Space required in a marquee

When you plan a marquee event you need to know how much space to allow for furniture and other features. As a rough guide use 3x3m boxes:

  • For a 5ft round table seating 8-10 or a 5ft6in round table seating 9-11 guests allow one 3x3m square box
  • For a set of buffet tables (usually three 6ft trestles) allow 3x6m (ie two 3x3m boxes)
  • For a top table (tradition long table or an oval) allow 3x6m
  • DJ’s: 3x3m
  • Band: At least 3x6m depending on how many people are involved
  • Bar: 3x3m (often with another 3x3m for a sofa or spare seats)

Dance floors can vary in size depending on the type of event and number of guests so they’re a bit tricky.

Also consider leaving some space clear when people first walk in and in front of any catering entrance if you have the space to do so.

Of course you can just use our marquee planner or email us and one of us will put something together for you.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The Showmans Show 2011

Most readers will have heard of the Showmans Show, some will not – it’s the one show of the year to visit as a marquee hire company.  Every supplier you could possibly need will have a stand there including the wonderful DIY Marquees 🙂

We’re always in the same spot every year:

Register for free at The Showmans Directory. It’s on the 19th & 20th October at The Newbury Showground.

Everyone on our stand has had first hand experience of running a marquee hire company so we’d love to sit down with you and talk through any plans or ideas you may have.

As always I’m working on some new products that we hope to show there.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee repairs, change of policy

Not advice this week, just an announcement of a change in policy for us regarding the repair of marquees.

1. We will now only repair our own marquees. If it’s not a DIY Marquee then I’m afraid we’re not going to be able to repair it. Our marquees are pretty tough to damage but it appears some others are not. Frankly we’ve had enough of making up for other manufacturers poor workmanship.

2. If you send something back you would like us to repair then it must be clean. Clean as in suitable for a marquee to be used by the fussiest mother-of-the bride around. If I pass on any more dirty panels to be repaired we’re likely to have a mutiny on our hands! Bear in mind most of these ladies have watched me grow up for the last 25+ years and you’ll realise who’s actually in charge round here 🙂

We will still offer our usual high quality service with a fast turnaround, after all we’ve been there and know what disruption a damaged panel can cause.

So if something sharp cuts one of your DIY marquee panels (the main cause of damage seemingly) then please make sure it’s clean before sending it back to us.

Thanks for your understanding.

Spencer

First impressions count

Your job as a marquee hirer isn’t just to supply and erect the marquee but often to help with the planning involved, especially planning the layout. But just organising the internal layout isn’t enough, you need to advise on:

  • where in the garden to position the marquee. There’s not always a choice but the most popular answer is close to the house if the weather forecast is bad and set back to allow for a drinks/greeting area if the forecast is good
  • what the first impression of the marquee/setting will be for the guests. This I would say is very very important. It also give you an opportunity to ‘upsell’ as I believe marketers currently call it.

Eddie Izzard makes a good case for first impressions.

Windows will always make a marquee more inviting than just plain walls but often that isn’t enough on it’s own. This is when pagodas can be used as entrance tents along with paths of carpet and various decorations. They are also very easy in that they basically sell themselves, show a customer a photo of the side of a marquee compared to a photo of one with an entrance tent and 9 times out of 10 you’ve got a booking for another marquee at the same site.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Business plans

When you’re starting a new business venture a business plan is a useful tool to have.  Despite what some might say it’s not essential and watching Dragons Den or The Apprentice you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a case of picking random numbers and adding a zero or 6 to give your 3-year plan.

But a good business plan can save you a lot of work or stop you making an expensive mistake. In my opinion a good business plan should make a sound and compelling argument for why you should start it.

A good article on business plans. Business link are always a good source.

My only slight reservation is don’t get carried away. If you spend too long putting the plan together you’ll use up all that new-venture energy and never get round to actually doing it!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee partitions

I’ve posted a few times about partitioning off a marquee for use as a catering area or other purpose.

Well this year we’ve made it a bit easier by supplying a full height partition panel. You can see details of them at the bottom of any marquee page (6x12m for eg). They have zips in to create a large middle entrance or discrete side access.

Being able to so easily make a catering area (or storage area etc) should make a hirer’s life easier which at the end of the day we’re all after 🙂

Thanks for reading – I was on holiday last week hence no post.

Spencer

Different marquee customers look for different things

In the main if you do a good job in erecting the marquee with a nice finish the customer is very happy, however occasionally you get a customer who picks out something that you’ve never even thought about. Some examples of unusual issues we came across are:

  • Having opened the side up and removed the ground bars to allow side access we were criticised for leaving 2″ of grass on show (what was formerly under the ground bars)
  • Curtain linings not touching the floor (they are generally about an inch off)
  • The roof lining looking different shades of ivory (we had to politely point out that this was because one half of the marquee was in the shade of an oak tree)
  • My favourite – the silver heads of the nails were ‘an eye-sore’ amongst the honeybeige carpet

These sort of things happen very rarely and there’s not much you or I can do to pre-empt them. Obviously if a customer has got it in their head that it’s a fault then you’ve got to resolve it politely otherwise it might ruin the enjoyment of the event for them.

Whether it’s carpeting an extra 2″ of a marquee, re-cable tying all of the curtains a bit lower or going to Halfords and buying some cream car paint to spray each nail head you’ve just got to do whatever it takes for a happy customer and move on. We did just point out the oak tree in the garden by the way, we didn’t just attack it with a chain-saw!

I hope the bad weather hasn’t caused too many problems for all you hirers.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The first steps to marquee hire

This is a conversation I have regularly, you’re interested in starting a marquee hire business and don’t know where to start. This is what I suggest:

Research
Find out who your local competitors are, what marquees they offer and how much they charge for the sort of marquees you’re likely to offer.
If there are hardly any competitors or the local companies all offer much larger marquees then this is a good thing. There’s space in the market for you to exploit.
If there are a lot of companies in your local area that offer similar size marquees to ours/yours then you might need to think twice about starting up. It’s not impossible but it is much harder to get going in a saturated market.

Stock:
The most popular marquees for hiring are 6x12m, 6x6m and 4x8m. If you’re based in a city then it’s more likely to be the smaller, 4m wide marquees that are popular.

What marquees should I buy?
I would recommend starting on a smaller scale initially. All of our marquees are designed along a similar, easy to erect style. If you’ve put one up then you won’t have a problem erecting a different size without practice.
Because of the large stock we carry and swift delivery you can just buy more marquees when you have the bookings for them – to me that makes good business sense, you only buy further marquees when you know you’re getting a return on your investment.

Insurance and misc
If you’re hiring out marquees then you should be covered for public liability insurance. When you buy a DIY Marquee we pass on 3 companies details who specialise in marquee hire cover. We also pass on a copy of the terms and conditions of hire we used to use as a hire company and we can provide some photos to get your website and advertising started.

We always enjoy helping people start up their own marquee hire businesses and will happily chat through any ideas you may have. The above is just a collection of ideas to start you off.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

The art of negotiation

If you read about brand awareness then experts claim there are three categories of people, those who will only buy brands, those who can be convinced of buying brands and those who refuse to buy brands. It has to do with how people wish to be perceived by their peers. Don’t ask any further, I’m already teetering out of my depth.

So relating this to marquee hire you’re going to face some potential bookings where they just keep wanting to negotiate the price down, it may even just seem a point of principal (see the recent apprentice contestant getting 1p off a £365 top hat!).

Just speaking from my experience this isn’t about the customer saving money, it’s generally about them being able to say to their guests what a good deal they’ve got.

For that reason I found it much more successful offering people something for free rather than giving them money off. For example say you’ve got someone trying to negotiate over a booking for £1500. It’s much better for you giving them an entrance tent say worth £200 rather than knocking off £150 off the price. It’s only adding a bit of time for you rather than taking money out of your pocket. The customer (I’d say 9 times out of 10) is just as happy, they can say to their guests that they’ve got a £1700 marquee for £1500 even though originally they didn’t even want the £200 extra you added in.

One last frustrating point, if you ever forget something for that job it will always always be a component for the thing you’ve thrown in free of charge!

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee PVC can stretch over time

I remember being at a country fair watching two lads fit some signs on to the top of a large marquee.  The marquee was about 30m wide and these two guys were walking along the ridge (about 10m up) making sure they trod and bounced on the PVC roof sheets as they went along. The point of this post isn’t to wonder exactly what their risk assessments were but to point out that marquee PVC stretches no matter what size you use.

So what can you do about it?

Well, essentially it’s making sure the PVC is always taught. Roofs that use ratchet straps will simply ratchet up slightly more over time. Roofs that use bungees (like ours) may need replacing as time goes on.

The whole reason we use bolts to hold our pipes in place rather than push buttons is so they don’t have to locate in the same place every time. If your roof has stretched over time then you can pull the pipes a little out of their sockets before tightening up – that just makes the framework a little wider and stretches the roof a bit tighter. It should mean your marquee lasts longer.

Thanks for reading

Spencer