Archive for the ‘site visit’ Category

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

A tip for site visits

Monday, September 20th, 2010

If you go out on site visits then it helps if you’re a good salesman as obviously that’s where most of your business comes from.
It’s often said that my Dad could sell snow to Eskimos. My brother (who’s successfully avoided joining the family business so far) similarly has ‘the gift of the gab’. I, do not. My tactic when meeting people was simply to be as helpful and honest as possible and just hope for the best. Luckily it worked pretty well 🙂 If you’re not a great salesman then I suggest you follow my example.

There was however one little trick that I learnt:

If you’re hiring out a marquee on it’s own then chances are you’ve got linings or other accessories sat there doing nothing for that weekend which is not ideal. When discussing extras for a marquee with a customer who was hesitant about spending the extra money I’d always say “Everything is itemised so I’ll put it on the quote and you just cross it off if you don’t want it”. I swear 4 out of 5 quotes that came back with deposits had nothing crossed out, it works very well.

Similarly if there’s something that a customer wants a price for that you’re reluctant to hire to them (something you’d have to cross-hire from another company for example) then list it separately at the bottom of the quote almost as an afterthought. It makes it far less likely customers will go for it.

I hope this helps, there are lots of other small bits that I picked up over the years that I’ll have to post up here sometime.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Putting marquees up when the customer’s not there

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

There are times when you have to put a marquee up and the customer isn’t around for whatever reason, my advice is to be very careful and have an accurate diagram or get the customer to mark out where it’s going.

I remember I attended one wedding we did where the groom turned round halfway during the evening and told me the marquee was in the wrong position. What can you do at that point other than apologise?

It turned out he wanted a different layout but failed to pass that on to us until half way through his wedding, we just put it up as the original plan.

Sometimes people can’t be there when you put up the marquee, the ideal would be they mark out where they want the marquee but if not get a very very clear diagram. Instructions given over the phone (“near the hedge” etc) can only go wrong. I’d also be tempted to put a line in your terms and conditions saying if you have to go back and move the marquee there would be a charge just to cover yourself.

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

Marquee hire layouts – an example

Monday, March 16th, 2009

My brother’s getting married in June, would you believe he’s having a marquee?

So I thought it would be sensible to run through the thinking process for his layout etc, I may revisit this again in more detail in the future but it seems a good example of the sort of thing you may face when planning a wedding for someone.

My brothers wedding is going to be held in my parents garden – anyone who’s watched our instructional 6×12 video and lived to tell the tale has already seen it in the background. It’s a fair size garden and gives me several things to point out of interest to marquee hire businesses.

Brothers wedding

  • The most attractive part of the garden is just above the patio where you’re surrounded by rockeries and small trees
  • There’s more lawn past the rockeries but it’s not as attractive a setting
  • The path along the side of the house is quite narrow

So here’s my thinking and how I’d recommend anyone new should tackle most gardens.

If this was a winter marquee, I’d recommend having the marquee either on the patio attached to the house or on the lawn immediately next to the patio for ease of access in to the house. The weather’s likely to be bad so you need to think of easy access for everyone.

If this was an evening function or one where you would only be using the marquee (nothing outside) then I’d recommend having the marquee on the attractive part of the lawn with plenty of windows – maybe having some spotlights or lanterns in amongst the rockery etc.

But my brother’s getting married in June, the weather should be good and he wants everyone to have drinks outside first so my suggestion is to use the attractive lawn area for drinks and have the marquee  set back above the rockeries on the less attractive lawn area.

You should always think about what people will see when they first arrive – first impressions are everything! For this reason I don’t think it’s sensible having the guests arrive around the side of the house via a narrow path. We’re going to have a strip of red carpet coming up the lawn – maybe with small pots of flowers or some kind of decoration either side leading up to the drinks area. This makes for an impressive entrance and means everyone knows where to go:

marquee hire layout
So when you’re planning a wedding marquee keep these things in mind:

  • What are people’s first impressions going to be? Try to avoid having them arrive at the back of the marquee for example.
  • What’s the weather likely to be? You’re generally guided by the time of year but if bad weather’s likely have the marquee closer to the house or have sufficient area for people to stand under cover
  • Don’t have too large an area for drinks – you lose a lot of the atmosphere

I’m sure there’s plenty more but hopefully this helps.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Presenting your marquee hire quotations

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Once again apologies for the screwed up fonts on some earlier posts. I’ve no idea how to fix them, I copy & pasted from Word and the blog doesn’t seem to like it in some browsers. I now write on here directly (spilling mistakes and all).

So, back to marquees.

Obviously we got most of our work by being charming, witty and handsome chaps when visiting customers 😉 Unbelievably some people weren’t bowled over by a flash of our pearly whites and actually wanted some substance to our lavish promises.

I talked before (and undoubtedly will again) about site visits so won’t cover that now, just assume that you’ve left a reasonable impression. Likewise if you’re supplying quotes over the phone without viewing the site, hopefully you’ve left on good terms and they’re now expecting a quote in the post.

1st rule –dont leave your customer waiting. We’d always send our quotes out the same day or the following day. Any longer than that (problems can occur) and we’d phone to let them know.

2nd rule –always send a quote 1st class. Trust me, it’s worth the extra few pence.

Presentation is key. Send your quote out folded in 4 to fit into a small envelope and it looks cheap and not easy to lay out and read.

We sent all of our quotes our using A4 envelopes in a blue presentation folder (we actually had these printed with our logo as well but they’ve become more expensive since then). We then included:

  • Two copies of the quote with terms and conditions on the back. The customer would sign one and send it back with 20% deposit.
  • Stamped addressed envelope back to us (this can be a small envelope)
  • Colour diagram laminated
  • photocopy of the diagram for customer to draw all over

Short of including a pen for them to sign it with we tried to think of everything, it looked very impressive and professional.

If you’re just starting out I’d suggest all of this is a bit much but bear it in mind for the future as you expand. To keep it simple I’d just send out the quotes in an A4 envelope and clip a small diagram (courtesy of our shiny new marquee planner) to the top -remember to cut off our name. That way you’re getting most of the benefit without most of the expense (presentation folders & laminator).

Finally if your printer can handle A4 envelopes I always think it looks better having printed addresses (though that’s more personal opinion).

Thanks for reading

Spencer