In our industry, when it rains, it pours. For many of us, it often pours so heavily that by the time the proverbial sun comes out, we’re eager to enjoy every ounce of well-deserved “beach time”. But have you ever thought about some of the most optimal ways to make the most of this scarce “downtime” resource?
The answer to this question varies for everyone, but some common threads do exist: perhaps you’ve identified some workflow inefficiencies that you need time to wrap your head around? How about tackling that big web project you’ve been putting off? Maybe you’re looking for a quick (or not so quick) vacation escape? Much like achieving a day-to-day work/life balance, maximizing your productivity during the off-season can benefit from a little industry perspective.
With this in mind, we reached out to some of the busiest bodies we could think of in an effort to learn how they make the most of their downtime.
There is a short period of time, usually from January to April, that our wedding and events slow down. David and I use this time to travel to source new products and to research new trends. It is also a time that is used to reflect on our past year and plan for improvements in efficiency. We also use the time to access our inventory counts and order appropriately. Most importantly though, its a time to mentally ‘slow down’ and embrace the things we value so much personally, such as our church life and our family.
The off-season is a time to focus, go heavy on marketing, and rejuvenate. Together with my team, we set and focus on our goals for the upcoming year - number of weddings, the kind of client we want to attract, and review financials. This is also when we devote more energy toward our marketing, whether that be submitting weddings for features, streamlining our social media, or updating website details. The off-season is also a great time to refresh and get inspired for the busy season ahead. Sometimes this means a few trips to the spa, travelling abroad and all other things not related to weddings!
I personally use the off-season to re-validate my business and its processes to see what worked in the previous year and what hasn’t. If need be, I make the necessary changes to improve my client experience and make the overall process easier and more enjoyable for them.
While we execute fewer social events during the winter months, we make up for it through our involvement with large scale corporate functions and galas. These large-scale events require large teams of event professionals to design, plan and execute. In between these events, we use the winter lull to meet with clients and discuss their future events, hire and train new staff to make sure we’ve got a good team ready for the summer rush, introduce new product lines, and give our warehouse and product line some care to ensure everything is in tip-top shape. Because we use this time to prepare and organize ourselves, we’re absolutely ready when the phones start ringing off the hook.
For the live bands and DJs, we use the downtime to trim out some of the songs from our master repertoire lists which may have become stale (or overplayed on the radio throughout the summer), and we add new music to keep the song lists fresh for the coming season. The updated lists go out to the bands for their winter rehearsals. We also host auditions for our growing musician family and build up our player roster in anticipation of the coming season’s needs. Lastly, we'll count our inventory, send out equipment for repairs and refurbishing and replace cables and breakables as needed.
The best thing to do during the off season is balance some well needed rest (a warm destination vacation is always nice to physically and mentally recover!) with new business research and development. As a chef/business owner, it is very challenging to think creatively and develop new recipes/inspired event ideas while completely immersed in battling 60-70+ hour weeks. I take the time to test out lots of new ingredients and recipes and then find out how they can fit the needs of our clientele.
This past season, we started a completely new project for our company with a state of the art food truck that just launched this past Spring. We worked on the complete design and development over the slower winter months so that it was ready for its' launch this past May!
Downtime is the perfect time for training and learning more about your business. We like to attend (and sometimes present at) DJ conferences that all full time professional DJ's and MC entertainers should attend at least once in their careers - in fact, I highly recommend it! DJ's and MC's are entertainers and like any 'actor' they need to constantly train when not wrapped up in a production. There is no shortage of educational resources available and there's always different ways to sharpen your skills! Many of these opportunities are midweek so you can fit them in between weekend events.
To me, being productive means feeling re-charged and ready to go for the next manic marathon. I definitely take a few days to really relax, catch up with family and friends and enjoy some nice meals – uninterrupted by the constant buzz of incoming email. Not working for an entire weekend sometimes comes as a shock to my system. When the novelty of having leisure time wears off, I sort through the 'little piles' that have been waiting for my attention. I try to book some appointments with vendors to experience 'what's new' in the industry or trending in the world at large. The truth is, I love what I do, so uncovering and discovering is what keeps me going and innovative in the market. When the next wedding wave hits, I can hit the ground running. Not only do I feel fresh and new – my events do too!
With my wedding season truly stretched from January to December, I'd say that in a sense February to April are the quietest and for me! During this time, I try to travel a lot, work on personal projects and spend time working on the to-do lists that didn't get quite checked off during the year. I take time during those months to update my website, work on a book I'm writing and spend time making my own memories or just sitting on the couch with my husband and dog while watching a Netflix series. I spend a lot of time cooking as well. And, depending on my husband's band schedule I might even hop on a tour with him so we can spend some time together as during the busy season we are like ships passing in the night. Even if your downtime seems few and far between, it's important to make the most of it!
We use the slow times to prepare for the rush. To stay productive year-round, we:
- Reach out to as many of our clients as possible to touch base, make sure we are aware of their current needs, and find out what we are doing well and where we could improve.
- Engage our team to plan for the upcoming busy season and implement strategies to get ahead of what we all know is coming.
- Clean up those messes. The clutter that builds up in business environments during busy periods can clutter our minds and affects productivity. We keep an on-going list that can be delegated once time becomes available.
- Team organize days are a way we work together, as a team, to get things done. Of course, finishing up with food, drinks, and lots of laugher is mandatory!
- Get out of the office. We make sure, as often as possible, to go have some fun or do a good deed together. Work is important, and life is for living.