Archive for the ‘marquee hire advice’ Category

Advice on starting a marquee hire (or any) business

Monday, December 15th, 2014

I meet a lot of people looking to start up a marquee hire business, it is one of the best parts of my job. A lot of people who come in to see me have never worked for themselves and see it as quite an aspirational position. Often the decision has been made to work for themselves long before the idea of marquees came around. And to be honest working for yourself is great, you do have to go in to it with your eyes wide open though and this is something else I often find myself discussing with potential marquee customers.

The first, most important point when starting a new business is having your close family on-board. Getting a business off the ground takes a lot of time, energy and work which would only be rewarded in the medium-long term. It is very difficult to do without the support of those around you. The last thing you want is for your start-up business to seriously affect your relationship (especially if you’ve married in to a family of solicitors and QC’s!).

The pro’s and cons of starting up your own marquee (or other) business:

Pros:

  • Greater flexibility
  • Greater job-satisfaction. Not just because the work you’re doing is for yourself rather than some else or an organisation but because most marquee work is making people happy
  • Potentially greater financial reward (it depends on what job you’re giving up of course)
  • Greater involvement in all parts of the business. You may have had a job in marketing but in a start-up you’ll be involved/responsible for every different part of the business.

Cons:

  • Greater responsibility
  • Less financial security (the rewards are potentially greater but there is always the risk of the business not taking off).

And in-between both is a certain blurring of your work/life hours. You can often do non-work things during work time but then you’ll often have to do work related our of hours.

Working for yourself or working in a small business can be a culture shock but ultimately a move most people view well worth it.

A good friend of mine went from working in a huge multinational to a small start-up business. On the second day he was shocked to be told to drop everything as a photocopier had arrived downstairs (they were on the 5th floor) and everyone had to go down and lift it up the stairs. But this is what happens in a small business, everyone has to be prepared to be involved in any part of the business (manual handling or otherwise).

We are always happy to discuss any ideas you may have in starting up your own marquee hire business (or even helping an existing one), we have a lot of experience both in having done it ourselves and in helping many many others over the years.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Case study: Mr Jones wants to cover as much of his garden with marquees as possible

Monday, November 24th, 2014

We recently had a visit by a Mr Jones, he was planning a party and wanted to extend his house in to the garden using marquees. This is a pretty common scenario for marquee hire companies especially during the winter months.

Mr Jones came in with a diagram of his garden with the marquees he thought he need, two 4x6m marquees, one 3.6×3.6m pagoda and one walkway:

Jones01

The garden is not easy as it’s a very funny shape and on the surface this looks to do the job. My concerns were:

  • Weathering to the house would be difficult. The 4x6m marquee against the house should at least be a 6x4m one for ease of weathering. A pagoda is sloped on all 4 sides and so difficult to weather against a house.
  • There would be many joins. This is not a problem regarding weatherproofing with our guttering kits but it can be a hindrance to party atmosphere and circulation. The risk is the end 4x6m marquee would feel cut-off and under-used (note if this layout went ahead a good suggestion would be to put the food and/or drink in this 4x6m to ensure it is used).
  • Walkways are ideal for connecting marquees together but in this scenario you aren’t really gaining any useable space by having the walkway in the middle there. It’s a bit like a sideways corridor.

So having explained all of this I suggested an alternative approach, a 4x12m marquee and a 4x4m marquee on the side:

Jones02

  • This is much easier to weather against the house (both marquees would have their flat gables towards the house)
  • There is only one join and it is much easier to weather the two marquees side by side
  • You have a larger main area for the guests to circulate.

Note that in this example Mr Jones is actually ending up with slightly less of his garden covered and my alternative option is cheaper than his original suggestion. I can however guarantee that this second idea will be an improvement on the atmosphere and circulation of the party.

As mentioned in other articles I would still recommend having the food and drink out in the marquee (maybe at the far end). People (especially blokes) linger by the bar, having the food and drink outside guarantees the marquees are used fully and everyone doesn’t end up in the kitchen.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How to look after marquee linings

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Marquee linings give a real wow factor to any marquee but they do need looking after. This means keeping them clean and as crease-free as possible.

Please note this advice is for the luxury marquee linings that we (and one or two others) manufacture here in the UK. It is not suitable for the cheap satin linings made in the far east.

How do I know if my linings are luxury or satin? Satin material is white/silver, very shiny and prone to wrinkling. Luxury lining material is usually (but not exclusively) ivory/cream with a matt finish.

Tips on looking after marquee linings:

  • Keep them dry. Just like marquee covers if you put linings away wet they will reappear mouldy.
  • The ideal way to store linings is neatly folded – that’s how we (and by we I mean the ladies here who are far better at this than the rest of us) store our linings here. However on site folding isn’t practical so the next best is to concertina the material and then roll it up. The last thing you want to be doing is scrunching up a lining to fit in to a bag or something. Luxury lining material is not as prone to creases as satin but if left for a long time scrunched up they will form.
  • Make sure your hands are clean before starting to play with any lining.
  • Keep the linings clean – if they’re dirty after a job put them to one side for cleaning.
  • Our linings can be washed in a normal domestic washing machine, they are inherently flame retardant so can be washed any number of times.
  • Stubborn mildew may need bleaching first (and then washed thoroughly)
  • Putting the linings up when they’re damp (ie straight out of the washing machine) means they dry in place and you don’t have any creases at all.
  • If you do have lots of creases in your lining then a steamer will get them out ( can take a while though!)
  • Have set bags for your linings, ideally ones that are colour coded – there is nothing worse than being at a job and finding you’ve packed the wrong size roof lining!
  • Most of the time dirt on linings comes from dirty hands when fitting, a dirty floor or in transport if not properly protected. Being thorough at these times will give your marquee a better standard of finish and avoid you being tied up regularly cleaning linings .

We have been manufacturing marquee linings for over 20 years, if you need any advice on linings (whether for our marquees or not) we are always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How often should you clean a marquee?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

The obvious answer is whenever it needs it so maybe a better question would be how often should you expect to clean a marquee.

A marquee is far more likely to get dirty when being erected/dismantled rather than when it is actually up. If you’re careful when erecting and especially when dismantling the marquee then you can usually get away with a thorough clean only once or twice a season.

There are however a few exceptions:

The dirtiest marquee I have ever had was one that was erected under some trees. When it rained all of the dust and grime was washed off the leaves down on to our lovely marquee. If you’ve got to put a marquee up under trees expect to clean it immediately afterwards.

Rain-skirts by their very nature will always get muddy in the rain, these should be given a wipe over on pretty much every job.

Traffic-film – eventually PVC can have a grey layer build up which is especially difficult to remove. It takes a long time for this to happen (a year or two normally) but at this stage it needs a thorough clean using a chemical. The material also needs irritating (gone over with a brush or similar) to get this off. Once thoroughly cleaned the PVC should be as good as new.

Tree sap is a nightmare to remove.

There are also some things that will never come out:

Petrol/Diesel can stain PVC. This will never come out so avoid them at all costs.

Ingrained mould – this affects many marquees especially those that are stored when still wet. PVC is made of many layers, if a marquee is put away wet or if cheap PVC is used then water can get inside the layers and create mould which will never come out. Incidentally this is one of the reasons we use better quality 500gsm PVC than available elsewhere, it takes far longer for the layers to break down in better quality PVC.

Some garden chemicals can stain – I was shown a marquee recently that had green stains around the rain skirt which seemed to have come from a chemical added to the lawn.

Better quality PVC always helps, we use a lacquer coated PVC as it is easier to clean and lasts longer than the cheap alternatives.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The Showmans Show 2014

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

The showmans show is on again in a few weeks time, for those who haven’t heard of it it is the one show aimed at the outdoor event sector. In recent times it has become (whether by design or simply by the people attending) more about large public outdoor events rather than the relatively smaller private marquee events the marquee sales industry cater towards.

It’s something to be aware of but the industry is not the fastest moving in the world so there’s no real need to go every year.

With that in mind we will not be exhibiting this year. We were undecided but a couple of health scares have meant it is not sensible for us to attend this year – we will definitely be back next year though!

It’s a shame as we’ve got some new products for next year – you’ll just have to wait for them to go on the website over the winter.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Different styles of management on site with marquees

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Different people have different styles of management, most (certainly in the marquee industry) fall in to one of two categories: Leading by example or leading by delegation.

Some will be proficient in both but most people naturally use one or the other and it is well worth learning both how your own management style works and those you work with to prevent conflict.

Leading by example:

In a small group this is a good way of getting the job done. The person in charge sets the pace and does the work and everyone else is there as an assistant. This is how most people in small businesses work, if you’ve ever worked with a self-employed electrician, plumber or similar this is their only way of working.

  • With a small group of people this is often the fastest way of getting the job done
  • The quality of the work will always be high, after all it is the best person/most qualified that would be doing all of the work
  • Everyone has to work at the same pace as the leader which prevents people dragging their heels
  • This does place a lot of work/pressure on the leader who becomes irreplaceable
  • It’s difficult to scale up – a person can only work with so many assistants

Leading by delegation:

This is ideal for larger groups where tasks are delegated to different people. This is obviously how larger businesses work

  • The only way of working with large numbers of people
  • The quality of work can be more varied as you are relying on different peoples finishes
  • You can have different speeds of work which can breed resentment if one team is significantly slower than another

What does this mean in marquee hire?

In my experience small groups are the most efficient way of working, within this small group should be a leader who leads by example (as above) otherwise it all becomes a bit aimless and drags on. The leader is the one who will set the pace, get the job done and maintain the standard.

On larger sites where you need more people the leader needs to be able to split the people and tasks in to smaller groups so they need to lead by delegation and have a leader by example in each smaller group.

Once the frame of a marquee is up you can split people up accordingly – some do the flooring, some do electrics, some could start another marquee if required. It is simply not efficient to have everyone doing the same job, if you have enough potential leaders working in 2’s and 3’s is by far the most effective and efficient way of working on site.

It is never a healthy thing having only one person capable of doing a certain job. If you run a small business and always work in a small group take the time to train those working with you as you work. It means your business will be easier to scale up (your assistant becomes a new leader) and less pressure on your shoulders.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

PS – if anyone can think of marquee terminology we missed please let us now.

Marquee tools

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Following (always useful) feedback from customers we have introduced a marquee tool section. This helps us become more of a one shop stop for start up or existing marquee hire companies.

Further tools will be added soon.

We are particularly proud of the marquee stake puller that could be a great help when dismantling marquees, unlike most stake pullers it is also very light so fits in nicely with our marquees that pack down to surprisingly small volumes.

Should you require any tools that are not listed please contact us and we will design/source them for you.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

6x4m marquee or 4x6m marquee?

Monday, September 1st, 2014

In the marquee industry there is not a huge amount of terminology for someone new to the scene to get used to. One is getting used to feet and metres and how to switch between the two (3m=10ft essentially), most customers prefer everything in metres but you still get some that need it in feet.

Another standard to get used to is that when talking marquees the width comes first and the length second. A 4x6m marquee is very different to a 6x4m one for example.

4x6m Classic DIY Marquee

A 4x6m Marquee means that the A-frames are 4m wide and it is 6m long (three 2m bays).

6x4m Classic DIY Marquee

A 6x4m marquee on the other hand has 6m wide A-frames and is 4m long (two 2m bays).

Why offer both?

The most popular way of covering a 4x6m area is with a 4x6m marquee, there are however times when this is not the best option.

  • If you already own a 6m wide marquee or have spare 6m metalwork then you can just buy a 6x4m roof and therefore increase your hiring potential without buying a complete new 4x6m marquee.
  • If the marquee is going up against a house then it is far easier having the gable butted up for weathering and access purposes. If the customer needs the 6m side of the marquee up against the house then it is best practice to go with a 6x4m marquee rather than a 4x6m one.

Hopefully that makes sense!

Thanks for reading, apologies for the gap in writing but this summer has been even busier than usual. Normal service (articles & blog posts alternating every week) should now be resumed.

Spencer

How often do marquees need cleaning

Monday, April 7th, 2014

It depends on the frequency a marquee is used, the environment it is erected in, the material in question and the weather conditions but in general marquee hire companies will lightly clean a marquee nearly every time it goes up but do a thorough ingrained clean maybe twice a year.

By lightly clean I mean wipe down any marks or mud that may have splattered on to the sides, this can be done when the marquee is erected on site. By ingrained clean I mean using a power washer, a floor scrubber or brush and strong marquee cleaner product. Or getting a professional marquee cleaning company in. Ingrained cleaning removes the grey film that builds up on marquees over time.

There are three categories of dirt on a marquee:

  • mud splatters or other marks on the covers. These can be removed by light cleaning
  • grey film that builds up over time, to be removed by an ingrain clean
  • dirt and residue from trees. If it rains when your marquee is under a tree a lot of dirt gets washed off leaves on to your marquee, there may even be some sap on there too. The dirtiest marquee I ever saw was one erected under a tree. These need ingrain cleaning immediately as they won’t be good enough to hire out and leaving sap on PVC would not be good.

Different marquee materials, different cleaning methods:

  • Canvas cannot be cleaned without removing it’s FR coating
  • PVC can be cleaned as above, good quality PVC (like ours) will have a laminate coating to make it easier to clean.
  • Clear PVC (window panels) must be cleaned very carefully so the clear material isn’t scratched.
  • Poly/PVC you have to be careful as the PVC coating is a single layer than can be scratched off with aggressive cleaning.
  • PE material can be cleaned similar to PVC though doesn’t have a laminate coating so will not come back as new.

The most important point of all – never put your marquee away when wet. A wet stored marquee will create mildew (PVC & PE) or may rot (canvas & the stitching in any stitched marquee).

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Marquee electrical training courses

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The lighting systems we have designed to fit in our marquees are very easy and intentionally designed to need no training however as you grow your marquee hire business the power requirements on site can become ever more complex. Our friends at Essential Supplies can help:

We shall be holding some training courses in the next couple of weeks. We are planning to run courses in PAT Testing, Event Electrics, and Event Lighting. These are tailor made to the marquee/events industry. We have a new member of staff to carry out the training courses, so these can now be held at our premises near Plymouth or closer to you.  If you are interested in getting more information then please email louise@essentialsupplies.co.uk to register your interest.

Training can be essential for growing businesses especially to learn about industry best practices.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer