Steve Moody has owned his own DJ business in the greater Baltimore area for more than a decade. With the help of his wife Lori, he’s grown the business from a home-based single-operator to a storefront multi-op.
At the DJ Expo in 2015, during a seminar about selling honeymoons to recently married couples, Lori saw an opportunity. Why not, she asked her husband, take on this particular service as an upsell to their couples?
Steve agreed, and Lori, whose responsibilities for the DJ business include payroll and routing equipment, deputized herself to assume the role of president, working exclusively with Beaches/Sandals Resorts.
So Steve, alongside Lori, has embarked on an educational journey, and realized that there are plenty of new takeaways he can apply to his DJ business. We asked him about it.
DJ Times: What was the first thing Lori had to do to get started?
Steve Moody: We needed to get our license. There are several options for this. We chose to go through CLIA [Cruise Line International Association]. Though Sandals and Beaches do not offer cruises, the CLIA membership does cover selling Sandals vacations as a travel agent. Just as with any other license, there is required training in order to keep the license active. Once we got our membership to CLIA, our next step was really hard. We actually had to go enjoy the Sandals experience!
DJ Times: So how was that?
Moody: This past November we visited six Sandals and Beaches Properties in five days. It was a whirlwind tour. We had read so much about the resorts ahead of time and thought we knew it all. Boy, were we mistaken. Nothing beats actually being on property and seeing with your own eyes, taking the tours and learning how each resort is totally unique and different.
DJ Times: Were there any marketing tactics or business management practices from your DJ business that you could immediately apply to selling honeymoons?
Moody: We took on the name “Travel Hand In Hand” and found that this service was a great complement to our DJ company, as we primarily perform at weddings. Couples come into the office to talk about their weddings. They see the Sandals and Beaches marketing materials and they have tons of questions. We never even have to say anything about it. Sandals and Beaches provide lots of great marketing tools to their agents free of charge—magazines, booklets, cardboard stand displays. Through our time at the DJ Expo, we have learned how to set up a successful bridal show and follow-up campaign for our DJ service, which was easily transferred to this business, which has been a great way to get out in front of our clientele.
DJ Times: So DJ Expo helped?
Moody: Just as we did with our DJ service, we applied so many marketing techniques we learned at the Expo to this new business. We immediately created a page for “Travel Hand In Hand” on our website and, of course, we were quick to set up a Facebook Business Page, as well. Lori has done a great job of populating the page with great pics and articles about the resorts – everything from helpful planning tips for while they are there to what to pack for the trip. With our DJ service, our clients receive quite a few automated emails during their planning stages and we have added several Travel Hand In Hand emails into that automated group reminding people that we are now offering honeymoons. In addition to the automated emails that we set up for our current DJ clients, we also made a series of automated emails for the travel clients. These emails contain everything from info on getting passports, to booking special activities at the resorts and what to expect on travel days at the airport.
DJ Times: What are the challenges to the business?
Moody: The most challenging thing about working with Sandals/Beaches is that each resort is so unique in what they offer. There are a dozen resorts and they all have different offerings. Additionally, each resort has different level accommodations. With our service, we basically have three packages for our clients to choose from. With Sandals and Beaches, there are dozens of room categories and services. To make it more fun, it seems as if they are all constantly evolving and changing as the resorts are always upgrading and making improvements. They never become stale or stagnant. That is one of the things that impressed me the most. They are always pushing forward even though they could get by just doing the same old same old. In fact, I have been inspired yet again to continue to take our services to the next level.
DJ Times: So far, what have you learned through this experience that you can apply to your DJ business?
Moody: Many of Lori’s consultations are done over the phone. In fact, even after they book their honeymoon, Lori spends countless hours with the clients. This is one area where I am personally lacking with my DJ service. I love to have clients come into the office and talk. I could sit and talk for hours face-to-face, but for some reason, even since childhood I have disliked spending time on the phone. My initial phone consultations are nowhere near as long and as detailed as the in-person consultations that I have. Lori reminds me of this constantly. Even though we are on the phone I need to still have that same drive and passion as I do when we are in the office. It’s tricky for me without being able to read people’s faces and see their smiles. Lori excels in this.
DJ Times: What are the similarities between the two businesses?
Moody: As the years progress, it seems to me that my business in not really about playing music. It’s about connecting with people and helping them create memories. My music and performance on the microphone are just tools that I use to achieve the end goal. Well, it’s the same thing with Lori. It’s all about making connections, helping people to have a great experience—and then having them pass our name along so that we can begin that whole process all over again. It’s a constant cycle.
DJ Times: Two self-employed people. One home. How do you balance schedules?
Moody: One of the greatest things that I learned from a seminar at the Expo was the need to separate work from my private life. It’s really tricky. There is a constant battle in every industry: “How late is too late to return emails?” It will be debated until the end of time. My takeaway was this: You set the precedent from your first communication. If you return an email at 11 p.m., that particular client will think that it’s always OK to email you that late. It’s great until the first time you instead respond at 11 a.m.—now you’ve given them a reason to be disappointed in the service you provide. Our office hours are on our website, and at the bottom of all of our emails.
DJ Times: Are those hours flexible?
Moody: If something huge were to come in late at night, I am willing to bend my rule and write, “Thanks for your email. I am out of the office for the night, but wanted to let you know that I received it and will follow up with you first thing in the morning.” In this way, I have answered them, showing that I care but have still made them aware that it is not normally the time I answer emails. When working alone, this was not such a huge issue, but now having as many employees as we do and doing the number of events that we do there just has to be a limit. I think that most couples can appreciate that a professional service does have its standard office hours. You don’t call any other store that closes at 9 p.m. and expect them to answer at 11 p.m.
DJ Times: How’s the new business shaping up?
Moody: We are both so excited about this new adventure. Lori already has several couples on the books for 2017 and 2018, and we’ll continue to learn as we grow. Most anything that we have learned in DJ Expo’s sales and/or marketing seminars can easily be applied to both of our businesses. It’s all about making connections with people.
DJ Expo, presented by DJ Times and Testa Communications, will run Aug. 14-17 in Atlantic City, N.J. For more on DJ Expo, please visit www.thedjexpo.com.