How big a dance floor do I need in my marquee?

A very common question. The way to work it out is to multiply the number of guests by 2.5 and that’s the square footage dance floor area you would typically need.

There are some caveats to add to that though:

  • This assumes only around a half of guests would be dancing, if you know you have a more active than average group then go bigger.
  • This does not include space for a Band or DJ -NEVER put them on the same surface (ie on the dance floor) as their equipment can jump around.
  • Larger dance floors (or even a fully boarded marquee) may be needed for more active group style dances like a ceileih, callee, kaleigh, barn dance.
  • Don’t get too hung up about the size of the dance floor, if it gets very busy then the dance floor is often just a starting point as people then dance just off it anyway.

Some examples:

  • 60 guests = 150 square feet so typical size dance floors: 10x15ft, 12x12ft
  • 100 guests = 250 square feet so typical size dance floors: 12x20ft, 16x16ft
  • 160 guests = 400 square feet so typical size dance floor: 20x20ft

As always if in doubt just contact us and we’ll be more than happy to advise.

A new design of our website is being launched over the next 2 weeks so don’t be alarmed if you notice some changes -please let us know if you find any mistakes though!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

How big a marquee do I need?

Asking how big a marquee is required is one of your main jobs as a marquee supplier. Often the size of the garden will dictate the size of marquee but you still need to know how much space everything takes up to then plan suitable numbers.

Here’s how most marquee hire companies work out the space required in a marquee:

Round table seating up to 10 (usually 5ft or 5ft6in tables): Allow 3x3m -this includes space for walking between tables so for example a 6x12m area can fit eight 3x3m boxes so can fit eight round tables with space to walk between. Saying that it is more comfortable leaving one out to stagger the tables like this example.

Tradition long top table (usually three 6ft trestle tables but oval tables are similar): Allow 3x6m

Buffet (again usually three 6ft trestles): Allow 3x6m

Bar: Allow 3x3m for small functions, 3x6m in larger ones

DJ: 3x3m is usually fine

Band: 3x6m for a small band, larger bands you have to ask them (though be careful as they often want to take over half the marquee)

Dance Floor: A blog post in itself which will be written soon

Catering area: 3x6m or 6x4m for small functions, 6x6m for medium (80+ guests), 6x8m+ for larger functions (160+)

When planning layouts you also want to consider where people walk in to the marquee -ideally you don’t want guests walking straight in to a table so you may have to leave a gap. For marquees that are a bit tight consider having the entrance near the bar or dance floor to give some space.

Often you are asked to put marquees up over features like bushes, flower beds, small trees, water features or even swimming pools. This really adds character to a marquee so in my eyes should be encourages though as the marquee supplier it does make life a little harder and you should point out that it is not useable area. Often customers will need a larger marquee to allow for incorporating these features.

When planning the marquee remember which direction guests will be arriving from – you want it to look impressive. Windows make the marquee look more inviting – you don’t want guests believe that they are walking in to the back of the marquee. Also keep in mind access to the toilets, this may require an additional exit in the marquee.

Experiment with layouts using our interactive marquee planner, it allows you to drag furniture in to a marquee to experiment with capacities and layouts.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Before starting a marquee hire business

Starting up any new business is a big step and can be quite daunting, marquee hire is no different. something we encourage is to do a lot of local research beforehand.

Use all of the usual search methods (google, bing, yellow pages, local magazines) and see how much competition is out there. If your local area is already saturated with marquee companies then it may be difficult to start up in competition.

See what marquees other companies are offering and how large an operation they are. The company that bought my old marquee hire business stated they didn’t want to do any job less than £2,000 (!), there is a very very good living to be made solely doing marquees under £2,000 I can assure you. Several of our existing customers work very successfully with a larger marquee hire company nearby, they pass on any larger jobs to the nearby company and in turn any job that’s too small for the large company passes it on to our customer.

At this point it’s also worth looking at where everyone advertises and if you can see any gaps. We found local parish magazines to be a useful supply of business, the advertising cost is so small that it pays for itself very quickly.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Welcome to DIY Marquees’ guide to marquee hire

This blog is intended to offer help and advice to those in the marquee hire industry or who are thinking or joining. From experience I can say that it is a very enjoyable professional that keeps you fit and has a large amount of job satisfaction.

Obviously the first question to ask is what marquees should you buy and where should you buy them from.

Naturally I’m going to say buy your marquees from DIY Marquees but apparently other suppliers are available. Here’s a list of reasons why we believe we’re the best supplier:

  • Experience. We’ve run a successful marquee hire business (and would still be doing so bar a freak injury), we know what products are needed and the quality of service required by a supplier. We are also on hand to offer advice whenever required.
  • Stock. We keep very large stocks enabling you to offer size options you may not actually have.
  • Accessories. You may not need too many accessories when you start out but over time as you expand you will require more and more accessories for your marquees.
  • Spares and replacement parts. Although our marquees are as durable as we can design them accidents can happen and parts can get damaged. Unfortunately as a hire company you often only find out when the marquee comes down (Mon/Tues) and you may need it to go back up in a few days. We keep large stocks and can get spares to you quickly (usually overnight). Before buying from elsewhere just phone them and pretend you need a spare part and see the service on offer, it may be fine, it may be that you have to wait a long time for a part to come from abroad (or they may refuse to sell you spares). We have a lot of people phoning to find out if our spares are compatible with other makes that they cannot get spares for.
  • A trusted family business. We have been in business over 30 years and are a second generation family business (the 3rd generation is in training). We have built up a reputation for being reliable, value for money backed up with excellent service.

Regarding what marquees to buy my recommendation is always not to buy too many to start with. You need one or two with which to learn how to put them up but then you can essentially offer all of the sizes we supply and just buy a marquee when you have a booking for it. If you already have a larger marquee of the same width you can always just buy a smaller roof.

The reason we have been in business for so long is because it is in our interest for you to be successful, to offer products that give you great returns on investment and ensure we supply everything you need to expand the business in the future.

Contact us today to see how we can help you start up or expand your marquee hire business.

Thanks for reading, the blog will become fortnightly this year while we try and expand our event planning articles (which will be written on alternate weeks)

Spencer

Christmas Opening Hours

Merry Christmas to all of our DIY Marquee customers and anyone else who pops in to read our mutterings and mumblings.

Today (Monday 23rd) is our last day in the office, the factory will open again on Monday 6th January though some of us will be in on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd in case some of those marquees bought as xmas presents need changing for a different size.

Thanks for reading throughout the year and see you in 2014!

Spencer

Should I remove the sides of my marquee in strong winds?

No, a marquee is far more wind resistant with the sides on rather than off. For some reason there are many people who believe that leaving the sides off a marquee ‘lets the wind pass through’. I will try to explain below why this is not true and why leaving the sides off of a marquee actually makes it far more susceptible to the wind than leaving the sides on.

Marqueeinwinddiagram

The diagram above shows how the wind passes over a marquee and how any wind going in to the marquee gathers and lifts the roof up.  The best way to avoid this is simply to have the sides on the marquee facing the wind and have the marquee well anchored down.

Please note that this article is dealing with marquees in strong winds but not extreme weather. Marquees should not be left erected in extreme weather conditions.

The people who advocate taking the sides off in strong winds believe that the above scenario is best solved by removing the remaining side panels, thus allowing the wind to pass harmlessly through the other side of the marquee. It doesn’t. There are two factors in play if the sides are off.

i. Wind building up under the marquee roof – this still happens even if that other side is taken off. Don’t believe me? Try walking across a field in windy conditions with an umbrella – by taking the sides off your marquee you’re turning it in to one very large umbrella.

ii. Lift being created by the wind that DOES pass through the marquee:

Marqueeinwinddiagram2This shows the wind passing over or through the roof only marquee. The wind passing over the top of the marquee has much further to travel so has to go faster to keep up. This may ring some bells for those who stayed awake during Physics lessons:

Marqueeinwinddiagram3The reason a wing attains lift is by the air passing over the top at a greater speed than underneath and so the differing pressures caused creates lift.

A marquee roof isn’t as aerodynamic as a wing but a lifting force will still be created, not only that but the steeper the roof the more force there will be – another reason for having a 20degree roof/3m apex on 6m marquees as discussed last week.

This post isn’t intended as scare-mongering, it is purely aimed at dispelling a myth. At DIY Marquees we try to encourage all of the marquee hire companies we help to follow best practices:

  • Ensure the marquees are well anchored down, that means tie down kits as a minimum.
  • Leave the walls on any side likely to face strong winds (have the entrance on a different side)
  • Never take all of the sides off a marquee in strong winds
  • Know your marquees limitations -if Michael Fish states there definitely won’t be a hurricane then resign yourself that the marquee has to come down (this is rare, it happened once in the 10+ years I ran a hire business).

Thanks for reading, as always feedback is gratefully received.

Spencer

Why buying 6m marquees with 3m apex height/20 degree roofs are the best option

Most commercially used marquees in Britain use a 20degree angled roof (3m high apex for 6m marquees with 2m leg height) as that gives the greatest wind-resistance by design, obviously it still needs well anchoring down.

When designing a marquee we consider the likely weather the marquee has to withstand in Britain: rain, snow and wind.

Rain is reasonably straight forward, any waterproof cover with enough angle on the roof for run off would do the job.

Snow and wind are perhaps surprisingly treated together, this is because it is very difficult to design for both in the same marquee. Consider alpine chalets that have very steep roofs to prevent snow settling – if you used this design in a marquee it would make it far too susceptible to wind as described below. So in general marquees in Britain are designed to be strongest against wind and are not rated for snow-loading (hire companies get round this by leaving heaters on to prevent snow settling).

The taller a marquee is the greater the wind force it has to resist. The strength of this force is increased by the square of the height increase so if the height of a marquee is doubled the force it has to resist actually goes up by 4 times as much. The lower the apex height the more wind resistant a structure will be.

As the roof angle increases the apex gets higher and the surface area of the roof increases. By the law used in hydraulics the pressure per square metre is constant, if the area increases then there is more upward thrust when the wind gets inside the marquee. To reduce the likelihood of damage again the apex should be as low as possible.

It’s no coincidence the industry standard for a pitched roof is 20degrees (making it a 3m apex for 6m marquees on a 2m leg), it’s been found to be the best angle for helping the wind to roll over the roof of the marquee.

By way of example here’s a photograph of the 2012 Showmans Show (2013 not available as yet). The marquees highlighted in red use a 20 degree pitched roof, the ones highlighted in blue don’t use a pitched roof (they are curved or peaked) and the ones highlighted green are marquees that we can’t recognise as 20 degree pitch roofs or not. Note that 20 degree pitch roofs are by far the most popular and the marquees that may use other angled roofs are the smaller ones – In 3m and 4m widths the overall roof areas are smaller where you can use a higher apex/steeper roof with fewer problems.

showmans20degreeroofs

When buying a larger marquee look for those that feature a 20 degree roof pitch, on a 6m wide marquee on 2m legs that means a 3m high apex. They may cost a little more to manufacture but it is worth it. There’s a reason it is the industry standard.

Thanks for reading

The above was written by Colin King, former principal lecturer in Engineering.

Translated in to ‘normal’ English by Spencer!

(more) Tips for site visits

Last week I covered making a good impression at a marquee site visit. This week I thought it sensible to add some tips about what to say and run through as the potential customer might be after you actually saying something as well as taking your shoes off and making a good impression.

  • Be confident. If you’re starting out then fake it till you make it and just act confident. A site visit is very much about convincing the customer to have faith in your ability to turn their patch of lawn in to a temporary venue.
  • Listen to the customer. The flip-side of being confident is you don’t want to come across as arrogant or think you know it all and end up telling them what they want (surprisingly easy to end up doing). Before you measure the garden, before you run through photographs just sit down with the customer and listen to what they’re after.
  • If it’s a wedding marquee then listen to the main decision makers. Generally this is (in order): Bride, mother of bride, groom. There’s often various hangers on present but if you keep those three happy then you’re doing well.
  • Once you’ve listened to the customers ideas then also ask if they had any plans for where they would like to position the marquee. It’s pointless measuring their garden in one place if they want to have it elsewhere.
  • Take your time measuring the garden. If you’re not confident at doing both jobs of measuring and explaining/selling at the same time then just say to the customer you need a few minutes to measure and you’ll come back inside once you’ve got an idea(s).
  • You don’t have to come up with all of the answers there and then. If you’re starting out and this all seems a bit overwhelming then don’t worry, take your time and take down all of their requirements and make accurate drawings of the garden. You can then email us and we would run through with you a few likely options together with the pro’s and con’s of each idea that you can then go through with the customer. It’s slightly delayed but it can still come across as a professional service and you don’t need to stress about having all of the answers there and then. We’re always here to help but it won’t take many before you know as much as we do 🙂

Ultimately the biggest bit of planning on your part is how big does the marquee(s) need to be. As I say this can be done after the meeting back in the office but it is easiest if you can do it there and then. I guess I’ll cover that next week.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Make a good impression on marquee site visits

Here are some tips to help you make a good impression on a marquee site visit:

  • Be presentable. Clean shaven, clean clothes, clean shoes. You don’t need to turn up in a suit, people appreciate that we do physical work so turning up in work trousers and a logo polo top is fine as long as they’re clean and presentable.
  • Ideally you want a smart and tidy vehicle (van or car) that is not more expensive than the potential customers. If you have to turn up in a beaten up or dirty car or a very flash one then park round the corner and walk the last bit, you don’t want to come across as struggling (old banger of a car) or likely to charge too much (flash car).
  • Turn up on time. I’d aim to be parked round the corner 10 minutes before the appointment so I knocked on the door at the precise time. Sufficient people appreciate being on time (or rather hate being late) to make this well worth the extra 10 minutes waiting. If you are going to be more than 5 minutes late then phone with a realistic eta. Phoning to say you’ll be 10 minutes late but turning up after 20 is just making it worse for yourself.
  • Take your shoes off in the house. Most people are find with shoes on but I remember getting a job purely on the basis that I took the care to take my shoes off on the way in. There are sufficient people who appreciate this to make it worth it.
  • Listen to what the customer wants. This sounds obvious but I was repeatedly told stories of other marquee hire companies arriving and just telling the customer what they wanted. Before you do anything ask the customer if they have any specific ideas on what they want or if they’ve seen something they like elsewhere. They may not but if they do have specific requests it helps you shape your ideas and stops any wasted time.
  • Get a proper surveyors tape measure. It looks more professional than a reel one or worse a small one where you have to take several goes to get to the desired length.

Of course none of this is as important as what you say and recommend regarding the marquee but it all helps. If you come across well and look professional then suddenly the site visit becomes a lot easier and customers are more likely to be guided by your recommendations rather than challenging what you say as the expert.

What you actually say and recommend is for another blog post.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Best practices for marquees in windy conditions

With the recent bad weather in mind it’s sensible to mention how to deal with marquees in strong winds:

  • (obviously) make sure the marquee is well anchored down. Tie down kits are good, additional stakes over groundbars and/or fixing down to buildings even better.
  • The side of a marquee is more wind resistant than an end. Wind hitting the end of a marquee is blowing against a flat surface, when it hits the side there is the slope of the roof allowing the wind to pass over the top.
  • A marquee is more wind-resistant with the sides on rather than off. For some reason many people believe taking sides off ‘allows the wind to pass through’. Many people are wrong. Taking the sides off of a marquee turns it in to a large umbrella, umbrellas are not good in strong winds. Leave the sides on and have a single access on a side not facing the wind.
  • Marquees are not built to survive hurricane strength winds, even the far larger structures are generally only rated to 50mph/80kmh. There are (very very rare) occasions when the marquee has to come down or shouldn’t be erected to start with. If you don’t have time to take the whole marquee down then just take all of the covers (including the roof!) off and just leave the framework (still anchored down).

Thanks for reading

Spencer