Archive for the ‘marquee hire advice’ Category

Marquee linings tip

Monday, January 26th, 2009

This is something we learnt over the years.

It’s very difficult keeping marquee linings clean, especially when you’re flat out and they’re going up and down every weekend. To start with we used a commercial cleaning company who turned round the linings within 2 days, the only problem with that is the linings came back crinkled, we’d often get comments from customers that they needed an iron -we even hired a steamer for one particular wedding as the wrinkled linings were so bad.

Most linings fit into a domestic washing machine -all of our DIY Marquees are designed that way intentionally. Pleated linings up to 9mx3m can fit but you need a commercial washing machine for 12m and 15m.

So here’s my recommendation -wash the marquee linings at home in your domestic washing machine but only do it just before putting your marquee up the next time it’s out. Don’t put the linings in a dryer, put them up damp:

  • The linings dry very quickly
  • The linings dry in place, so no creases
  • You avoid having to use dryers – our biggest cause of small tears and damage
  • Make sure your hands are clean, damp linings will pick up any dirt (we used to keep a pack of baby wipes in the van for this)

If your linings are really bad (if they’ve been stored damp for a long time for example) and have mould on then simple washing won’t get it out, it needs something more drastic. High-Spec Ltd offer a mould away spray that’s useful to keep in your van but only really good for small patches, if the area affected is large you have to soak the linings in bleach, just make sure you wash them thoroughly afterwards and don’t leave them soaking for too long as it damages the velcro etc.

I hope that’s helped some people out there, thanks for reading.

Spencer

Marquee Hire Companies and PAT Testing (Portable Appliance Testing)

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Most of this is taken (with permission) from our friends at Essential Supplies:

Did you know:

Under HSE guides and Electricity at Work Act you are responsible for the electrical safety of every electrical item your company owns. You must be able to prove that you have adequately tested all your portable electrical equipment whether it is for your own Staff’s use or hired to customers. For most companies this means that once every year all your electrical equipment is PAT tested, by a suitably qualified person. PAT testing companies and electricians commonly charge £2-£4 per item to be tested.
 
Essential Supplies are able to advise and supply you with all the necessary test equipment, teach you or your colleague how to perform PAT tests and record the results. This could lead to you saving a lot of money over the year, and is a great way to keep your staff busy during the quieter winter months. Any equipment needing repair automatically needs a PAT test which you can now carry out instantly after repairs are done making sure that item is safe.

Essential supplies are offering two training courses at their Basingstoke depot:
PAT Testing for marquees and event companies
to be held on Wednesday 11th February  £220.00

Basic Marquee Electrics
to be held on Tuesday 17th February      £180.00

Now as a qualified electrician I can tell you that PAT testing is a dull job, but it needs to be done and if you can save money by doing it yourself rather than paying an electrician then that seems sensible to me.

If you’re new to marquees or just want to gain confidence doing electrics then their basic marquee electrics course might be for you.

Interesting stuff. If you’re interested in going on one of the courses drop Essential supplies a line, I think places may be limited so don’t hang about.
Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee Hire Health & Safety

Monday, January 12th, 2009

As with a lot of industries health and safety has become a bit of a nightmare, with ignorance no defence all you can do is try your best and hope nothing happens.

The biggest health and safety issue I heard of was someone dying (yeh that’s pretty big) by touching an overheard power cable with a marquee pole. If there’s overhead power cables just don’t put a marquee up there. Telephone cables aren’t a threat though would still be expensive if you knocked them down.

From memory I think power cables are run vertically, telephone cables are run side by side.

Once you’re past this point you’re onto the more day to day things. I’m far from an expert in this so don’t treat my word as gospel I’ll just recount what I experienced.

At the time the regulations were ‘if you’re lifting anything above head height you should wear a hard hat’. It depends on your style of marquee how long this would be appropriate for – on our DIY Marquees it would only be when lifting the sides so around 20 minutes. On aluminium frame marquees it would be a couple of hours (falling purlins are the main cause of accidents I’ve seen on site). Steel toe capped boots should also be supplied.

Now as an empolyer things start getting interesting. It’s not just enough providing a hard hat and/or boots. You need to be making sure they’re worn at the appropriate times and worn correctly. If someone suffers a head injury through not wearing a hard hat, even though you’ve provided it you could be liable. How stupid’s that? This is where common sense and health & safety don’t go hand in hand.

So if you’re employing people you need to supply hard hats and make sure they’re worn at the correct times.

I believe this is the sort of thing associations such as mutamarq cover. We never felt the need to join ourselves but I can see the appeal. It’s worth having a look at them whether you’re just starting up or have been hiring out for a while.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Party tents use powder coating, commercial marquees are galvanised

Monday, January 5th, 2009

I’m often asked why we don’t powder coat our marquee framework so here’s why:

When I suffered my back injury and realised I had to go into marquee sales rather than marquee hire I started to do some research. Basically I picked the brains of mates in the industry, various contacts and searched round for what the current options were.

The boundaries are getting greyer and greyer but people clearly differentiated between ‘party tents’ and ‘commercial marquees’.

By general opinion party tents were made from thin PE material, were a budget option and had….powder coated framework.

Commercial marquees were always seen to have PVC covers, be more durable and long lasting and always used..galvanised metal framework.

Visiting a friends marquee hire business really made up our minds -he had a mixture of powder-coated and non-coated framework and after just one season the powder-coating was scratched and chipped. The galvanising looked better simply because it still had a uniform finish. As he said if people want a marque for anything other than a cover out of the elements then they’ll use an interior lining anyway.

I think most people would think a powder coated framework is superior when brand new. But our marquees are built to last a long time and after a few uses when that powder coating becomes scratched and peeling nearly everyone would agree galvanising’s a better option.

That’s why we use galvanising.

Thanks for reading

Spencer.

Merry xmas to all marquee hirers

Monday, December 29th, 2008

A short post today as:

a. The factory’s closed and we’re not back at work until Monday 5th so this is eating into looking-after-baby-daughter time!

b. Our best friends wedding was last night and computer screens aren’t great with hangovers..

So thank you for reading over 2008, I realise I write a lot of gabble but hopefully there’s a few things somewhere in my posts that you find useful in running or starting up your marquee hire business.

Something I find myself repeating quite frequently over the phone is “what I’d do if I was starting up a marquee hire company again” so I’ll start writing posts covering that. If it goes down well I could bundle them up in one place for future readers.

For those who are already running their own hire businesses I’d appreciate any thoughts or ideas you have to include in this beginners guide. I’ve also got some ideas on offering some free (that’s f-r-e-e) promotional techniques or website features for you. Watch this space 🙂

For those of you who run temporary water supplies to marquees (mainly those who offer catering too) you should be aware that research is being done into providing a British Standard for water quality in temporary structures. No doubt the research will take a long time and may come to nothing but it’s something you should keep an eye on in case there are requirements you don’t satisfy.

As always thank you for reading, have a happy new year and let’s hope 2009 is the year of the marquee!

Spencer

Marquee Hire pitfalls

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

I’m very wary about coming across as a smug know-it-all in this blog. I don’t claim to know everything about marquees but I know a reasonable amount. I don’t claim to have all the answers to your start up marquee hire business, but as I’ve been there I can point you in the right direction. To illustrate the point of my non-know-it-all status I’ll try to remember a few of our errors now and again:

We were brought in to erect a marquee for an evening presentation at a hotel/spa one day, the marquee was to be erected on one side of their car park and had to be up in the morning, down in the evening.

Now marquees going up on a hard standing are a pain in the backside. You need to either drill in to the car park (not allowed), hold it down with weights or use long guy ropes down to a nearby patch of grass.

We thought we were being pretty shrewd by lining up the marquee along the edge of the car park so we could knock stakes in the thin patch of grass on one side – hey presto we only need weights along  the front.

The presentation was a success and we’d nearly taken it all down when it came to taking the stakes out -upon lifting a stake out one of our lads heard a loud ‘hissing’ noise and smelt gas! Showing remarkable coolness he dropped the stake back in the hole before RUNNING out the marquee.

Yes we’d gone through the main gas pipe.
That fed the large hotel.
That was just about to seat 120 people for an evening meal.
Oh crap.

In actual fact we came out of it quite lightly. We paid for the British Gas emergency call out to repair the leak and we refunded half the hire charge. If we’d been pressed to compensate the 120 diners we’d have been in trouble.

So what’s to learn from this? MAKE SURE on your terms and conditions you have a line saying ‘there are no underground drains, cables, pipes or other hidden services on the site selected’ and ‘ cannot be held responsible for damage to such items unless informed in writing previously’ and only take a booking with a signature agreeing to these t’s & c’s.

If you buy one of our marquees we include a copy of our old t’s & c’s for you to use.

Thanks for reading, Merry Xmas 🙂

Spencer

How to clean a marquee

Monday, December 15th, 2008

With most parts of the country suffering ‘a bit of rain’ recently cleaning your marquees suddenly shoots up your to-do list. And rightly so, storing your marquees away when wet ages them very quickly, especially windows.

Firstly, there are two types of dirt you get on marquees

  1. There’s dirt that gets splashed on: Mud splattered on the sides,food thrown against the walls and leaves blown down on to the roof are all like this. This kind of dirt is relatively easy to wash off.
  2. A grey film builds up on to marquee covers over time. This makes the marquee look old and ‘tired’ and is a bit harder to clean off.

For splashed on mud you need to get hold of a power washer and a big tub of traffic film remover (TFR – basically concentrated washing up liquid, available from auto factors and used for cleaning lorry sides). Steam cleaners make life a bit easier compared to power washers but they’re a lot more expensive and a lot more problematic (I speak from experience).

So just power wash the dirt off using diluted TFR. For stubborn marks pour some undiluted TFR on and leave it for 5/10mins, then wash off.

Easy huh? Remember to always take a small tub of TFR in a plant spray with a cloth or sponge to every job just in case you tread on a wall or something when putting it up (it also looks good to the customer to see you ensuring their marquee is clean for them).

Then we come on to the grey film that builds up (a lot of people think this is just the material aging like canvas but it’s not and can be cleaned off to look like near-new).

To clean this off you need to spray the TFR quite strongly over the area and leave it for 5 mins. When you come back you need to ‘irritate’ the grey film to lift it off the surface for which you need a stiff brush or broom. If you’ve got a lot to do we used to use an electric floor cleaner (like you see cleaning supermarkets etc). Once you’ve gone over the whole area just wash it all off with your power washer and hey presto -back to (nearly) new!

There are a couple of exceptions to this second part.

  • window material shows scratches so don’t go over any transparent section with a brush or floor cleaner, just wipe it as thoroughly as possible by hand.
  • if your marquee uses ‘pvc backed’ material rather than ‘pvc laminate’ (which is what we use) then only use the brush/floor cleaner on the non-pvc backed side. PVC backing as a product is fine but if you start attacking it with a brush or floor cleaner it might start to flake away. That would be bad.

Basically the better you look after your equipment the longer it will be before you come back to us for replacements so the more money you make. It’s also offering your customers a better service, which is never a bad thing.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

New size of marquees to buy

Monday, December 8th, 2008

6m x 14m commercial pvc diy marquee

When we first entered the marquee sales industry no one was really offering PVC marquees at reasonable prices. Your choices were either to go for cheap PE party tents or expensive PVC frame marquees. Then we came along 🙂
Since then others have now copied (with mixed results) and offer reasonably priced PVC marquees.

We offered our marquee linings with our marquees. Others have also copied (with even greater mixed results).

We lead, others follow. But then imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so we take it as a compliment.

So in our constant strive to bring you the best available options for your business we’re now offering 6m x 14m PVC Marquees. They’re made to the same high specifications as all of our DIY Marquee range but the greater length means you can fit in ten 5ft round tables – giving a seated capacity of up to 100!

We really think offering these will help the rental market and should offer you excellent returns on investment.We will of course be making linings and other accessories for them.

“Hello Jerry, remember last month when I paid back that loan, well now I need you to do a favour for me” Homer J Simpson
It’s in this spirit that we’re asking for a favour. After constant requests we’ve made some carry bags -these are mark II versions that have carry handles and top access, the mark I’s we made were basically sacks with drawstring that we weren’t willing to sell/let people use.

Anyway, we’ll be selling these bags at £6 + VAT each but we’d like some hire companies to provide some feedback for us so we’re willing to sell some at half price (£3 + VAT for those with Monday-morning rusty brains!) as long as you provide some feedback and/or photos.

Contact me if you’re interested.

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Marquee Hire Websites

Monday, December 1st, 2008

We’ve finally got round to something I’ve been meaning to sort out for a while now -we can now offer websites for start up hire businesses (or existing ones if you want to change your current site).

An example is here

Cost is likely to be £180 for the first year, £45 a year from then on which we think is very reasonable for what we’re offering:

Home page – supply your own text to fill the page, change the locations you cover, choose your own colour scheme. This will also be optimised for the search engines.
Photo Gallery – all photos are included for you to use, we’ll also add your own photos when you get them.
Marquee Planner – we’ll add whatever size DIY Marquees you stock.
Contact Page – If you want other details for people to fill in we can do it for you.
Webmail – log in to send & receive work emails.
Advice on getting up the search rankings – We’ll point out what you can do to get your website up the search rankings and links to tools to help you. It can be time consuming but very little expertise is required.

Any extras you would like adding we can arrange (price on application). Once the website is up and running any subsequent alterations we’d also have to charge for (except adding photographs).

A .co.uk domain name is included in the price so you can choose whatever name you like (subject to availability) and your email address would be yourname@yourdomain.co.uk.

As always , feedback appreciated.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee Hire & VAT

Monday, November 24th, 2008

With a VAT cut due today it seems sensible to talk about VAT when running a marquee hire business.

On a personal note I’m not sure a ‘2.5% sale’ on everything in the UK is going to make much difference but apparently we’re not allowed by our EU friends to go lower than 15%. Thanks. For. That.

Anyway, marquees.

If your turnover is under a set figure (I don’t know the exact figure but it’s around 67k at the moment though there’s also a quarterly limit that affects hire companies more) then you don’t have to register for VAT, if you don’t have to register then don’t. I’ve heard some people think it makes their company appear bigger than it is, and it does mean you can claim the VAT back from any purchases. However, if you’re not registered then you don’t have to charge VAT on your hire prices so you’ve automatically got a sizeable and vital discount on your competitors.
For those charging VAT make sure you put in your terms and conditions ‘VAT charged at current rate’. This covers you if the VAT goes up between taking the booking and your customer paying the balance. Generally we’d have advance notice of any increase (this 2.5% cut is only temporary remember) so any customer who’s paid you a deposit can opt to pay in full in advance and take the lower rate applicable at time of payment. Does that make sense?

Here’s an example:

Jane Jones is marrying John Smith in June 2010. They book a marquee with you that’s priced at £5k + VAT by paying a 20% deposit in November 2009 (£1000 + VAT at 15% = £1150).
It’s announced that VAT will go back up to 17.5% from 1st January 2010 onwards.

You write to Jane & John saying they can either pay the balance before 1st January 2010 and pay VAT at 15%, or they can wait until their wedding and pay VAT at 17.5% (you see how adding that note about ‘current rate of VAT’ in your terms and conditions has covered you here?).

either a) pay £4000 + 15% VAT = £4600 before 1st January 2010

or b) pay £4000 + 17.5% VAT = £4700 at the time of their wedding.
Writing to your customer with this gives you goodwill and might help your cashflow while also helping the customer. Win-win 🙂

Cash jobs:

As it’s the VAT man you’re evading I think this is worth mentioning here. No matter who you are you’ll be offered to drop the VAT for cash. We used to lose around 8% of our business by not accepting cash jobs.

  • They’re illegal
  • It’s you who’s taking all the risk, not the customer.

You save by not paying income tax & national insurance but personally I prefer to sleep at night and not worry about VAT inspections (which are unpleasant even when you’ve got nothing to hide). It’s up to you.
Lastly
Geoff from www.roustabout.info has been in touch in case anyone wants to hire or buy big top style tents. Always worth remembering in case you have a customer who wants something different to clearspans.