The last few marquees that we have from last year are now on ebay – these were made for a German company that went out of business. There is a lot of marquee for the money!
I'm Spencer King, an ex-marquee erector. This blog is designed to help those running a hire business or thinking of starting. I don't claim to know everything, I'm just trying to help people avoid the mistakes I made! Check out our event planning section for advice on planning your own marquee event. Please contact us if we can help or offer advice in any way.
Our DIY Marquees like most commercial quality ones can be erected on hard standing. There is the small issue of how to anchor the marquee down (answer: longer tie downs to a nearby soft surface, bolting or use heavy weights) but otherwise it is easily done.
There is one small issue which you should make your customer aware of and that is what happens when it rains (and I’m not talking about our funny on the FAQ page). If a patio normally floods in heavy rain, a marquee won’t stop that occurring. If the hard standing has a slope then water may try to flow through the marquee.
The risks of this happening are usually very slight and whilst it’s worth mentioning to customers it’s not worth going overboard or scaremongering about it. If the forecast is bad there are some solutions:
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We have some clearance marquees going cheaply on ebay.
These are from a batch of marquees last year but are brand new, still in their packaging (though some of the boxes may be a bit scruffy due to being in the warehouse for several months).
Bidding starts at 99p with no reserve. We normally sell these for £600-£700. They are slightly taller than our standard ones (30degree roof rather than 20degree) and have 500gsm PVC roof and sides. It’s a lot of kit for the money at normal selling price so these should be a bargain for someone.
It’s good practice when you’ve finished a marquee (and before the event) to have a check list, one copy for the customer and one for you.
What goes on a check list is entirely up to you but here’s some suggestions:
It’s also good practice to have the emergency contact number on the bottom.
Note this is a check list for the customer (they have a copy, you have a copy) which may be separate from your own erectors check-list, something the team leader might fill in ensuring everything meets the required standards. Flooring is well fixed down, all straps are done on the outside of the marquee, no lighting or heating could come in to contact with PVC/lining, furniture all laid out, dance floor laid flat etc etc.
For those who are starting out this may all understandably be a bit of overkill. If you’re in charge and just putting a 6x6m shell of a marquee then that’s fine. The above should always be the aspiration though, as you get bigger, as your equipment becomes more diverse, the jobs become bigger and when more of the responsibility is delegated to others having check lists is simply good practice.
Some see setting up a marquee hire business as very easy. Others see setting up any business as a potential headache. At DIY Marquees we work very hard helping people set up marquee hire companies by taking a lot of the stress and worry out but promoting good practices so they can thrive in the long term.
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At an enjoyable meeting over the weekend I was asked what should be in the toolbox/van of a marquee hirer. What’s the typical equipment you should set yourself up with?
Obviously we can supply most of these but they are reasonably standard equipment available in many places:
You wouldn’t need all of these initially, some you may never require but having most of these in your van/toolbox will make day to day life running a marquee hire business a lot easier. It will also save dashes to local DIY stores to get whatever tool you’re missing!
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Our opening hours over xmas:
Monday 22nd Dec: Open as usual 9-5
Tuesday 23rd Dec: 9-4
Wednesday 24th Dec – Sunday 4th January: closed
Monday 5th January: Skeleton staff 9-5 (a downside of having a family business is funerals affect a greater number of your workforce)
Tuesday 6th January onwards: Open as usual 9-5
Thank you to all of our customers old and new, all of us here at DIY Marquees wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
I meet a lot of people looking to start up a marquee hire business, it is one of the best parts of my job. A lot of people who come in to see me have never worked for themselves and see it as quite an aspirational position. Often the decision has been made to work for themselves long before the idea of marquees came around. And to be honest working for yourself is great, you do have to go in to it with your eyes wide open though and this is something else I often find myself discussing with potential marquee customers.
The first, most important point when starting a new business is having your close family on-board. Getting a business off the ground takes a lot of time, energy and work which would only be rewarded in the medium-long term. It is very difficult to do without the support of those around you. The last thing you want is for your start-up business to seriously affect your relationship (especially if you’ve married in to a family of solicitors and QC’s!).
The pro’s and cons of starting up your own marquee (or other) business:
And in-between both is a certain blurring of your work/life hours. You can often do non-work things during work time but then you’ll often have to do work related our of hours.
Working for yourself or working in a small business can be a culture shock but ultimately a move most people view well worth it.
A good friend of mine went from working in a huge multinational to a small start-up business. On the second day he was shocked to be told to drop everything as a photocopier had arrived downstairs (they were on the 5th floor) and everyone had to go down and lift it up the stairs. But this is what happens in a small business, everyone has to be prepared to be involved in any part of the business (manual handling or otherwise).
We are always happy to discuss any ideas you may have in starting up your own marquee hire business (or even helping an existing one), we have a lot of experience both in having done it ourselves and in helping many many others over the years.
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We’ve put one of our demo marquees on ebay: ex-demo diy marquee for sale
It could do with a clean but otherwise there is a lot of marquee there for what I would expect to be very very little money – it is starting at 99p with no reserve.
We recently had a visit by a Mr Jones, he was planning a party and wanted to extend his house in to the garden using marquees. This is a pretty common scenario for marquee hire companies especially during the winter months.
Mr Jones came in with a diagram of his garden with the marquees he thought he need, two 4x6m marquees, one 3.6×3.6m pagoda and one walkway:
The garden is not easy as it’s a very funny shape and on the surface this looks to do the job. My concerns were:
So having explained all of this I suggested an alternative approach, a 4x12m marquee and a 4x4m marquee on the side:
Note that in this example Mr Jones is actually ending up with slightly less of his garden covered and my alternative option is cheaper than his original suggestion. I can however guarantee that this second idea will be an improvement on the atmosphere and circulation of the party.
As mentioned in other articles I would still recommend having the food and drink out in the marquee (maybe at the far end). People (especially blokes) linger by the bar, having the food and drink outside guarantees the marquees are used fully and everyone doesn’t end up in the kitchen.
Thanks for reading