Archive for the ‘starting out’ Category

Starting a marquee hire company: Choosing a name

Monday, December 28th, 2009

It may not be the first thing on your list but it’s one of the more interesting: -choosing a name for your new start up marquee business.

There’s lots of general information about registering your name here.

If you read about marketing you’ll hear a lot about ‘promoting your brand’ and similar ‘brand awareness’ stuff. To me that’s not too relevant to a marquee hire company but if you want to apply it go ahead.

My main focus is choosing a name, you can either go for a descriptive name (Dorking marquee hire, Sussex marquees etc), a funny/clever name (in-tents, undercover, impressive erections!) or just a name you like the sound of.

Personally I’d go for a descriptive name every time, this is purely to help you in the internet searches. Someone isn’t going to search for ‘Spencers tents’ or ‘Spencers got you covered’. They could well search for ‘Dorking marquee hire’ or ‘marquees in Surrey’ though.  That could make the difference between you succeeding or failing in your new venture.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How I’d start up a marquee hire business

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I’m very conscious of the fact that I describe this blog as helping people set up a marquee hire business but for most visitors it’s like coming along half way through a conversation -most articles are written assuming you’re already in business.

So what I plan to do is to write a guide on what I’d do if I was starting up a marquee hire business now, maybe split in to two angles – full-time or part-time start ups.

I’ll try to post the guide in a step by step process here then at the end I’ll put it together in a down-loadable guide.

If any experienced marquee erectors out there have suggestions of what to put in drop me a line, all suggestions welcome 🙂

Merry Xmas & Happy New Year to all of our customers, thank you for your business and I hope we  can continue helping you to be successful in 2010.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Know your USP

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

I’m not really one for marketing lingo but everyone should know their USP -Unique Selling Point.

It will probably change as you grow, expand and find your market but you should have an idea of what it is right now.

If you’re starting up a marquee hire business or thinking of it and worried how you’re going to appeal to customers then don’t worry.  These factors are in your favour and so you should promote these as often as possible:

  • Brand new equipment. If you’re just starting out then all of your stock is new.  You should be using phrases like ‘all of our stock is less than 6 months old’. Try and avoid saying it’s never been used before as that might just worry people that you don’t know what you’re doing 😉
  • The cheapest. When you start a marquee hire business you should be among the cheapest in the area.

As you grow as a business these will obviously change – for a start your stock will be older and your prices will probably have gone up! To give you an idea before I had to sell our marquee hire company I would promote the following about us:

  • Wedding specialists. We had done a LOT of weddings by the end but always tried to make sure each customer felt special and individual. We’d offer them advice and choices even though 90% of people ended up having the same thing!
  • Reliable and trustworthy – this is just something you build up over a long time by reputation. It can swiftly be lost which is why I was careful who we sold it to and made sure they’d carry on in the same vein.

So if you’re thinking of starting up a marquee hire venture then play on the ‘new stock’ and ‘cheapest’ angles to get you business.

If you’re an established company make sure you know your USP and where you’re currently at. If you don’t know then take time out and think about it, if you’re confused about what your angle is then how do you think customers are going to feel?

Thanks for reading

Spencer

PS -advance warning, next week’s post will be all about our 9m wide kit as the pre-order deadline is coming up soon.

Every marquee hirer should be using google

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Most marquee hirer’s will let someone else look after their website, our speciality is putting up marquees not web design after all. But whoever you are you should still be using google and making it work for you.

By using google I don’t mean using their search engine, I mean using their extra tools. You have to register and set it up but it doesn’t take long.

What tools are available?

Google’s local business center: when it looks like you’re searching for a local business, the first few results appear on a map – these are results from google’s local business center. Registering for this is a MUST.

Webmaster tools: This helps you find out if there’s any problems with your marquee website. If the person who looks after your website is on the ball you don’t need this. For those of us who look after our own websites it’s very handy.

Adwords: You know the ads that appear on the right hand side (and sometimes above) the normal search results? They’re paid-for ads, that’s how google makes money. In my experience they’re very useful and well worth the small amount of money required, -note when you first start out have a good search round as often there’s vouchers out there for free £20/£30 for adwords.

Google analytics: With adwords comes another incredibly useful program called analytics, by installing a small piece of code on to your website you can keep track of number of visitors, where they go, what they searched for to find your site and 101 other things. If you’re technically minded and/or do your own website this is incredibly useful.

Google alerts: you put a search term in and every time google finds something new with that search term it’ll email you (once a day,week or month). How is this of use? Well if you put your name in here you can keep track of anyone online anywhere who mentions you. If you put “marquee hire” and your local area then you’ll keep track of who else is around you. This is not to be underestimated, it’s very very useful.

There’s other tools on there but these are the main ones that I think most people would be interested in who run marquee hire businesses.

Sorry for the delayed entry this week, my daughters birthday yesterday meant I was at the Zoo 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

But it’s raining..

Monday, October 5th, 2009

If you’re starting up a marquee hire company you have to realise you’ll be working outdoors most of the time. And most of the time it’s very enjoyable – you get a suntan, fresh air (City marquees apart) and life is good.

The flip side of this is you have to be prepared to put marquees up in all weathers. So when you start up a business and you’re drawing out costings don’t forget to include a decent set of waterproofs for you and anyone working with you. Ideally they’d have your logo on but don’t go spending silly money.

  • jacket
  • trousers
  • gloves (sealskinz were my favourite)
  • waterproof boots
  • hat – much to the amusement of some of my lads I’d often wear a hard hat in heavy rain. Why not? It’s got a natural gutter round the side so no dripping down your neck, it’s also raised off your head so you don’t get too hot.  It just makes it look like you don’t trust your workmates lifting skills!

This is on my mind as we’re out testing some marquee designs tomorrow and the forecast is awful, time to dust off my old marquee waterproofs (and maybe a hard hat).

Thanks for reading – only 2 weeks to The Showmans Show.

Spencer.

There’s already a large marquee hire business in my area

Monday, September 14th, 2009

You want to start up a marquee hire business but there’s already a large marquee hire business well established in your area. What should you do?

In actual fact, this is a good thing. I’ll try to explain why:

Imagine you want to start up a marquee company near us in the South East, the problem is you’ve got someone like Charlesworth Marquees who are already established as the leading hire company. Starting any new business can be intimidating, when you’ve got someone like Charlesworth on your doorstep with their repuation it can be even more so.

But in fact it should be seen as a good thing. A lot of large marquee hire businesses don’t want to touch smaller jobs, and by ‘smaller’ they generally mean anything less than £2000!

Now there’s a lot of good business out there for less than £2k and you can make a comfortable living from doing several jobs of that size every weekend.

There’s also the opportunity of growing a partnership with the larger company, you pass them any job too large for you and they pass on any job too small for them.

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 Hirers suggestion to reduce stress

Monday, July 6th, 2009

It’s the middle of the season, you’ve had to work on Saturday due to a particularly large and tricky marquee job and now you’ve finally got to relax on a Sunday afternoon with your feet up watching TV. Suddenly your mobile goes off and one of the lads who works for you wants to know what marquees are going up on Wednesday as he’d like to knock off early. Or maybe a customer’s calling to add another table to their booking in 3 months time.

If you’re like me and it takes you a while to wind down then this is quite literally the last thing you need. Not everyone’s like this – I’ve got a mate who also sells marquees who can happily answer his phone on holiday and not let it ruin his day. Not me. And if it’s not you then the solution is very easy.

Buy another mobile phone!

Have one for your friends and family that stays on most of the time and one for work that you turn off when not at work. When contracts are as little as £10/month or even pay as you go there’s really no reason not to (other than the pain of carrying two mobiles). Keep your personal mobile number a treasured secret while your work mobile can be on your business cards and website.
If I’m working in the evening or at weekends, my work mobile’s on – as a lot of you will know I’ll talk about marquee hire all day! But when Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (my daughter’s current program of choice) is on, the work phone’s off.

Trust me, this really helps.

My only exception to this would be when you first start up. I’m fortunate enough to (part) own a 30 year old company that’s widely regarded as one of the market leaders. When you first start up you’re not so lucky (unless you’ve parted with a wedge of cash!), you need to stand out for your service and reliability -I’m afraid having your phone answered out of hours is one way of doing it.

So my advice? Buy a work mobile straight from the off – have it on as much as possible (note: wedding anniversaries and birthday parties probably come in the ‘not possible’ group) but when you start to feel under pressure or stressed -turn it off out of hours. Let yourself relax a bit 🙂

Just remember to turn it back on again afterwards.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

-I’m playing around with the comments section. I disabled them when I was getting too much spam from it (200 daily!) but hopefully it’ll be working soon.

-I’ve finally updated our gallery with some photos so pop in if you need some new ideas, there’s a few of our marquees used to replace a church in Nigeria!

So you want to start a marquee hire company?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

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

Where to store your marquees

Monday, May 25th, 2009

When we ran a marquee hire business my dream was always to have a large yard with everything loaded by forklifts. It strikes me as the most efficient way of running the business and we were probably a year or two away from accomplishing it when I had to ‘retire hurt’.

So is this what you should aim for in the long term? Well now I’m not so convinced – if you save up for a commercial property the costs don’t stop there, you have to pay council tax at 40% of the estimated rental income. To give you some idea if you’re paying £15k rent for a commercial unit you then need to find another £6k for council tax (even if you actually own the unit and don’t rent you still have to pay council tax).

So what’s the solution? Well it depends on where you are on the size scale for a marquee hire business.

If you’re just starting out or you’ve only got a handful of marquees then I’d always recommend using your garage, shed or a trailer for storage. Make sure you don’t upset your neighbours so they don’t compain about you running a business from home.

If you’ve outgrown your garage/shed then you need to find somewhere else to store your equipment. If you’re offering furniture and dance floors it won’t take long before you need to find more storage.

My advice is to approach local farms and see if you can rent one of their buildings. Rent is generally cheap, they probably won’t have planning permission for commercial use so again you want to keep a low profile but it does mean you won’t have to pay council tax. Make sure you use your own padlocks -barns will never be as secure as commercial property or even your garage.

Thanks for reading

Spencer