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Last week I had a corporate holiday party at the aquarium in town. I’ve been there before so I was familiar with the load in/load out and setup space. There’s a long hallway to trek gear back and forth but there are no stairs so hand trucks and rollers make it bearable.

In any event, the client wanted an extra setup for cocktail hour in a separate room, three wireless mics, and uplighting. To make matters more difficult the venue no longer allowed subs in the main room on account of the nearby seals. I had to bring my massive three-way JBLs instead of the more portable eVox 8’s. It would be a more involved setup but I figured 90 minutes would be fine.

The night before the party however I remembered how miserable I was during a holiday party two years prior. I was about 5 minutes late in setting up and load-out took almost 90 minutes… the venue was not happy. Granted it was on the 50th floor of the Ritz so the elevator didn’t help things, but I was alone and did have two setups to break down. Remembering this, I immediately shot a text to a friend of mine to see if he was free to help with setup for the event. He DJ’s fulltime so it happened that he was free. Perfect.

We got there early, around 4:15, but the venue would not let us so much as roll in our gear until 5 pm. To the minute. The best we could negotiate was to unload my gear into the alcove right inside the door at the end of the loooong hallway. Then, we sat. At 4:59 we begin rolling down the hall. They were so strict and overbearing that my friend noticed a staff member look at their watch as I walked by with a load of speakers. If it were not 5:01 by the time I did so, I wouldn’t put it past them to send me back to the end of the hall. Seriously.

If I had not hired my assistant that night there’s no way I would have been able to set everything up in 75 minutes. And it’s a good thing I did. Because at the end of the night I got an amazing 50% tip with exultations that they would certainly be using me again. With that tip? Please do!

If I was behind in my setup, I doubt I get that tip. They would not have become repeat clients. That $50 investment for an hour of help turned into $500 and a long-term relationship.