Make Merry: Stress-Free Venue Management this Holiday Season

white woman overwhelmed during holidays

The holidays are for you too.  Yes, You are the Merry-MAKERS, but you should also be able to make merry yourself – here’s how to do that without  the stress. 

With the long hours of December holiday events, the short hours of daylight, and the beginning of sick season where our immune system is unprepared for the onslaught of germs headed our way, you’ve got to be prepared. 

If there was any time in the year to take a few minutes to prepare…that time is now.  Here are a few tips to make this holiday season bright and well, easy…ahem easier.

1.     Get some help early. 

Take a minute – literally just 2-3 minutes – to look back on previous years. Where are the points of stress you experienced? Was there a certain group, or type of group (ie: corporate parties, rehearsal dinners?) that caused more stress? Did you notice more stress around a certain date, or with certain aspects of your life (ie: parental duties or gift buying?)?

Notice when, where, who, and WHY that stress accumulated and start making plans.  Most importantly, line up some help. 

To start: Warn people now! Let people around you know the observations you found, to help them understand the pressures that are coming, ask them for their ideas.

Second:  Ask for help.  Your staff will likely be maxxed out as well, so take a look at your non-staff supports (or staff with minimal duties).  Go to them.  That can be as simple as asking your spouse, a business partner, or your kids to take on a few specific duties.

START REDUCING STRESS – CHECK LIST: write down one time or area that you remember feeling stressed or overworked last year – what is one way you, or a helper, can reduce the burden?

2.     Identify and reduce tension points.

Since your staff may be stretched to the max, and working with lower staff counts as flu season ramps up, where and when do tensions arise between staff or from customers:

a.     Team satisfaction?

b.     Customer complaints on food quality? Speed? Friendliness?

c.     Do certain things get overlooked, like basic maintenance and cleanup, during the busy holiday season? 

One common stress point is having lower staff when someone is out. Before you get too far into December, prioritize your back up plan. The last thing you want is to be short staffed due to illness during a money-making private event.  Invite 2-4 of them to a 1-2 hr training to ensure they can jump in when needed.  This minor cost will pay you back 10 fold. Questions to ask:

d.     Who is your back up team? 

e.     Are their old employees who have moved on, or friends of employees who might be able to fill in last minute? 

START REDUCING STRESS – CHECK LIST: Find your back-up team, contact them, make sure they are trained.

3.     Make sure basic maintenance is not overlooked when the staff and resources are stretched thin.  

Accountability is key when things get busy. Go old school and print out a checklist (or hang a white board) of critical items and when they need to be accomplished (pre-open, at closing) with a place for the responsible person to mark their INITIALS. Initialling is an important sign of accountability. If you don’t already do this, now is a good time to start. 

Start this as early as possible to ensure habits and processes are in place when needed.

If time is limited, focus on the elements that will most effect customers: 

a.     Who takes out the trash?

b.     Who is checking bathrooms, and how many times during open hours?

c.     Who breaks down any custom installations and puts away furniture?

d.     Who tidies up the main areas? (ie: fallen branches or blown-in trash from last night’s wind storm)

e.     Who makes sure walk ways are de-iced, safe and well lit?

START REDUCING STRESS – CHECK LIST: Create a simple check-list and post it in staff areas; discuss it at your next staff meeting. You can always add to it later if you missed something. 

4.     Give yourself extra hours in the week by managing live music shows with AmptUp. 

We all know and love Google docs/cal, but it has serious limitations for putting on a show. Most importantly, it requires you to copy/paste, upload, input constantly to make it function for a good show. And still…And still! There are human errors (double bookings, confusion on pricing, etc.). 

Save time every day with these time-savers:

a.     Put show details in once in AmptUp, and let it flow in where it’s needed automatically.

b.     Automatically receive marketing assets, every time a Musician approves a show.

c.     Give Musicians everything they need, so you’re not answering repetitive questions before the show. 

d.     Give your team everything they need so you’re not uploading, emailing, and updating multiple people each time…especially for last minute changes 

e.     Track the status (and details) of ALL bookings in a single dashboard, so you’re not looking through email threads to get answers.

f.      Automatically download the run-of-show, instead of building spreadsheets.

START REDUCING STRESS – CHECK LIST:  Email the booking link to your marketing or sound people where they can download what they need (marketing photos? Stage plots?). Click “Download Run of Show”, print it, and tape it to the wall or hand it out if needed – for the less tech savvy team members.