If you’ve read my first few posts here on ProMobileDJ, then you know my thoughts on where to find possible recruits for your mobile DJ company, and how to introduce them to the exciting world of DJ Entertainment.
When you are successful in your pursuit of talent, you’ll find yourself gazing at a few young people who have deep wells of potential and who are eager to get going and learn from you. Now, putting these people in a position to succeed becomes your number one priority.
How to Start a Trainee
I believe the best way to ease a new recruit into your company is to have them work with you as the business owner, or with one of your veteran entertainers. At Elite Entertainment we have a position we call “music mixer” which is a very low responsibility, entry-level position. Having a starting point like this is a great way to get a new recruit out in the field immediately. It whets their appetite for the business by allowing them to be a part of fun and exciting parties right away and it allows them to begin making a little money (we start our mixers out at $8/hour) before the big pay days start rolling in. As if it all that weren’t enough, putting someone in this position and monitoring their performance and responsibility level for a few months is THE BEST way for you as an owner or manager to weed out the poseurs from the true potential candidates.
I train my new recruits to music mix in one or two trainings. They receive hands-on instruction on one of our standard DJ systems (never lose sight of how “cool” it is for a new recruit to touch that equipment for the first time. You’ll often see “Christmas-morning” look in their eyes.) I teach them the basics of mixing: cueing and segueing two songs together. They learn the difference between mixing out of a song that ends cold versus a fade. They also learn how to follow the different hand signals they may receive from their emcees: the fade, the point and the ever popular “raise the volume.” (Note: we don’t touch upon beat-mixing at all.)
Once they seem fairly capable, we get them out in the field with one of our veteran MCs. The veterans know when they work with a first or second time mixer that they’ll have to double check most mixes and be very clear and concise with any commands. That first gig is often a challenge but you have to get one under their belt before you both can move on.
Market a Two-Person Package
I want to make one point here about marketing the two-person package. We don’t just stick a mixer out in the field at our own expense. It’s something that the client pays for. Our most popular packages include a music mixer (we never guarantee a specific person, there’s just too much turnover in this role) and it is sold as the more interactive way of having an Elite Entertainer at your affair.
The logic goes like this: When we have a “technician” behind the gear to mix the music, our MC is able to focus more on entertaining and being involved with your guests and especially in leading all those fun audience participation dances. So, besides all the valuable experience that music mixing gives the new recruit, it also gives you the ability to monitor their professionalism and potential. What’s more, he or she is also filling a role that the client has paid for. Wow, now we’ve got a “Win-Win-Win” scenario!
If you are not already selling a two-person package, I highly recommend that you do. You will find your MCs freed up to be more interactive at events, plus you’ll begin to start tutoring your new recruits even before the structured training begins.
Somebody asked me once which is more valuable, the classroom training I give my recruits or the hands-on experience they gain in the field? I responded by asking them which one of the tires on their car was more valuable? I think he got the point. The same goes for training. It would be impossible to move a recruit towards MC status without the eye-opening, hands-on experience that comes with working at live events.
So, what’s your entry-level position and how has it helped you grow your company?
Mike Walter – “The Quality Corner”
Mike Walter is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of DJ staff training and multi-system business development. He is also a writer for Disc Jockey News and Producer of the International DJ Expo’s “DJ of the Year” competition. Mike is the owner of NJ’s Elite Entertainment, selected by The Knot and Modern Bride magazine as one of the country’s top entertainment companies. Mike’s highly praised DVD set is available at TrainingYourNextGreatDJ.com. To contact him about his on-site training services or for general inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.