Archive for May, 2010

Marquees and trees. A love hate relationship.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I can confirm that looking after kids is a lot harder work than putting up or selling marquees. I’ve come back to work for a rest.

What happens when the site you want to put a marquee up on has a tree in the way? Sneakily attack it with a chainsaw, erect the marquee and walk away whistling innocently? Well it really depends on the size of it what your options are. If it’s a 50 year old oak then there’s not much you can do (except the aforementioned chainsaw solution). If it’s a small tree (3m or less) then why not have it inside the marquee?

Tree inside marquee

People pay a lot of money to hire in trees and shrubs to decorate marquees, why note use what’s already in the garden? This also goes for small hedges or flower beds. They’re also ideal to put fairy lights in to.

Isn’t it a pain working round a tree? Well… yes it is. But it’s not too hard. Say you’re putting up a 6mx12m marquee and there’s a small tree 3m in from one end. The easiest way we found was to erect it as normal but leave off the last 2 bays (at the tree end) and have the roof on the frame but the excess folded back on itself out of the way. You then go up on steps and assemble the last two frames whilst it’s up in the air (there’s a knack to this that comes with practice). The advantage of this is if any branches need cutting then you can do it now and you’re only cutting back what you absolutely have to. Lastly just pull the roof over and hey presto, your 6mx12 is up complete with trees inside. If you’re putting up linings then the tree will have to be smaller (by nature of by chopping).

It is always worth having a small saw in your van just in case your measuring wasn’t quite as accurate as you thought (always remember that it’s the tree that must have grown, not your measuring that’s wrong!).

Thanks for reading


Out of hours marquee cover

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Out of hours marquee cover is a nice selling point to offer customers, especially weddings. The downside to that is you have to man an out of hours number.

Whilst the most important thing to emphasis to customers is that their marquee will meet their expectations everyone realises that problems can occur. Offering customers a number to contact you on out of hours is always received well.

But… that kind of means you can’t go out drinking on a Saturday night in case you have to drive to one of your jobs.

My solution? Take it in turns with someone who works for you to give yourself a break. Rotating it between 2,3 or 4 of you makes life a lot easier and manageable.

I don’t want to overplay this, getting called out happens very very rarely. At our peak we were doing say 10 weddings per weekend, over the course of a year I’d guess we were called out around 6 times. 6 times a year really isn’t that many considering the scale of the operation.

From memory I’d guess these are the common reasons for getting a call out together with percentages for each:

  • 80% Fault with the power. Generally someone else’s equipment, be it a faulty earth that keeps tripping your RCD or they’ve just overloaded your power leads so a fuse needs changing.
  • 15% Heating. The most common reason is they’ve run out of fuel. Always make sure you leave plenty of gas/diesel and specify in your original quotation that any heater includes a minimum of 12 hours fuel (that way you’re covered if they use it for 3 evenings beforehand)
  • 5% Leaking. As long as you use good quality marquees (like our DIY Marquees!!) then this will happen very very rarely. Very very few call outs were for genuine leaks, mainly it was just severe condensation from uncovered grass or plants incorporated inside the marquee.

Finally as anyone who’s tried to phone my mobile out of hours will have learnt we don’t offer any call out facility. If you need an answer urgently then email me as I try to check that regularly, otherwise weekends and evenings are for my daughters 🙂

Thanks for reading, I’m off on holiday next week so if you need anything speak to my Dad, Rich or Mary or whoever else fancies picking up the office phone..


Putting marquees up when the customer’s not there

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

There are times when you have to put a marquee up and the customer isn’t around for whatever reason, my advice is to be very careful and have an accurate diagram or get the customer to mark out where it’s going.

I remember I attended one wedding we did where the groom turned round halfway during the evening and told me the marquee was in the wrong position. What can you do at that point other than apologise?

It turned out he wanted a different layout but failed to pass that on to us until half way through his wedding, we just put it up as the original plan.

Sometimes people can’t be there when you put up the marquee, the ideal would be they mark out where they want the marquee but if not get a very very clear diagram. Instructions given over the phone (“near the hedge” etc) can only go wrong. I’d also be tempted to put a line in your terms and conditions saying if you have to go back and move the marquee there would be a charge just to cover yourself.

Thanks for reading


Party Tents or Marquees

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

What’s the difference between party tents and marquees?

In a word, nothing. Well that was a short blog..

One of our customers met a rival recently who tried to tell him he wasn’t hiring marquees he was hiring party tents in what was obviously meant as an insult. This leads to two points of discussion:

1. When you meet a competitor there’s generally one of two reactions – either comraderie (we’re both in the same game) or one upmanship (we’re faster than you, our marquees are bigger than yours, our van’s shinier than your van..)

2. Is calling a commercial grade marquee a party tent an insult? Not really, most of the rest of the world don’t use the term ‘marquee’ they refer to all structures as party tents including ones 30m wide. The only countries that regularly use the term ‘marquee’ are the UK, Ireland, Australia and NZ to my knowledge.

You imagine that the rival in question above uses the over-engineered aluminium frame marquees for his 6m, so what’s your response?

You could try explaining the business sense of using our marquees, you could ask him as he pays over the odds for his 6m marquees does he also use a diamond-encrusted hammer to do his matting? Personally I wouldn’t do either, what’s the point in educating him? All he’s then going to do is copy you and buy our marquees -let him use the more expensive ones while you have the higher return on investment.

Thanks for reading