Archive for the ‘marquee hire advice’ Category

Natural listings on google vs pay-per-click

Monday, January 7th, 2013

When starting up your marquee hire business google is going to be a big part of any advertising campaign. With this in mind it’s worth knowing how the listings work:

The paid listings on the page (in red) are achieved using google adwords (before setting up an account have a good look round as there’s often free £20-£30 vouchers available for 1st registering).

In your new shiny adwords account you can select the keywords or phrases you want to target, the text to appear in your advert and how much you want to pay every time someone clicks on your advert. The more you pay the higher up the page you’ll appear (it also takes in to account the click-through-rate so its worth playing with the ad to make it the most enticing).

To give you an idea I would expect people at the top of ‘marquee hire’ paid ads to be paying between 30p-£2 per click. In contrast for ‘marquee hire Dorking’ I would expect the top listing to be paying 5-10p per click. So you can see it’s worth targeting more local and focused wording (marquee hire mytown) than more general, expensive terms like just ‘marquee hire’ or ‘marquee hire uk’.

The natural listings appear beneath the top 3 paid listings (if you look closely the paid listings have a shaded background). Getting to the top of these listings is a bit of a science (called SEO – search engine optimisation) and takes a long time. There’s lots of information and tools out there to help get you to the top so you can teach yourself how it’s done, just avoid dodgy ‘black-hat’ techniques as google will strike off your website. Again targeting the more local phrases is a better bet than the more general terms. We know a fair bit about SEO so can give some tips if required.

Finally it is well worth registering  for ‘Google Places for business’, this often means your business will appear on a small map next to the listings or even as one of the high natural listings – like the map in the top right corner of the example image above. It’s free and absolutely essential to do.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Merry Christmas and thank you

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Merry Christmas and thank you to all of our old and new customers and especially to anyone who takes 2 minutes out of their day to come here and read the ramblings of an old ex-marquee-erector.

Our Christmas opening hours are: well, essentially we’re closed! This Friday 21st Dec is our last day (don’t expect our usual immaculate customer service in the afternoon <hic>) and we’ll be opening again on Wednesday 2nd January.

If you have any issues that you need some urgent advice on then send us an email and I’ll do my best to fight through the pounding headache of a hangover and the pounding ears of toddlers playing with the packaging of expensive toys to answer.

If you haven’t received the circular then Essential Supplies are running some PAT testing and Marquee electrics courses next year, speak to Lauren if you’re interested.

Let’s all hope for a successful and marquee-covered 2013

Thanks for reading all year

Spencer

How much heating does my marquee need?

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Very simply one this, to raise a marquees temperature by 20degrees you require 1KW/3500BTU for 5 cubic metres.

Some examples:

  • 4x4m Commercial DIY Marquee (average height is 2.5m) = 4x4x2.5 = 40 cubic metres so requires 8KW/28,000BTU’s
  • 6x12m Commercial DIY Marquee (average height 2.5m) = 6x12x2.5 = 180 cubic metres so requires 36KW/126,000BTU’s
  • 9x12m Deluxe DIY Marquee (average height 3.05m) = 9x12x3.05 = 329.4 cubic metres so requires 66KW/231,000BTU’s

Some things to point out:

  • Most room thermostats are around the 20degree mark so if it’s below freezing outside allow for more heating
  • If there are going to be lots of openings to the outside (rather than another marquee/the house) then allow for more heating
  • If it’s a formal evening function (think ladies in evening dresses) then allow more heating
  • Better to have several heat sources to create a more even room temperature than one large heat source which risks creating too hot and too cold areas in the marquee.
  • If it’s an 18th birthday party where everyone will be drinking and/or dancing then you can probably allow less heating

In short, I would always treat this number as a bare minimum, much better to have more heating than required so it can be turned down than risk having a function ruined through lack of heat.

The sort of figures quoted here can only realistically be achieved using gas or diesel/oil powered heaters. Save yourself a headache and avoid using any electrically powered heaters or infra-red heaters. They’re fine for taking the chill off on a patio or outside a pub, they are inadequate (not to mention expensive to run) in a marquee of any decent size.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

Winter marquees take longer to build

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Erecting winter marquees isn’t the most glamorous of jobs but  it can still be enjoyable. The key is to allow more time for each one (compared to peak summer times).

Allowing more time for each marquee means:

  • The work days can be shorter, if you’re not really busy then there’s no need to work very late
  • Sites will naturally take more effort during the winter (clearing snow, weathering to buildings etc)
  • Work can be done in shifts, the general winter practice was to put up the marquee then have a break as soon as the heater could be made operational. Suddenly with working heaters the marquee becomes a much more pleasant environment to work in for the flooring and linings etc (and you’re ‘just testing’ to make sure the heating is satisfactory for the customer)
  • Maintenance will take a bit longer as everything’s likely to get wetter and muddier during the winter.

I’m aware I’m saying this from a warm comfortable indoor office but providing you are not in a hurry and you’ve got suitable clothing then winter marquees can be just as enjoyable as summer ones.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

PS – check out our updated instructional videos page, we’ll be adding more videos to it over time

‘Sale ends soon – 99% off!’ (not really..)

Monday, November 26th, 2012

I was amazed recently when a quote for some kitchen parts we were shopping round for was quoted at a 66% discount. A week later and their offer was changed so we then qualified for a 75% discount.  I think at that point my wife and I were supposed to be dancing round the room so excited at this bargain offer that we could barely read out our credit card number fast enough. We didn’t, we just went to another supplier who priced their goods honestly.

But there’s no denying that this method works so is it something you should consider? There are two things to think about: target market and the moral dilemma.

Target market: If you have or would like to get a lot of repeat marquee business then someone who inspects your prices regularly at different times of the year is likely to notice your 12 month sale technique. If your target market is one-off events then customers are only likely to view your prices once so will think the sale is genuine.

The moral dilemma: You are essentially being dishonest, you will gain direct business from this technique but then do you lose business from a loss of credibility and/or trust?

It’s your choice, we didn’t use the technique as a hire company and don’t as a marquee sales company but I can tell you we lose business to competitors who do have 12 month sales on inflated RRP’s so can you afford not to?

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee storage

Monday, November 19th, 2012

When starting a marquee hire business one big consideration is where are you going to store all of these nice shiny (hopefully DIY) marquees?

Well the good news is initially you don’t need a lot of storage space, in a single garage you could fit 5 typical marquees including associated equipment. Any more than that and it will become difficult to work around. A couple of caveats to that – it assumes that you’ve got some racking to put everything on (neatly or in our storage bags/boxes) and it assumes you’re not storing any furniture. Furniture will often take up as much room as the marquees themselves so choosing whether to buy or cross-hire initially is a big early decision to make.

Another alternative I like is to use a trailer for storage, the reason for this is you’re not having to unload and load it every time it just stays there between jobs. Obviously only suitable for when you’re small and starting out but a handy time-saver especially if you’re starting it as a part-time project.

What you do not need is a state-of-the-art modern industrial building, they cost a lot in rent and rates and you can get more for your money renting a barn or container space in a remote area.  Once you’ve established your market then this is the sort of storage that we’d recommend, you just need somewhere large and dry to keep everything in with good access for your van/trailer/lorry.

Quite how the government expect businesses to grow us out of recession when business rates for industrial units are often more than the rent I don’t know.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Weathering a marquee to a house part iii – using a walkway

Monday, November 12th, 2012

A walkway is used when you can’t butt the end of the marquee up against the house as in part i (posted 2 weeks ago). It might be the marquee has to go side on to the house or simply set back a bit. Walkways are very easy and simple things but here are some thoughts on using them:

  • Put the walkway up first then build the marquee butting up to the walkway. Trying to fill a gap between a marquee and the house is a tricky tricky task
  • Butt the walkway up against the house tightly, you may need to remove the gable to allow the door to open outwards
  • If you’re using one of our walkways then we now include an extra gable with a gutter built-in to make weathering to a marquee easier and quicker
  • Be sure to anchor the walkway down (sounds obvious but I’ve seen it forgotten as everyone concentrates on the marquee)
  • In winter months allow for heating the walkway. If it’s very short it may just be angling one of the marquee heaters towards the walkway rather than having it’s own dedicated heater but you must incorporate the walkway in to your heating plan

How much you charge for a walkway is again a tricky issue. As much as we’ve made it as simple as possible you are effectively putting up another (small) marquee and need to charge accordingly. Often this is far more than a customer expects, especially when the marquee is a long way from the house and they say they’d like a ‘simple cover’ to the marquee.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Weathering a marquee to a house part ii – side-on to the house without walkway

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The next category is weathering a marquee to a house that has to be positioned side-on and you don’t have the use of a walkway.

It is much easier using a walkway (as I’ll write about next week) especially one of ours! But not everyone has one so sometimes you just have to make do with what you’ve got.

Option 1: Butting the marquee hard up against the house

Similar to last weeks method you push the marquee hard up against the house but it’s the type and size of doors that gives you a headache:

  • sliding patio doors are the easiest, this means you can butt the marquee up at whatever height and put some guttering across to weather the join. The downside is that there is likely to be a step down in to the marquee and people might knock their head on the eave rail or gutter.
  • patio doors that open inwards can be treated like sliding doors as above
  • patio doors that open outwards are the most common and are frankly a pain. You have 3 options, 1 is to use a walkway (see next week), next is to create your own walkway (see below) and the third is to somehow lift the marquee up over the doors. If you’re using one of our deluxe marquees then there’s every chance it will be high enough but on a standard commercial one it’s likely to need ‘chocking up’ a bit using bricks or extensions. This should only really be as a last resort because the marquees aren’t designed to be chocked up and it changes the angle of the roof which can affect the water run-off

Option 2: Creating your own walkway:

If the house has got a pair of outward opening doors then we would sometimes use them to create a walkway – have the doors open at 90 degrees to the house and then place a piece of wood over the top, ideally with chocks to hold the doors in place and a slight angle so if it rains the water goes away from the house. This made a very short easy walkway to then butt and weather the marquee to.

Pretty much all of these methods are just to get by, the best method (if possible) is last weeks option of having the end of a marquee against the house and if you can’t do that then using a decent walkway (again see next weeks blog) will be a LOT easier and look more professional.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Weathering a marquee to a house part i

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The easiest and indeed the best way to weather a house is by positioning the end of the marquee (the 4m or 6m side) against the building. This is because:

  • It genuinely creates an extra room to the house (the goal of most marquees attaching to a house) without going through a corridor/walkway or similar
  • The apex design of most marquees means that water comes off the sides of the marquee, very little comes down the end because it is a flat gable. If you orientate the marquee like this then it requires very little weathering/guttering – generally you can just pull the flap of the roof up and clip it to the guttering of the house
  • There is no eaves rail in the end of the marquee, this means you can generally lift the gable of the roof up and over any door opening in to the marquee
  • Tie downs are always attached to the sides of marquees, even if the marquee is on a patio there are often flower beds or fence posts at the sides of the garden to use for anchoring points

Some other points:

  • Ensure some of the tie downs are angled towards the house, it is very easy to attach all of the tie downs at an angle away from the house without realising it which would allow the marquee to move. If there are solid fixings on the house (cast iron not plastic downpipes for example) then by all means attach on to them to anchor the marquee down
  • A house will often have an overhanging gutter so the marquee won’t go hard up against the house. In my experience it’s best to leave all of the sides off facing the house (especially if there’s a window that can look out in to the marquee) and block in the gaps either side to keep in the warmth. How to block in these gaps:
    • Cover one end of a groundbar or similar length pole with gaffa tape (if you don’t have this in your van as standard then you can’t call yourself a true marquee erector!)
    • Hold the pole up to the eave rail at the end of the marquee and very loosely cable tie in place (c’mon, you must have cable ties!) with the taped end towards the house
    • Push the pole towards the house until it’s touching (the tape prevents you scratching or damaging the customers house) and then tighten up all of the cable ties to hold the pipe in place
    • To actually fill the gap attach a wall or window to the corner of the marquee as usual by bungee-ing to the leg but cable tie the top of the wall to the jutting out part of the pole you’ve just fixed in place keeping all of the slack towards the house
    • Go and find something heavy in the garden (plant pots are good) and rest on the rain skirt of the wall tight up against the house – this keeps the bottom in place
    • Unless you are incredibly lucky and there’s something on the house  to cable tie the marquee wall to then that’s about the best you can do

Thanks for reading, I’ll run through the other methods soon

Spencer

PS Tim from the excellent OakLeaf Marquees sent me a link to this funny marquee-related youtube clip

Marquee electrics

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Electrics for a marquee are generally straight forward affairs, especially the way that we now wire up lighting. Everything is supplied with 16amp blue plugs and sockets that just daisy-chain around the marquee.

We would usually run all of the electrics around the marquee and then run the power supply lead across to the house.  A 13amp RCD adapter should always be used to plug in to a house, as standard this will then be wired up to a 16amp blue socket ready to connect to the plug coming from the marquee. But what if you’ve run all of the leads around the marquee the wrong way round and end up with a 16amp socket towards the house rather than a 16amp blue plug?

Do you:

  • a – cut down all of the leads in the marquee and pain-stakingly attach them all back up again the correct way round
  • or b – the much quicker and easier method of just taking off that 16amp socket and swap if for a plug so it all connects up easily?

You must must must always do a. Just take the time and run the leads the right way round. No matter how pressed for time you may be do not ever start swapping sockets for plugs. Louise (have fun on maternity leave) from Essential Supplies refers to them as widow-makers because they are just so dangerous. If you think about what happens when the lead is plugged in if anyone were to unplug a join it would be the plug that’s live, ie those large metal prongs sticking out would be like open live wires.

As I say electrics and lighting in marquees are very easy, safe and straight-forward as long as you don’t start taking anything apart. Just keep it simple.

Our demo marquee is up for sale on eBay: ex-demo DIY Marquee

There probably won’t be a blog next week as we’ll be down setting up at The Showmans Show.

Thanks for reading, hope to see you next week at the show

Spencer