Marquee storage

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

Weathering a marquee to a house part iii – using a walkway

A walkway is used when you can’t butt the end of the marquee up against the house as in part i (posted 2 weeks ago). It might be the marquee has to go side on to the house or simply set back a bit. Walkways are very easy and simple things but here are some thoughts on using them:

  • Put the walkway up first then build the marquee butting up to the walkway. Trying to fill a gap between a marquee and the house is a tricky tricky task
  • Butt the walkway up against the house tightly, you may need to remove the gable to allow the door to open outwards
  • If you’re using one of our walkways then we now include an extra gable with a gutter built-in to make weathering to a marquee easier and quicker
  • Be sure to anchor the walkway down (sounds obvious but I’ve seen it forgotten as everyone concentrates on the marquee)
  • In winter months allow for heating the walkway. If it’s very short it may just be angling one of the marquee heaters towards the walkway rather than having it’s own dedicated heater but you must incorporate the walkway in to your heating plan

How much you charge for a walkway is again a tricky issue. As much as we’ve made it as simple as possible you are effectively putting up another (small) marquee and need to charge accordingly. Often this is far more than a customer expects, especially when the marquee is a long way from the house and they say they’d like a ‘simple cover’ to the marquee.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Weathering a marquee to a house part ii – side-on to the house without walkway

The next category is weathering a marquee to a house that has to be positioned side-on and you don’t have the use of a walkway.

It is much easier using a walkway (as I’ll write about next week) especially one of ours! But not everyone has one so sometimes you just have to make do with what you’ve got.

Option 1: Butting the marquee hard up against the house

Similar to last weeks method you push the marquee hard up against the house but it’s the type and size of doors that gives you a headache:

  • sliding patio doors are the easiest, this means you can butt the marquee up at whatever height and put some guttering across to weather the join. The downside is that there is likely to be a step down in to the marquee and people might knock their head on the eave rail or gutter.
  • patio doors that open inwards can be treated like sliding doors as above
  • patio doors that open outwards are the most common and are frankly a pain. You have 3 options, 1 is to use a walkway (see next week), next is to create your own walkway (see below) and the third is to somehow lift the marquee up over the doors. If you’re using one of our deluxe marquees then there’s every chance it will be high enough but on a standard commercial one it’s likely to need ‘chocking up’ a bit using bricks or extensions. This should only really be as a last resort because the marquees aren’t designed to be chocked up and it changes the angle of the roof which can affect the water run-off

Option 2: Creating your own walkway:

If the house has got a pair of outward opening doors then we would sometimes use them to create a walkway – have the doors open at 90 degrees to the house and then place a piece of wood over the top, ideally with chocks to hold the doors in place and a slight angle so if it rains the water goes away from the house. This made a very short easy walkway to then butt and weather the marquee to.

Pretty much all of these methods are just to get by, the best method (if possible) is last weeks option of having the end of a marquee against the house and if you can’t do that then using a decent walkway (again see next weeks blog) will be a LOT easier and look more professional.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Weathering a marquee to a house part i

The easiest and indeed the best way to weather a house is by positioning the end of the marquee (the 4m or 6m side) against the building. This is because:

  • It genuinely creates an extra room to the house (the goal of most marquees attaching to a house) without going through a corridor/walkway or similar
  • The apex design of most marquees means that water comes off the sides of the marquee, very little comes down the end because it is a flat gable. If you orientate the marquee like this then it requires very little weathering/guttering – generally you can just pull the flap of the roof up and clip it to the guttering of the house
  • There is no eaves rail in the end of the marquee, this means you can generally lift the gable of the roof up and over any door opening in to the marquee
  • Tie downs are always attached to the sides of marquees, even if the marquee is on a patio there are often flower beds or fence posts at the sides of the garden to use for anchoring points

Some other points:

  • Ensure some of the tie downs are angled towards the house, it is very easy to attach all of the tie downs at an angle away from the house without realising it which would allow the marquee to move. If there are solid fixings on the house (cast iron not plastic downpipes for example) then by all means attach on to them to anchor the marquee down
  • A house will often have an overhanging gutter so the marquee won’t go hard up against the house. In my experience it’s best to leave all of the sides off facing the house (especially if there’s a window that can look out in to the marquee) and block in the gaps either side to keep in the warmth. How to block in these gaps:
    • Cover one end of a groundbar or similar length pole with gaffa tape (if you don’t have this in your van as standard then you can’t call yourself a true marquee erector!)
    • Hold the pole up to the eave rail at the end of the marquee and very loosely cable tie in place (c’mon, you must have cable ties!) with the taped end towards the house
    • Push the pole towards the house until it’s touching (the tape prevents you scratching or damaging the customers house) and then tighten up all of the cable ties to hold the pipe in place
    • To actually fill the gap attach a wall or window to the corner of the marquee as usual by bungee-ing to the leg but cable tie the top of the wall to the jutting out part of the pole you’ve just fixed in place keeping all of the slack towards the house
    • Go and find something heavy in the garden (plant pots are good) and rest on the rain skirt of the wall tight up against the house – this keeps the bottom in place
    • Unless you are incredibly lucky and there’s something on the house  to cable tie the marquee wall to then that’s about the best you can do

Thanks for reading, I’ll run through the other methods soon

Spencer

PS Tim from the excellent OakLeaf Marquees sent me a link to this funny marquee-related youtube clip

2012 Showmans Show – review

Thank you to everyone who visited us at the show. I think this is the bit where I’m supposed to say the show was FANTASTIC and as usual our stand was THE BUSIEST AROUND and how it shows we’re the BEST marquee supplier in the world. Ever. So there.

But…

Honestly? The show was very quiet this year. I’m not sure if it was the bad weather forecast that never really materialised or a sign that the industry is only looking to consolidate. Where in previous years there were crowds in each aisle this year it was only drifts of people, the site on both days seemed a bit quieter than usual. There were also a few gaps in the exhibitor stands.

Fortunately we only really use the show as a meet and greet for existing and future customers not as a sales stand so we just spend 2 days talking about marquees 🙂

I didn’t get much chance for a walk around but these ex-London Games plastic tables from Best Contract Furniture seem very cheap and worth a look.

Thanks for reading, it’ll be back to (hopefully) useful advice next week. Maybe something on different ways to weather a marquee to a house as that’s becoming increasingly relevant this time of year.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee electrics

Electrics for a marquee are generally straight forward affairs, especially the way that we now wire up lighting. Everything is supplied with 16amp blue plugs and sockets that just daisy-chain around the marquee.

We would usually run all of the electrics around the marquee and then run the power supply lead across to the house.  A 13amp RCD adapter should always be used to plug in to a house, as standard this will then be wired up to a 16amp blue socket ready to connect to the plug coming from the marquee. But what if you’ve run all of the leads around the marquee the wrong way round and end up with a 16amp socket towards the house rather than a 16amp blue plug?

Do you:

  • a – cut down all of the leads in the marquee and pain-stakingly attach them all back up again the correct way round
  • or b – the much quicker and easier method of just taking off that 16amp socket and swap if for a plug so it all connects up easily?

You must must must always do a. Just take the time and run the leads the right way round. No matter how pressed for time you may be do not ever start swapping sockets for plugs. Louise (have fun on maternity leave) from Essential Supplies refers to them as widow-makers because they are just so dangerous. If you think about what happens when the lead is plugged in if anyone were to unplug a join it would be the plug that’s live, ie those large metal prongs sticking out would be like open live wires.

As I say electrics and lighting in marquees are very easy, safe and straight-forward as long as you don’t start taking anything apart. Just keep it simple.

Our demo marquee is up for sale on eBay: ex-demo DIY Marquee

There probably won’t be a blog next week as we’ll be down setting up at The Showmans Show.

Thanks for reading, hope to see you next week at the show

Spencer

Stacking, storing and transporting marquee dance floors

The design of marquee dance floors are all very similar, battens across the back and small battens/teeth at one end. This enables the dance floor to lay nicely and each board to lock in with each other:

Back of dance floor board

There are a few issues with storing and transporting dance floors. If not stored correctly the surface can get damaged, if not stacked correctly the pile can be unstable (a pile of dance floor tipping over in a van is not good for the heart-rate) and a damp dance floor left in store can become mouldy or warped.

So this is what we did for all of our dance floors:

We would always try to transport dance floor boards face-to-face, that way you protect the surface. Carrying them in pairs helps this process but it depends on the muscle power available.

In transit we would stagger the pairs of boards so one pair had teeth at one end whilst the next pair had teeth at the other (see diagram above), this way the dance floor is nice and compact but still laying flat.

When storing the boards away we would use a slightly different system of putting the boards batten on top of batten (it’s not incredibly clear by my dodgy diagram but all battens should line up on top of each other!). The idea of this is that the boards are still flat and still stacked surface-to-surface but the larger gap allows more air around the wood -this allows the wood to dry out and ultimately will last longer before needing replacement.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The Showmans Show 2012

The Showmans Show is on 17th & 18th October this year at the Newbury Showground. I may have mentioned it once or twice, I certainly will have mentioned it if you’ve been in to see us talking about setting up a marquee hire business. It is the one show dedicated to marquee hire companies and a must-visit for anyone serious about marquees. Essentially anyone who is serious about supplying the marquee hire industry will have a stand there.

Please come and see us on stand 267 Avenue E.

For those geographically minded you come out of the main entrance marquee/hall and turn right. Take first left up avenue E and we’re the 4th stand along on the right hand side.

An alternative view is look for the fluorescent vehicles and pretty girls handing out leaflets on security services and our marquees are next door!

The site is quite large as shown by the photo below (our stand is circled):

I’d recommend visiting the Arcotherm & Climate Hire stand (nearly opposite us on avenue E) as they are introducing a new side entry floor diffuser, this will be far more practical in a marquee environment than the standard vents for that style of heater.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at the show.

Different speed limits for different vehicles

I recently went on a speed awareness course, frankly there’s a lot more I’d do to avoid 3 points on my licence than just sit in a conference room listening for 3 hours. There were a number of interesting points but something I’d forgotten from the highway code is that vans and trailers have different speed limits on some roads. It’s not something you take too much notice of as a 17 year old to be fair.

Any vehicle over 2 tonnes (vans, vehicles towing a trailer etc) can only do 60mph on a dual carriageway and 50mph on a single carriageway.

We had a lots of lads driving vans and/or towing trailers and we didn’t mention this to any of them. yes they should technically know their highway code but following on from the training mentioned last week if you’re employing people especially people who may not have driven larger vehicles before then this is the sort of thing to point out. It’s win-win, if they get caught then you both stand to lose one way or another.

It’s best to have a standard tick list for new employees showing best practices for each task they’re likely to undertake, driving and being made aware of the differences of driving larger vehicles should certainly be one of them. As well as the different speed limits make them aware that vans will always cut a corner more than a car, there’s also a much larger blind spot and to always pull straight up to a junction – there’s no rear passenger window to look through if you pull up to a junction at an angle.

Thanks for reading – remember the 6x12m deluxe marquee with damaged packaging on eBay finishes tonight.

Spencer

Training teamleaders, another cheap marquee on eBay & a shorter video

Have you ever had a shopping delivery from Tesco’s? We have and the attitude of the drivers is always fantastic, in my experience they are the most helpful and approachable people you could possibly get. Reflecting this back on my time running a marquee hire business I realised we did zero training for our team-leaders in public relations.

Whilst we never really had any problems leaving teamleaders on site without us we were solely worried about their standard (and speed) of work while we weren’t there. What we should have done is also express clearly how they should keep the customer informed of everything that was going on for peace of mind.

If you’re going to leave people other than yourself in charge on site then as well as training them for the job I also think it’s well worth training them to relate well to the customer, they are after all the face of your company when you’re not there.

Thanks for reading

We’ve got another marquee on eBay – this time it’s a brand new 6x12m deluxe, the only reason we’ve had to put it on there is because some of the outer packaging was torn in the store. The marquee is brand new so it could be a bargain for someone.

There’s a new video on our marquee video page, it’s a shorter one minute version of the one from last week.

Spencer