MISSION CHRISTMAS: Christmas Install Preparations
A behind the scenes look at our Christmas installation preparations.
As I imagine many of you are from the events world, we all know how hectic the Christmas period can be. That is why, here at Table Art we are all about the preparation! Obsessed with it in fact. Most see August as a time to sit back and relax in the sun, not our team. August is the time to organise the troops and get everything planned and prepped for the Winter Months. This blog gives you a look behind the curtain, showing how life is in the warehouse when Christmas Installation is in full swing!
The start of the year means one thing in the design studio. Christmas ideas! Just at the point when the team are sick to the back teeth of all things Christmas… Gary sets to task setting the themes for the coming Christmas period. Having over 25 years in the industry, Gary can read trends like the wind. It’s this ability to forecast trends that makes him a leading light in the field.
The first step for Gary is the research, scouring the internet for historic references to feed his modern approach. Historic you say? Well yes, Gary’s passion for history is what informs his ideas. For instance, a look into the Victorian Period is what fed the fire and forged the Steampunk styling he developed. That has since led to the ‘Around the World’ styling concept, combining key elements from the Steampunk range with a Phileas Fogg twist.
Starting with a sketch…
Once Gary has a keen sense of the concepts he wants to develop- he starts the design process. Ordinarily we would say pen in hand, but in fact, he works almost exclusively on his IPAD. Working in Adobe Draw, Gary produces hundreds of concept drawings. These illustrations are invaluable to the team as it gives them a sense of the direction we are taking. They are also a useful tool when upselling to our clients. They say a picture says a thousand words. The drawings instantly communicate the look without having a long debrief that doesn’t adequately detail what we want to produce.
The next stage of the Christmas Installation is the planning. With a combination of Gary’s sketches and supportive imagery from previous years, proposals are put forward. Proposals fly from the sales team at almost hourly rate post January. Clients are looking to plan for Christmas as soon as possible and come to us for the latest ideas. From the outset, our sales team make it clear that the sooner booked, the more likely we are to be able to deliver the order. As many of you have experienced the Christmas rush, you know that last minute orders during this period are not always workable. We will always be able to support those last-minute bookings, but we might not be able to offer exactly what they are looking for. Everything depends on availability. For those agencies that book us early, they have exactly what they want.
A Busy Summer…
By the time June/ July rolls around, the majority of our Christmas installation have been confirmed. This is where Andy Rawlings steps in. Not just our tech specialist, he is our logistics lead. Reviewing the orders from top to bottom, Andy’s aim is to access the needs of each booking.
Firstly, the stock is the first port of call. Accessing what we already have and what can be adapted to suit. He then sets out a to-do list that features all the components that will need to be manufactured. That list is then passed to our CNC Machinist Jake Rheams. Through the height of the Summer, Jake ticks off that list, making sure every element is produced to the highest standard.
Secondly, prep lists are looked at with pinpoint precision. Knowing that many of the products are new to the warehouse, Andy has to custom spec certain lines to better inform the warehouse. Once he is happy with the prep sheets, these are passed directly to Warehouse Manager Rob Adams.
|CNC Machinist Jake Rheams undertaking Christmas Preparations. CNC Machine seen cutting out the Low Candlestick design. Click here to see the final product: Low Candlestick.|
|Our charging stations developed with our clients in mind. Featuring caster wheels, they are easily rolled into place and simply require mains power. Each tray holds 18 units. This Image shows a double sided tray.|
The Warehouse is led by Rob Adams. By August 1st he is chomping at the bit for the Christmas Installation prep lists. He is a stickler for organisation and always pushes the sales team for the most up-to date info. His aim in life is to be prepared! To have everything ready and checked well before the event date.
In preparation for the Christmas Installation prep sheets, Rob and his team have spent the months leading up to August getting the warehouse in tip-top shape. Starting with a stock-take in May- everything is counted, cleaned and stored. There is not a cog or spring that Rob and the team can’t locate at a moments notice. Having such a tight handle on the stock at Table Art means that the team can collate an order in lightning quick time! An absolute must when working in the event industry.
Following the plan…
Christmas installation prep sheets in hand, Robert now sets out to delegate the various elements to his team. Ashley and Connor start the epic task of light prep. With over 1800 lights shipped out for Christmas 2019, it is a mammoth task. Dividing the lights into venue groups, each light is individually charged and checked. Popped into cubes, cleaned for a second time and then placed into flight cases and labelled accordingly. Now onto the centrepiece itself, Rob and Kevin work together to draw the various elements together and roll each relevant flight case into a corresponding group. As we said, we group the bookings by venue and date. The dates earlier in the year brought to the front of the warehouse so they are first loaded into the van.
|MD Gary Martin gives a passionate narrative while Jake Rheams presents the latest flight case design.|
The Logistical Preparations
With a team made up of 80% of men, the talk of football and cars can dominate proceedings. The teams love of all things motor is reflected in the immaculate way the vans are kept. The vans are safety checked by petrolhead Jake Rheams (I.E our CNC machinist) weekly, ensuring they are in tip-top condition for the event. Each of our vans have been boarded out so that they are protected from the endless flight cases that get rolled in and out. Externally the vans are well branded so on any event, we are easy to spot.
With Christmas being such an insanely busy period for us, often our own fleet of vans don’t cover the requirements. That is where our account with Enterprise comes into its own. Working closely with the business manager at Enterprise, we have hire vans out for month long periods to cover this epically busy time. With hiring out the vans externally, we can custom select the vans that are best suited to the event. A small Christmas installation in Bristol doesn’t require a 7-tonne van and so we are careful to select the right vehicle. This means two things. One is that the van fits the requirements of the event but secondly and most importantly, we are choosing a van economically- limiting the impact we make to the environment.
Kevin Cooper is our van loading genius. He must have enjoyed Tetris as a teenager because no matter how big the order, he can fit the cases into the van effortlessly. When an order is ready to go, Kevin starts loading the van, careful to check each case is correct before loading. Once happy everything is present and correct, a job sheet to match is popped in the front of the van- ready for the crew.
The Christmas Installation
This is where the Christmas Installation get fun! Divide and conquer is our motto here, especially during this period. Setting the crew into pairings, we all get loaded up with bookings for a specific area. You have Rob and Kevin going north to do the Liverpool/ Manchester installs. While Andy and Ashley head south to cover the greater London area. We are all over the UK during the months of November and December. Every day the team are working their magic in a set region. For the veterans of Table Art, they may well be returning to venues for the third or fourth year running. An ideal situation, returning crew are best equipped for a quick and easy install.
Once at a venue, the first task is to access the event space and talk to the venue manager. Often with our Christmas installs, the room isn’t ready. In advance of our arrival, the sales team would have made arrangements for a space to be made for our team and product. Once the venue manager takes our guys to said space, the guys can begin the installation. As you can see from the images, our crew assemble the table centres and line them up neatly. Once a room is ready, they can be easily lifted into place by the venue staff.
|The Dream Circus Elephant installed at the Tobacco Dock Londdon . Shown at their Christmas Parties 2019.|
One of the most important aspects of any Christmas install is the charging stations. Vital for those looking to use our centrepieces night after night. A venue will need to replenish the battery life of our lights at the end of every evening. With instructions given, the venue staff take the lights off the tables at the end of an event and take them to a charging station. There someone will be delegated the task of plugging each light into a port and plugging the whole station into the mains. Overnight the lights will fully charge and can then be simply set back out before the next event starts.
We know that accidents happen and that is why our team are on call 24/7 during the Christmas period. A light gets damaged or stolen? Our team will be quick to remedy the situation and will fire out a replacement. When you choose Table Art to light your Christmas Event, you can guarantee a five star service that will see you through from start to finish.
The week before Christmas is anything but a quiet wind down on the way to the big day. Arguably it is one of our busiest periods. With the team spread across the better part of the UK, derigging and returning all of our Christmas installations.
Returning to the venue, the teams first task is to access the stock. Once done, the guys start the pack down. Often, we store the flight cases at a venue. It makes for a quick pack-down. We just disassemble the centrepiece components and load them back into the cases. Popping the cases in the van we then grab the charging stations which are all conveniently roll-able! Doing a final check that we have everything we need; we sign off with the venue manager and head back to the head offices.
The Wrap Up
The Christmas Installation is far from simple in terms of process and production. Although complex, it is a rewarding time of the year. Seeing the hard work of the summer pay off with 5* feedback from our clients is something that makes it all worthwhile. Our Christmas installations is something we are becoming more and more well known for within our industry. Following our internal trend forecasts, we can see that the demand for these styles of bookings only goes up and up! We have no doubt that with Covid, 2020 will be a pause in the usual craziness. However, what we are choosing to do with this time is invaluable. Looking at ways to build on this type of event and make it more streamlined. MD Gary and the team are keener than ever to make next Christmas our most successful one yet!
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