Remote Event Agency – Mission Impossible or a Good Chance for Growth? by @juliavallerevents
As an event staffing agency that heavily relies on our office operations – we hold regular department meetings and interview new candidates daily – we faced some difficult decisions in the last few days and below we will be sharing some solutions in hopes that they will help similar businesses to get through these times of uncertainty.
From the first case of COVID-19 announced in New York City on March 1st, 2020, the virus continued to spread rapidly calling for drastic measures, closures and calls to cease all but necessary activities by the government officials of this very densely populated megapolis, home to over 8 million residents.
At the present moment, following the latest CDC guidelines, all gatherings of more than 10 people have been prohibited. This led to most of the events previously scheduled for March and April to be either canceled or, when possible, rescheduled for summer and fall.
Taking into consideration these rapidly changing circumstances and concerns for the safety and wellbeing of our staff, who had to use public transportation to commute to our office in midtown Manhattan daily, we had to adjust to the situation and made a decision to temporarily go into the remote work mode.
Some of the challenges we faced included adjusting business expenses,
brainstorming how we can best support our clients and staff, and how to use remote business hours productively.
Adjusting business expenses
One of the steps we suggest to consider to mitigate the current costs is temporarily reducing your business hours and keeping only the most essential operations running until the demand for event services will start to increase again.
Another measure worth considering is reaching out to the landlords of your office premises and asking for the possibility to receive a discount or postpone your rental fee until you are back in business. If appropriate, offer your discounted event services for them in the future as a form of mutual support.
Look into freezing or canceling recurring office supplies shipments and other deliveries.
Take some time to review your advertising budgets. Are there any areas or channels where the cuts are possible? It could be an undesirable but necessary step for the time being.
Additionally, check your local business services directory to identify organizations and programs that may assist you with qualifying for a grant, a loan or some other type of financial support.
Supporting clients and staff
Another important aspect is to ensure that your clients and staff continue to receive uninterrupted support, their questions get answered, and assistance is provided with canceling and rescheduling event requests. In other words, let them know that you are on their side. It is a very stressful time for everyone and handling even the most challenging requests gracefully will not go unnoticed.
Making sure phone calls are answered promptly during your business hours, emails have appropriate automated responses when your staff is not there to reply and keeping your network updated via social media could be some of the options.
Using remote time productively
While the business hours might be decreased and your staff might need some time to adjust to the work from home reality, it would be important to try and prevent a decline in productivity.
One of the steps we personally took to avoid this was to look for possible areas of collaboration between the departments, thus making sure that the remaining work is distributed evenly. It is also a great opportunity for our team members to learn from one another, bring new ideas to the table and inspire fresh perspectives.
Ask your staff if they have all the necessary tools to perform their functions from the remote location. Reliable internet connection, video conference tools (Zoom, Google Meet), group messengers (WhatsApp or Slack), shareable documents (Google Docs or any other cloud service) and project management applications (ClickUp, Asana or Todoist) are some of the examples.
Our team at Julia Valler Staffing and Events is well-acquainted with most of these resources, as we always look for ways to streamline and optimize our workflow. However, consider investing some time into researching and implementing options that work best for your team, making sure to get everyone trained and comfortable using them. Most of such tools will continue being very helpful even when your team returns to the physical office space.
The downtime from your normal business operation also offers a great opportunity to look for areas of improvement. Consider scheduling one on one meetings with your department managers and staff, ask about their overall work experience – do they have clarity on the purpose and mission of the company? What do they like a most, do they experience any challenges working individually or as a group, what solutions do they have in mind?
Ask yourself if there are any parts of your business that remained unchanged for a while and might need growth? Now would be a good time to bring this up and discuss it with your team as well.
Another question to ponder is how can you offer an even better experience for your clients? Examine your most recent interactions with them, look for the patterns that tend to bring the best results and how to replicate them.
The main question, however, remains how to continue bringing revenue for your event staffing business during the times when our industry suffers?
More than ever you will want to look for ways to minimize the costs of finding and securing a client. Consider leveraging your online presence and learning more about growing the traffic to your website organically, while so many people (including your potential clients) are staying indoors and browsing. Ask your marketing team to write helpful and timely content to be distributed among your community, on the industry websites, blogs, and other relevant platforms. Talk to your Account Managers about stepping up their phone outreach, especially to the prospective clients they might have identified during the downtime.
Create helpful packages and think about offering discounts to your new clients, bundling up services that often get booked together. It will make their buying decisions easier and you will be one step closer to bringing them on-account.
Make sure to reach out to your existing clients and remind them that due to postponing and rescheduling a lot of events for the summer and fall seasons they should put in their requests in advance, to ensure their staffing needs will be fully met and to avoid the rush fees.
And lastly, ask your clients to make a deposit upfront when booking your service. This way you will have some revenue coming in even if the event is not in a few weeks.
We believe that Events, Catering and Hospitality industry will get through these challenging times and recover soon. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of yourself and those close to you, and remind your staff to do the same. Your family and friends will always be your main and most precious resource and the foundation for prosperity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julia Valler, CEO
Julia Valler Staffing and Events, a premier Model Staffing agency offering waitstaff for hire, promotional modeling staff, and bartending services in New York City and Los Angeles areas.