Archive for the ‘marquee hire advice’ Category

Weathering a marquee to a house part i

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The easiest and indeed the best way to weather a house is by positioning the end of the marquee (the 4m or 6m side) against the building. This is because:

  • It genuinely creates an extra room to the house (the goal of most marquees attaching to a house) without going through a corridor/walkway or similar
  • The apex design of most marquees means that water comes off the sides of the marquee, very little comes down the end because it is a flat gable. If you orientate the marquee like this then it requires very little weathering/guttering – generally you can just pull the flap of the roof up and clip it to the guttering of the house
  • There is no eaves rail in the end of the marquee, this means you can generally lift the gable of the roof up and over any door opening in to the marquee
  • Tie downs are always attached to the sides of marquees, even if the marquee is on a patio there are often flower beds or fence posts at the sides of the garden to use for anchoring points

Some other points:

  • Ensure some of the tie downs are angled towards the house, it is very easy to attach all of the tie downs at an angle away from the house without realising it which would allow the marquee to move. If there are solid fixings on the house (cast iron not plastic downpipes for example) then by all means attach on to them to anchor the marquee down
  • A house will often have an overhanging gutter so the marquee won’t go hard up against the house. In my experience it’s best to leave all of the sides off facing the house (especially if there’s a window that can look out in to the marquee) and block in the gaps either side to keep in the warmth. How to block in these gaps:
    • Cover one end of a groundbar or similar length pole with gaffa tape (if you don’t have this in your van as standard then you can’t call yourself a true marquee erector!)
    • Hold the pole up to the eave rail at the end of the marquee and very loosely cable tie in place (c’mon, you must have cable ties!) with the taped end towards the house
    • Push the pole towards the house until it’s touching (the tape prevents you scratching or damaging the customers house) and then tighten up all of the cable ties to hold the pipe in place
    • To actually fill the gap attach a wall or window to the corner of the marquee as usual by bungee-ing to the leg but cable tie the top of the wall to the jutting out part of the pole you’ve just fixed in place keeping all of the slack towards the house
    • Go and find something heavy in the garden (plant pots are good) and rest on the rain skirt of the wall tight up against the house – this keeps the bottom in place
    • Unless you are incredibly lucky and there’s something on the house  to cable tie the marquee wall to then that’s about the best you can do

Thanks for reading, I’ll run through the other methods soon

Spencer

PS Tim from the excellent OakLeaf Marquees sent me a link to this funny marquee-related youtube clip

Marquee electrics

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Electrics for a marquee are generally straight forward affairs, especially the way that we now wire up lighting. Everything is supplied with 16amp blue plugs and sockets that just daisy-chain around the marquee.

We would usually run all of the electrics around the marquee and then run the power supply lead across to the house.  A 13amp RCD adapter should always be used to plug in to a house, as standard this will then be wired up to a 16amp blue socket ready to connect to the plug coming from the marquee. But what if you’ve run all of the leads around the marquee the wrong way round and end up with a 16amp socket towards the house rather than a 16amp blue plug?

Do you:

  • a – cut down all of the leads in the marquee and pain-stakingly attach them all back up again the correct way round
  • or b – the much quicker and easier method of just taking off that 16amp socket and swap if for a plug so it all connects up easily?

You must must must always do a. Just take the time and run the leads the right way round. No matter how pressed for time you may be do not ever start swapping sockets for plugs. Louise (have fun on maternity leave) from Essential Supplies refers to them as widow-makers because they are just so dangerous. If you think about what happens when the lead is plugged in if anyone were to unplug a join it would be the plug that’s live, ie those large metal prongs sticking out would be like open live wires.

As I say electrics and lighting in marquees are very easy, safe and straight-forward as long as you don’t start taking anything apart. Just keep it simple.

Our demo marquee is up for sale on eBay: ex-demo DIY Marquee

There probably won’t be a blog next week as we’ll be down setting up at The Showmans Show.

Thanks for reading, hope to see you next week at the show

Spencer

Stacking, storing and transporting marquee dance floors

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The design of marquee dance floors are all very similar, battens across the back and small battens/teeth at one end. This enables the dance floor to lay nicely and each board to lock in with each other:

Back of dance floor board

There are a few issues with storing and transporting dance floors. If not stored correctly the surface can get damaged, if not stacked correctly the pile can be unstable (a pile of dance floor tipping over in a van is not good for the heart-rate) and a damp dance floor left in store can become mouldy or warped.

So this is what we did for all of our dance floors:

We would always try to transport dance floor boards face-to-face, that way you protect the surface. Carrying them in pairs helps this process but it depends on the muscle power available.

In transit we would stagger the pairs of boards so one pair had teeth at one end whilst the next pair had teeth at the other (see diagram above), this way the dance floor is nice and compact but still laying flat.

When storing the boards away we would use a slightly different system of putting the boards batten on top of batten (it’s not incredibly clear by my dodgy diagram but all battens should line up on top of each other!). The idea of this is that the boards are still flat and still stacked surface-to-surface but the larger gap allows more air around the wood -this allows the wood to dry out and ultimately will last longer before needing replacement.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The Showmans Show 2012

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The Showmans Show is on 17th & 18th October this year at the Newbury Showground. I may have mentioned it once or twice, I certainly will have mentioned it if you’ve been in to see us talking about setting up a marquee hire business. It is the one show dedicated to marquee hire companies and a must-visit for anyone serious about marquees. Essentially anyone who is serious about supplying the marquee hire industry will have a stand there.

Please come and see us on stand 267 Avenue E.

For those geographically minded you come out of the main entrance marquee/hall and turn right. Take first left up avenue E and we’re the 4th stand along on the right hand side.

An alternative view is look for the fluorescent vehicles and pretty girls handing out leaflets on security services and our marquees are next door!

The site is quite large as shown by the photo below (our stand is circled):

I’d recommend visiting the Arcotherm & Climate Hire stand (nearly opposite us on avenue E) as they are introducing a new side entry floor diffuser, this will be far more practical in a marquee environment than the standard vents for that style of heater.

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

Different speed limits for different vehicles

Monday, September 17th, 2012

I recently went on a speed awareness course, frankly there’s a lot more I’d do to avoid 3 points on my licence than just sit in a conference room listening for 3 hours. There were a number of interesting points but something I’d forgotten from the highway code is that vans and trailers have different speed limits on some roads. It’s not something you take too much notice of as a 17 year old to be fair.

Any vehicle over 2 tonnes (vans, vehicles towing a trailer etc) can only do 60mph on a dual carriageway and 50mph on a single carriageway.

We had a lots of lads driving vans and/or towing trailers and we didn’t mention this to any of them. yes they should technically know their highway code but following on from the training mentioned last week if you’re employing people especially people who may not have driven larger vehicles before then this is the sort of thing to point out. It’s win-win, if they get caught then you both stand to lose one way or another.

It’s best to have a standard tick list for new employees showing best practices for each task they’re likely to undertake, driving and being made aware of the differences of driving larger vehicles should certainly be one of them. As well as the different speed limits make them aware that vans will always cut a corner more than a car, there’s also a much larger blind spot and to always pull straight up to a junction – there’s no rear passenger window to look through if you pull up to a junction at an angle.

Thanks for reading – remember the 6x12m deluxe marquee with damaged packaging on eBay finishes tonight.

Spencer

Training teamleaders, another cheap marquee on eBay & a shorter video

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Have you ever had a shopping delivery from Tesco’s? We have and the attitude of the drivers is always fantastic, in my experience they are the most helpful and approachable people you could possibly get. Reflecting this back on my time running a marquee hire business I realised we did zero training for our team-leaders in public relations.

Whilst we never really had any problems leaving teamleaders on site without us we were solely worried about their standard (and speed) of work while we weren’t there. What we should have done is also express clearly how they should keep the customer informed of everything that was going on for peace of mind.

If you’re going to leave people other than yourself in charge on site then as well as training them for the job I also think it’s well worth training them to relate well to the customer, they are after all the face of your company when you’re not there.

Thanks for reading

We’ve got another marquee on eBay – this time it’s a brand new 6x12m deluxe, the only reason we’ve had to put it on there is because some of the outer packaging was torn in the store. The marquee is brand new so it could be a bargain for someone.

There’s a new video on our marquee video page, it’s a shorter one minute version of the one from last week.

Spencer

New how to erect a DIY Marquee video

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Our new instructional video is now ready and uploaded.

What’s new? Well we’re showing eave braces and the interchangeable wall system which weren’t on the previous video as well as a brief text commentary. The way we put together the first bay is different to most people, we just find it easier and puts less strain on any joints but there’s lots of different ways.

 

Marquee website tips

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

During my marquee career having a website has gone from being a luxury to an accessory to a necessity. It’s how a lot of people get their business and it should represent the face of your company you wish to project. Here’s a few tips for your website, each one can be summed up by the words ‘Keep it simple!’:

  • Text on the homepage should be brief and to the point. The fact the company was set up by your great-aunt Marge 100 years ago should go on the ‘about us’ page. There’s 2 techniques for keeping the text brief:
    • Write out everything you want to say and then delete any unnecessary words. And then do it again and again replacing or deleting words to make it more and more concise
    • Use bullet points. Eye catching and easy to keep concise
  • Put the area you cover on the home page. Don’t assume people will contact you to find out – if a customer finds a website that specifically says they cover ‘My Town’ then they are more likely to go there than try elsewhere.
  • Keep navigation simple, marquee hire websites don’t need to have a lot of pages so they should all just be one click away from the home page. At the minimum have a link back to the home page on every one of your website pages (who knows which page people will arrive on depending on what they search for)
  • Have a large photo gallery. Once a potential customer has established that you cover their area they will nearly always go to your gallery. They’re looking for the kind of work you do and ideally to find the exact marquee they want to hire (then they know they’re not wasting their time). For this last reason it is often worth separating the photographs in to different party/wedding/BBQ galleries
  • Don’t use a website made of just flash (a type of programming), you can do lots of cool things using flash (like our interactive planner) but search engines can’t read it so it’s useless in the search rankings. Use html for the bulk of your pages (nearly all template sites do)

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Wedding Fairs

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Wedding fairs have always been popular and as a marquee hire company you’re likely to be invited to exhibit often. The organisers will promise a large footfall and explain 101 reasons why you should pay them to have a stand there.

The costs are usually relatively cheap, indeed all you need is one booking from a fair to be economically viable. Unfortunately it seems the type of future bride & grooms who go to wedding fairs are not those looking to book a marquee, certainly in my experience.

We tried many different ways of displaying our marquees on one 6ft trestle table – I even made a scale model of a marquee complete with linings and working chandeliers. All of this didn’t work, at best we covered our costs but after 18 months we called it a day.

Obviously it’s up to you if you want to go along to local wedding fairs but in my experience it’s simply not worth your time. Especially as it’s usually held on a valuable marquee day-off Sunday.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Signwriting vehicles

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Most commercial vehicles are sign-written, free advertising makes perfect sense. There are some circumstances in which I wouldn’t sign-write my marquee related vehicles:

  1. If whoever is driving the vehicle drives it like a go-kart. You will receive phone calls, they will not be pleasant and won’t be doing your local business reputation much good
  2. If you use premises that are not technically for commercial purposes (anywhere you don’t pay business rates essentially). If an inspector comes round believing that you’re running a business out of the site it is very difficult to argue otherwise if you’ve got vans or trailers marked up ‘Daves Marquee Hire’ around the place. If they’re unmarked then it’s easy to argue that they’re just used for business  part-time (or not at all)
  3. Double cab pick ups, sometimes they’re classed as commercial and sometimes as domestic (never in your favour by the way), if it’s permanently sign-written again it’s hard to argue you should be going through a toll as a domestic vehicle (consider removable magnetic ones)

Lastly if you are going to sign-write your vehicles please don’t put the writing on the front bonnet back to front. Think of the number of vehicles that will see you in their rear-view mirror then think of the number of vehicles coming the other way that will see your sign.

Thanks for reading

Spencer