee hire website they want photos showing what they’re looking to hire. To help we can supply some sample photographs for you to use until you’ve got enough of your own
  • if you don’t want to do it yourself and don’t have a friend/relative to ask then it’s either get a professional to do it or use our marquee hire template
  • people want to be reassured that you’re reliable and do a good job, try to make sure your wording is written accordingly
  • have your contact details on every page, you want people to get in touch -make life easy for them

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Got your number.

Monday, March 8th, 2010

A telephone is pretty vital yes? I think we can all agree on that.

The problem you have when running a marquee hire business is most of the time (hopefully) you’re out putting marquees up. So who answers the phone? If you’re large enough to afford office staff then well done (and pretty much stop reading now!)

Option 1. Getting a standard landline

Pros:
Having your local area code will help attract local business.

Cons:
Someone’s got to answer it or they’re expensive to redirect to a mobile. You can ask someone at home to take all calls (if it’s a full-time mum remember that a. they’ll be working harder than you most of the time! and b. screaming kids in the backround isn’t good for either side). I’m not sure what they’re called but you can have your number put through to a company that act as an office – I knew someone who used to do this and got on very well with the service. Finally I’d avoid using an answering machine, you’ll lose a lot of business.

Option 2: Use a mobile number

Pros:
Convenient, it means you can go anywhere in signal and act as an office from your car/van whilst on site.

Cons:
Companies that advertise mobiles are one-man bands, this might stop you getting larger work and growing your business

Option 3: Use an online redirectable number

Pros:
The number can follow you anywhere, easily redirected through to your mobile, landline or a messaging service (if you have to). It’s worth having two mobiles on separate networks to increase your coverage if you use this.

Cons:
You lose the local presence a local area code gives

If I was starting up again I would use an internet redirectable number and wherever I advertised the number  (website, leaflets etc) I would always put the area we covered.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Compare marquees for sale

Monday, March 1st, 2010

How do you compare all the different marquees available? It’s very confusing, there aren’t any independent ‘marquees for sale reviews’ websites out there so what can you do?

All I can suggest is to do a lot of research. Read around and get peoples opinions of why they supply what they do with their relative pros & cons. For what it’s worth here’s my argument for designing our marquees the way we have:

Are DIY Marquees the cheapest?

No.  The cheapest structures will always be made from cheap PE or Poly/PVC material (and cut corners with the metalwork but that’s harder to explain/demonstrate). I once read a supplier describe PE as ‘the ultimate marquee fabric’ and the same material as bulletproof vests’, which is a bit like saying tanks are made from metal, tinfoil’s made from metal, therefore my daughters ‘spaceman’ outfit is suitable for our troops out in Afghanistan!
Don’t get me wrong, PE structures have their place in the market I just think that as a hire company it’s worth paying a little more for a much longer return on investment.

Are DIY Marquees the strongest?

No, I can’t say that either.  Aluminium frame marquees are used to span 30+ metre widths and are also available in narrower widths -my argument is that they’re over-engineered when you’re only using them as 6m wide marquees (and they’re 7-10 times the price of our structures!).
To put it a different way, when you take a booking why don’t you go round and build them a brick or timber building? Because it’s expensive and over-engineered for what they need. It doesn’t make a sound business decision.

I believe our DIY Marquees offer the best returns on investment for the size marquees we supply, that’s why we supply them and I’m happy and proud to do so.

Lastly as a hire company make ABSOLUTELY sure you receive a fire test certificate with whatever marquee you end up buying, don’t hire it out without one.

Thanks for reading

Spencer