Marquee Hire Business Seasonality: The UK Factor

  Posted by: Chief Editor, Selmore - Marquee Hire, on July 20, 2017 2:20 pm Leave your thoughts
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Business Seasonality

Outdoor businesses like UK-based marquee hire companies are traditionally affected by the prevailing seasonal weather changes.

The outdoor event industry in the UK is very strictly a seasonal business. "Weather permitting..." is the overriding caveat applied to any open air event.

With typically blustery and wet conditions affecting autumn throughout winter, UK outdoor based event businesses which predominantly trade during summer-time find themselves greatly underoccupied within what is commonly known as the 'down season'.

Marquee hire is such an outdoor event trade which goes into operational hibernation throughout the Winter months.

With conversely flat-out business activity in summer, with many marquee hire companies even giving away excess bookings above and beyond service capacity, most find it quite an abrupt break in commercial trade come October.

A newspaper article featuring nationwide marquee hire contractors, Good Intents, uncovers many of the practical, commercial bottlenecks experienced by such traditionally seasonal businesses.

In this post, we dig deeper into many of the commercial consequences resulting from having effectively only a 5 month trading year.

Where will seasonal businesses 'feel' it the most?

Cashflow seems to be the biggest issue which seasonality impacts.

The balance of having readily available cash within the business as gathered from takings in order to pay out for the various cost items comes under strain especially during months when there is no active trade or delivery.

With ready cash from business takings drying out come the close season, this calls for sound financial prudence during peak months of trade (where as much as 3/4 of revenue is made) in order to have enough on balance to tide over the operation when all comes to a crashing halt.

With labour being their most significant business overhead for the rigging staff, both in wages and professional training and health & safety accreditation, occupying staff profitably during winter becomes one of the biggest challenges.

With a finely tuned mix of permenant staff vs. temporary agency staff, marquee hire companies seek after optimising their ability to convert opportunities for hire in summer whilst minimising their exposure to payroll overheads throughout the winter.

Retention of such staff is directly correlated, of course, to the availability of work.

Permenant personnel will typically seek after stable working arrangements the year round and if in return they deliver consistent quality this will incentivise the employer to invest in their year round occupation...even to the point of taking losses if needs be for the long term benefit of their service.

Temporary staff acquired from hiring agencies are a great solution for meeting peak operational demand whilst limiting the ongoing financial commitment of permenant wages.

However, if there is a mismatch in short term availability of competent temporary riggers at a time of need, the resulting cost of missing out on profitable potential hire opportunities can be financially disappointing.

How could a seasonal business like a marquee hire company smooth out that financial  'winter freeze'?

The answer to the question above is a matter for marketing and really falls into one of three categories below. Each category producing more questions of it's own (...but from then on a solution is not that far away!):

  1. "Let's find more of the same..."
    • Are there any marquee structures which are truly UK winter hardy?
      • Clearspan
    • Do customers know that successful outdoor events are possible in UK winter?
      • No, skeptical
    • How can we change the attitude of customers to favour staging outdoor winter events?
      • Give them proof!
    • How should we communicate the benefits of a winter marquee event?
      • Let the benefits speak for themselves
    • How should we attract winter marquee hire bookings?
      • Provide a clear dialogue around this topic (content marketing)
  2. "Let's use what you have differently..."
    • What assets does the company have & how can they be utilised profitably in winter doing something else?
      • rigging staff = other type of rigging work i.e. indoor stages, scaffolding
      • trades work = carpentry, electrical installation and repairs
      • sowing staff = PVC covering repairs, made-to-measure clothing or fabric products
      • warehouse = pick & pack, order fulfillment, storage
      • vans = local deliveries
      • heaters & generators = flood restoration services
  3. "Let's do something completely different..."
    • Are there any opportunities to get into a completely unrelated type of trade just for the winter?
      • ecommerce
      • training
      • etc....

Whilst the seasonal peak and trough trading patterns can be a commercial rollercoaster of sorts, a systematic approach to exploring profitable and feasible solutions can quite quickly uncover many low risk/low investment opportunities.

Each opportunity offering sustainable profit for keeping the company's boat floating the whole year round.

Interested in getting winter marquee hire enquiries?

Our marquee hire leads 'pay-as-you-go' programme could be of benefit to you. Submit your details and we will share more on what this service may be able to do as a means of growing your marquee hire business.

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