You just threw the party of all parties! The crowd is coming up and telling you that you were the “best DJ they’ve heard in a long time.” The bride and groom are the star of the show and everyone is telling them that they just hosted the best reception ever!
Your computer is still on, the lights are cooling down, the speakers are warm and drinks are sitting very close to your equipment everywhere. Sweat beads are coming down your forehead and the venue manager walks up and asks…“How long will you be?”
Now let’s stop this moment right here. Yes, you showed up an hour or two prior to the event to load in. Yes you just performed for 4-5 hours. You’re 7 hours into your day. You’re WHOOPED!
But instead of brushing off the venue manager or, worse, confronting him or her and telling them that you need at least two hours for break-down, consider this. The venue manager showed up maybe at 10:00 AM for the florists, the bartenders, the decorators, the bride and groom or hosts of the event. It’s midnight—and they’ve been there for 14 hours.
Load-in and Load-out is time that you’re working but not technically getting paid for. Make the best of it. Prepare to work harder at this point than any other point of the night.
My goal with every event is to start rolling equipment out by the time the last guest leaves. That’s usually 30 minutes after the end of the event.
But why? Why should I hurry up, get my stuff loaded as quickly as possible and get out of the venue? It’s simple: Who refer’s you? Venue managers are usually the first people to meet the hosts and initially make contact, establish a relationship, and more importantly, they’re who the client gets referrals from.
Will a venue manager refer you if they walk in after their already 12 hour day and find you and your buddies cutting up about the event? Or find you moving slowly and pointlessly wandering around a room that looks the same as when they left it an hour earlier? THEY WANT TO GO HOME!
The first thing we do is to make a difference. Cables take a second to roll but they have the least visual impact when it comes to making progress getting out the door.
In order, we follow the following load out list:
- Shut down all computers / hard drives and pack them up. It takes just a few seconds but they can get bumped or knocked off in the quick load out, so its always best to protect your most important investment.
- Unplug everything—speakers, lighting, consoles, video etc . To gather all items that came in a road case, locate it to the center of the dance floor as a central location and quickly check to make sure that you’re returning with everything that you brought to the venue.
- All trussing, facades and drapes get unpinned, put away in their covers and loaded up.
- Roll up all cords. This is where a majority of your time will be spent. Consider custom cables to boost your efficiency. For example, we have a single custom cable that we roll to each side of our set up that has power, DMX In and Out and 2 XLR cables for sound. So
instead of rolling up five cables per side we roll up one.
The last stop of the night is always venue manager’s office, to let them know I’m leaving. I’ve gotten load-out down to approximately 30 minutes. Most of the time I’m out of there before the caterer’s have cleaned up or decorators have finished tearing down. The venue manager is always relieved seeing us on our way out, knowing that they’re one step closer to going home.
When that next client comes in and asks for a DJ referral they remember who was looking out for them: who is there in plenty of time for load-in, has a great looking set up, throws the best party and…the one who expedites their exit. Make it easy as possible for the venue manager to work with you, and they’ll want to work with you again. It’s as simple as that.
By Cory Leonardo
Originally published in Mobile Beat issue #169 – link to http://www.mobilebeat.com/emagscurrent/169