In 2019, I set out on a course to re-engineer my full-time mobile DJ business. The goal was to work more “on my business” (owner mentality) versus “in my business” (worker mentality).
So I hired a part-time office assistant named Chris and taught him how to administrate a 15-system DJ company — for about 15 hours a week he prepared contracts, logged clients into a contact management program, generated insurance certificates, assigned jobs to DJs, did bookkeeping and responded to a deluge of emails.
My goal? To be able to take a two week trip to Europe during the winter of 2020 with Chris handling the office in my absence. During the summer of 2019, we conducted a stress test: I planned to spend three days at the beach with my family and “dial out.”
While I had taught Chris numerous processes of running the company, there were many things that I had not covered — running payroll, the nuances of quoting out different types of events, and how to answer emails that required more detailed technical knowledge.
As a result, my cellphone – being the company’s business line – rang incessantly while I was boating around Sandy Hook. I ended this mini-vacation a day early, eager to return to my home office.
In November of 2019, Chris took a full-time position with Amazon. I went back to conducting the office administration myself, and rather than working fewer DJ jobs in 2019, I ended up working substantially more.
In November of 2019, Chris informed me that he was taking a full-time position with Amazon and needed to curtail his hours.
Our company eked out modest revenue growth in 2019, but it came the hard way: with me and a couple others pulling the enterprise (90% of our company’s referrals derive from our top 4 DJs).
I recognize that the long term answer is in delegating and training others, thus allowing me time to focus on growing the company rather than simply getting lost in the day to day operations.
With two weeks in Europe out of the question for this winter, I’m back trying to fill a new position, to bring on a full-time exclusive employee who will spread their time between office work and DJ work for 40 hours each week (plus an opportunity to earn overtime and tips for additional income).
I also teach new DJs to send out handwritten thank-you notes and stay in contact with past clients.
After showing this DJ job posting to our company’s existing DJ staff, plus the public at large, the response has been underwhelming. Predictably, many freelance DJs have responded asking for more gigs, but with no intention of contributing to our team on a long-term basis.
Plenty of freelancers are happy to take on any additional DJ jobs that I can throw their way. But freelancers tend to be most loyal to their own brands, not the growth of my company. When posting job ads in recent years requesting “exclusivity” to our company, there was limited to no interest. This limits my options to entry level candidates with a higher risk profile and longer payback period.
In all honesty, I know that I can teach a candidate eager to learn how to become a great DJ entertainer. Through the years, I’ve developed a “science” for successful DJ entertainment that can be taught through a combination of classroom and in-the-field training. I teach:
- How to properly prepare for an event
- How to curate and organize music (I have scripts for different parts of the reception and teach DJs how to arrange a music playlist, build power sets and properly pace an evening).
- How to MC different party types
- How to be memorable (the most memorable DJs are not the ones with the best MC or mixing skills, but rather, those who create a stress-free experience for the client).
- How to effectively communicate with clients (Make “check in calls” at pre-determined intervals to put them at ease
- How to build a portfolio of rave performance reviews
- How to effectively use social media to gain more bookings
I also teach new DJs to send out handwritten thank-you notes and stay in contact with past clients. I explain that they’re “running a business within a business,” a sub-practice within our company that requires doing some of the same things that the owner does — social media marketing, seeking referrals, soliciting online reviews and industry networking.
With more time, I could focus on adding new services, getting our company onto more preferred vendor lists, and performing more intensive sales and marketing. Over time, I would transition a portion of my performance work to other DJ staff, allowing them to enjoy a mass of bookings and full-time income.
I’m looking to bring on a full-time exclusive employee who will spread their time between office work and DJ work for 40 hours each week
I’ve been reading two books related to small business scaling: The E-Myth Revisited (Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It) by Michael E. Gerber; and Clock Work (Design Your Business to Run Itself) by Mike Michalowicz.
The principles are fantastic, but successfully executing the strategies described is very challenging and in my case, a work in progress.
Interested in a DJ job? Would be glad to talk to you. I’m at gregg AT ambientdj DOT com
Gregg Hollmann began his DJ career performing underground electronica parties under the stage name “DJ Jagged.” He later re-branded to something more wedding friendly, “DJ Gregg Ambient.” He owns Ambient DJ Service.
For more wedding songs and a programming tip, go here.