Archive for the ‘marquee hire advice’ Category

Marquee site visits part 3

Monday, November 15th, 2010

This last list are things that I tried to do or mention at each site visit. Putting it in a list like this might make it look like I was quite cold and calculating in what I went through but I genuinely wasn’t (and probably couldn’t have listed these things at the time), they’re just things I note from looking back at what I did.

  • Turn up on time. If the appointment was at 10am I’d be round the corner waiting at quarter to. You want these people to trust you’re going to do what you say you’re going to, the first impression should be turning up on time.
  • Offer to take your shoes off (or insist on it if it’s muddy/raining). This act alone got me a couple of jobs
  • Before going outside to measure up sit down with the bride & groom and ask them:
    • Is there anything they definately want or don’t want? Including anything they may have experienced or seen in a marquee.
    • What number of guests are there likely to be
    • How formal is it?
    • Do they need: dance floor, bar, pre-breakfast drinks, buffet, catering areas etc
  • Once I had this information I’d go outside to measure (see part 1 from 2 weeks ago). If it wasn’t immediately obvious how and where to position the marquee then I’d ask the customer to give me 5 minutes and I’ll come back in with ideas. This just gives a bit of breathing space to gather your ideas together -preferably getting at least 2 suggestions.
  • Come back in and discuss what’s possible and what options they would like to go for. If you heavily favour one particular layout then explain the reasons why you do so.
  • When leaving I’d always finish by saying this quote will be typed up and be in the post first class tomorrow so you should receive it the day after. Make sure you stick to this timescale (or whatever you specify). Again it’s just doing what you say you’re going to do. These days I’d imagine people would appreciate it emailed, in which case do it asap while it’s fresh in their memory. In many cases we had clients who had accepted our quote and sent it back with a deposit before they’d even received others so don’t delay.

At the end of the day the most important points are:

  • Listen, listen, listen to what the clients are telling you. Don’t try and sell them something they’ve specifically said they don’t want
  • Make sure you make them feel important, not just another marquee in a long production line
  • Come across in a manner that makes them trust you. Be genuine, honest and reassure them that you’ll do what you say you’re going to do.

Obviously you can pick and choose anything from these posts, I realise it can seem a lot initially but it just becomes second nature after a while. I can promise you this approach works. I wasn’t the best at putting up marquees, I wasn’t even the best at staying on ladders! (a couple of cracked ribs and broken fingers is evidence of that) but I had a pretty good record on site visits (conversion percentage was usually in the 80’s, sometimes 90’s).

Thanks for reading


Marquee site visits part 2

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Last week I dealt with what to look for when effectively surveying the site, next week I’ll write about things to go through with the bride & groom. This weeks list is things between the two:

  • You know what the site is like now, but discuss with the site owner what changes are they planning and also anything that may be useful or essential to you. For example if access is needed for a large vehicle they may want to start cutting back a certain hedge 6 months before to ensure it looks good on the day.
  • Whilst you’re in the garden measuring you also want to look at where the guests will arrive from. You want a wow factor, they may need some temporary lighting, it also gives you some scope for suggestions – offer some red carpet as an entrance, if they’ve got pots of plants they can go either side for an easy attractive walkway.
  • Toilet facilities (as mentioned by jamesmo)- see what access is like. Luxury toilets are large trailers and need a fair bit of access. Even cubicle toilets need to be close to van access though often if they’re used it’s only for the gents whilst ladies use the toilets inside. If they can only go by the entrance then reassure the bride/groom at least they won’t have 100 people asking where are the toilets..
  • If you have the choice of several areas to site the marquee then you can offer a wet/dry scenario. If the forecast is bad when you come to put the marquee up then you can site it closer to the house to avoid long walks in the rain (or you can include a connecting walkway). If the forecast is good you can sit the marquee back to allow an outside drinks area in front. It may seem like a lot of work/hassle doing it at this stage but if you leave it until the day it’s going up you’re likely to create stress for the client and possibly delay your work if the decision maker(s) aren’t on site.  If you offer a Wet/Dry option then you can ask which they want when you phone to say what day it’s going up on.
  • Access for DJ/Band
  • Access for caterers. It’s also worth looking to see if they can use a garage or outbuilding to save on the extra marquee/power arrangements. You may think this is cheating you out of the price of another marquee but this will make your quote cheaper than competitors and more importantly show that you’re working in their best interests.

Thanks for reading.


Marquee site visits part 1

Monday, November 1st, 2010

The lads always gave me stick about site visits, wondering aloud what tape measure I’d been using as they struggled to fit the corner of a marquee in to a tree when it was supposed to be 3ft away!

But the reality is there are two sides to a site visit, one is effectively a survey of the area to make sure everything you suggest will fit/is suitable. The other is helping the client choose which option is best for them (and hopefully hiring them a marquee!).

I realise smaller functions/companies may not require site visits. Large functions may need to be with a committee of contractors to coordinate everything. I can only talk from my experience, which was 1 or 2 of us going out for site visits.

These are the things we looked for when carrying out a site visit, I’ll deal with the site survey side of things this week and the helping the client side of things later. We used to have a special site visit form to fill in so we didn’t forget anything.

  • Make sure the marquee fits and access is suitable. Sounds obvious but have a tick box for checking access to remind you.
  • is the site suitable? – any over head power lines, underground utilities (ask client and have a tick box for having asked the question)
  • Do dogs use the garden? if so put on the quote the site must be clear of dog poo on the day of arrival – up to you but we put this on after having to clear several gardens one year (really not pleasant)
  • Any trees/flower beds to be aware of either inside or outside of the marquee?
  • Is the ground hard or soft? Just so you know what anchoring equipment you’ll need when erecting
  • is it a long walk from the van/trailer/lorry? This might affect how long the job will take
  • power – where’s it coming from and what safe route can the cable take to the marquee
  • outside lighting – is it available? is it likely to be required?
  • make sure the marquee fits (trust me it’s worth measuring twice)

Thanks for reading


The Showmans Show 2010

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

So as many people know first hand The Showman’s Show was on last week:

Yes. That’s ice on the carpet. It was very very cold.

A few points from the show:

  • Our 9m x 12m marquees should be available from Spring next year
  • We have plenty of walkways in stock but linings are made to order at the moment so there might be a 5 day delay
  • Our blackout/DIY starlight will be available for next summer, hopefully earlier.
  • I’m very very sorry to the first few people who mentioned they read this blog, I’d forgotten about the free gift on the 1st morning until someone reminded me – mail me and I’ll send you some in the post.

As last year many thanks to Premier Party Tent for donating two of their staff to help take down our stand,  you are gentlemen and your assistance was very gratefully received.

Thanks for reading


Monday, October 11th, 2010

For those who aren’t aware we launched a forum for the marquee industry last week. It seems to be going very well with some very interesting ideas and healthy debates. A word of warning – I will unashamedly be using this for topics to discuss on here occasionally, if I see something I think would be useful to our customers then I’ll write about it on here.

We had an unusual thing recently, someone came in and bought a pagoda marquee (not that unusual), he then asked what time we were open on Monday to return it. He thought he was just hiring it! I felt bad. Obviously I offered him his money back if he didn’t want it (he actually seemed quite happy to be fair) but I also felt bad I’ve pinched a potential customer from a poor hirer out there. Still, our prices must be pretty reasonable for that to happen in the first place 🙂

Look at that, 9 days to go and I nearly managed to get to the end without mentioning The Showman’s Show next week! We’re still working on the samples so I can’t confirm what we’ll have there yet. Things that we won’t be showing but we are supplying next year are full height partitions so you can split a marquee internally (ideal for creating catering areas etc) as well as increasing our 4m wide range to include 4x6m and 4x12m as the 4x8m & 4x10m were so popular this year we could barely hold stock of them.

As always thanks for reading, please pop along to the forum and have a read.


Budgeting, a bit like accountants. Dull but important.

Monday, October 4th, 2010

It’s the end of the marquee season, your cash flow should be at a reasonable level and in a few weeks there’s The Showmans Show where all of us cunning marquee suppliers will dangle fantastic new products for you to buy ready for next season. Much as I’ll happily sell you any marquee you really need to do some planning before coming to the show.

Here’s what we used to do back in the days I was a visitor not an exhibitor:

  • Calculate our costs for the next 6 months. Includes wages, tax bills, vehicle bills etc
  • Calculate the likely income for the next 6 months (if it’s anywhere near the figure from the 1st step you’re doing very very well)
  • Work out the minimum amount of equipment we’d need for the next season – including essential repairs/renewals etc
  • Work out the equipment you’d ideally like to expand the business – things that customers have asked for or equipment that you’ve turned away business for. For example if you turned away 4 bookings for a 9x12m marquee last summer then if you can afford it it’s probably worth buying one for next year (in which case definately visit our stand, we should have something of interest for you!).

So in a nutshell we’d come to The Showmans Show knowing exactly what we wanted to look at and exactly how much we had to spend. I strongly recommend you doing the same otherwise you’ll get crafty salesmen (stand 269 ave E) convincing you to buy enough marquees to cover Wembley football pitch! We’re one of the few companies that could do that from stock too..

Thanks for reading


Free Stuff!

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Ok, so I may once or twice have mentioned the fact the showmans show’s on next month. We’re working hard on making sure there’s some new things of interest to you but some are going to be cutting it pretty fine -I’ll try and put them on here in good time before the show if I can.

I’d also like to reward you kind people who read my ramblings every week. I get a fair bit of email feedback but next month is often the only time I meet people in public, so I thought I should offer a free gift to anyone who mentions they read this blog.

I’m offering a 4 pack of pole straps. What are pole straps? I asked Jim from CCMarquees to review them for me just to make sure I wasn’t giving away something useless:

I have just packed away a 6m by 12 m marquee supplied by DIY Marquees and used adjustable tie straps to bind the poles together for storage. By locking the poles together with these strong but easy to use straps, the poles are not going to roll around when stored and are easier to carry. Thanks for introducing me to the product and I would recommend these straps as a great way to store and transport marquee poles. Regards Jim Costello Cc Marquees

So visit our stand (middle of Avenue E probably), mention the blog to get some useful free stuff (limited stock available blah blah)

Thanks for reading


Update: We’re on Avenue E, stand number 269.

A tip for site visits

Monday, September 20th, 2010

If you go out on site visits then it helps if you’re a good salesman as obviously that’s where most of your business comes from.
It’s often said that my Dad could sell snow to Eskimos. My brother (who’s successfully avoided joining the family business so far) similarly has ‘the gift of the gab’. I, do not. My tactic when meeting people was simply to be as helpful and honest as possible and just hope for the best. Luckily it worked pretty well 🙂 If you’re not a great salesman then I suggest you follow my example.

There was however one little trick that I learnt:

If you’re hiring out a marquee on it’s own then chances are you’ve got linings or other accessories sat there doing nothing for that weekend which is not ideal. When discussing extras for a marquee with a customer who was hesitant about spending the extra money I’d always say “Everything is itemised so I’ll put it on the quote and you just cross it off if you don’t want it”. I swear 4 out of 5 quotes that came back with deposits had nothing crossed out, it works very well.

Similarly if there’s something that a customer wants a price for that you’re reluctant to hire to them (something you’d have to cross-hire from another company for example) then list it separately at the bottom of the quote almost as an afterthought. It makes it far less likely customers will go for it.

I hope this helps, there are lots of other small bits that I picked up over the years that I’ll have to post up here sometime.

Thanks for reading.


Do I need a licence for my marquee wedding or event?

Monday, September 13th, 2010

A few follow up points from last week:
1. Fields are often uneven, if the marquee is booked a long time in advance then recommend the customer has the area rolled before the summer.
2. Apparently the laws on weddings are slackening so you can be granted temporary wedding licences in buildings (you still have to have 4 solid walls)

I came across this interesting article from Chris at Cascade Events who has kindly permitted me to reproduce it in full here:

“Do I need a licence for my marquee wedding or event?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked by our marquee hire clients and it’s not surprising really as a lot of the information available on the internet is contradictory and confusing and none of us want our perfect day to be ruined by a council official telling us it cannot go ahead because of a lack of an event licence.

The short answer to whether you need a licence for your marquee wedding or event is: maybe!

The exact answer depends on a lot of factors which are explained below but don’t panic! If it does turn out that your wedding or event requires licensing then a wonderful piece of legislation called the Licensing Act 2003 which allows for Temporary Event Notices.

Events only need licensing if “licensable activities” are taking place, these include:

  1. the performance of a play (this means any piece where a dramatic role is acted out);
  2. an exhibition of a film (this means any display of moving pictures);
  3. an indoor sporting event;
  4. boxing or wrestling entertainment;
  5. a performance of live music;
  6. any playing of recorded music;
  7. a performance of dance;
  8. or entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance.
  9. the sale of alcohol (either at a cash bar or as part of a ticket price)

Numbers 5 and 6 mean that included in most weddings and parties there will be a licensable activity. However for a licence to be required for activities 1 to 8 they must take place “for a consideration or with a view to a profit” which means that a band performing at a wedding where the guests have not been charged an admission fee (!) would not require the event to have a licence whereas a charity concert where donations are sought from the audience would need to be licenced.

Number 9 only covers the sale of alcohol. You are allowed to give away as much drink as you like to your guests as long as you do not charge them for it.

So, what if it turns out that under the criteria above you do need to get a licence? If you need the licence because Cascade are running a pay bar for you then we will look after all of those arrangements and you do not need to worry. If you are running the bar yourself we are still able to organise the licence for a very reasonable fee.

If you would like to do it yourself then it is not too difficult at all:

  1. Make sure you do it in time. You must submit your notice at least ten working days before the event date. We would suggest doing it more like 20.
  2. Go to the website of your local borough / district council (see below)
  3. Locate the Temporary Event Notice application form
  4. Complete the form (fairly straight forward)
  5. Submit to your local authority along with the fee of £21
  6. Await their confirmation of receipt (they normally send you back a stamped copy of the form)
  7. Have the event and have fun!

To assist you here are some links to local authority TEN application forms:

Wokingham Borough Council Temporary Event Notice
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Temporary Event Notice
Reading Borough Council do not have one on their website so we suggest using the generic TEN Application form here.”

Thanks for reading


Marquee forums

Monday, September 6th, 2010

At The showmans show in 2008 I was approached about a new marquee forum that was going to help out everyone in the industry. I thought it was a good idea but sadly didn’t get off the ground. Lisa from County Marquees kindly pointed me in the direction of the office section on the blue room forum where a few people have posted about marquee hire and the admins have said if there’s enough interest then they’ll make a ‘marquee’ section.  If that doesn’t work then maybe we’ll just have to set up our own one.

I stumbled across this post on yahoo answers and wish I’d got there sooner to offer my own answer (basically they’re asking it is possible to hold a marquee wedding in a field).  In my eyes the question is perfectly reasonable and one you come up against regularly, it just demonstrates that your job is not simply to hire out and put up marquees but to reassure people that it’s possible and can be done successfully.  Some of the answers are also quite interesting so I’ll run through them here.

Answer 1: a different event was ruined by poor heating and a muddy field all down to the weather. Except it wasn’t the weathers fault, it was the hirers. There was insufficient heating (several small heaters are better than one large one) and ideally (certainly in a field) you should run a small path of matting or carpet across to the toilets and also as an entrance path. This avoids getting muddy and ladies losing high heels. As long as any long grass is cut short well in advance of the event and it’s relatively level then fields make excellent venues for marquees.

Answer 2: It’s more expensive than a regular venue. Possibly true, possibly untrue. There are always cheap ways of doing things -instead of caterers get a cold buffet from Waitrose or get a local take away to do the food for example.

Answer 3: Tents can be very expensive. They can also be very reasonable.

Answer 4: You don’t get married in a marquee, you get married in a church/registry office and hold the reception in a marquee. We did several marquees where the couple were married in a quiet registry service the day before but then held a blessing with all of their guests in one marquee before coming across to another marquee for the reception. Guests think the couple are getting married there but they’re not actually.

Answer 5: DIY Marquees aren’t expensive :). You only need a licence for a bar if it’s selling alcohol, if it’s free then you don’t need one.  A field generally has plenty of space for parking (lighting the parking area is an often forgotten item). Marquee hirers have public liability insurance as standard, we can give details of bespoke insurers if required but exactly what part of the property is going to get damaged? It’s a field.

What this person really needed was for someone to go on there and say yes this is a good idea and happens all the time. What you need is a few smaller marquees connected together to create a courtyard (a field is a large place, you want to keep everyone together in one area). Put some outside seating in the courtyard (or hay bails for that country feel) with a spitroast in one corner. It’s informal, you remove all the marquee walls facing the courtyard so people drift in and out of them. It won’t cost a fortune and you can do all of the decorating yourself.

Thanks for reading.