Choosing a name: marquees or party tents?

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

Anchoring marquees down

95% of the time anchoring a marquee down is very simple, just use a tie down kit with the marquee stakes knocked in to a lawn, this is very secure and the risk of underground pipes should be taken care of beforehand (generally in your terms and conditions of hire). Some companies do use a CAT detector just to be sure.

Sometimes a tie down kit isn’t suitable, this isn’t just on hard standing – there are occasions when you can’t use stakes in grass like a burial ground or even Olympic 2012 sites (who are insisting that no stakes are used).

There are 2 options, the first is to use longer guy rope style straps. These are run to an area where you can put in stakes or other secure fixing points (concreted in fence posts on a tennis court for example).

The 2nd option is to strap heavy weights to the marquee, the most popular method for this is to use water butts that can be filled and emptied on site. Always strap the water butts directly to the marquee, don’t run straps/ropes to water butts set back from the structure as you’ve given a drag factor that will slacken off any tension. You also need to ensure water butts are suitable, again on the Olympic 2012 sites water butts aren’t being allowed.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Marquee Monthly

A new specialised magazine Marquee Monthly is launching this summer aimed at the marque hire industry, this has never been done before and it could be a really exciting development for the industry.

More details can be found on their website: Marquee Monthly

As a marquee hire company you should receive a copy in the post, if not get in touch with them to add yourself on their database.

One of the items in the magazine is going to be a marquee of the month so you can send your best photos in to potentially be featured. Also if you’ve got any good stories or marquee related news they’ll want to hear about it (email Stuart at their domain).

Speaking to the people behind it they sound nice guys and very knowledgeable so hopefully it will be very successful.

Thanks for reading. A quick note to say that any orders placed on Thursday or Friday of this week will be delayed until Monday as we’re taking all of the lads away for a couple of days to say thank you for all their hard work over the last year.

Spencer

Connecting marquees to a building

We have an article on connecting a marquee to a house but there’s an additional consideration. Check for any lighting on the house that you might cover up with the marquee.

We butted a marquee up against a house once (gable flush against the building) and as happens quite often the marquee covered over an outside floodlight. Imagine our surprise when we came back to collect the marquee and a large hole had been melted through the end of our marquee where the floodlight had been left on. Whether fortunately or unfortunately the customers were out when we were dismantling.

So the lesson to learn is always point out that any lighting touching the marquee should NOT be turned on (they may not even notice if it is). If it does happen to you (or something similar) then it’s not the end of the world, one of our marquee repair kits should patch up the marquee.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Cheap marquees for sale

In preparation for the new season we’re clearing our stocks of a few marquees left over from last year, these will be going on eBay with no reserve starting at 99p so grab yourself a bargain:

6x12m Deluxe DIY Marquee for sale on eBay

To be honest if it sells for 99p then we may reconsider listing the others we have!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How to lay marquee flooring

This is how we and most of the marquee hire industry lay flooring in a marquee:

Any marquee flooring should have a non-breathable layer down underneath the main surface. This prevents the grass from giving off water vapour that will come back down as condensation and stops the surface getting muddy. Grass is tough stuff and covering it over for a week or so shouldn’t be a problem.

Use 4″ or 6″ nails to hold down the carpet, this pulls the surface tightly and prevents any trip hazards. On hard surfaces use double sided carpet tape.

Thanks for watching/reading.

Spencer

The marquee bonus culture

Bonus is a bit of a swear word at the moment but as long as you’re not rewarding incompetence and the bonuses aren’t 7 figures (if they are then I’d like to apply for a job) then they are an excellent way to retain key staff.

The marquee hire industry is obviously very seasonal generally peaking in mid-summer. It doesn’t matter who you are or what size company you have if you lost key members of staff at that time then it’s going to cause you serious problems.

For all team leaders (ie someone you can leave in charge on site) we would give them a 4 figure bonus if they stayed with us until the end of September. I can think of at least 2 occasions when tensions were running a little high this saved us losing a key member of staff. 4 figures may sound generous but if you sit down and work out what you’d have to do if they walked out in the middle of your busiest week then the bonus is a cheaper option.

We also had a condition that any tool breakages/losses were deducted from the bonus which suddenly increased their life-expectancy but that’s just an optional extra point.

Thanks for reading -try not to let your bonuses create a worldwide credit crisis.

Spencer

Eave Braces

All of our 6m wide marquees now include eave braces. These are metal braces that connect the number 2 pole at the eaves with the number 2 pole halfway up the roof. Shown in red on an overhead diagram of a 6x16m marquee here:

This extra bracing makes the structure stronger and more resistant to strong winds and water pooling without adding considerably to the weight. Keeping in mind the weather currently outside I should mention that although these braces add to the structure’s strength no marquee in the UK is designed for snow loading so always make sure you don’t allow snow to settle on a marquee roof.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Positioning windows in a marquee

The good thing about a quality marquee with interchangeable side panels is your customer can decide where they want the windows when you erect the marquee.
The bad thing about a quality marquee with interchangeable side panels is your customer can decide where they want the windows when you erect the marquee!

Your customers views on where the windows should go might not be in line with where you believe they should go so a diplomatic discussion should take place, at the end of the day they should have the final say all you can do is make recommendations and give reasons why.

Generally windows should be pointing to the view and any side facing a barrier (ie a wall or a fence) should be covered with walls.

Often customers believe that windows should face the sun, this isn’t ideal as people can have it shining straight at them while eating but it’s not the end of the world.

Windows always look best when they are symmetrical so if a customer wants 4 windows on a side of a marquee that has 6 panels put the 4 windows in the middle with a wall either side. This is probably the most important point so worth emphasising, the outside of a marquee always looks best when the windows are symmetrical, it’s less important from the inside so don’t worry if a catering partition disrupts the symmetry from the inside.

Lastly, windows make a marquee more inviting no matter what view they have so always position some near the entrance.

Spencer

Avoid using heaters when erecting a marquee

If you’re out erecting marquees at the moment then it’s a bit cold but you should avoid using heaters to warm you up, at least until the flooring is down.

Putting marquees up in bad weather isn’t the greatest but we do work in an industry that means once the marquee’s up we’re effectively working indoors for the rest of the time whilst finishing off the interior of the marquee.

If you put the marquee up on frozen ground and then put the heater on you risk working in a bit of a quagmire as the ground thaws out and the mud gets spread around the marquee.

Simple solution -don’t put the heaters on until the flooring is down, that waterproof barrier under the flooring will keep the flooring sound as the ground thaws out.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer