Archive for February, 2010

PAT testing in marquees

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

As I posted a little while ago if you’ve got electrical equipment (anything with a plug) then it should be PAT tested annually. This is from Louise at Essential Supplies:


After the success of our 2009 PAT Testing Courses we have arranged some dates for 2010. They will be held in March, we have availability on the 2nd and 10th of March and limited availability on the 9th March. The location will be confirmed when we have numbers, but will be in the Basingstoke area.picture1.gif


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 £220.00 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


I’m not making any money from this recommendation (although a pint at the showmans show wouldn’t go amiss Louise..) and I’d like to point out that others can offer PAT testing training but it’s a lot easier if you’re on a marquee orientated course with like minded marquee people (we’re an odd bunch after all). As I pointed out before it could turn in to a lucrative winter sideline for those quieter months.

Thanks for reading


Marquee hire & employees

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Employing people can be stressful but a necessary evil if you want to build up your large marquee hire business. When you start you can call on family and friends for a while but the novelty soon wears off for both sides.

It’s a lot easier if the people working for you are self employed, you don’t need to worry about PAYE etc but the downside is they decide the hours/days they work, they can turn round and say no to you. I think technically they should supply their own tools and shouldn’t be constantly under your direct supervision but I’m not an expert in these matters.

When you’ve got a lot of bookings and you take time to train up some staff so they don’t need you there all the time your main worry is they’ll leave halfway through the season leaving you in trouble. Our solution, and it worked very well all round, was to offer a substantial bonus to key staff. They received the bonus at the end of the season (mid September) provided they still worked for us.

A few extra points with offering a bonus:
-we deducted the cost of any tools broken by them or their team (this reduced breakages immensely!)
-although we didn’t, I know a lot of companies offer bonuses for months in which no sick days were used.  If it becomes a problem then it’s certainly something to consider.

University students are ideal labour to recruit as their holidays generally coincide with peak wedding/party marquee season and if you get a 1st year student it means he’ll come back for the following season or two.

Thanks for reading


Interesting articles

Monday, February 8th, 2010

James from JF Marquees posted last week a link to 40 mistakes every start up makes. And it makes interesting reading:

  • Point 3: “Resist diversifying too early” is an appropriate one. Don’t try and take on every job of every size initially. Specifically don’t spend a lot of your time quoting for jobs that have 500-1000 guests if you don’t have the equipment to do it. By all means sub-hire it to someone else if that’s what you want to do but make sure you concentrate your energies on your target market.
  • Point 18: ‘Agonise over minutiae’ In my job I see this time and time again, people going over so many minor points with if this happened or if that happens, there comes a point when you’ve just got to take the plunge and go for it. You’ll always find a reason not to do something.
  • Point 21 is very interesting as it’s basically contrary to what I’ve written on price. It’s  saying you shouldn’t beat your competition on price, you should offer better service and a more personal touch than the competition. This is certainly one approach and it’s perfectly valid, I know several people who have targeted the higher end more personalised marquee weddings and are doing very well. My argument is it’s higher risk. If you know you can undercut larger companies due to your lower costs then you can pretty much guarantee work. If you offer better personalised service then you’ll soon find you can increase your prices and still keep the work coming in as your reputation grows.
  • Point 27: Also leads on to some advice Mal at Premier Party Tent offered the other day. Get a good accountant on board, they’re well worth the money. Be a little careful, some accountants believe they’re Gods gift to business (I should know, enough of my mates became accountants and preach to me about what I should be doing). Just remember this – if accountants were so good at running their own business why aren’t they doing it themselves? A bit like my articles on here -listen to the advice and pick and choose what you want . Accountants are also mentioned in points 33 & 34.
  • The best quote I remember is ‘if you want to be a self-made man don’t leave out the working parts’. By all means some businesses fail and it’s not your fault but don’t let it be as a result of lack of effort, drive or hard work.

Thanks for reading


Starting a marquee hire business: research

Monday, February 1st, 2010

If you’re starting up a marquee hire business you need to do your research.

The first thing to research is the competition. If your local area is swamped with small-medium marquee companies then you might need to think twice about your venture. If there’s hardly any firms or (just as good) only large companies then it’s worth setting up.

When you first start up in any business you have no reputation, the safest way to make people come to you is to undercut the competition so you need to find out their prices. This is where you’ll see if it’s worth starting up ot not, can you make a living hiring out a 6mx12m marquee (for example) for 15% less than the lowest current supplier? Remember if they’re VAT registered and you’re not then you’ll automatically be 17.5% lower than them anyway 🙂

Go through the yellow pages, thompson local and trawl online for all your local marquee hirers then sit on the phone and find out their hire charges for a particular weekend during the summer (winter will be cheaper and harder to compare like for like). I’ve mentioned before that it would be worth getting a couple of companies round pretending to be a prospective hirer to hear their sales pitch but I know a lot of people aren’t keen on this idea. When you’re successful this will happen to you (I know from experience) so my view is you might as well while you can!

The other thing to research is obviously the marquees themselves. Obviously I’m going to say all you need is available from DIY Marquees but go out and have a  good luck round at what’s out there. Then when you learn that we’re better and cheaper come back to us 😉

Thanks for reading