One of my constant refrains over the years has been that I’ve never regretted too much preparation, but have often regretted not enough. If you’re reading this and do events such as wedding receptions, I’m fairly certain that you invest a good amount of prep-work before actually arriving at the gig. It’s the nature of the beast, especially for those of us who might do some sort of production work in advance, such as a photo montage or “Love Story.” But what about the other areas where preparation isn’t as obvious?
The Retail World Is 5 To 7 Months Ahead
You may have noticed that some retail stores are now having big sales on things like flip-flops, shorts and sunglasses. It would be forgivable if you think that retailers are capitalizing on the unusually hot summer and trying to provide relief. They’re not. While the sun blazes overhead setting record temperatures and the sweat rolls off your brow as you read this, they’re already preparing for the fall. They’re bringing in sweaters, wool socks and jackets. Somewhere, warehouses are filled with Halloween decorations, sporting goods stores are stocking up for hunting season, and yes, retailers are also planning for Christmas. So… are you?
I know that most, if not all, of my business Christmas clientele starting to plan now, and this includes setting their budgets. So it’s around this time each year that I make the first move, usually in the form of an email or social media post. I once tweeted, “Can you believe that I booked my first Christmas party today? My calendar is going to be crazy this year!” My regular clientele didn’t waste any time contacting me, and long before they otherwise might have.
Another big year-end event that often gets planned during the summer months is New Year’s Eve. We have only one availability per-DJ for this event, and many corporate party planners know it. Of course, there will be the non-corporate planners and even the occasional wedding client who doesn’t. Our job: to inform them! There are several ways to do this, one of which is evident on my temporary home page: a New Year’s Eve countdown clock! It’s a great motivator. I noted that another DJ posted on his Facebook page: “I have only one availability for December 31st. Will I be at your party on New Year’s Eve?” Clever and, I assume, effective.
Many of our preps are more along the lines of nuts-and-bolts items: are our clothes laundered, pressed and ready for the gig? Have any assistants been notified and confirmed? Are there sufficient batteries for mics, lights or other power consuming components? How is the supply of gaffer’s tape? Do I have plenty of photo paper and full print cartridges for the photo booth? If you don’t have a checklist for this stuff, it’s probably a good time to create one.
I recently got a rather harsh reminder of yet one more item we often overlook: our vehicles. It won’t matter how great your performance, lighting or sound is if you cannot reliably deliver it to the venue, on-time and without fail. So each week, it’s smart to do a casual inspection of our transportation and look for problems before they start. Check the air pressure of the tires and oil levels. Does the oil need changing? When was the last time your tires were rotated? Does anything look odd, worn or out-of-place? Maybe your car, truck or trailer is trying to tell you something?
Recently I had noticed a shimmy at freeway speeds. Having just put new tires on my commercial cube truck, as well as replacing the ball joints, I was puzzled, not to mention a bit angry, thinking my mechanics had overlooked something, or maybe done poor work. But it turned out neither was the case. Instead, it was something that I could’ve prevented if I had been more diligent: a support strut had come loose underneath the truck. Now unbolted from the center chassis, it had pivoted at the opposite attachment point right by my wheel opening, putting a jagged piece of steel with a bolt through it right up under my inner rear wheel. This resulted in the wheel exploding at high-speed!
Lucky for me, my truck is a “dually,” and the second tire had not sustained any damage. Removing the brace, I limped off at the next exit, found the store that had sold me my tires and immediately had it replaced, as well as having the remaining tires inspected. Such a catastrophe isn’t predictable, but having lived through it, I now put “support strut inspection” on my weekly check list! The take-away from this tale: pay attention to the signals, sometimes subtle, that your vehicle might be making. Find out the source of any odd noises or jiggling and “head problems off at the pass” as much as you can. We all love our gear. Save some love for your transportation, too.