Merry Xmas to the marquee industry

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone in the marquee industry (and anyone else who reads this).

No advice today, just a thank you to everyone who takes time out of their day to read my ramblings on here.  I started this blog two and a half years ago because I like helping people and I miss hiring out marquees, I am always shocked and humbled by the number of people who have actually found and read it all. Yes I can see the number of visitors in analytics but that doesn’t necessarily mean much – A friend of ours sells hardcore and receives a lot of hits from google, they don’t stay for long when they see hardcore brick rubble rather than hardcore porn though!

I realise the quality of the posts varies, I write about what I’m thinking at the time which is sometimes useless, sometimes repetitive but hopefully there’s enough useful bits to keep your interest.

So thanks for reading, thanks for visiting, and let’s all hope for a successful 2011 🙂

Spencer

SEO for your marquee hire website

You might be busy with Xmas & New Year functions but once they’re out the way it’s generally pretty quiet until the spring. The perfect time to update and improve your marquee hire website.

If you want your website to work for you and generate business rather than just be a tool for existing enquiries then it needs to appear near the top of the search rankings. I’ve discussed SEO (search engine optimisation) previously but a good SEO guide can be found here.

This guide explains what you need to do to help your search rankings. Please don’t think you’re suddenly going to appear at number 1 for ‘marquee hire’, that takes the work of a professional and a lot of time. Getting on to the first page for local searches (‘marquee hire Dorking’ for eg) should be achievable for us unprofessional types.

Remember it does take time to get up the rankings so start working on it now in preparation for the summer.

It’s also worth updating your website with new photos and scan through all of the text to make sure it’s all still relevant, for example seeing special offers that expired 6 months ago is a real turn off for viewers .

Thanks for reading.

Spencer

Marquees in the snow

Apparently there’s been a bit of snow recently. As someone who lives in Reigate it sounds like we had our fair share.

So what does this mean for marquees?

1. Obvious but make sure no snow is allowed to build up on ANY marquee roof. Marquees are not designed for snow loading, if they were they’d be designed with much steeper roofs and look like Austrian ski chalets. Scrape it off and/or put heaters on to melt it/stop it settling.

2. Gutters are going to be problematic in the snow, snow will build up in any gulley so gutters can overflow if you’re not careful. Scrape as much snow away and keep it warm.

3. If you’re putting a marquee up in the snow scrape as much of it away as possible before erecting the marquee but don’t put a heater on until you’ve got the flooring laid otherwise lawns turn in to mudbaths.

4. Remember your winter clothing including gloves – I can remember to this day forgetting my gloves and putting up a marquee with the metalwork sticking to my fingers!

Thanks for reading.

Spencer.

Getting fixings in a lining without damaging it

Nearly every time you use a marquee lining it will be to go in your standard marquee stock and (if it’s one of ours!) will fit perfectly. Easy.

But sometimes you have to fit a lining somewhere unusual. It might be lining a customers porch, it might be lining an unusual walkway or just making good to a house. At some time in your marquee hiring life you will need to do this.

So how do you get attachments in a lining without damaging it? Follow these instructions:

Step 1: Find a decent sized pebble (about 4cm diameter ideally) and place it on the good face of the lining (ie the side you don’t need to get a fixing)

Step 2: Scrunch the material round the pebble at the back of the lining

Step3: Tie a cable tie tightly around the scrunched material and also include an extra cable tie (this gives you your fixing).

And there you have it, a fixing in the middle of a lining that looks okay from the front (you can’t see the pebble) and gives you a fixing at the back without damaging the lining.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Site visits part 4

I’m sure it will surprise no one that these posts aren’t planned out, they’re just my thoughts on the day. Because of this system I’ve forgotten a few things to include.

1. In 1999 I was visited by a yellow Pages rep called Gary. We spent a reasonable amount with Yellow Pages so a rep came round at least once a year, I can’t remember any other rep’s name or many of the details of any other appointment. I remember this one because I couldn’t wait to get rid of him, his breath stank. I mean really really unpleasant. So whenever I went on site visits I’d have a couple of mints on the way. Who knows if it helped or not, it certainly didn’t harm my chances.

2. It’s not something I did but looking back I think it’s a good idea – get the bride & grooms names and always refer to the booking as “Andy & Liz’s wedding on Saturday 10th September 2011” for example. It looks better and more personal.

No doubt there’s other things I’ve missed, if so I’ll collect them together and do a part 5 in the future.

Thanks for reading

Spencer

Marquee site visits part 3

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

Spencer

Marquee site visits part 2

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.

Spencer.

Marquee site visits part 1

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

Spencer

The Showmans Show 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

Spencer

No marquee hire advice this week

There’s no marquee hire advice this week other than to make sure you get to the show on Wednesday or Thursday.

We’re going down to set up tomorrow and with several hundred people happy to pass on their advice (our products are the best etc) I figured you’d be fine without this week.

We’ll be showing our new 9m x 12m marquees for sale (less than half the price of aluminium). We’re really very proud of them, come and have a look and see what you think.

We’ll be displaying our new gable end system we’ll be putting in to production for next summer as well as some new blackout linings with attachments to create your own DIY starlight lining.

Thanks for reading, look forward to seeing you at the show (hopefully with my back intact this year)

Spencer