Upside down Fridays

Now bear with me on this one..

One of the best marquee erectors I ever worked with was Darren. He was faster and stronger than just about anyone else around and he fought women off with a sh*tty stick. In short everyone loved working with him. However, he was also a very shrewd chap.

On Fridays if the day was quiet with only a small marquee to do then he’d let whatever young lad was working with him be in charge for the day and boss him around. It sounds a laugh (and it was) but it’s also a very educational thing to do. You learn what winds the lads up (as that’s what they’ll make you do!) and you get to ham up any annoying things they do.

Try it one (quiet) day, it’s a laugh and might surprise you 🙂

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Essential items for your van

Over time you find there are certain things that you want to have in each vehicle, if you’re starting up then this is the sort of list that you need to equip each van/lorry with:

  • Wire cutters to cut all those cable ties (preferably a few pairs)
  • A few hammers (for nailing down matting/carpet)
  • sledgehammer
  • A pair of steps large enough for whatever size marquees you offer
  • several packs of cable ties
  • spare nuts/bolts/bungees/drop-nose pins whatever easily lose-able small parts your style of marquees use
  • spanners
  • ratchet straps
  • vacuum/leaf blower, whatever you use to clean up flooring
  • map book or sat nav
  • pack of baby wipes to clean hands before putting up linings etc
  • stake puller (if you use them)
  • purlin lifter (if you have the style of marquee that requires them)
  • hard hats (if you’re lifting metalwork over your head then you should wear them)
  • Cloths, bucket and some cleaning fluid (plant sprays are good for keeping cleaning fluid in)
  • a roll of rubbish sacks
  • 13amp fuses
  • selection of screwdrivers
  • 13amp socket tester (worth it’s weight in gold for testing sockets to trace any problem/fault)
  • small container of bleach (in an emergency you can remove marks on a lining at the last minute)

It sounds a lot but most of it will just stay permanently in the compartment above the cab or in a tool box. There are bound to be some things that I’ve missed but these should cover most eventualities that you may face.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

New Marquee Cleaner

No blog for a couple of weeks due to the bank holidays. Poor health was also a factor – can someone older and wiser than me let me know if a family of 4 can ever be completely illness free? You just seem to take turns. Anyway, back to marquees.

Cleaning marquees is a regular thing (or at least it should be!). It might only be a quick wipe on site or a full on scrub down in the yard as part of general maintenance. You need a decent cleaner to use.

We always used a generic Traffic Film Remover (TFR). It’s like concentrated washing up liquid that you water down in a spray or power washer.

UnoChem now produce a specific marquee cleaner which might be worth a try. I haven’t used it myself, I don’t know if it produces heaven in a jay cloth or adds nothing to your elbow grease. But it’s aimed at marquee people. We are marquee people. I thought it might be worth a try.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Advertising

If you’re starting up in marquee hire a big issue is advertising. How much do you spend and how do you spend it? Obviously we all want to get to a stage where most of our work is coming from word of mouth recommendations (a claim a suspiciously large number of hire websites announce). But if you haven’t had any previous customers then there’s no one to start the recommendation!

Several of our customers have recommended marqueehireguide.co.uk as a good place to obtain useful leads. They also offer (currently) a 3 month free trial so there’s nothing to lose. There are a few directories offering this service but this is the only one I’ve been consistently recommended. I should point out that I am in no way connected with this website, indeed I think it’s actually run by a fellow marquee supplier but I’m just giving an honest recommendation.

Lastly, want to know how to erect a 9x12m marquee in under 30 minutes? Try this marquee.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

How to lay a marquee dance floor

Before I start on marquee dance floors I should mention that this week we have a 4x8m and one of our new 9x12m DIY Marquees for sale on eBay.

Nearly all marquee dance floors go together in the same manner using a brick type pattern for strength:

  1. Plan the position of the dance floor carefully. Often you can decide which way to lay the boards (across or down the marquee). If you think the customer might want to increase or decrease the size of dance floor at a later stage then orientate the boards accordingly. So  you only have to add or remove rows rather than lifting the whole floor to alter the size.
  2. Lay the first two or three rows of boards down and then stop: check the dance floor is square and going to fit in line with your desired position.
  3. Ensure there are no gaps between the boards, once the whole dance floor is laid it is very difficult to go back and change it
  4. Similarly pack up the boards as each row is laid to avoid any bouncy gaps underneath. It is a nightmare trying to pack up a bouncy dance floor once all the boards are laid
  5. Once all boards are down it is time to lay the edging. Firstly put the sides of the edging on – this is laid in the same way as the boards. So if the last row put down was big-big-small then your edging should be laid as small-big-big to continue the brick pattern
  6. Once both sides are fitted any corner pieces of edging can be put in and the gaps at both ends filled using the remaining edging.
  7. If you’re a bit short of edging then leave it off on the side facing the DJ/Band

All of this may seem common knowledge but to others it could prove interesting. I remember going on site to find one lad so frustrated with the hour that he’d spent trying to edge a dance floor that he was in the middle of hacksawing a piece down to fit. Once I’d shown him how it was supposed to fit blood pressures were lowered and the hacksaw was put back in the van!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Demonstration marquee now up for viewing

A few years ago we were approached by our friends who run the pub next door who convinced us to put our demonstration marquee up in their garden every summer. They get the use of a marquee every year and we have a display marquee available for people to see in use. It works well for both parties.

It’s a 6m wide marquee with red carpet, roof lining, curtains and panoramic windows down one side. I’ll get a photo up here soon.

As our instructional videos have proved surprisingly popular we thought it time to do another one and got the video recorder out to show how we do it. Our intention was to produce a serious, professional video. This was thwarted somewhat when a couple of older gents came out for a cigarette and watched us putting up the marquee:

The barman bringing us out a couple of drinks was going to make for a tricky edit (not that we were arguing about that one..):

When the landlord came out for a chat “how are you getting on lads”, “good thanks, we’re just making a video” and didn’t take the hint that he was standing directly in front of the video camera we decided to give up! (he’s a very nice guy and the pub do great food by the way):

In other news we’re continuing to have a clear out of our stores of all the marquees that we can’t send out due to damaged packaging. There’s a 6x12m on eBay at the moment and I’ll continue to put one on every week or so until we’ve cleared them. They’re perfectly alright inside but they’re a pain to work round for us getting other stock to be sent out.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee PAT testing with Essential Supplies

So our friends over at Essential Supplies are running some PAT testing courses again, for those unaware every electrical item in the marquee industry should be PAT tested at least every 12 months. To be honest PAT testing is a bit of a dull job but it’s necessary! Here’s what they have to say:

After the success of our 2009 & 2010 PAT Testing Courses we have arranged some dates for 2011. We will be holding them on 4th/5th/27th and 28th April.  The location will be confirmed when we have numbers, but will be in the Basingstoke area.picture1.gif

THE COURSE

The aim of our one day ‘practical’ workshop is to obtain an understanding of why PAT Testing is necessary and be able to demonstrate safely and accurately all aspects of electrical testing necessary to perform PAT tests on your own or other peoples electrical equipment.

The course is designed for those within the events industry, although the testing techniques learnt can be used in any industry. You will be shown how to PAT test a wide range of our products from extension leads to metal light fittings and from simple distribution boards to power tools. There will be a maximum of four delegates per day, to ensure you get the most out of the course.

If you have already purchased a PAT tester you are welcome to bring it along to ensure that you get the best from it. Alternatively we will give you advice on testers to buy.

Price £230.00 per delegate (+ VAT)

Course fees include:

The official IET guide: code of practise for in service inspection and testing of electrical equipment. This is a complete reference for you.

Training at customer’s site shall be subject to extra transport costs.

To sign up…

call: 0800 0432 123

sales@essentialsupplies.co.uk

Fairy lights in marquees

Many years ago we did a Xmas wedding marquee. The bride and groom wanted lots of Xmas trees with fairy lights, fairy lights in the roof, fairy lights around the sides. If any guest stood in one spot for too long they’d probably want fairy lights on them too!

Sadly this was pre-internet so sourcing white strings of fairy lights turned out to be an impossible task. So I spent 2 days covering green strings of fairy lights with white insulation tape!

Xmas trees with fairy lights? -no problem as long as you’ve got plenty of extension leads to run round the marquee. Xmas trees in the roof? -no problem you can hang them above or below linings and they look good.

Fairy lights around the side of a marquee are slightly trickier and I remember just thinking I’d get on site and ‘wing it’. The problem is people really want them hung around the eaves, but that’s where the swag is. One option is to drape them round and round the swag but I didn’t think that looked very good. So in the end I came up with going behind the swag and poking each fairy light up through the velcro holding it on to the roof so just the bulb is showing. The end result is surprisingly good (sadly the photos are long gone).

For weddings or occasions where people just want subtle lighting effects I think just having fairy lights criss crossing the ceiling is perfect. But for those customers who just want fairy lights everywhere then above the swags is very effective.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

PS Apologies for the delay, I was out of the country yesterday

New 9x12m DIY Marquees now available

There are some people (I suspect my wife included) who think we/I get a little too excited about marquees however this time I feel our excitement is justified! Our new 9x12m DIY Marquees are now available for sale off the shelf.

Up until now it’s been a big price jump for marquee hire businesses wanting to go from 6x14m marquees up to 9x12m ones. You were looking at £1,099 for a 6x14m but around £7-9,000 for a decent quality aluminium frame marquee. At that price it’s very difficult to get a good return on investment.

Our new 9x12m DIY Marquees are only £2,499 + VAT. They operate on a similar system to our 4 & 6m wide ranges but have additional roof braces on 50mm framework together with roof and wall bracing cables. The end result -as anyone who saw it at The Showmans Show will tell you is a very very strong and impressive structure.

Don’t worry, the price won’t suddenly shoot up if you want more in the future this isn’t an introductory offer. Remember it’s in our interests to offer you good reliable products that can earn good returns on investment as that means you’ll be coming back for more DIY Marquees in the future!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How long can a marquee stay up for?

This is a question I’m asked often – how long can a marquee stay up for?

There are two parts to this -one is the structure, the other is the state of the ground.

Marquees are only designed as temporary structures, if you have them up for a long time then certain precautions should be taken. Checking it regularly for signs of wear & tear, checking the strength of bungees, making sure there is no water or snow gathering on the roof, not leaving it up in extreme weather conditions. All common sense stuff really.

The ground is only a problem if it’s going up on grass. As Legend mentioned on the forum recently if grass is covered for a long time the groundsheets underneath can become covered in rotting grass which smells. Badly. Can barely stay in the same vehicle badly! But I’ve only ever found that smell to be once the flooring has been taken up, never while the marquee is in use.

You can put flooring down for a week or two and all that will happen will be the grass will yellow a bit. A few weeks later and it will have recovered no problem. If it’s down for longer than that then the grass is likely to die off and need re-seeding.

Please don’t think about ‘breathable’ flooring/matting. As mentioned previously it allows a build up of condensation but also if it’s left down long-term the grass just grows up through the mesh. I can’t stand the stuff which is why we don’t sell it.

We’re trying to have a clear out before the season really starts so following on from the 6×12 we sold last week we’ve got a 6×6 with damaged boxes on eBay starting at 99p. In the main 6×6’s are less popular than 6×12’s so this could go cheaply.

Happy bidding, thanks for reading.

Spencer