Archive for September, 2013

Erecting marquees on bumpy or uneven surfaces

Monday, September 30th, 2013

In an ideal world all gardens would be level as bowling greens and have vehicular access right next door. In reality gardens come in all shapes and sizes and most of the time marquees are erected well away from car parking.

Most garden surfaces can be covered one way or another but there are a few that are unrealistic for marquees. Unless they are prepared to pay for a scaffolder to build a temporary level platform then it’s time to regretfully and politely walk away. This happens very rarely, people who have incredibly uneven gardens generally know that they’re not suitable for marquees.

Some tips and tricks on marquees over uneven ground:

  • Customers are often concerned about sloped gardens. The marquee will go up easily but they’re concerned about furniture. An easy solution, take their garden furniture and test the slope. If they’re happy to sit on it then it’s fine to use a marquee for a sit down meal.
  • Avoid chocking up table legs. Chairs are a set height in comparison to tables, chocking up a table makes the guest look like a toddler at an over sized dinner.
  • Fill any holes in the garden before laying flooring. We used bark chippings as they’re garden friendly, cheap and easy to have a bag of in the van though can be a little spongy in large quantities. Alternatives are sand or newspaper. Lay plastic first to make it easy to clean up afterwards.
  • Remember you can always go over flower beds and small trees/bushes to make them a feature in the marquee. You lose a bit in useable floor space but it might give you a flatter area to erect the marquee.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The Showmans Show 2013 and new ranges

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

The showmans show is next month (23rd & 24th October) at The Newbury Showground. We are on stand E277 -as usual come out of the main entrance marquee, turn right then left and we’re on the right.

I’m not sure exactly what we’re going to be exhibiting at the show, we’re very busy but in the midst of chaos from an extension being built to prepare for new product lines we’ll be stocking next year (more on that later in the year). We should have something new and interesting to look at so do pop in for a chocolate or two.

Panoramic windows are now back in stock. We’ve also introduced a 6x24m marquee for sale. It’s very big (and very heavy!) but it adds to our commercial and deluxe ranges.

Over the next week we’re also introducing a commercial pop-up range. We’re not going to stock lots of ranges of pop-ups we’re just aiming to offer the best and toughest one. It has 58mm aluminium framework and a very durable 500d coated roof and sides so should prove very effective for hire companies or people who want something stronger than the garden centre gazebos.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Get payment up front for a secure business

Monday, September 16th, 2013

This blog is mainly aimed at start up marquee hire companies or those thinking of starting one. People running medium to large marquee businesses know far more than me about what’s best practice for them and as such the below may not be suitable advise for larger companies who deal more in corporate work.

When starting any business one of the most important factors is cash flow. Often you want to live on the bare minimum of wages just so all of the money can be re-invested back into marquees or equipment for quicker expansion and long term gain. Hopefully you’ll have seen some of the beautiful sales staff from DIY Marquees along the way. Or you can deal with our ugly sales staff, we’re not fussy.

When I ran a marquee hire business we would ask for:

  • 20% payment when booking. The industry standard seems to be between 10 and 25%
  • The balance of payment when the marquee has been erected but before the day of the event.

This one would need explaining to the customer a bit just so it came across in the right light. We would emphasise that we would make sure that the customer was completely 100% happy with the marquee before asking for payment. This gives the customer the reassurance that if there’s something they’ve got concerns about we will make sure that it is resolved before they have to pay (and rightly so). If they still raised issue with paying before the event then we would tell a white lie saying without payment they were not covered by liability insurance and so we could not allow the marquee to be used -it very rarely came to this but we were very persistent.

The exact wording we used in paper and verbally was “The balance is due when the marquee is up and you’re happy with it but before the day of the event”.

Getting payment up front drastically helps your business cash flow.  Because of this policy we only ever had one bad debt in over 10 years of marquee hire (a bounced cheque that we got most of the money eventually).

By way of comparison I know of two reasonable sized companies who are now out of business due to bad debts.

I should put this in to perspective and add a caveat or two – we mainly specialised in wedding marquees so our client base was private customers. The more corporate marquees you do, the more companies you deal with the more you will have to offer credit. Often it’s that or someone else will get the work. Just make sure you do some research, don’t assume just because they’ve got a shiny website and talk of a multi-million pound turnover that they’re actually a financially sound business.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquees in the winter

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

September is usually the last busy marquee month of the season. If you’re still very busy through October and the Christmas market then you’re doing very well. There is a change to the way people use marquees during the winter though:

  • Often customers are after gaining a room from the house for a party rather than hosting the whole function outside.
  • Obviously you need to provide plenty of marquee heating
  • Butt the marquee hard up against the house or use a walkway with sides
  • Allow more time to put the marquee up. It could be cold, wet and/or windy and the daylight hours are shorter
  • Allow more maintenance time between jobs, marquees need cleaning and drying unless they’re going straight back out
  • It’s tempting to raise the hire charge of the marquee due to the greater running costs but unfortunately the opposite is usually true, because winter is drastically quieter than summer for parties you often have to offer discounts or incentives to be competitive and get the work.
  • Buy some good waterproofs. We’re quite fortunate in that once the marquee is up we’re generally working in the dry doing all of the interior work but if you’re having to do that in wet clothes life is not fun. Get the marquee up quickly, get all the kit inside then it becomes a normal day whatever the weather outside (assuming you’ve got good quality marquees of course!)
  • We recommend testing any gutter before you leave site anyway but especially do so during the winter
  • If snow is forecast leave heating on very low to prevent it building up on the roof. UK marquees are not designed for snow loading.
  • edit: As the excellent County Marquees pointed out after posting wooden floors are a very popular option during the winter. Not only do they give a good surface but you are raising the height of the floor – a popular (but expensive) solution on soft ground prone to waterlogging or hard surfaces where water can come back under the sides.

In the main erecting winter marquees is a far more relaxed business than summer ones, the company is generally not as busy so you can take your time to get it right and ensure you’ve tried absolutely everything on the nearest sandwich shops menu.

Thanks for reading

Spencer