Buying 6m marquees with a 3m apex height

As mentioned previously this blog is primarily used to offer advice to prospective or existing marquee hire companies, I also use it occasionally to promote our products as, well, that’s what puts Cheerios on my daughters breakfast table. Sometimes I feel it has to be used for other purposes, such as today.

One of our rivals (who I usually get on well with) has posted an article criticising 6m wide marquees that use a 20 degree roof pitch, ie they have a 3m apex height if based on a 2m leg height. There is lots of nonsense written on the internet, as a regular user of facebook I know this all too well (made cup of tea LOL!) but the idea that a marquee featuring a 20 degree roof is inferior to any other option is beyond me. To be fair the other criticisms they make of the cheap party tent in question are accurate but having a 20 degree roof/3m apex is a desirable feature and certainly not something to be criticised.

To illustrate my point below is a photograph of the 2012 Showmans Show (this year’s photo is not available yet). This is the trade show for suppliers to the marquee hire industry and as such I believe is a reliable representation of the marquees used in the industry.

Shaded red are the marquees I believe use a 20 degree roof pitch.
Shaded blue are the marquees that don’t use a pitched roof (they are curved, peaked or pop-up styles)
Shaded green are the unknowns, I don’t know if these use a 20 degree pitch or not.

showmans20degreeroofs

As you can see most of the marquees used commercially in the marquee hire industry use a 20 degree roof. This is done for a reason. Similarly it is actually more expensive for us to supply a 20 degree roof/3m apex, it would be cheaper to make having a slightly steeper roof but again we do this for a reason. We (and the majority of the hire industry) believe a 20 degree roof is the optimal pitch for use on a marquee.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Guest Post: How We Set Up Strawberry Fieldz!

5 years ago I was about to head back to my very boring job following maternity leave, to work as a Relationship Development Consultant at a well know insurance company. My husband Adam was working in a planning role, which he had done for many years and was fairly bored. His main passion has always been music, gigging with his Dad from the age of 5 and playing in bands all through is life, teaching guitar, and running his own recording studio also. So we find ourselves at a small local festival, with a badly erected tatty party tent, with a tiny stage, and really badly managed sound where no one on stage could hear themselves. We sat in the sun after his performance and agreed we could do this set up better. So we did. Simple as that!

Adam researched products and prices, and I worked on a business plan and researched local companies. Where could we add value, go the extra mile, and make our offering unique.  After extensive research I found that websites were hard to navigate, quotes often did not turn up or where wrong, too many contact forms and not enough personal service. So that was where we felt we could really excel, using our years of customer service experience to offer the personal touch that was missing from our competitors.

We launched 8 months later with a website and no marquees at that point.  We used a well known business directory and got a fair amount of work from that.  We had a summer of bookings ahead and so we made the decision to borrow some money and buy the equipment. DIY Marquees were absolutely amazing, they gave us brilliant advice because they have been there, started a marquee company and been in the hire market themselves. I turned up with a wobbly trailer and two screaming toddlers and we took our marquees home.

The rest really is history. We called many pubs and introduced ourselves, emailed local councils, joined local business networks, and had our vehicles sign written. Our hit rate for converting an enquiry to a booking was around 75% and I think this has to be down to us really caring about our customers and it coming across to them that we have time to discuss their needs, and we really want them to have a good experience with us. This has undoubtedly contributed to the amount of repeat bookings we receive. We have a strong repeat customer base and get recommendations all the time which saves on advertising costs!

We took very little pay in the first 3 years ploughing it all back in to the business to grow as quickly as we could.  We started offering small festival stages in the second year of trading which has added variety to our business. We have provided stages for festivals, local councils, pub events, and got paid to watch live bands!

We have so many great memories over the last few years, from our customers that invite us in to share a freshly made curry, to the quirky sheep that leapt in our van and ate our biscuits.  Every day is different, and each customer unique but it’s been an amazing experience and watching our business grow has been very rewarding.  DIY Marquees has been crucial to our success and have always gone the extra mile to help us. We have had to order next day delivery items at 4.59pm in the evening as we have lost a vital component, had issues onsite and needed advice, and been totally fine with us never giving the correct part name for an item in spite of them sending them to us numerous times. 😊

We made a few mistakes along the way. We used a few rubbish website companies who charged a lot but delivered very little. We thought we could avoid expensive SEO but eventually saw the light and that really helped attract new business.  We have been duped into paying to ‘sponsor’ local clubs, and adverts for bridal magazines, which has not given us any additional business.

Our Top Tips:

  • Always think about your next potential booking. Make every marquee look as immaculate as you can, because people at the party might just need a marquee so you need to impress everyone, not just the initial customer.
  • Get a good system together for storing marquees. Make sure poles don’t get mixed up as this saves a lot of time.
  • Spend money on a good website with a local SEO company, someone you can go and see, not someone sat in an office in Sweden.
  • Don’t offer price reductions. You are providing an excellent service and are not prepared to lower your standards so you shouldn’t lower your costs.
  • Don’t store marquee sides or roofs wet!!!
  • Be careful who you employ. You need people who can take direction, follow instructions, but also think for themselves.

My final little business mantra…as my dad always says to me ‘people remember the service well after the event is over’.

Sarah Ward

Director of Strawberry Fieldz

Marquee Electrical Courses

We have designed our marquee lighting packages to be as simple as possible, simply connect the leads together plug in to the house/extension lead and you’re done. If your customer needs another power supply then an additional extension lead would usually do the job.

This simple system is perfect when you’re starting up a marquee hire business but after a while the jobs will become more intricate and so do the electrics. At this point you need to consider attending training courses.

Our friends at Essential Supplies are running electrical courses aimed at the marquee hire industry:

Event Electrics Course:

Our one day workshop is specifically aimed at those working in the Marquee
& Events industry. We will cover all aspects of the design, installation and testing of temporary electrical systems for events. The course is aimed at those who specify and install such systems but have no formal electrical qualification. We will guide candidates through best practises in installing electrical and lighting systems in temporary structures for events, including how to avoid some common pitfalls and some not so obvious. There will also be plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with some of our latest products specifically designs for our industry.
This is a non examined course and provides no formal qualification; it is de-signed to provide candidates with an awareness of the issues surrounding electrical systems for temporary events. Candidates will receive a certificate of attendance upon completion and a set of course notes.
Price: £180 + VAT per candidate

Event Lighting Course:

Our one day workshop is specifically aimed at those working within the events industry. We shall cover methods and types of lighting and how to install your system. This is a non examined course and provides no formal qualification; it is de-signed to help candidates with lighting. Candidates will receive a certificate of attendance upon completion.
Price: £180 + VAT per candidate

PAT Testing 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 specially designed for those within the events industry, looking at key
Products, unique to the Events World. The testing techniques learnt can be used in any in-dustry. 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. To ensure you get the most out of the course we aim to have a maximum of 6 Candidates on each course.
Price: £220 + VAT per candidate

If you have been in the hire industry for a few years and look to be taking the next step up in complexity of marquee bookings then I would recommend attending the Event Electrics Course first with the Event Lighting Course later.

All of your electrics require regular PAT testing, rather than paying an electrician to come in and test them it’s likely a wise investment to train you or a reliable member of staff up as a PAT tester.

At DIY Marquees we always try to promote best practice, we offer help and advice throughout the life of our marquees and in doing so try to ensure our marquee hirers can maintain good standards. Attending training courses like these that are specifically designed towards marquee hirers is good practice for everyone in the industry.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Stacks of chairs in marquees

There is one wedding marquee we did that sticks out for several reasons. It was the largest wedding we were doing that year and a lot of work had gone on beforehand – many many site visits and alterations but it did promise to be quite a special marquee.

Having been on site most of the week on Thursday afternoon we were just about there, just the chairs to carry in and some outdoor lighting to set up. Caterers usually set up on a Friday but in this instance they were there on the Thursday afternoon too to get a head start, I guess it was also their biggest wedding of the year.

Some caterers prefer you the marquee hire company to lay out all of the chairs. Others prefer the chairs left in piles by each table to make laying the table quicker and easier. This caterer was one such that preferred piles of chairs for them to put out later.

The banqueting chairs (of a very particular colour with certain shade of seat pad that had been changed many times!) were carried in in piles of 10 and left by each table.

I was on the phone outside when all of a sudden I heard “NOOO!!…CRASH!…CRASH! CRASH!…”

I ran in to find carnage, a pile of chairs had toppled over on to a table that also then set another couple of chairs over like dominoes. Fortunately no one was hurt except a load of broken glasses, chairs and crockery. The caterer was very practical and in an hour everything was resolved, I have my suspicions that if it had been one of our lads rather than one of theirs that had knocked the chairs over it might not have been dealt with quite so calmly.

We were very lucky but there’s lessons to be learned from this:

  • Never leave chairs in tall piles, they are simply too unstable. Leave them in maximum 5’s for plastic chairs or 3’s for banqueting chairs.
  • Check with the caterer if they want you to lay out the chairs or not. If you can’t speak to the caterer then lay the chairs out as standard.
  • Try and avoid other suppliers working in the marquee before you’re finished. If you aim to have wedding marquees finished by the Thursday evening then they have all day Friday to set up.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The Showmans Show 2016 review

Thank you to everyone who visited the DIY Marquee stand at the show, it was a fun couple of days chatting to customers new and old.

Our new Commercial Demi Marquee seemed to prove very popular whilst feedback from our long-time customers has given us plenty of food for thought regarding new product ideas for the future.

There’s always lots of have-a-go activities at the show and this year there was a really good one – Clayzer (laser clay shooting). We can highly recommend it, especially so as all 3 of us ended up on the leader board. If you think that’s competitive you should see it when we take all the warehouse lads go karting at Christmas!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The marquees we will be exhibiting at The Showmans Show 2016

At this years showmans show we will have on our stand:

A 4x8m Commercial peaked roof marquee. The peaks add an attractive touch to what is one of the most durable and flexible 4m wide marquees in the industry. We are manufacturing an interior lining for half of the marquee so visitors can see the difference a lining makes.

A 3x4m Deluxe Demi Marquee and our new 3x4m Commercial Demi Marquee: We designed these marquees to butt up against buildings, they give a much larger entrance height and any water falls away from the building eliminating two of the largest issues marquee hire companies have when butting up against buildings. They have also proved popular as stand alone market stalls. The popularity of our Deluxe model has encouraged us to produce a similar structure in the slightly lighter Commercial design. Compare for yourself at the show.

A 4x4m pop-up marquee: We only supply the heaviest duty pop-up models (58mm dia. legs), at the show we are including our unique interior lining, compatible with just about any make of pop-up.

A 2x4m Walkway: Our walkways arrive as 2x6m but are modular so can be put up as 2x2m, 2x4m or 2x6m. At the show we’ll be putting it up as 2x4m and again include our interior lining.

We can’t display all of our marquees at the show but by exhibiting the above we are displaying a reasonable selection and illustrating many of the unique structures and accessories we provide suitable for marquee hire companies.

Thanks for reading, please come and say hello at the show (stand 263 Avenue E)

Spencer

The Showmans Show 2016

It’s nearly The Showmans Show time again where we grab the slowest moving members of our staff and decamp down to the Newbury Showground for a few days.

We will be in our usual spot halfway down Avenue E on stand number 263 opposite the Arcotherm stand. Come out of the hall and turn right then first left for Avenue E.

For those unaware of The Showmans Show (with apologies to anyone who has read similar posts on here in previous years) it is the one trade show where all of the marquee hire industry have a presence. Any supplier serious about supplying the hire industry will have a stand and just about every existing or prospective marquee hirer will come to visit.

This is where you will see new innovations first and create contacts you may use for years.

It’s a nice well organised show and well worth a visit. It’s free to enter but to save filling out forms on the day it’s worth registering in advance: Showmans Show online registration

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

Spencer.

Used marquees for sale

We have two of our demonstration model marquees up for sale on eBay.

This 6x12m Commercial model has been up since March, it includes red carpet flooring, tie down kit, extra stakes, roof lining, wall and curtain linings and swags (it doesn’t include the chandeliers, sofa or rug in the picture). It would cost over £2,000 new and the listing starts at 99p:

6x12m Commercial DIY Marquee on eBay

This 3x6m is one of our new Commercial Demi Marquees, every marquee hire company should have one as it is ideal for butting up to houses or toilet units. Modular so can be erected as 3x2m, 3x4m or 3x6m:

3x6m Commercial Demi DIY Marquee on eBay

Happy bidding

Spencer

The rain in Spain (and France) can be a pain

One of the joys of running DIY Marquees is I get to chat to people from geographical areas that I have no experience of. When I ran a marquee hire business the area we covered was as compact as we could make it (for obvious logistical reasons) so it’s great hearing about other peoples experiences especially if it’s something I can share to others on this blog.

It’s fair to say that France and other parts of Europe have had a bit of rain recently. Torrential rain is always a headache in the marquee industry, it’s a pain dealing with wet equipment and a party is always better in the sun than rain.

From a waterproofing point of view rain shouldn’t be an issue however the weakest point will always be a join -this is why nearly all DIY marquees use roofs that are all in one piece. Providing guttering has been fitted correctly and tested then it should cope with all but the most extremes of downfalls.

Something that has been highlighted in discussions with some customers in both France and Spain recently is what about the run off from other buildings? Whilst most houses in the UK have guttering that is often not the case in other parts of Europe or even on outbuildings or barns here in the UK.

If you are putting a marquee up against any building then it is always wise to look at what would happen if it rained – could the water run off the building? If so where will it go? Could it overload a guttering system (theirs or yours)? If you use roofs that come in sections (as I say, our main marquees don’t have this problem) then will this compromise the waterproof integrity of the join?

In relation to how often this situation may arise this is a minor issue, it is however something you as a professional marquee hirer should be aware of, it is much better to learn from our experience or those of our customers rather than make the same mistake yourself.

If in doubt then as always, take some photographs and email them to us – we’ll happily advise as best we can.

If you want to share good practice in the industry then there is an excellent facebook group of marquee hirer’s here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/themarqueeclub (note you must apply using a work/marquee related email).

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee Heating information

Nearly all professional marquee hirers use diesel or gas powered heaters. When using one of these to heat a marquee personally I would always put a carbon monoxide tester in the marquee too. They’re cheap, easy to fit and give peace of mind to both you and the customer. Not only that it makes you look (even more) thorough and professional. All fumes from a diesel heater should be kept outside from the chimney but what if the wind blows it straight back towards the marquee?

L B Whites have a very useful heating app that’s worth looking at and illustrates why electric heaters are just not man enough for any serious size marquee.

Inputting a 6x12m commercial (3m apex height) marquee with a rise of 30degrees C (they do metric, I can’t!) gives a requirement for approx 100,000BTU’s or 30KW of heating. Had we designed our marquees to have a higher apex not only would they be less wind resistant they would also require far more heating – the requirement goes up to 40KW.

The maximum an electric heater can supply is 3KW of heat. If you wanted to heat one of these marquees using electric heaters you would need a whopping 10-13 of them and a very large generator to power them all!

Stick to diesel (indirect) or gas (lbwhite) and fit a carbon monoxide detector.

Thanks for reading

Spencer