Small Business Spotlight: Abacus Party Cover

The first small business we are featuring is Abacus Party Cover, led by 21 year old Mark Hammond.

The Team

Abacus Party Cover TeamMatt, Daniel, Mark & Mark’s grandfather

Who does the team consist of?

Abacus Party Cover consists of a small unit which together makes sure the business runs smoothly.  I have a team of 5 or 6 casual staff who’s professionalism, courtesy and hard work ethic represent Abacus’s ethos.  That team includes myself in installing the marquee, so I offer more of a personal service.  The person who handles the customer calls and receives a quote from is also the same person who also sets the marquee up – which is what customers want.  My grandad, who is also part of the installation team provides a lot of support and having him by my sides ensures trust within customers and ourselves, as I think some customers of mine are sceptical at first that a 21 year year old business owner won’t let them down.  You only have to look at my testimonials to see that those few couldn’t be more wrong!  My nan also provides a vital role within the business.  She has been given the role of ‘’textile manager.’’ She is in charge of keeping the tablecloths & linings clean and ironed ready for the next set up.  Lastly, but certainly not least is my father, who without his help, support and advice I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now.  His help is invaluable.  My team all play a vital role to create a tight unit providing excellent service within Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas.

What is your product or service?

We are primarily used to extend one’s home instantly for events such as birthday parties, anniversaries and weddings.  Our marquees can be set up right up to the customer’s house to create an instant extension for when they simply do not have the room inside their home.  By combining the interior options and our 3rd party services we can create a night to remember!

Why did you decide to sell this product or service?

It was my father who set this business up, but quickly realized he simply didn’t have enough time to run 2 businesses at once.  So for my 18th birthday he gave me this business…quite a unique present I must say!  He realised a gap in the market.  Everybody does huge marquees perfect for big weddings and a four figure hire price.  But there are very few people indeed who hire out marquees small enough to fit into your own garden at an affordable price.

How many years in business have you been in business?
3 Years

How successful has your business been?
Personally, creating a business in the middle of a recession and still surviving is an achievement in itself.  In November 2013 I was the finalist for the Young Entrepreneur Award in the Hertfordshire Business Awards.
Hertfordshire business awards
What sources of funding have you pursued or are pursuing?

No outside sources thus far.  All self funding.  I have only just started taking an income from the business.  Before that, with the profit I made, I re-invested that into the business whether that be buying more marquees, interior options of marketing.  I wanted to grow the business quickly and this would be the only way of doing it without the need of a bank loan (which would have been very hard to obtain!).

Did your funding source work well for your company?

Yes – I have grown Abacus from starting with 2 marquees, to 9 marquees.  I have recently had to upgrade to a larger storage yard and transport simply because we are offering more and more options.

If you haven’t looked into funding other than through family and friends, what funding source are you considering and why?

I am considering outside funding such as loans, start up loans etc because I know there is certainly a market out there for domestic marquee hire, it’s just educating the public and letting them know we exist!

What has helped your company achieve the most growth?

The hard work and effort I put into my online prominence to achieve higher leads>more inquires>more custom.

What are challenges your company face?

Our challenges is more on the logistical side of things.  When we are super busy such as Christmas and New Year for example, particularly when we’re having bad weather.  It’s very difficult to dry the marquees etc in time for when they are going back out in such a short space of time.  This is due to the limited space we have in our storage unit.  Also, due to my age it’s also very difficult to obtain vehicle insurance for larger vehicles.  If we had a larger van, we can take more stock with us to every job.  60% of our income is from upscales.  From the interior options inside the marquee.  Theoretically the more stock we take with us in the van, the higher the chance of an increased revenue from each job.