Archive for the ‘starting out’ Category

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

Fire safety in marquees

Monday, January 21st, 2013

When starting a marquee hire business it’s worth having a chat with your local fire safety officer. In my experience they are very nice people and easy to talk to.

Why talk to them? Well it’s always better to be prepared and to know what is expected of you.

My personal recommendation is to have a suitable exit within 6m of every person in one of your marquees. A suitable exit being a zipped panel or a completely clear (ie wall removed) section. This is very easy with our interchangeable wall system, less so with some other systems.

Note:

  • For a 6x14m marquee or longer it is not sufficient to just have zipped entrances at either end, you would need a zipped entrance along one of the long sides
  • For marquees that use it dutch lacing is not classed as a suitable exit (unless it is permanently open)
  • In discussions with the fire officer talk about whether the exits need signs of any kind. Again in my experience any exit that is not immediately obvious needs a sign.
  • We didn’t supply fire extinguishers for catering areas, believing those who used/supplied the catering equipment should do so. A lot of marquee hire companies do supply fire extinguishers for this purpose so again one to think about.

Like many things fire safety is easy and almost common sense but it is always something to consider and speaking to the fire safety officer will give peace of mind as much as anything.

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

I want to set up a marquee hire business

Monday, April 16th, 2012

This is something we hear often and fortunately this is where we can help. Arrange a time to come in and see us and we will sit down with you and discuss any ideas you may have.

How we can help:

  • We can offer advice from our many years experience both in the marquee hire industry (10+ yrs) and from running a business (30+ yrs)
  • If we can’t help you with something we’ll know someone in the industry who can
  • We are happy to discuss the pros and cons of all products used in the industry, not just the ones we supply/manufacture
  • We are happy to offer continued advice in the future, we take the view that helping you to expand and be successful is ultimately beneficial to both parties
  • We offer sample photos to get you started
  • We offer sample terms and conditions (the ones we used for 10+ years)
  • We include a list of industry contacts, these are people that we can recommend from either our experience or others who we have helped over the years
  • We are one of the most innovative marquee suppliers around, we repeatedly come up with new products and new ways for you to gain returns on your investment. We’d love to take all of the credit for these ideas but most of them come from our large network of existing DIY Marquee users

We can’t do everything for you (we’re not going to come and put the marquees up for you for example!) but we believe we are comfortably the best place to start –contact us to arrange a meeting.

Thanks for reading and thanks for to everyone reading who’s come to see us over the years.

Spencer

Choosing a name: marquees or party tents?

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Choosing the name of your marquee business is very important, as mentioned previously I favour some sort of location in the name as it tells people the area you cover and can help in google rankings. But do you use the term marquees or party tents (or both)?

Using a name like ‘Dorking party tents’ will appeal for smaller functions, mainly parties and similar events. People will expect ‘Dorking party tents’ to be cheaper than ‘Dorking marquees’ or ‘Dorking wedding marquee hire’ so you could get more business initially. The problem comes when you want to expand in to larger functions and weddings and having ‘party tents’ in your name can hold you back.

This is why several of ours customers have launched a new side of their business recently under a new (related) name with a suitable website targeting larger events.

Having several websites with different target markets is becoming increasingly popular in the industry, trying to offer everything to everyone can be a tricky thing to do and so it is far easier to split it up.

Following the example above it could be ‘Dorking party tents’ for targeting smaller functions that has a basic and functional website with packages based on unlined single marquees. There would then be a different website ‘Dorking wedding marquee hire’ with a classier appearance and packages based on larger multiple marquee functions.

So it doesn’t really matter what name you go for, you just have to be aware of the possible limitations you’re placing on yourself and consider having more than one name/website to appeal to different markets.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Remind customers of their responsibilities

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

One of our favourite customers has recently had a problem that is interesting to highlight for others in the industry.

They erected a marquee for a client and left it well strapped down. The client then in all their wisdom decided to ‘borrow’ most of the tie downs to anchor down their own gazebos as strong winds were forecast. Lo and behold the strong winds caused damage to the main marquee exactly where the tie downs had been removed.

This is an incredibly rare occurrence, I can think of only one similar incident happening in all my time of marquee hiring so there’s no need to be too concerned but it would be sensible to take precautions.

Essentially you need to ensure the customer is aware of their responsibilities and obligations, for example:

  • ensuring no part of the marquee is dismantled (partially or otherwise), this includes tie downs but also wires or cross-braces on larger marquees
  • not to leave indoor furniture outside -chairs with seat pads and/or covers are often carried outside by guests but not returned at the end of the event leaving them open to rain overnight
  • marquees should be closed up overnight or in strong winds
  • no electrical equipment should be tampered with including any temporary earth rods (used with generators etc)

Ideally have a form that is signed just to cover yourself if anything did happen.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Business plans

Monday, July 18th, 2011

When you’re starting a new business venture a business plan is a useful tool to have.  Despite what some might say it’s not essential and watching Dragons Den or The Apprentice you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a case of picking random numbers and adding a zero or 6 to give your 3-year plan.

But a good business plan can save you a lot of work or stop you making an expensive mistake. In my opinion a good business plan should make a sound and compelling argument for why you should start it.

A good article on business plans. Business link are always a good source.

My only slight reservation is don’t get carried away. If you spend too long putting the plan together you’ll use up all that new-venture energy and never get round to actually doing it!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The first steps to marquee hire

Monday, June 20th, 2011

This is a conversation I have regularly, you’re interested in starting a marquee hire business and don’t know where to start. This is what I suggest:

Research
Find out who your local competitors are, what marquees they offer and how much they charge for the sort of marquees you’re likely to offer.
If there are hardly any competitors or the local companies all offer much larger marquees then this is a good thing. There’s space in the market for you to exploit.
If there are a lot of companies in your local area that offer similar size marquees to ours/yours then you might need to think twice about starting up. It’s not impossible but it is much harder to get going in a saturated market.

Stock:
The most popular marquees for hiring are 6x12m, 6x6m and 4x8m. If you’re based in a city then it’s more likely to be the smaller, 4m wide marquees that are popular.

What marquees should I buy?
I would recommend starting on a smaller scale initially. All of our marquees are designed along a similar, easy to erect style. If you’ve put one up then you won’t have a problem erecting a different size without practice.
Because of the large stock we carry and swift delivery you can just buy more marquees when you have the bookings for them – to me that makes good business sense, you only buy further marquees when you know you’re getting a return on your investment.

Insurance and misc
If you’re hiring out marquees then you should be covered for public liability insurance. When you buy a DIY Marquee we pass on 3 companies details who specialise in marquee hire cover. We also pass on a copy of the terms and conditions of hire we used to use as a hire company and we can provide some photos to get your website and advertising started.

We always enjoy helping people start up their own marquee hire businesses and will happily chat through any ideas you may have. The above is just a collection of ideas to start you off.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Something to think of when buying a marquee

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

That listing I linked to on eBay was for one of our marquees bought in March with accessories for £1,684 and used once for a wedding. It sold for £1,600. Find me something else wedding-related that holds it’s value that well after using it!

For some reason the last few weeks have gone crazy with requests from people with other makes of marquees wanting spare parts. I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s just the time of year for people to be planning their summer parties or whether there’s just been some unexpected bad weather somewhere but I’d say we’ve had an 800% increase than this time last month.

How does this affect you? Well generally parts of different marquees aren’t compatible with one another so if you have an accident with your marquee you’ve got to go back to the original supplier. But a lot of the requests we have are for other suppliers marquees who clearly state on their website that spares are readily available, which is confusing. I thought everyone was like us who send spares out immediately as the time you need a replacement is invariably when you need the marquee.

Now I’m not trying to criticise all of our competitors, I get on well with most and the reason for that is mutual respect and knowledge that we each offer a good service. But there are some out there who say one thing and do another. What I suggest is if you’re thinking of buying a marquee (whoever it’s from and whatever style it is) you phone them up anonymously saying you’ve got a 2 or 3 year old marquee already and need some spare parts for it, just see what reaction you get and keep that in mind when finding a supplier.

All of this and indeed our philosophy on spare parts comes from my own experience. Years ago I was really in the mire for one weekend and approached our usual supplier only to be hit by a brick wall. It was made very clear that they weren’t going to help me or go out of their way at all. So I approached another supplier we rarely used who bent over backwards to help even meeting us out of hours so we could get the job done. Who do you think we went back to in the future? Years of growth later and we were one of his best customers and I never forgot him helping us out that one nightmare weekend.

I’m not saying we’re the only marquee supplier who offers a good after sales service but just put a supplier to the test before buying. That way you can have more confidence if anything should go wrong in the future.

Thanks for reading

Spencer