Archive for the ‘marquee hire advice’ Category

How to anchor a marquee

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Modern marquees can be erected on any surface, they can even go over swimming pools with spectacular results. But marquees are essentially strong boxes and you need to anchor them down to make sure they don’t go anywhere.

Keep in mind that marquees are better at resisting strong winds with the sides on, taking the sides off effectively leaves you with a large umbrella which needs a lot more anchoring down.

On soft surfaces:

  • Use tie downs with ratchet straps attaching to the eaves of the marquees pulling down to marquee stakes.
  • If it is a sheltered location then just using the marquee stakes through/over footplates is usually sufficient

On hard standing:

  • If there is soft ground nearby or other strong anchoring points (fence posts for eg) then use longer tie downs to these points
  • If long tie downs aren’t possible then you must use heavy weights: concrete blocks, sand bags, a vehicle (if a marquee was only up for a few hours we’d use one of our vans) or water butts (assuming you have access to a hosepipe to fill them up on site)
  • Strap the heavy weights to the marquee. Avoid setting them back and using tie downs as the weights might get dragged towards the marquee slackening the tie down and allowing the marquee to move.

If in doubt put more weights/tie downs on.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee electrical leads

Monday, January 24th, 2011

As readers of the marquee forum will already know there’s been some debate about the type of electrical leads we should be using in the marquee industry.

Essential Supplies kindly forward this article to me recently which discusses several marquee related issues but the main bit of interest for me was this:

“The [arctic] cable can often be seen supplying caravans or used at live musical events, it can even be purchased from DIY shops in the form of a ready made extension reel with BS 1363 13 A accessories for use at 230 V 1Ø. As can be seen from Table 7B of BS 7540, the cable was not designed for and is not suitable for these purposes.”

My understanding of this is that despite their wide spread use arctic cables shouldn’t really be used for temporary installations in marquees. Instead we should be using HO7 RNF cable instead (much more expensive).

In my eyes that doesn’t mean we should replace all of the arctic cable we currently use but when it comes to ordering new/replacements we should then go over to HO7.  Like everything on here this is just my opinion and it’s a judgement call for you to make yourself, I just think it’s worth highlighting to people.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

New marquee layout planner

Monday, January 17th, 2011

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed some changes to our marquee layout planner. It’s a useful tool for looking at different options for laying out marquees and I made some improvements before Christmas:

  • Different sizes: Every size marquee we offer is now on there in a nice compact layout
  • Different orientation: Each size is available in portrait or landscape. Marquees at funny angles (anything other than 90degrees) are to be avoided, they are impossible to securely weather proof
  • You can decide on different backgrounds: lawn, car park or snow. Okay, not hugely practical but a fun thing to have 🙂

If you can think of other features or scenery that would be useful to have on there let me know.

If you want to use the planner on your own website (complete with your own name at the bottom) then contact me, we’re considering licensing it out.

Thanks for reading (and thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes, life is just about back to normal now)

Spencer

SEO for your marquee hire website

Monday, December 13th, 2010

You might be busy with Xmas & New Year functions but once they’re out the way it’s generally pretty quiet until the spring. The perfect time to update and improve your marquee hire website.

If you want your website to work for you and generate business rather than just be a tool for existing enquiries then it needs to appear near the top of the search rankings. I’ve discussed SEO (search engine optimisation) previously but a good SEO guide can be found here.

This guide explains what you need to do to help your search rankings. Please don’t think you’re suddenly going to appear at number 1 for ‘marquee hire’, that takes the work of a professional and a lot of time. Getting on to the first page for local searches (‘marquee hire Dorking’ for eg) should be achievable for us unprofessional types.

Remember it does take time to get up the rankings so start working on it now in preparation for the summer.

It’s also worth updating your website with new photos and scan through all of the text to make sure it’s all still relevant, for example seeing special offers that expired 6 months ago is a real turn off for viewers .

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Marquees in the snow

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Apparently there’s been a bit of snow recently. As someone who lives in Reigate it sounds like we had our fair share.

So what does this mean for marquees?

1. Obvious but make sure no snow is allowed to build up on ANY marquee roof. Marquees are not designed for snow loading, if they were they’d be designed with much steeper roofs and look like Austrian ski chalets. Scrape it off and/or put heaters on to melt it/stop it settling.

2. Gutters are going to be problematic in the snow, snow will build up in any gulley so gutters can overflow if you’re not careful. Scrape as much snow away and keep it warm.

3. If you’re putting a marquee up in the snow scrape as much of it away as possible before erecting the marquee but don’t put a heater on until you’ve got the flooring laid otherwise lawns turn in to mudbaths.

4. Remember your winter clothing including gloves – I can remember to this day forgetting my gloves and putting up a marquee with the metalwork sticking to my fingers!

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

Getting fixings in a lining without damaging it

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Nearly every time you use a marquee lining it will be to go in your standard marquee stock and (if it’s one of ours!) will fit perfectly. Easy.

But sometimes you have to fit a lining somewhere unusual. It might be lining a customers porch, it might be lining an unusual walkway or just making good to a house. At some time in your marquee hiring life you will need to do this.

So how do you get attachments in a lining without damaging it? Follow these instructions:

Step 1: Find a decent sized pebble (about 4cm diameter ideally) and place it on the good face of the lining (ie the side you don’t need to get a fixing)

Step 2: Scrunch the material round the pebble at the back of the lining

Step3: Tie a cable tie tightly around the scrunched material and also include an extra cable tie (this gives you your fixing).

And there you have it, a fixing in the middle of a lining that looks okay from the front (you can’t see the pebble) and gives you a fixing at the back without damaging the lining.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Site visits part 4

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I’m sure it will surprise no one that these posts aren’t planned out, they’re just my thoughts on the day. Because of this system I’ve forgotten a few things to include.

1. In 1999 I was visited by a yellow Pages rep called Gary. We spent a reasonable amount with Yellow Pages so a rep came round at least once a year, I can’t remember any other rep’s name or many of the details of any other appointment. I remember this one because I couldn’t wait to get rid of him, his breath stank. I mean really really unpleasant. So whenever I went on site visits I’d have a couple of mints on the way. Who knows if it helped or not, it certainly didn’t harm my chances.

2. It’s not something I did but looking back I think it’s a good idea – get the bride & grooms names and always refer to the booking as “Andy & Liz’s wedding on Saturday 10th September 2011” for example. It looks better and more personal.

No doubt there’s other things I’ve missed, if so I’ll collect them together and do a part 5 in the future.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee site visits part 3

Monday, November 15th, 2010

This last list are things that I tried to do or mention at each site visit. Putting it in a list like this might make it look like I was quite cold and calculating in what I went through but I genuinely wasn’t (and probably couldn’t have listed these things at the time), they’re just things I note from looking back at what I did.

  • Turn up on time. If the appointment was at 10am I’d be round the corner waiting at quarter to. You want these people to trust you’re going to do what you say you’re going to, the first impression should be turning up on time.
  • Offer to take your shoes off (or insist on it if it’s muddy/raining). This act alone got me a couple of jobs
  • Before going outside to measure up sit down with the bride & groom and ask them:
    • Is there anything they definately want or don’t want? Including anything they may have experienced or seen in a marquee.
    • What number of guests are there likely to be
    • How formal is it?
    • Do they need: dance floor, bar, pre-breakfast drinks, buffet, catering areas etc
  • Once I had this information I’d go outside to measure (see part 1 from 2 weeks ago). If it wasn’t immediately obvious how and where to position the marquee then I’d ask the customer to give me 5 minutes and I’ll come back in with ideas. This just gives a bit of breathing space to gather your ideas together -preferably getting at least 2 suggestions.
  • Come back in and discuss what’s possible and what options they would like to go for. If you heavily favour one particular layout then explain the reasons why you do so.
  • When leaving I’d always finish by saying this quote will be typed up and be in the post first class tomorrow so you should receive it the day after. Make sure you stick to this timescale (or whatever you specify). Again it’s just doing what you say you’re going to do. These days I’d imagine people would appreciate it emailed, in which case do it asap while it’s fresh in their memory. In many cases we had clients who had accepted our quote and sent it back with a deposit before they’d even received others so don’t delay.

At the end of the day the most important points are:

  • Listen, listen, listen to what the clients are telling you. Don’t try and sell them something they’ve specifically said they don’t want
  • Make sure you make them feel important, not just another marquee in a long production line
  • Come across in a manner that makes them trust you. Be genuine, honest and reassure them that you’ll do what you say you’re going to do.

Obviously you can pick and choose anything from these posts, I realise it can seem a lot initially but it just becomes second nature after a while. I can promise you this approach works. I wasn’t the best at putting up marquees, I wasn’t even the best at staying on ladders! (a couple of cracked ribs and broken fingers is evidence of that) but I had a pretty good record on site visits (conversion percentage was usually in the 80’s, sometimes 90’s).

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee site visits part 2

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Last week I dealt with what to look for when effectively surveying the site, next week I’ll write about things to go through with the bride & groom. This weeks list is things between the two:

  • You know what the site is like now, but discuss with the site owner what changes are they planning and also anything that may be useful or essential to you. For example if access is needed for a large vehicle they may want to start cutting back a certain hedge 6 months before to ensure it looks good on the day.
  • Whilst you’re in the garden measuring you also want to look at where the guests will arrive from. You want a wow factor, they may need some temporary lighting, it also gives you some scope for suggestions – offer some red carpet as an entrance, if they’ve got pots of plants they can go either side for an easy attractive walkway.
  • Toilet facilities (as mentioned by jamesmo)- see what access is like. Luxury toilets are large trailers and need a fair bit of access. Even cubicle toilets need to be close to van access though often if they’re used it’s only for the gents whilst ladies use the toilets inside. If they can only go by the entrance then reassure the bride/groom at least they won’t have 100 people asking where are the toilets..
  • If you have the choice of several areas to site the marquee then you can offer a wet/dry scenario. If the forecast is bad when you come to put the marquee up then you can site it closer to the house to avoid long walks in the rain (or you can include a connecting walkway). If the forecast is good you can sit the marquee back to allow an outside drinks area in front. It may seem like a lot of work/hassle doing it at this stage but if you leave it until the day it’s going up you’re likely to create stress for the client and possibly delay your work if the decision maker(s) aren’t on site.  If you offer a Wet/Dry option then you can ask which they want when you phone to say what day it’s going up on.
  • Access for DJ/Band
  • Access for caterers. It’s also worth looking to see if they can use a garage or outbuilding to save on the extra marquee/power arrangements. You may think this is cheating you out of the price of another marquee but this will make your quote cheaper than competitors and more importantly show that you’re working in their best interests.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

Marquee site visits part 1

Monday, November 1st, 2010

The lads always gave me stick about site visits, wondering aloud what tape measure I’d been using as they struggled to fit the corner of a marquee in to a tree when it was supposed to be 3ft away!

But the reality is there are two sides to a site visit, one is effectively a survey of the area to make sure everything you suggest will fit/is suitable. The other is helping the client choose which option is best for them (and hopefully hiring them a marquee!).

I realise smaller functions/companies may not require site visits. Large functions may need to be with a committee of contractors to coordinate everything. I can only talk from my experience, which was 1 or 2 of us going out for site visits.

These are the things we looked for when carrying out a site visit, I’ll deal with the site survey side of things this week and the helping the client side of things later. We used to have a special site visit form to fill in so we didn’t forget anything.

  • Make sure the marquee fits and access is suitable. Sounds obvious but have a tick box for checking access to remind you.
  • is the site suitable? – any over head power lines, underground utilities (ask client and have a tick box for having asked the question)
  • Do dogs use the garden? if so put on the quote the site must be clear of dog poo on the day of arrival – up to you but we put this on after having to clear several gardens one year (really not pleasant)
  • Any trees/flower beds to be aware of either inside or outside of the marquee?
  • Is the ground hard or soft? Just so you know what anchoring equipment you’ll need when erecting
  • is it a long walk from the van/trailer/lorry? This might affect how long the job will take
  • power – where’s it coming from and what safe route can the cable take to the marquee
  • outside lighting – is it available? is it likely to be required?
  • make sure the marquee fits (trust me it’s worth measuring twice)

Thanks for reading

Spencer