Archive for the ‘site visit’ Category

How big a marquee do I need?

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Asking how big a marquee is required is one of your main jobs as a marquee supplier. Often the size of the garden will dictate the size of marquee but you still need to know how much space everything takes up to then plan suitable numbers.

Here’s how most marquee hire companies work out the space required in a marquee:

Round table seating up to 10 (usually 5ft or 5ft6in tables): Allow 3x3m -this includes space for walking between tables so for example a 6x12m area can fit eight 3x3m boxes so can fit eight round tables with space to walk between. Saying that it is more comfortable leaving one out to stagger the tables like this example.

Tradition long top table (usually three 6ft trestle tables but oval tables are similar): Allow 3x6m

Buffet (again usually three 6ft trestles): Allow 3x6m

Bar: Allow 3x3m for small functions, 3x6m in larger ones

DJ: 3x3m is usually fine

Band: 3x6m for a small band, larger bands you have to ask them (though be careful as they often want to take over half the marquee)

Dance Floor: A blog post in itself which will be written soon

Catering area: 3x6m or 6x4m for small functions, 6x6m for medium (80+ guests), 6x8m+ for larger functions (160+)

When planning layouts you also want to consider where people walk in to the marquee -ideally you don’t want guests walking straight in to a table so you may have to leave a gap. For marquees that are a bit tight consider having the entrance near the bar or dance floor to give some space.

Often you are asked to put marquees up over features like bushes, flower beds, small trees, water features or even swimming pools. This really adds character to a marquee so in my eyes should be encourages though as the marquee supplier it does make life a little harder and you should point out that it is not useable area. Often customers will need a larger marquee to allow for incorporating these features.

When planning the marquee remember which direction guests will be arriving from – you want it to look impressive. Windows make the marquee look more inviting – you don’t want guests believe that they are walking in to the back of the marquee. Also keep in mind access to the toilets, this may require an additional exit in the marquee.

Experiment with layouts using our interactive marquee planner, it allows you to drag furniture in to a marquee to experiment with capacities and layouts.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

(more) Tips for site visits

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Last week I covered making a good impression at a marquee site visit. This week I thought it sensible to add some tips about what to say and run through as the potential customer might be after you actually saying something as well as taking your shoes off and making a good impression.

  • Be confident. If you’re starting out then fake it till you make it and just act confident. A site visit is very much about convincing the customer to have faith in your ability to turn their patch of lawn in to a temporary venue.
  • Listen to the customer. The flip-side of being confident is you don’t want to come across as arrogant or think you know it all and end up telling them what they want (surprisingly easy to end up doing). Before you measure the garden, before you run through photographs just sit down with the customer and listen to what they’re after.
  • If it’s a wedding marquee then listen to the main decision makers. Generally this is (in order): Bride, mother of bride, groom. There’s often various hangers on present but if you keep those three happy then you’re doing well.
  • Once you’ve listened to the customers ideas then also ask if they had any plans for where they would like to position the marquee. It’s pointless measuring their garden in one place if they want to have it elsewhere.
  • Take your time measuring the garden. If you’re not confident at doing both jobs of measuring and explaining/selling at the same time then just say to the customer you need a few minutes to measure and you’ll come back inside once you’ve got an idea(s).
  • You don’t have to come up with all of the answers there and then. If you’re starting out and this all seems a bit overwhelming then don’t worry, take your time and take down all of their requirements and make accurate drawings of the garden. You can then email us and we would run through with you a few likely options together with the pro’s and con’s of each idea that you can then go through with the customer. It’s slightly delayed but it can still come across as a professional service and you don’t need to stress about having all of the answers there and then. We’re always here to help but it won’t take many before you know as much as we do 🙂

Ultimately the biggest bit of planning on your part is how big does the marquee(s) need to be. As I say this can be done after the meeting back in the office but it is easiest if you can do it there and then. I guess I’ll cover that next week.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Make a good impression on marquee site visits

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Here are some tips to help you make a good impression on a marquee site visit:

  • Be presentable. Clean shaven, clean clothes, clean shoes. You don’t need to turn up in a suit, people appreciate that we do physical work so turning up in work trousers and a logo polo top is fine as long as they’re clean and presentable.
  • Ideally you want a smart and tidy vehicle (van or car) that is not more expensive than the potential customers. If you have to turn up in a beaten up or dirty car or a very flash one then park round the corner and walk the last bit, you don’t want to come across as struggling (old banger of a car) or likely to charge too much (flash car).
  • Turn up on time. I’d aim to be parked round the corner 10 minutes before the appointment so I knocked on the door at the precise time. Sufficient people appreciate being on time (or rather hate being late) to make this well worth the extra 10 minutes waiting. If you are going to be more than 5 minutes late then phone with a realistic eta. Phoning to say you’ll be 10 minutes late but turning up after 20 is just making it worse for yourself.
  • Take your shoes off in the house. Most people are find with shoes on but I remember getting a job purely on the basis that I took the care to take my shoes off on the way in. There are sufficient people who appreciate this to make it worth it.
  • Listen to what the customer wants. This sounds obvious but I was repeatedly told stories of other marquee hire companies arriving and just telling the customer what they wanted. Before you do anything ask the customer if they have any specific ideas on what they want or if they’ve seen something they like elsewhere. They may not but if they do have specific requests it helps you shape your ideas and stops any wasted time.
  • Get a proper surveyors tape measure. It looks more professional than a reel one or worse a small one where you have to take several goes to get to the desired length.

Of course none of this is as important as what you say and recommend regarding the marquee but it all helps. If you come across well and look professional then suddenly the site visit becomes a lot easier and customers are more likely to be guided by your recommendations rather than challenging what you say as the expert.

What you actually say and recommend is for another blog post.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Example site visit: Dave & Jenny’s garden part ii

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Before going any further clarification: The trees are too large to fit inside a marquee (thanks Chris). Small trees or flower beds are no barrier to erecting a marquee and can be excellent features but remember you lose that floorspace in the marquee.
I also forgot to mention what time of year the event was planned for, more on that below

My suggested solution:

A 6x12m marquee is probably around the right size, you could fit a 6x14m marquee in and they could fit everyone in to a 6x10m marquee but 6x12m seems about right.

You could rotate the marquee 90 degrees and run it down the garden instead of across, I’d discuss this with Dave & Jenny and give them the option of either way. If they wanted to have drinks on the lawn beforehand then they could use the left hand side and run the marquee down lengthwise. Otherwise I’d run it across the garden as you can see more of the marquee, can fit more windows in and it generally makes for a more inviting marquee.

If it was a winter marquee then I’d bring the marquee as close to the house as possible and consider using a walkway across the patio to connect the two. In the summer I’d set it as far back as the tree will allow to make it look more impressive for guests on arrival.

The internal layout is very informal, the middle dance floor area can be used for people standing initially but becomes the natural focus when the music starts. Having the bar & buffet in the same marquee as the dance floor keeps the party in one place and chairs around the edge give somewhere for people to sit down if they really want to. Fairy lights in the ceiling, black and white dance floors, illuminated bars are all possible accessories.

This is a very very popular layout for all different size marquees. As you use larger structures the dance floor and bar area become larger and more flexible – you can add sofas and/or poseur tables to create a real night club atmosphere.

That would be my suggested solution at least.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Example site visit: Dave & Jenny’s garden part i

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

It has been suggested that I should give examples of site visits to show what you should be thinking of when planning a marquee function. This sounds a good idea to me but I should stress – I’m not saying that my ideas are the best and only solution. I’ll state what I’d do but if you asked another marquee company or even someone else from our company they might come up with other ideas.

So in one blog post I’ll give the layout of a garden with measurements and a brief overview of their requirements. The following post I’ll look at what suggestions I’d offer.

Dave & Jenny’s garden:

The layout above is Dave & Jenny’s garden. The house (in red) is at the bottom with a patio (in grey) in front. There are some flower beds to the left and some trees/bushes towards the rear.

Everything in the marquee world is done in squares and rectangles so all we’re really interested in are the limiting factors – that tree halfway down the garden is going to limit what we can fit in so we need the measurements based around that tree, together with the maximum widths and lengths available.

Remember the 3 stages of site visits:

  • sit down with the potential customers and get an idea if what they’d like and especially what they dislike, what they’d like to avoid. Get an idea of guest numbers, whether it’s formal or informal and if they need a dance floor/bar/catering area
  • go out and measure the garden
  • go back inside and sit down to discuss their options (this is what I’ll cover in the next post)

Dave & Jenny’s requirements

After sitting down and discussing it with them we’ve gained the following information:

  • It’s Dave’s 40th birthday party
  • They are expecting 50-70 guests
  • It will be an evening function at the end of June
  • They want an informal atmosphere though there will be food and drink available
  • They’re going to have a 4 piece band playing
  • Guests will go round the side of the house (ie not through the house) to get to the marquee

That’s a typical amount of information you work with on a site visit, I’ll discuss my suggestions in 2 weeks (taking the kids to ‘sunny’ Wales next week)

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Erecting marquees over obstacles

Monday, January 28th, 2013

In my past hiring life I erected marquees over swimming pools, sunken gardens, flowerbeds, ponds, rockeries, trees, statues, just about anything you can find in a garden we covered at one time or another. The result can be stunning but the method can be tricky.

Some things to consider if you’re incorporating parts of a garden inside a marquee:

  • Allow longer to put the marquee up
  • If a tree needs cutting to fit inside then offer to cut it while erecting the marquee – this ensures the minimum amount is cut off (an unnecessarily trimmed tree can lead to an unhappy customer, I know from experience!)
  • Pools and ponds need to be completely covered by one marquee with enough space to walk round
  • Hedges and walls can be partly incorporated but this often means cutting a wall panel to fit around them – keep any old side panels for this kind of work or contact us as we often have marked walls we can sell cheaply
  • Plan how the marquee is to be erected while on site, failing that take some photos and email us and we will advise how we would approach the problem.
  • People pay a fortune to hire in small trees and bushes in to marquees, incorporating existing plants inside can really add a feature (especially covered in fairy lights for example) so it’s often a good sales pitch.
  • Remember that anything incorporated in to a marquee will cut down on the available floor space so decrease the maximum capacity accordingly.

Typically the best way to erect a marquee over any obstacle is to only partially erect the marquee. Say you’re putting up a 6x12m marquee and there’s a small tree at one end I would erect most of the marquee (6x10m say) leaving the last bay over the tree off completely. The most important bit – I would have the roof up on the framework attached on as much as possible so when the last bay is fitted (tall steps required) the PVC roof can just be pulled along that last bay to fit.

What you want to avoid is trying to lift and fit the PVC roof on to a fully erected framework, it is a very tough and heavy operation.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

When to call off, cancel or postpone a marquee booking

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

The recent weather is causing a lot of problems for marquee hire companies and events all over the country with Ireland especially hard hit. So should you as the hire company call off a booking? My opinion is no, it should be down to the customer.

If you start calling off an event then you might get hit with all sorts of legal implications/challenges from the other related costs of the function with deposits lost etc. This doesn’t stop you warning customers or offering advice along the lines of ‘if it was me..’

Assuming you have typical t’s and c’s along the lines of: Cancellation of a booking over 14 days is 20% to pay, 3-13 days 50%, less than 3 days then 100% I would write every customer a letter stating:

  • There has been exceptional weather conditions this year and as a consequence marquees can take longer to erect than planned. Please be patient with us, we will erect your marquee and won’t let you down -this allays any understandable fears they may have
  • Should you be concerned over the suitability of an area badly hit by the weather we are more than happy to come out and view the site to discuss how the marquee would be affected -better to pre-empt/warn of likely issues to save waiting round on erection day
  • Should the site prove unsuitable then we can erect the marquee at an alternative local venue at no extra charge (subject to a site survey)
  • Should you wish to cancel the event if it is 14 days or more before the event then you will only lose the 20% deposit already paid. If the notice period is less than 14 days then although 50% of the booking fee is due we are offering our customers a 20% discount off any future booking to compensate, this has proved a fair solution to a headache often faced this summer – I’m not sure of the wording or amounts on this but you get the idea, you’re stating their obligations whilst also trying to help
  • Please be aware that soft access surfaces may get damaged when delivering and taking away the equipment -this pre-warns them of any ruts you may leave getting in and out of the job

Like I say this would just be what I would do, I’m a firm believer in that pre-warning of any problem means if it arises it becomes a constructive chat to resolve rather than conflict.

Thanks for reading, I’m not sure that’s really the positive post I promised last week!

Please note that the factory will be closed on Friday afternoon from around 3:30pm as the Olympic torch is coming past 🙂

Planning a greeting drinks area

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Part of your job when supplying a marquee is to help plan the event as a whole. Remember it’s in your interest for the event to go well and smoothly as that is likely to generate future bookings and expand your business in the best way – by word of mouth recommendations.

Once you’ve established where the marquee is going for most events you also have to plan somewhere to have drinks on arrival. Here are some ideas/thoughts/suggestions on that:

  • Have a wet and dry plan. In the summer invariably this will be drinks outside nearby in the sunshine or inside the marquee if it’s raining
  • If you’re running a path of matting/carpet to the marquee then don’t run it straight through the drinks area. Either have it run to one side or have it running to the drinks area then a separate piece from there to the marquee. It’s a difficult one to explain but if you have a path running through the drinks area it will effectively cut the party in two – no one will stand on the path. Have the path leading up to a table serving drinks (perhaps under a Pagoda?) then another piece by the marquee
  • Whether it’s benches, some spare chairs, hay bales or a selection of outdoor furniture allow for some form of seating. The elderly and lazy will always want to sit somewhere and if you don’t supply it they will start carrying furniture out of the marquee
  • Outdoor furniture should be exactly that – suitable to be left out in the rain. People aren’t going to be worried about your furniture if the heavens open.
  • In a large garden/field always keep the outdoor furniture in one area, this keeps the party in one place and preserves the atmosphere
  • If drinks are to be supplied from a bar in the marquee try to plan it so it can be accessed from outside without guests having to go in to the main marquee. This is easily done, just have a zipped or removable wall by the bar and tell them to have one table facing outside and another facing inside (for the evening). If people have to go inside the marquee then they will sit inside the marquee and you end up with guests everywhere when the catering staff are still setting up -or worse still on seeing some guests sitting down people may think everyone needs to go through to the marquee and spoil timings for everyone!
  • If you’re concerned about where guests will go for drinks in the event of rain think about erecting a roof only marquee or use one of our gable pieces to create a porch on the front of one of your existing marquees

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Connecting marquees to a building

Monday, March 5th, 2012

We have an article on connecting a marquee to a house but there’s an additional consideration. Check for any lighting on the house that you might cover up with the marquee.

We butted a marquee up against a house once (gable flush against the building) and as happens quite often the marquee covered over an outside floodlight. Imagine our surprise when we came back to collect the marquee and a large hole had been melted through the end of our marquee where the floodlight had been left on. Whether fortunately or unfortunately the customers were out when we were dismantling.

So the lesson to learn is always point out that any lighting touching the marquee should NOT be turned on (they may not even notice if it is). If it does happen to you (or something similar) then it’s not the end of the world, one of our marquee repair kits should patch up the marquee.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

The art of negotiation

Monday, June 13th, 2011

If you read about brand awareness then experts claim there are three categories of people, those who will only buy brands, those who can be convinced of buying brands and those who refuse to buy brands. It has to do with how people wish to be perceived by their peers. Don’t ask any further, I’m already teetering out of my depth.

So relating this to marquee hire you’re going to face some potential bookings where they just keep wanting to negotiate the price down, it may even just seem a point of principal (see the recent apprentice contestant getting 1p off a £365 top hat!).

Just speaking from my experience this isn’t about the customer saving money, it’s generally about them being able to say to their guests what a good deal they’ve got.

For that reason I found it much more successful offering people something for free rather than giving them money off. For example say you’ve got someone trying to negotiate over a booking for £1500. It’s much better for you giving them an entrance tent say worth £200 rather than knocking off £150 off the price. It’s only adding a bit of time for you rather than taking money out of your pocket. The customer (I’d say 9 times out of 10) is just as happy, they can say to their guests that they’ve got a £1700 marquee for £1500 even though originally they didn’t even want the £200 extra you added in.

One last frustrating point, if you ever forget something for that job it will always always be a component for the thing you’ve thrown in free of charge!

Thanks for reading

Spencer