Archive for the ‘marquee hire advice’ Category

Marquee electrics

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Marquee equipment generally doesn’t take much power, but as the marquee contractor you generally take responsibility for supplying power to the Band/DJ, the caterers and anything else the customer may need.

Get your customers power requirements clarified in advance.

Ask them -do they need you to supply power for the DJ? If so please ask him/her how much power they require. -do they need you to supply power for the caterers? Find out how much they need. Do they need power to the Bar?
Quite often they simply won’t know. A DJ will say ‘oh I just need two sockets’. It could mean he/she needs two 3kw leads, or the most likely answer is one 3kw lead is fine as long as it’s got at least two sockets on the end. Caterers will use the most power. One tea urn is 3kw (they often have 2 or 3) plus cookers, plus hot cupboards. Maybe they should watch the celebrity masterchef episode when they’re cooking in the jungle! Anyway, chances are the caterers will need 6-15kw of power.

There’s three options we used when supplying power to a marquee:

1. The easiest method is to use extension leads. We used blue arctic cable connected together using 16 amp plugs (places like Essential Supplies sell these made up)

  • When plugging these in to a house always use an RCD plug even if the house is covered on an RCD anyway -an RCD will trip the power if there is a fault (someone accidentally cutting a cable for example).
  • 1.5mm cable is okay for short runs (up to 15m say) but 2.5mm should be used for longer runs to avoid voltage drop.
  • One cable can supply up to 3kw.
  • If you run two or three cables have them plugging in to different parts of the house so they’re on different circuits (if more than three leads were required we’d use an electrician or generator)

2. Pay an electrician to take a large power supply out to the marquee. We used this a lot but since then Part P has been introduced. This means before installing a temporary supply an electrician must test the whole houses’ electrics to ensure it is suitable. This will get so expensive it’s simply not economic compared to hiring in a generator. If you do go down this route make sure:

  • The electrician is reliable and tidy – his work and attitude will reflect directly on you.
  • There is a fixed cost, you will pass this on to the customer but estimates that escalate leave a bad taste in the mouth for everyone
  • Make sure the customer is going to be in when the electrician arrives. You can put a marquee up while a customer’s out but you can’t connect the electrics.

3. Hire in a generator. It’s good to build up a relationship with at least one generator supplier -all generators are not the same:

  • Make sure you hire a ‘supersilent’ one, these are the quietest (to my knowledge).
  • Make sure the cost includes cabling, distribution board and spare fuel (these are all usually extras)
  • Make sure the spare fuel isn’t left by the exhaust of the generator. Sounds common sense doesn’t it? Apparently not for one of our jobs -I found the plastic cannister melted down on one side with diesel spilling on to the ground. I assume it’s only because diesel doesn’t have the explosive properties of petrol that there wasn’t a big bang!

Getting a generator company who deal with marquees regularly is ideal.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Larger marquees for sale

Monday, July 28th, 2008

A few people thought I went a bit over the top in criticising breathable flooring a couple of weeks ago and point out that there’s a lot of people using it. And that’s true. But I hate it and find it pointless. Carpet is better for single events, matting is better as a long term investment, both will be less of a headache than breathable flooring. Hey it’s my opinion.

I don’t want this to be all about our DIY marquees (despite them obviously being the greatest thing since sliced bread), there are other, larger marquees for sale out there and they have their place in most larger marquee hire companies.

In our company we used our style of marquees for 6m (20ft) wide stuff, and aluminium modular frames for 9m and 12m wide tasks. Any job larger than 12m x 24m (four 6mx12m marquees connected) we’d use 9m or 12m modular kit. We also had some pagoda/witches hat marquees as entrance tents etc.
We needed a 9m wide marquee for this for example:

pool7

So here are some useful tips for when/if you buy some aluminium frame marquees:

  1. Be careful when lifting. I blame my serious back injury purely on lifting 12m frames. Even now I’d happily lift our 6m marquees all day but there’s no way anyone would get me near 12m wide marquees.
  2. Make sure the marquees are completely square, you can tell this by looking at the scalloped trim from a distance. It should be perfectly straight all the way along. If it’s not square your marquee will leak. We found this out the hard way, if the roofs aren’t on square the keader must be buckled slightly and it allows water in -this is why we designed our DIY Marquees to have roofs all in one piece.
  3. When pulling the roofs on (using two ropes) clip a third rope on that gets pulled back over the marquee with the roof. This means the two pulling ropes can be clipped on to it and pulled back rather than throwing them again and again. Not sure I’ve explained this one too well but this saved us a LOT of time (ropes would get stuck round purlins regularly).
  4. You shouldn’t need to use steps for these marquees: gables (pvc & uprights) can be put on and lifted with the frame, ropes should be put through the apex pulleys while down on the ground and lighting can be attached to the lining poles before they’re pulled in to the ceiling. The only reason we took steps was in case the roofs got caught when feeding over the apex. I’ve heard some people (braver or more stupid than me) actually climb up the frame when this happens! S*d that!
  5. Be careful when strapping the roof beams on to a roof rack or trailer. It’s very easy to bend the beams doing this which weakens the structure and can result in them staying bent out of place.

There’s probably loads of other things that I’ve forgotten that we took for granted. If I remember any more I’ll post them.

Thanks for reading

Spencer.

The most important thing about Marquee Hire

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Be confident.

Sounds a little over the top to call it the most important thing about marquee hire? Not really.

People are putting their trust in you for their event. What are they basing this on? In the case of weddings or large events 90% it’s about you (and your reputation).  Festivals, places where all people want is a cover over their heads it’s all about price and you may not even meet your customer until you put the marquee up. But for weddings or special occasions it’s how you come across at a site visit.

Not a confident person? Don’t worry, neither was/am I. You’ve just got to pretend to be -fake it till you make it.

Think about what the customer wants from you
-confident
-knowledgable (gained over time)
-listens to what they want
-polite (manners are free!)
After a while all these things come naturally. Then you’ve got the other extreme to worry about -arrogance.

One of our competitors was particularly arrogant when going back for repeat business (a 2nd or 3rd marquee for the same family) -this resulted in us getting loads of work!

Confidence is important but remember it’s a fine line between very confident and arrogance!

Marquee flooring

Monday, July 14th, 2008

There’s basically five options for flooring a marquee:

Wooden/suspended floor, carpet, matting, plastic tiling or breathable flooring (softex etc).

The best finish is a wooden floor with new exhibition carpet on top, it’s also the most expensive.

The worst in my opinion is breathable flooring as it allows condensation to build up.

We once got called out my a lady complaining her marquee leaked when we were in the middle of a hose pipe ban and it hadn’t rained for 2 weeks! She’d watered her lawn just before we’d arrived, she didn’t have any flooring so it all came off as water vapour forming as condensation up in the marquee.

If you use wooden flooring, carpet or matting you should lay a groundsheet or polythene underneath to prevent this happening. Breathable is exactly what a floor shouldn’t be! Grass is tough stuff, it recovered soon after the marquee’s gone.

Wooden flooring:

Larger marquees offer an integrated flooring system or use an interlocking wooden floor.

Coconut matting:

This is what most marquee company’s use for most jobs. Lasts for years, just hoover it after laying (we used to use a leaf blower), put a groundsheet underneath & nail it all down with 4” or 6” nails.

Exhibition carpet:

Offered as a premium option to matting it’s laid in exactly the same way but you only get 1-3 uses out of carpet depending on the colour and intensity of use. Recyclable options now available as it is becoming increasingly difficult to dispose of.

Plastic tiling:

I was never a fan as it hides dips and holes until trodden on but other people swear by it. Bulky but easy and quick to lay.

Breathable flooring:

Hate it. Keep it for caravan awnings.

If you’re starting up a hire company I’d recommend buying some coconut matting. You can also offer carpet and you just price it for buying it new and only using it once. I’d also buy some wooden flooring to use as dance floors then when you have enough you can offer it as a solid floor.

In general there’s no need to have a solid floor during the summer. For my wedding I had carpet over groundsheets on grass and everyone walked in thinking it was a solid floor underneath. The only exception would be on patios or tennis courts that might get water pooling.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Pointers for marquee site visit/survey

Monday, July 7th, 2008

A site visit is normally done from 12 months to 2 weeks before the marquee’s going up. With experience you’ll be able to see exactly what your marquees will look like when erected and therefore what problems you’re likely to face.

The first few times you go to site visits you won’t know what to look for so here’s some tips:

  • If you’re putting a marquee up against the house always have the flat gable end against any door, especially if it’s opening outwards. Two reasons: i. if it rains the water goes off to the side, not towards the house. ii. In most designs of marquee there’s no bar across the gable to stop doors opening etc.
  • Think about how you’re going to anchor the marquee down. If it’s on grass it’s usually straight forward –stakes/guy ropes. If it’s on a patio then you need to think about weights, longer guy lines or bolting it down.
  • Access: check the ease of access to the site
  • Is there enough room to erect the marquee (not just enough room for it to fit when erected). Do this twice!
  • If you’re using stakes into the ground check there aren’t any cables etc running under the area.
  • Make sure there aren’t any power lines overhead
  • Look at the parking outside, this may influence how many vehicles you bring.


If I remember any more pointers I’ll post them later.

Thanks for reading

Marquee hire insurance and terms & conditions

Monday, June 30th, 2008

If you receive money for marquee hire you need to be covered for public liability insurance and have some good terms and conditions to back yourself up.

Insurance

There are several insurance firms who specialise in marquee hire cover -we include their details with all of our marquee sales. They can cover you for one-off events (though they need at least 14 days notice) or provide annual cover.

One-off cover should be considered for part-time marquee hire companies but if you’re setting it up as a full time business annual cover will almost certainly be more economic.

Public liability insurance shouldn’t be confused with fire/theft/damage insurance. Public liability insurance is always included in the cost of hiring, fire/theft/damage insurance is usually an optional extra -it’s up to the customer to decide which they’d prefer:

  • Risk it, have no insurance cover.
  • Household policy cover -some household insurance policies cover marquees. When I started out most household policies would cover marquees, now hardly any do.
  • Insure it through yourselves -most marquee hire insurance companies will allow you to offer insurance at around 5% of the total hire charge which you can offer your customers.

Terms and Conditions

You may think t’s & c’s aren’t necessary, especially if you’re only hiring to friends or friends of friends -in my opinion you should ALWAYS have them, even though you’ll rarely have to use them.

Things like cancellation policy, what happens in the event of loss or damage of equipment and especially have a force majeure part – you may think nothing will stop you putting your customers marquee up but think of the fuel crisis, foot & mouth or even someone wrecking your marquee a week before your customers event.

A copy of the terms and conditions we used as a hire company are included with every marquee sale.
Thanks for reading.

The Showmans Show

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

If you’re in the marquee hire industry, you must go to The Showmans Show. It’s as simple as that.

All the main marquee suppliers have  a stand there as well as flooring, lighting, heating & lining suppliers.  It’s very good for meeting all the contacts you’ll need in running a marquee hire business (incidentally we also include these contact details with our instructions when you buy a DIY marquee).

The Show is held at The Newbury Showground in the middle of October (22nd & 23rd this year), it’s good for getting some out of season deals as well as seeing the latest developements in the marquee industry. You have to avoid various jugglers and entertainers as it’s geared towards everyone in the outdoor evets industry.

Thanks for reading

Spencer.

So you want to start a marquee hire company?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Congratulations, a wise choice.But where to begin?

Research: You need to look into who you’re targeting, what competition you face and the quality of marquees you want to buy.

Target Market: Weddings, parties, country fairs or maybe all 3. Weddings require a better quality finish (interior linings, flooring etc) than country fairs who generally just need a cover out of the rain.

Your competition: Check online, check yellow pages, get your competitors brochures or any literature you can to see what they offer -don’t introduce yourself yet, you may want them to come and do a site visit for you (I’ll expand on this later).

Quality of marquees: The quality of marquees varies greatly, though mostly it comes down to the thickness and type of material used in the roof (walls are less important). You should also consider upgrades -if you want to expand into the wedding market you MUST be able to offer linings.

Finally you need to consider what your budget is likely to be. Put together all the costs, how much you can charge per hire (slightly less than your competitors I’d suggest) so that you’re aware of how many hires are required until you’re in profit.

We believe our DIY Marquees are the ideal entry level into marquee hire. They offer excellent returns on investment whilst being suitable for any event – unlined marquees for fairs & fetes or add a lining for parties and wedding marquees.

Thanks for reading