A Birmingham marquee hire firm has tripled its turnover in just two years thanks to the power of e-business.

Crest Marquees has also welcomed the most prestigious guest to date into one of its marquees this year - Prince Edward.

Matthew Faizey set up the firm in January 2006 and recently received the royal seal of approval after winning the contract to build a marquee at Birmingham Children's Hospital for the visit of the Earl of Wessex.

The business was formed after Matthew successfully combined a full-time sales job with running a bouncy castle business - and decided to take the plunge into self-employment. Crest Marquees has become a major player in the Midlands marquee hire business after maximising the potential of the internet to establish a reputation as a top supplier.

"Initially I used a website template system which allowed me to get all the pictures and content that I wanted online but didn't really show off what we could do," Matthew said.

"I got a web design firm to make it look as I wanted it to. Customers who may be organising something very important like a wedding now understand we are a company that can be trusted.

"The website also shows off the wide range of accessories customers can also hire from us including tables, chairs, dance floors, lighting systems and heaters."

Initially the company used Google pay-per-click campaigns to drive traffic to the website. But Matthew was keen to ensure the company ranked highly in the "natural" search results.

He said: "I knew from my own experience that if you search for a service online it is normally the natural search terms you click on. I saw another marquee firm topped the search results listings and I investigated employing someone to optimise our results.

"When I found out it would be quite expensive I decided to do it myself and read up on what we needed to do. I'm naturally quite a competitive person so I like to see my company as high up the search rankings as possible."

Following the optimisation, Crest Marquees now ranks in the first four or five search results on Google.

This has had a dramatic effect on enquiries through the website. In the early days the company would receive a handful of enquiries every week, but now Matthew is responding to five or more major enquiries every day.

Matthew said: "The company has tripled its turnover in the last year, and we are getting orders for bigger, more prestigious events.

"Being towards the top of the search results for terms such as 'marquee hire Birmingham' has been crucial to this success.

"The professionally designed website is crucial, as it separates us from many competitors and makes a good initial impression which is crucial."

Liz Rowe, of the National B2B Centre - the e-business centre of excellence for the West Midlands - said: "Matthew has understood the importance of website optimisation and has worked hard to learn what it takes to ensure he ranks highly in the search results.

"The business operates in a competitive market and a professional website which is easy to find is already making a huge difference to his bottom line."

The National B2B Centre is part of WMG at the University of Warwick and funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Advantage West Midlands.