Archive for the ‘starting out’ Category

Marquee Hire Websites

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

If you’re starting a marquee hire business you should have a website. It’s not essential, to start with you’ve probably got more things on your mind but you should certainly get one sooner rather than later.

What should you put on a website?

  • Photos and lots of them. People will visit your website wanting an idea of what you do. Photos are the easiest way to do this.
  • Make all wording reassuring. People want to know you’re reliable and will turn up with their marquee.
  • It’s up to you whether you put a full price list online, certainly some ideas of prices will help.
  • Contact details
  • Keep it simple, clean and tidy. Don’t start putting loads of special effects or use coloured backgrounds -keep the background white or a very light colour and only use special effects if they’re functional (slide shows for example).

My next couple of articles will be about getting your website up the search rankings. If you want to do this you’ll need to be able to change several things – the title, description, and a few other features which some website design programs don’t allow you to do.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Getting yourself known

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Early post as I’m away next week:

Once you’ve decided to go into marquee hire don’t just sit on your backside expecting the bookings to come rolling in. Get out there making contacts (networking seems to be the popular phrase for this).

This is the bread & butter of marquee hire companies.

When organising an event some people won’t go to the marquee company first. They might go to the caterer, the florist, the DJ. Everyone’s different. Getting in with these people is a MUST.

Fill your pockets with business cards and leaflets, put your best charm hat on and if possible go and meet people face to face. If not send them some literature and follow it up with a phone call.
Do some research and find all the catering companies, DJ’s, Bands, florists, party planners and any site where you’ve seen marquees up or think marquees might be of interest -National trust properties, large pubs, hotels etc.
You need to explain:

  • How easy to work with you are (you want to work with these people)
  • How reliable you are (you want them to recommend you)
  • How new and well maintained your equipment is

Some people work on commission for recommendations. Personally I always avoided paying any commission and relied on a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ approach, however I think I’m in the minority and if you get regular business from such arrangements losing 10% of it is manageable.

As a final note some people will actually contact other local marquee hire companies to get on good terms with them. That way if you or they need to cross-hire anything you have communications in place.

The most important thing about Marquee Hire

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Be confident.

Sounds a little over the top to call it the most important thing about marquee hire? Not really.

People are putting their trust in you for their event. What are they basing this on? In the case of weddings or large events 90% it’s about you (and your reputation).  Festivals, places where all people want is a cover over their heads it’s all about price and you may not even meet your customer until you put the marquee up. But for weddings or special occasions it’s how you come across at a site visit.

Not a confident person? Don’t worry, neither was/am I. You’ve just got to pretend to be -fake it till you make it.

Think about what the customer wants from you
-confident
-knowledgable (gained over time)
-listens to what they want
-polite (manners are free!)
After a while all these things come naturally. Then you’ve got the other extreme to worry about -arrogance.

One of our competitors was particularly arrogant when going back for repeat business (a 2nd or 3rd marquee for the same family) -this resulted in us getting loads of work!

Confidence is important but remember it’s a fine line between very confident and arrogance!

Marquee flooring

Monday, July 14th, 2008

There’s basically five options for flooring a marquee:

Wooden/suspended floor, carpet, matting, plastic tiling or breathable flooring (softex etc).

The best finish is a wooden floor with new exhibition carpet on top, it’s also the most expensive.

The worst in my opinion is breathable flooring as it allows condensation to build up.

We once got called out my a lady complaining her marquee leaked when we were in the middle of a hose pipe ban and it hadn’t rained for 2 weeks! She’d watered her lawn just before we’d arrived, she didn’t have any flooring so it all came off as water vapour forming as condensation up in the marquee.

If you use wooden flooring, carpet or matting you should lay a groundsheet or polythene underneath to prevent this happening. Breathable is exactly what a floor shouldn’t be! Grass is tough stuff, it recovered soon after the marquee’s gone.

Wooden flooring:

Larger marquees offer an integrated flooring system or use an interlocking wooden floor.

Coconut matting:

This is what most marquee company’s use for most jobs. Lasts for years, just hoover it after laying (we used to use a leaf blower), put a groundsheet underneath & nail it all down with 4” or 6” nails.

Exhibition carpet:

Offered as a premium option to matting it’s laid in exactly the same way but you only get 1-3 uses out of carpet depending on the colour and intensity of use. Recyclable options now available as it is becoming increasingly difficult to dispose of.

Plastic tiling:

I was never a fan as it hides dips and holes until trodden on but other people swear by it. Bulky but easy and quick to lay.

Breathable flooring:

Hate it. Keep it for caravan awnings.

If you’re starting up a hire company I’d recommend buying some coconut matting. You can also offer carpet and you just price it for buying it new and only using it once. I’d also buy some wooden flooring to use as dance floors then when you have enough you can offer it as a solid floor.

In general there’s no need to have a solid floor during the summer. For my wedding I had carpet over groundsheets on grass and everyone walked in thinking it was a solid floor underneath. The only exception would be on patios or tennis courts that might get water pooling.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee hire insurance and terms & conditions

Monday, June 30th, 2008

If you receive money for marquee hire you need to be covered for public liability insurance and have some good terms and conditions to back yourself up.

Insurance

There are several insurance firms who specialise in marquee hire cover -we include their details with all of our marquee sales. They can cover you for one-off events (though they need at least 14 days notice) or provide annual cover.

One-off cover should be considered for part-time marquee hire companies but if you’re setting it up as a full time business annual cover will almost certainly be more economic.

Public liability insurance shouldn’t be confused with fire/theft/damage insurance. Public liability insurance is always included in the cost of hiring, fire/theft/damage insurance is usually an optional extra -it’s up to the customer to decide which they’d prefer:

  • Risk it, have no insurance cover.
  • Household policy cover -some household insurance policies cover marquees. When I started out most household policies would cover marquees, now hardly any do.
  • Insure it through yourselves -most marquee hire insurance companies will allow you to offer insurance at around 5% of the total hire charge which you can offer your customers.

Terms and Conditions

You may think t’s & c’s aren’t necessary, especially if you’re only hiring to friends or friends of friends -in my opinion you should ALWAYS have them, even though you’ll rarely have to use them.

Things like cancellation policy, what happens in the event of loss or damage of equipment and especially have a force majeure part – you may think nothing will stop you putting your customers marquee up but think of the fuel crisis, foot & mouth or even someone wrecking your marquee a week before your customers event.

A copy of the terms and conditions we used as a hire company are included with every marquee sale.
Thanks for reading.

So you want to start a marquee hire company?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

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