Archive for the ‘marquee hire advice’ Category

Marquee hire businesses during the winter

Monday, October 12th, 2009

It doesn’t matter how big a company you are winter months for a marquee hire business are going to be quieter than the summer. A fool could tell you that. In fact a fool is telling you that!

Business will have gradually slowed down in October and November will be very quiet. It depends on your market whether you’re busy at Christmas (corporate events, parties and New Years Eve bashes). January and February will be quiet (though a very busy time meeting people if you specialise in weddings).  March and April will be like October, not really busy but enough work to get you by and warm up for the summer.

So during the winter quiet months you need to think what you’re going to do. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Take up skiing. Holidays during the summer are difficult, learn to enjoy winter holidays 🙂
  • Maintain your stock, clean what needs cleaning, repair any holes etc you’ve been putting off when you just didn’t have the time.
  • PAT test all your electrical equipment. Unless you fancy going on a one day course this will mean getting an electrician in.
  • Make any new stock you want for next season that it’s feasible to make. Seat pads are a good, easy one to do. Even building your own tables is possible.
  • Make any new carry boxes or containers you may want next year, make racking or whatever’s likely to be needed in your storage facilities.

While you’re coming up with ideas of what to do in preparation for next year you should also plan what stock you’re likely to need. With VAT going up in the New Year any purchases you make (even if you don’t have it delivered until next year) will be at a 2.5% discount. If you’ve got the cash flow available it’s worth getting organised quickly.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

But it’s raining..

Monday, October 5th, 2009

If you’re starting up a marquee hire company you have to realise you’ll be working outdoors most of the time. And most of the time it’s very enjoyable – you get a suntan, fresh air (City marquees apart) and life is good.

The flip side of this is you have to be prepared to put marquees up in all weathers. So when you start up a business and you’re drawing out costings don’t forget to include a decent set of waterproofs for you and anyone working with you. Ideally they’d have your logo on but don’t go spending silly money.

  • jacket
  • trousers
  • gloves (sealskinz were my favourite)
  • waterproof boots
  • hat – much to the amusement of some of my lads I’d often wear a hard hat in heavy rain. Why not? It’s got a natural gutter round the side so no dripping down your neck, it’s also raised off your head so you don’t get too hot.  It just makes it look like you don’t trust your workmates lifting skills!

This is on my mind as we’re out testing some marquee designs tomorrow and the forecast is awful, time to dust off my old marquee waterproofs (and maybe a hard hat).

Thanks for reading – only 2 weeks to The Showmans Show.

Spencer.

Weathering your marquees to a house

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Marquees often need connecting to a house, especially during the winter.

Someone will be organising a house party and will come to you because they basically want to gain an extra room. How are you going to do it?

First off you need to see if you can butt the marquee up against the house. Always use the 6m flat gable against the house if possible,  that means if it rains the water will go off the side and also as there’s no eaves bar at the end the door should open in to the marquee with few problems (as long as it’s not too high).

Sometimes this simply isn’t possible, in which case you need a walkway. But where can I buy one I hear you cry? Come along to our stand at The showmans show and you’ll see our new modular 2mx6m walkways that can be used as 2mx4m or 2mx2m. Priced very reasonably etc etc [fill in your own sales pitch here].

Other things to think about when using a marquee to gain a room on to a house:

  • Recommend either the food or drink or both is placed in the marquee. People always end up in the kitchen at house parties for a reason.
  • If there’s a window next to the door you’re butting up to don’t cover it over with a marquee wall, leave it open to help the atmosphere at the party (as long as it doesn’t leave draughty gaps)

We’re in our usual spot at The Showmans Show – Avenue E, stand number 267.  Come out of the entrance hall, turn right then first left. We’re along on the right. Alternatively follow your nose to the bar and we’re halfway there on the right.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Problems with power to a marquee

Friday, September 18th, 2009

At some point in your marquee erecting career you’ll have a problem with the power supply, generally shown by a lack of available light, lack of music or lack of tea facilities.

What to do?

Golden rule: Start at the power source and work your way to the marquee.

There’s no point dismantling a chandelier looking for a fault only to find the extension lead powering it has accidentally been turned off in the house. Trust me I know as I’ve done it several times (an intelligent person would learn..)

If you’re getting your power from a house using RCD adapter plugs (if you’re not then you should be) then they have little red tabs in the top saying they’re working. No red tab means it’s either tripped (reset it) or there’s no power (house has a power cut) or the fuse has gone (replace it).

Next step is to follow the extension lead across to the marquee – you’re checking to see if it’s been cut through or damaged by a lawn mower/hedge cutter/etc.

Once you get to the marquee end of the extension lead disconnect it from whatever’s plugged in and test it with something you know works (you might need a separate 16amp plug to 13amp socket adapter for this step). Ideally this would be a 13amp socket tester but failing that a radio or hoover. Nothing too valuable in case there’s actually problems with the power supply! If you get power at the socket but not the other end then swap the extension lead.

If you have power then the next step (assuming it’s lighting) is to take the dimmer out -bypass it by connecting the chandeliers straight on to the extension lead. If the chandeliers work then you’ve got a problem with the dimmer (if overloaded they can melt inside which is fatal for them. Remember maximum two 5-arm chandeliers per dimmer). If the chandeliers still don’t work then you’ve got a problem with one or both of the chandeliers. Take them down and test them individually to see where the fault lies.

Problems with power happen quite regularly, generally it’s nuisance tripping (a bulb blowing) that means resetting the RCD adapter or even the trip inside the house. We test the chandeliers last as they’re furthest from the house and can mean taking down all the linings. It won’t be an early day.

Whilst talking about power it’s worth mentioning that most catering equipment isn’t electrically tested regularly enough so often trips an RCD. If it keeps tripping don’t be tempted to remove the RCD, it’s there to protect people. If there’s faulty equipment it should not be used.

Bottom line:  Always have a 13amp socket tester, a 16amp plug to 13amp socket adapter, a few fuses and a small screwdriver in your van. A torch wouldn’t go a miss either 🙂

An early blog this week as I’m away next week. Yes, yes more holidays than Santa. I’d point out that we’re having another baby in November when all hell will break loose so we’re going away while we can!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

There’s already a large marquee hire business in my area

Monday, September 14th, 2009

You want to start up a marquee hire business but there’s already a large marquee hire business well established in your area. What should you do?

In actual fact, this is a good thing. I’ll try to explain why:

Imagine you want to start up a marquee company near us in the South East, the problem is you’ve got someone like Charlesworth Marquees who are already established as the leading hire company. Starting any new business can be intimidating, when you’ve got someone like Charlesworth on your doorstep with their repuation it can be even more so.

But in fact it should be seen as a good thing. A lot of large marquee hire businesses don’t want to touch smaller jobs, and by ‘smaller’ they generally mean anything less than £2000!

Now there’s a lot of good business out there for less than £2k and you can make a comfortable living from doing several jobs of that size every weekend.

There’s also the opportunity of growing a partnership with the larger company, you pass them any job too large for you and they pass on any job too small for them.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The Showmans Show 2009

Monday, September 7th, 2009

On the 21st and 22nd October is The Showmans Show. For those who dont know the show covers all things to do with marquees and outdoor events. Anyone who supplies the marquee hire industry has a stand at the show. So for anyone who runs a marquee hire business or are thinking of starting up it’s a must-visit.

I was talking to a couple of guys last weekend that are thinking of starting up a hire business who were shocked I recommended they visited the show. “But you’re pointing out somewhere with all your competitors”. I have no problem with that, I’d much prefer people bought from us having researched the industry fully. As well as that we’re quite uniquely placed in the industry in the quality and value for money we offer 🙂

We’re working very hard at the moment to give you all some more hire options next year. Just to reassure existing customers these are all ideas to expand our (and your) range of marquees & accessories, we’ll continue supplying our current ranges so you’ll always be able to buy spare parts etc if required.

What are these new ideas? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see 🙂

Look forward to seeing you at The Showmans Show

Marquee pricing

Monday, August 31st, 2009

When you start up a marquee hire business you have to do some local research for pricing – what’s everyone else charging for a marquee? Make sure you’re competitive (start ups will often just make sure they’re the cheapest to ensure they’re busy).

Once you’ve been going for a year or two what should you do with your prices? Put them up? Well hang on a minute, here’s a couple of stories to illustrate why you need to think carefully first.

Dave’s retirement:

A very good family friend (sadly no longer with us) semi-retired a few years ago. He kept on 3 customers for his maintenance business as he’d worked out he’d be financially comfortable working 3 days a week.
Unfortunately after a year one of his customers no longer needed him. His reaction? To go to his other 2 customers and put his prices up 50% to make up for it!
You can see his thinking, he needed a certain amount to live so needed to get it from 2 customers instead of 3. Unfortunately he didn’t take the views of his customers in to account and he promptly lost them.

Dorking parking charges

For those who haven’t visited us we’re based in commercial property on the outskirts of Dorking. Unfortunately Dorking town centre has the feel of a struggling town with lots of shops empty and many of the occupied ones looking to get out of their contracts.
Obviously this has a knock on effect to the local council who have found the revenue reduced. Their response?
Put up parking charges!
Honestly, you wonder the intelligence of these idiots.

So as a marquee hire company what can you learn from this? My advice is to respond to your customer demand.

If you’re turning away work all year and don’t have any quiet time (first off well done!) then by all means put your prices up. Don’t be excessive, more than a 5% annual increase might upset repeat customers.

If you’re busy some of the time but quiet on others, think of having special offers – 10% off for all August bookings for example.

The main advice I would give is if you’re not getting the returns you were hoping for, if you’re not as busy with bookings as you’d hoped, consider actually lowering prices or having several special offers to increase business rather than increasing your prices and thinking you’ll increase turnover & profit. It doesn’t always work.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

Theatre style seating in a marquee

Monday, August 24th, 2009
Theatre style marquee seating

How much room do you need for theatre style seating in a marquee?

If a customer comes along and says they want to hold a ceremony in one of your marquees, how are you going to work out the size they need?

Like most things to do with marquees it’s very easy, assuming you’re using standard chairs with no arms.

Allow 50cm wide for the chair, and 1m depth for the chair and persons legs.

In the photo above we used a 9m wide marquee with a 2m (fairly typical size) aisle down the middle. That leaves 3.5m each side, enough for 7 chairs.

The marquee was 18m long and the front 2m was left clear for the ceremony. That leaves 16m for chairs – each row takes up 1m so 16 rows of 14 chairs = 224 chairs. Quite a few more than sitting around tables for example!

If you’re a bit cramped for space try turning the layout round 90 degrees so the aisle comes in from the side. It doesn’t look as impressive but a shorter aisle means more space for seating.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee site visits/surveys

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

When you go out to see a customer as well as creating a good impression you obviously need to take a good look at where the marquee’s going.

Ask the customer if there are any underground cables or pipes you should be aware of -if so have them clearly indicated on a diagram. If there aren’t any it’s worth mentioning at the bottom of your quote “you have indicated there are no underground pipes or cables to avoid when erecting the marquee”.

As well as under the marquee you need to look above. Are there any overhead power lines you need to worry about? Generally this is more likely when you’re putting a marquee up in a field rather than a garden but it should be taken seriously as this article from the BBC shows. Now don’t let stories such as this scare you, especially if you’re starting up a marquee hire business. It’s generally only on larger marquees and when you’re swinging 15ft+ poles around that you should be concerned but I’d always recommend contact EDF energy if there’s an overhead power cable nearby just to be sure.

If you’re getting a bit concerned about the things you need to think of when you’re on a site visit (remember you’ve also got to sell a marquee and come up with suggested plans!) then don’t worry – it becomes second nature after a while and it’s worth having a checklist just to make sure. If I can find them I’ll post our  old marquee site visit sheets up here to give you ideas.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

I’m away for the next 2 weeks so the factory will probably be more efficient but there won’t be any blog posts until I’m back, sorry.

Marquee hire success

Monday, July 27th, 2009

When we ran a marquee hire company most of our business came from the fact that people trusted us. At the end of the day people are booking a marquee with you based on their experience of meeting you, speaking on the phone, looking at your website and any literature/research/recommendations available. Throughout each of these steps you need to come across well and as an outfit that’s not going to let them down.

A fundamental part of this is do what you say you’re going to do. If not then how can you be trusted to put a marquee up even though you say you will?

If you make an appointment for 10am on Tuesday make sure you’re there at 10am on Tuesday (I’d always aim to be sat round the corner 10mins before in case of traffic). If you’re going to be late for the appointment then phone with a realistic ETA.

If you say you’ll get a quote out today, get that quote sent out today!

You get the idea.

This is all fresh in my mind as we sold a marquee and some equipment to a customer this week who was only buying one because he’d been let down by his local marquee hire firm.

He phoned up asking for an appointment and was told as he’s only round the corner the marquee man would pop in on Friday evening. Didn’t happen. Customer phoned, was told definately the following Friday. Didn’t happen. You get the picture.

Once this had happened a few times the customer had understandably lost all faith in the local marquee man doing what he’d said he would and turned to us instead (which is extreme, normally they’d phone round for another marquee company)

So please remember your business is judged on the image of your business, people aren’t coming along to buy a product from you, they’re buying a service. You don’t just need to provide a good, reliable and value for money service you need to be SEEN to be providing these things.  Your website, attitude on the phone and manner when in a meeting must be that you’re there not only to help, advise and serve but that you’re capable of doing so.

Thanks for reading, I hope the marquee season’s going well for everyone 🙂

Spencer