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In “How to Start a DJ Business,” a regularly occurring column, DJs talk about problems they encounter as they start and scale up their business.

Courtney Hampton, owner of Hampton Entertainment in Breckenridge, Colorado, has encountered many of the problems that single-ops face when scaling their business. She now takes out six systems in a weekend. Here’s one of them.

When I was a single-op, I just packed everything I could fit into my Astro Van and went to the gig. There was a lot of redundancy, but I always had what I needed.

As I began to scale my business and add DJs, the first problem was that my DJs would get to an event and they would forget things, like batteries. Or they would get to the storage room and the mixer they wanted would be gone because one of the other DJs took it and hadn’t brought it back.

“As I began to scale my business and add DJs, they would get to the storage room and the mixer they wanted would be gone.” — Courtney Hampton

We also had problems with cables missing from the storage and no one would admit that they took or forgot to put back the cables. So, I color coded every cord box. If they took out the “red” box, then all of the cables that they returned should have red tape on them. If there was another color in the box, I knew that they were pillaging from other boxes.

One day my DJ, Felicity, had a breakdown about having so many cables in the box — she couldn’t find what she needed. So, I separated the boxes. Each box would have only what they needed to set up a sound system and then all of the extra cables were in another “extras” box that they could keep in the car.

I soon realized that my DJs were not taking the extra box and just taking out the cables that they needed. This was not ok with me because if they got to an event and needed a 50- foot XLR and only had a 20 foot, they were screwed. I am usually at an event too, so I couldn’t help in these situations which was causing me A LOT of stress!

My DJs complained that they didn’t have room in their cars for the extra box. I do have the biggest car but… I think they were being lazy! Either way, we had to figure out a compromise.

So, I re-created the boxes. Only one box per event, with more cables but not too many. It satisfied my hoarding tendencies but was approved by my DJs. Also, now they are required to physically check-in and out every box and take a picture of the list and send it to me, so I can see what is there and what is missing. This has been really helpful when we are running low on gaff tape or batteries, etc.

Lastly, I have clipboards for every event listing exactly what equipment they can take and noting if we need it back right away for an event the next day. It has been working great! We also have a dolly for each DJ. So, my plan for next wedding season is to have someone in charge of loading each dolly the night before the event for the DJs based on our checklists. That way, the DJ can show up at the storage and roll out quickly. Also, if we are short on equipment, I have time to figure it out!

We asked Mark Haggerty, general manager for Bay Area multi-op Denon and Doyle, what his company did to ease the process of inventory and check-in and check-out.

We created our own template in Filemaker Pro (an Apple based program). The information goes into the equipment field for a “pull sheet.” That pull sheet instructs our production people which event needs what gear (beyond the basic sound system). They prep it and place it with each gig rack and the performer’s name on it. That info also goes on a clipboard with the DJ and /or photo person. After the event is over, the gear is checked in and put away to their “home.” Everything gets labeled with board tape to include the date and the name of the MC.

Also, all of our gear has an inventory label on it that includes our 800#, company name and a stock code that goes into the database so we know how many lights, speakers, mics that we own. That has saved us a few times. We had a repair shop call us once since an item that was stolen, ended up in their shop. There is a system that exists that involves barcoding and a scan to check-in and out things, but we cannot justify it yet.

“All of our gear has an inventory label on it that includes our 800#, company name and a stock code that goes into the database.” — Mark Haggerty

When we are super busy, we may have 1 item each week that is left behind at a venue somewhere in California. And it’s a big pain and an imposition on the venue to get it back. Sometimes the item is too small to make it worth the time and labor to go fetch it.

If some is returned damaged, defective, broken, etc. We red tag it and place it aside until it can be fixed or replaced.

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