Every company, no matter the size, gets it wrong on occasion. Regardless of how organized you may be or how much talent you have on your team, you just can’t win every battle. For entertainment companies (including groups that do murder mysteries, dinner theater and live performance), EVERY event counts! So, what can one do when troubles come around? Show real grit! Face it head on, take responsibility and make it happen.
A few years ago, we were booked for a Sweet 16 party around Halloween time. We were hired to perform a spooky murder mystery followed by a night of dancing with our DJ package. Since there were so many teens, it was understood that the DJ portion was going to be the primary entertainment for the event. It was going to be a large party, too, with over 100 people. The client was going to “Theme” the room with decorations, table arrangements - the works. Everything needed to be just right. On the day of the party, things started normal enough. We loaded up for the show, turned on our GPS and took off in our van headed north for the event. That’s when old “Murphy’s Law” began to rear its ugly head.
We had just started driving north on Route 130, only blocks from the office, when suddenly - the rear door of the van flew open. Crash! Crash! Crash! Our computer laptop, speakers and some other equipment poured out into the street greeted by beeping horns and swerving cars. Although we were not going fast, only 25 miles an hour, much of the equipment had scattered far back. I hit the brakes bringing the van to a screeching halt. I and the other actor scrambled out to retrieve our spilled stuff when the situation got even stranger!
As we were running around grabbing equipment in a panic, I noticed a guy jump out of his car. He reached down and snatched the computer bag off of the street and looked at me. Assuming he was trying to help, my mouth dropped when the thief darted back to his car and hopped in! That computer had all of the DJ software and the data for the show. Without it we were cooked! We started chasing and yelling after the car but he made a quick U-turn out of the traffic and sped away. I and the other actor simply stared at each other in shock - it was a surreal experience. Neither of us could believe that someone would do that right in front of us!
We collected the rest of our equipment and pulled into a liquor store parking lot. We had all of our equipment and nothing seemed to be damaged except the missing DJ computer, which was brazenly stolen right in front of us. The show started in 90 minutes and our other equipment was already on the road headed for another event. We were completely crippled and the realization slowly came over me that I would have to make a terrible call to the customer.
When she picked up the phone, she was busy setting up decorations. I tried to explain the situation in the best way possible. I told her that we could do the show but not the DJ portion due to the stolen laptop computer. She was furious! She told me not to bother; that if we could not do the DJ, then, we would not do the show either. I sat on the phone with her in the parking lot for about 10 minutes as she vented her anger and called me every name in the book. I thought that she might very well drive to my house and burn it down. And I deserved it. One stupid mistake, a door left slightly open, had started a sequence of insanity that threatened to destroy her event. Finally, I interrupted her tirade and assured her that I would make it right. She told me I had 30 minutes. I had no idea how I could do it; no clue in the world, but I told her that no matter what, we would make it happen.
I hung up and sped back to the office. The actors with me searched for any way that we could buy, rent or borrow a DJ set up. But we had no other serviceable equipment and none that anyone could lend it to us on such short notice. We explored going and buying the equipment but it would be impossible to copy all the music over in time—and time was running out. Meanwhile, I was on the phone calling every DJ, Party Planner I knew but it was Friday night. EVERYONE was on a gig! I emailed contacts, facebooked friends and begged the gods above for help! Nothing was working. The sweat kept coming and the clock was ticking.
We sat in the office around the computer racking our brains for a solution when finally, the phone rang. The owner of a restaurant we work with referred a Karaoke vendor who also did DJ work for him on occasion. I called the guy and by some chance, he had a job cancelled last minute and was available. I booked him immediately!
I called the client and let her know that we had found a solution and that she would have her DJ, after all. When I told her that, I thought she was going to pass out. We were both so relieved that we started laughing uncontrollably! Everyone made it there on time, set up and the event went on seamlessly. Of course, we paid for the DJ out of our own pocket and in the end, lost about $500 on the event. But it was the best $500 we ever lost!! It all worked out and her daughter had a great Sweet 16 Halloween party, after all.
Although this was a terrible situation, it allowed us to prove our commitment to doing everything possible to ensure that the client was happy: standing by our service, even if it means losing money.
PS About a week later, we got a call from someone, who found the computer bag a few miles away on the side of the road. The screen was cracked, but at least we were able to get the hard drive. All in all, a happier ending than we ever could have imagined! By Clyde P Riddlesbrood