You will also discover how she was able to let go of control, trust her employees, create and implement a comprehensive training program for her employees and much more!
OWEN: My guest today is Jennifer Reitmeyer and she is the president of MyDeejay. Jennifer, welcome to the show.
JENNIFER: Thank you so much, glad to be here.
OWEN: This interview is all about getting entrepreneurs to come in here to talk about how they’ve been systematized their business so it runs successfully without them. Before we get started I want to show the listeners what are some mind-blowing results that you now experience as a result of going through that process of systematizing and even automating your business?
JENNIFER: I think by far the most mind-blowing and significant result that I’ve had is just the sense if freedom that I’ve got from being able to systematize my business. It’s really freed me to pursue other business ventures, personal projects, passion projects, things I wouldn’t have had time to do if I was still having to do everything within my business by myself without systems. So that’s definitely been the biggest change.
OWEN: You also mentioned something about your upswing in revenue. Talk about that.
JENNIFER: Definitely. By the time when we really started to implement systems within our business we actually noticed a revenue jump that close to doubled. I think a big part of that was that not only did it empower the people that worked for me to be able to do their jobs more efficiently and get more done, but it also freed me up to rally be kind of a leader of our company without having to be so much at the trenches so to speak. It enabled me to really focus on strategic leadership for our business and expanding our reach at being able to think in a bigger picture because all of the little tasks were systematized.
OWEN: Okay. How has your company been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
JENNIFER: I would say in addition to the revenue jump that I mentioned. It really cost us to think about our business more pragmatically and more strategically. We went from being kind of a fly by seat of your pants kind of a company to really operating with purpose. Being able to put thought into every aspect of our business operations. When we first started out we weren’t really sure exactly how big we were going to get. We’re thinking small. My business partner at the time and I, it was just the two of us. We were thinking on a smaller scale. Really when you start and you’re doing everything yourself it’s easy to have things run smoothly, but obviously until you start to really grow your team you’re not going to grow in revenue either. When we weren’t systematized at the beginning, we were just running things on our ideas. But once we were really focused on systematizing we were able to provide our customers with a more consistent experience. It really run as productively as we could. I think it really made our business more legitimate in addition to being efficient and productive.
OWEN: How was your personal life been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
JENNIFER: It’s definitely given me a greater sense of balance in my life. When I am focused on the business I’m really able to focus on the strategic leadership aspect of it rather than just doing day-to-day task that could be handled by someone else who works for me. It’s really broaden my vision as a leader. It’s definitely given me that sense of freedom that I mentioned. I think most of us go into business because we don’t want to be slaves to our place that’s surrounded by somebody else. We want to be in it for ourselves. But unless we’re doing things to actually create that freedom for ourselves we’re basically chained to our own desk. It’s the desk owned by another company. It’s really given me that sense of freedom to create the kind of life that I want to have. And sometimes that includes traveling, or it includes spending time with my children. Currently, I think focus for me is some new business ventures that I’m embarking on. I would not be able to do that if my primary business, MyDeejay was not so well systematized.
OWEN: During the pre-interview you mentioned, if you feel comfortable talking about this, regarding the personal crisis that you had and how your business being systematized also saved you. You can talk about that if you want to.
JENNIFER: Sure, absolutely, I’m an open book. Basically, a few years ago the bottom fill out for me so to speak. My husband of almost 10 years and I separated. I had to deal with that. Rather than with a partner I was running the business on my own. I’m also a single parent of two little boys, both of whom were diagnosed with special needs after our separation. I was adjusting not only to single parenting but also to the diagnosis that both of my children have received, which of course involved a lot of medical appointments, school meetings and all kinds of stuff. If I had not had all of these systems and workflows in place for my business, I don’t think it could’ve continued to thrive with all of the things that I have going on. One thing I always tell other business owners that if something traumatic hasn’t happened to you yet it probably will at some point. We all go through stuff but by systematizing your business in advanced and really having it kind of down to a science of how you’re going to run it. It really enables you to keep functioning even when your mind and your priorities might be elsewhere.
OWEN: Thanks for sharing that. I know it’s not something that people most likely want to share about but I’m glad you’re willing to share that with the audience. Since you have systems in your business that allows it to run without you, I’m curious to know what’s been the longest time you’ve been away from it.
JENNIFER: I will say the longest that I’ve been away from it on a regular basis is about 2 weeks. I basically set it up that the only absolutely essential [Unintelligible 00:05:21] that I do is I still sign the paychecks within the business. That may change at some point but as of right now I still put my name on the checks. So that’s once every two weeks.
OWEN: Even Oprah says that. She says that never goes away, sign the checks. Go ahead.
JENNIFER: Exactly. That’s one little bit of power I haven’t given up in. And my people would probably kill me if I wasn’t there to sign the checks every two weeks. But there was a point last year where I went on a medical leave for about 6 weeks. My assistant was able to bring the checks to me to sign, so I didn’t have to physically go into the office. But I’m pretty excited that I’ve been able to transform the business from something that where at one point when we started I was working 10-14 hours a day on the business doing the most mundane tasks and now the fact that I have a lifestyle where all I really have to do is put my name on it…
OWEN: Before we even talk about the pain you experienced I want to give the listener some kind of context as to what your business is about so when you share how you’ve been able to systematize it they can relate it to what the business is about. What exactly does your company do and what’s the big pain you solve for your customers?
JENNIFER: When you actually are a mobile disc jockey firm we service weddings and corporate events. We perform about 400 events a year, and I would say that the big problem we solve is that we are able to provide professional DJ services that aren’t within the cheesy DJ stereotypes that [Unintelligible 00:06:47]. So we really helped to bring the upscale DJ service to our market, which is the Washington, DC area. But I feel we’ve created a business model that’s scalable for markets all over the country in the world.
OWEN: I know about the wedding industry, it’s like everybody especially the bride, tinker with emotions. So you have to be sensitive to people’s emotions. So you have to be sensitive to people’s emotions. Anyways, that’s a whole different topic for us to talk about. I’m looking for my own experience during my wedding. But anyways, how many full-time employees do you have, just to give the listener a context.
JENNIFER: Sure, we have 12 disc jockeys that are all exclusively available through our company. I also have a full-time assistant who runs our office and all of our operations. I kind of call her my right hand.
OWEN: Awesome. Is the company profitable and what was last year’s annual revenue and what do you want to expect to generate this year?
JENNIFER: Last year’s revenue was just a hair over 365,000. We are projecting to be at just a little bit over 400,000 this year.
OWEN: Awesome. Let’s now go back to when the business was now systematized and automated like it is right now. What was wrong with it?
JENNIFER: Honestly and truly, I was a control freak. I’m the first to admit that. I think that if you are kind of a go-geter, as much drive as you have to build a business, your reputation matters. You work hard on something you wanted to represent you well. The time that we started, both me and my business partner at the time, we felt that we needed to have our hands on everything, and I would use the dreaded word micromanager. We were doing a lot of basic tests that should’ve been delegated to other people, but because we really wanted to make sure that everything was done perfectly we’re probably doing way too much. Really, it prevented us from having that balance of life that I described early on. My life became totally about the business. We weren’t able to strategize and lead the business because we were doing admin work. It was tough and it wasn’t sustainable over the long-term. Definitely that was a challenge. We were doing everything ourselves.
OWEN: You also mentioned during the pre-interview that even when you started, this was before you even had children. You went into it and now that you have children there were additional stuff to figure out as well.
2; Absolutely. It was a huge change in lifestyle in our business. As we were running it at the beginning we’ve been adaptable to that family lifestyle.
OWEN: Back when the business was now systematized what was the lowest point and describe how bad it go.
JENNIFER: I would say our low point was realizing at one point on Christmas day, I was sitting there at my computer…
OWEN: Wow, Christmas day.
JENNIFER: Yeah, pouring over client emails. I’m looking at this massive to-do list, I was so stressed out that I was going to miss something major or let down a client, and that kind of thing. What I realize is that my life was just lacking. Any kind of potential for a long-term enjoyment. I could build this great of a business as possible, but if I wasn’t going to be enjoying my life as a result then what would be the point. I could go work for somebody else and probably half-paid benefits, and be able to sit down to work at 5 o’clock and be done and not thinking about it. Once I realized that I was at the bottom of this whole being of being stuck in this business and unable to delegate anything. That was definitely a low point for me.
OWEN: You also mentioned something about an issue with a personal memory. What did you mean by that?
JENNIFER: Basically, instead of having things systematized where you’ve got them… Everything’s in writing, everything is standardized, and anybody can pick up the reigns and handle things. Instead I just have a roadmap. I was doing everything based on out of my own memory and just this slim dash approach to what needed to be done, which of course contributed in the sense of panic because…
OWEN: Yeah, because you always have to remember how you did it the last time.
OWEN: Back then do you remember what specific point was the breaking point where you said, “You know what, I’m just going to have to change how I’m going to systematize my business. What happened, do you remember?
JENNIFER: I think generally speaking I approach things a little bit more positively in the sense of just wanting to make a transformation of my life. It wasn’t a breaking point per se except that I realized at one point that the demand for our services was definitely starting to exceed the capabilities of myself and my business partner-owner to run things. We realized we really needed to get things in order so that we can continue to grow and to meet this demand that we had created. At that point I really started trying to think more strategically. I read a couple of books that were definitely transforming for me and I think that those of you would like this. They really shifted my mindset and I started to realize that I could really think more strategically for the future.
OWEN: I think when you were reading those books, it was 2006-2007. What were the names of the books?
JENNIFER: The biggest books for me would’ve been The E-Myth which has been re-released as The E-Myth Revisited, which is really promoting this idea of working on your business as oppose to in your business. It’s getting yourself out of the trenches and being able to lead your company to something bigger. And then the 4-Hour Workweek I read after that and that was life-changing as well in terms of really getting comfortable with the idea of delegating and letting go of the things that are essential for you to do as the leader so that you can focus on leading.
OWEN: After reading those books how did that make you feel?
JENNIFER: It really reignited the excitement that I had felt when I first founded the business. It was definitely exciting when I first started it because if you have entrepreneurial blood you’re into it. But after a while you start to feel kind of bogged down. This really reignited that and started to made me realized that there are more things that others could contribute and they may not always be exactly the way that I would’ve done them myself. But if I create systems and I provide the opportunities, the technology, and that kind of stuff then it’s going to carry on. It’s going to be able to go on without me. Well, I either work on the bigger decisions for the business or while I focus on other things.
OWEN: Okay. What was the very first step you took at that time to systematize the business?
JENNIFER: Definitely a big part was when we implemented Microsoft CRM in our business. A family member, my ex-husband was actually a developer of the products that we got to kind of be guinea pigs. I don’t think either one of us knew when we first started how essentially it was going to be able to become, but it enabled us to create systems for basically everything that we do. There’s a couple of other software programs that we used that are more specific to the DJ industry, but really, creating those client databases and having templates for our contracts, and all the documents, the correspondents and all that kind of stuff definitely helped us to create this big system that all of our team uses now.
OWEN: We’ll also talk about the systems you guys use now later on in the interview. But back then you said, the first thing you did was you implemented Microsoft CRM and then you started using it and trained the team on how to use it. What was the second thing you did then to systematize the business?
JENNIFER: The next thing we did was we actually took a bigger step toward creating more comprehensive training program. We wanted to make sure that not only do people know how to use this specific technology. But we also wanted to make sure that they were completely acclimated to our brand, what our company was about, our company culture, and just really to get them to become ambassadors of our company. We made this really comprehensive training program. It’s definitely the most extensive that I’m aware of within our industry.
OWEN: You mentioned during the pre-interview, there was a 50% completion rate of the training. What was that?
JENNIFER: We created the program to be challenging to complete because basically we’re looking at this program as sort of an extended interview. If somebody isn’t going to be able to invest the time and the commitment it isn’t going to demonstrate the qualities that we’re looking for over time, then they’re not going to be the right fit for our company in the long run.
OWEN: I just want to give the listeners some details about the comprehensive program that you created as the training program. What did you do until that time?
JENNIFER: Basically the program involves about 16 weeks’ worth of one weekly classroom sessions. We cover literally every aspect of the business, our company history, our values, our brand identity, how we operate, how we service our clients, how we interact with other vendors in our industry, which is huge. Of course, there’s the technical parts of DJ, music selection, mixing, and equipment set-up, troubleshooting, how to conduct yourself at a wedding or an event. It’s basically start to finish everything you could possibly need to fit within our brand and provide the best possible DJ service.
OWEN: Just so that I can make the listener understand, I’m assuming, you didn’t have all these all at once. You built it over time, right? Or did you at that time just build out the training at that very time back then? I’m just curious.
JENNIFER: It was kind of a mix of the two. We did a little bit of training before this but it was definitely… When we first started bringing people on there were people that we had some kind of pre-existing relationship with. But when we made the decision to create this really comprehensive program we don’t definitely jumped in with both feet and made this big program which enabled us to then pull candidates that we didn’t have a relationship with. We’re able to recruit in a more traditional way.
OWEN: Okay. I’m glad you clarified. What are the steps back then did you take to systematize the business. You mentioned something during the pre-interview about identifying the most essential task for each person on the team to do. Talk about that.
JENNIFER: I think it’s really important for everybody to identify what tasks are critical for keeping the company operating. There’s strategic things and forward thinking things are wonderful. But when it comes to the people on your team I think it’s really important that everybody understands exactly what they’re expected to do and what kind of schedule they’re expected to do it on. So that was definitely a big thing. If you get nothing else done here’s what you work on.
OWEN: How did your assistant at that time play a role in that as well? I’m just wondering.
JENNIFER: For my assistant we created a day-by-day critical task schedule. So she knows exactly what the priority items are for each and every day. And then for anything regular we created templates, typical correspondence and that kind of thing. Just making sure that my assistant and all of our DJ’s know exactly what’s expected from them and when.
OWEN: Back then when you were creating systems I always like to know from every guest, how did you prioritize the other steps to take. How did you decide which systems to create first and which one next, that way the listener can understand how to go about doing theirs. I’m just wondering how you did yours.
JENNIFER: Sure. I would say that implementing the CRM, that was kind of a stroke of luck just because it fell into our laps at this opportunity. I felt very grateful that it did. That was kind of by default the first thing. And then obviously we had to train the people that worked for us on how to use CRM which kind of led naturally into evolving it into a bigger training program on all of the other stuff. Not only were we training people on how to run the technology associated with our business but also on how to think in a way that aligned with our brand. And then beyond that we just decided to expand it to really systematizing the day-to-day tasks for each person’s job function.
OWEN: You mentioned something about expanding your DJ roster before your office roster. I want to clarify what you mean.
JENNIFER: We have our DJ roster which is obviously the DJ’s working out in the field. It was natural for us to start expanding that first because they’re the ones we make money on. The DJ’s are out there earning us money. And at the beginning when primarily myself but also my business partner at the time we’re kind of running our office operations, again, I’m going back to that control freak mentality that I started with. I was definitely doing all that. But then of course as the DJ roster grew and suddenly we go from servicing 50 weddings a year to 400 weddings a year, it became very obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to juggle at all, or if I was I’d be working 24/7, which is miserable. So that’s when it became natural to then start looking into expanding our operations and the help that we have in the office.
OWEN: When you experienced the help of getting more DJ’s you also I think you mentioned something about training DJ’s on how to handle sales as well.
JENNIFER: Yes. one of the things that makes our company unique is the fact that we match clients with perspective DJ’s prior to the client signing the contract. In that way we can ensure that the client is completely satisfied with the DJ they’ll be working with because really value that relationship. It was important to me to be able to train DJ’s not only on how to actually DJ and conduct themselves at weddings but also how to represent our brand to perspective clients and how to present themselves in sales meetings during their business.
OWEN: Okay. Basically they interview the DJ and then as a result of interviewing the DJ you show the DJ how to sell themselves in the best light so that they get the job.
JENNIFER: Exactly, very important part of the process.
OWEN: Okay. How exactly back then did you document procedures and processes for your business? What tools did you use at that time?
JENNIFER: It still varies a little bit depending on what kind of task we’re thinking about. But the CRM system is what we use for most of our stuff. That tracks all of the inquiries that we receive through our website which is about 95%. We are very much a web-based company, very minimally on the phone. Through CRM we are able to track all the leads that come through our website. We’re able to track all the communication that we have with the clients. Those are all tracked in there. We use that for our contract templates, the DJ’s can generate their contract through that. We can run reports on sales and other performance factors. All of that goes through CRM. So that’s definitely a big way that we used to documenting everything. And then there’s some other software for DJ. There’s a program we use called DJ Intelligence which is web-based. It enables clients to enter things like music requests and their event details and send those to…
OWEN: I didn’t know they had a software for DJ’s. That’s awesome.
JENNIFER: Oh yeah. I will tell you these companies are smart. They market it like our crazy, they know our audience. There are several different DJ software companies around but DJ Intelligence has worked the best for us. It’s great because it enables clients to send all of their information directly to the DJ, which eliminates the possibility of things getting lost in translation, which is definitely helpful.
OWEN: You mentioned something about a Kanban system. Is that the same thing as a DJ Intelligence tool?
JENNIFER: Actually Kanban is an organizational system that actually originated in Japan. It’s kind of like an assembly line mentality. But basically it’s a visual organizational system that enables you to kind of identify separate tasks and then move them visually through a process. If you’ve got something or cued and ready to go, some that you’re working on, and then some that are finished. It’s basically a way to visualize your to-do list. And that for me especially, that’s something that really resonates with me so I use that in the office, and they use it personally as well…
OWEN: It’s like a board, the literal, physical board in your office where you just use the Kanban system and have different roles. And you just move the sticky notes based on what that sticky needs to do next, right?
JENNIFER: Yeah. It’s hilariously low-tech for something technology-based as DJ. But I like being able to visualize it.
OWEN: I’m very visual myself and I learn from audios. I get what you’re saying. I use stuff like that as well. At that time when you were systematizing and working on automating the business, you’ve already mentioned some books that you read at that time. I’m also wondering if there are other mentors that probably have influenced you at that time when you were trying to systematize the business.
JENNIFER: I actually didn’t have a mentor. My ex-husband and I started the business ourselves. We were actually doing it sort of in reaction to a company that we had previously worked for in the DJ industry that we felt was doing a lot of things badly. There’s a couple of paths to success and one of course is to innovate something that’s never been done before. Another is to take something that someone is doing poorly and just turn it around and do it well. That’s what we did. We’re doing the opposite of all the things that we have seen. But that being said, I’m definitely kind of an independent learner. I do value reading in websites, podcasts, and things like that and I’ve gotten a lot out of that. So I kind of created my network of virtual mentors.
OWEN: You also mentioned that you read a book getting things done, right?
JENNIFER: There’s another organizational system. It’s a little bit more technology-based than the Kanban system but it’s another thing that really helped a lot too.
OWEN: If we just talk about what you did and just leave it at that it gives a picture of it all just magically working out. I want to really paint the picture correctly and make sure the listener gets all parts of the story. At that time what will you say was the biggest challenge that you experienced when you initially tried to systematize the business and how did you solve the challenges?
JENNIFER: The biggest challenge that we probably had, and this is ongoing every time we implemented a new system, there’s a little bit of push back sometimes from the team. A lot of times that’ll come from people who might have come on board with us before we implemented these systems. A lot of people just don’t like change. They’re not comfortable with it or they’re nervous about their ability to adapt. So that has been a challenge especially when you’re dealing with whether its employees or contractors. They may not be looking at things on kind of the business ownership.
OWEN: The overview…
JENNIFER: Exactly. Sometimes they’re not really seeing it with that prospectus and they don’t understand the bigger picture why you’re implementing these things. But that being said I feel like once we got people to go along with it regardless of how they felt, they really found that empowered them to do their jobs on their own without us stepping in and having to oversee everything.
OWEN: I’m curious, you already mentioned the challenge and you mentioned the fact that it might be because they were missing the big picture of how the change plays to the rest of the organization. I’m wondering, how did you connect the dots for them to get them over that hump.
JENNIFER: Sure. While I’m being completely honest I will say that not giving them a choice.
OWEN: My way or the highway, baby. That can work.
JENNIFER: But I can say in our case, part of the reason that I’m able to that is I believe that the people who work for me know how much I prioritize their success and protecting their income, and generating more opportunities for them. Basically by presenting it in such a way that in order for us to continue to attract the amount of business that’s going to keep everyone working as much as they want to, you got to have a little bit of faith in me with that and trust in these systems. Let’s see how they work. It’s very important to me, it always has been to be extremely transparent with my team and with our clients as well on how and why we do the things that we do. And because of that I think it hurts trust that people really do take a chance on systems that they may not understand at first. And then inevitably they do see the benefit to it.
OWEN: What was the second biggest challenge you experienced when you initially tried to systematize the business. I think you mentioned during the pre-interview something about mindset, your mindset and having to overcome… Go ahead.
JENNIFER: Yeah, absolutely. I was definitely getting in my own way for a while.
JENNIFER: In having an allergy to delegation.
OWEN: I like that.
JENNIFER: It was definitely a challenge. I could look back in it now and laugh but I think sometimes when you start a business there’s a certain element of fear. You certainly have to have some confidence in yourself or you wouldn’t be going out on a limb to start a business. But that being said, sometime your position can feel kind of precarious until you really establish yourself. It was hard for me to send people out to the field and to represent us, and not be worried about it. I used to worry so much about what would happen at every single event. I used to worry about the emails that the people who worked for me would send out. What if there was a mistake. It’s embarrassing now but at the time I really wanted to make sure that the reputation and the brand that we were working so hard to build were being represented well. Eventually I realized I had to get over myself.
OWEN: Do you have a mechanism or systems or you put in place to literally change it or jump yourself out of that? Because the listener might be wondering if they can learn how you did that.
JENNIFER: I don’t know with that particular thing that that was so much system based. I realized at some point that I just basically had to take the risk and the sky wasn’t going to fall if I wasn’t overseeing every little thing. I think that as you start to cut people a little bit more slack and trust in their abilities, and also trust in whatever systems and workflows you’ve implemented as a business owner, you get rewarded by realizing that things aren’t going to fall apart. You’re giving people the tools that they need to do their job. You’re training them on how to do it, and they’re going to be out there to do a good job. If you’re running a good company, everybody’s in it together. We all have the same goal in being successful.
OWEN: So it’s kind of like you’re riding a bicycle as a child with training wheels, and you might even fall even with training wheels. And eventually you stop having to need the training wheels, but maybe you fall a little bit but you still keep going. And eventually you don’t fall anymore. I guess that’s how you play that whole mindset thing. Let them go out there, you’re going to panic, but eventually you’ll stop panicking. It’ll eventually get to the point where you know they got it.
JENNIFER: Absolutely. Things go wrong once in a while, sure. But then it didn’t spell the end of our company or anything like I was afraid of. They kind of put things in perspective.
OWEN: What other challenges did you experience when you were trying to create systems for the business. You mentioned how you were a little bit scared about the fact that you’re trying to systematize something. You’re worried that that might also sacrifice personal touch with clients. Can you expand on that?
JENNIFER: Sure. As you pointed out earlier, the wedding industry specifically, and to a lesser degree the corporate event industry. But with wedding particularly it is an emotional purchase for people. You’re dealing with their feelings and with an event that’s special to them. Sometimes the family the drama and all kinds of sensitive things. Our business is very relationship-based. We partner with our clients. We want to provide a really personal experience for them. At first it took me a little bit to identify how could we create systems for our DJ’s without feeling like we were losing touch with the clients. I actually realized that it was important for our clients to have a relationship with somebody but it didn’t necessarily need to be me. At the beginning of running our company where I knew every client’s name. I knew their fiancé’s name, I knew all these details. Now, I don’t want to hold on about that part but I have the best assistant in the whole world who don’t know that stuff because she’s handling those things down. And the DJ’s are very in tuned with who their clients are. The clients are still having that experience that just may not be with me. But I’m okay with that because I’m focusing on other things to make our company better for those clients.
OWEN: Even though it’s no longer you it’s essentially someone from the company is representing the company to do it. So I’m thinking you gave your team a framework on how they should communicate with people so that it’s within the same guidelines of how you would do it yourself.
OWEN: I get that.
JENNIFER: We’ll work within that brand.
OWEN: Yeah. That’s is the whole thing of humanizing the company itself. That way you don’t look too much like a big company… This makes the company feel like it’s a person.
OWEN: Given all those challenges that you mentioned earlier, I’m curious, why did you stay committed to the goal of systematizing the company?
JENNIFER: It was so important to me to be able to pursue other things at the same time. I love this business, i love my DJ, I love the people that work for me, it’s fantastic. But doing that all by itself is not going to be something that’s going to sustain me on a bigger level throughout my life. I wanted to do more. I think that the kind of person that becomes motivated to start a business, it comes out of this addiction to excitement, taking action, and making things happen. You do that when you’re starting a business. But it comes a little bit less of that excitement as you go on to sustain. I think that once you get a business running and it’s running well you start to ask yourself what’s next. I thought about different kinds of things like franchising, selling it to somebody. But I love being part of it. Systematizing has allowed me to continue to retain that business and have it run itself. But I’m able to pursue new business ventures which are really exciting to me as well as personal projects to.
OWEN: At what point in the story did you feel, like you had systematized the business and it could run successfully without you?
JENNIFER: I think about probably early 2013. That was a turning point for us. It was at that point that I felt like we really fully settled on our systems. Everybody was up and running, fully integrated CRM. We had that training program fully established and we move a couple of classes but like training classes. Groups of DJ’s through that program successfully and kind of ironed out the kinks. and then at the beginning of 2013 that I also settled on the way to the office operations would be structured as well. And we basically been going with pretty much that same team ever since.
OWEN: Awesome. Just so the listener can look at currently the different parts of the business and the specific systems you have in place in each one. I want to make this question clear. Imagine your business like a conveyor belt. On one end is somebody who is probably planning a wedding and is looking for a DJ to come and DJ at the wedding. At the other end is that same customer. They used your service, they love you guys, and they’re out there raving about you. But behind the scenes is a bunch of systems and processes that are working to make that transformation happen. And I want you to give our listeners the behind the scenes of what’s happening.
JENNIFER: Sure. The beginning of the conveyor belt process is going to be when the client inquiries come in. Most of them come through our website and they submit our online form which is tied in to our CRM programs so that we’re able to track it. My assistant contacted the Matthew so like an email template. I actually managed the relationship there at the beginning. She helps to figure out who’s going to the best DJ for that particular event, and that could be based on a lot of factors. Generally the client’s preferences for the DJ’s age, their personality, their music taste. Sometimes they start on our website, sometimes clients will be interested in a specific DJ because he or she went to the same college or share some common interest. Basically, my assistant matches the client with the DJ and through CRM assigns that client to the DJ, and then the DJ handles it from there. They make the contact with the client, they schedule the meeting, they provide a contract through CRM. And then the client signs and pays them, they’re booked. And then there’s a little bit of a holding pattern there.
About a month before the wedding the DJ kind of re-initiates the process to discuss that deal details with the client and then prepares for the client. And the prepares for the event in terms of pulling music and finalizing the timeline, and that kind of stuff. We do some things in between as far as interacting with clients and other vendors, social media and just basic business operation stuff. But that’s sort of the process that the client goes through. And then after the wedding we would reach out to them as well asking them for an online review, or address anything that may have come up during the way.
OWEN: You might have already alluded to this question before but I wanted to go into some more details here. What systems do you have in place that any of your employees know exactly what they need to do?
JENNIFER: Sure. Almost all of those are managed through CRM. We have a system of email reminders that get generated automatically through CRM and those are based on a time table. So for example when we assign a client to a DJ. If the DJ has set-up a meeting with the client within a certain period of time. CRM’s going to issue a reminder both to the alphas and to the DJ that the meeting hasn’t been set-up. There are reminders used for all different kinds of things. We have reminders for the DJ to check in with clients at different points during the planning process. So we look super thoughtful and helpful. Reminders for any meetings that need to be done, any kind of planning, deadlines, and that kind of stuff. It basically keeps everybody on track and we’re able to track the DJ’s performance whether they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing from a customer service perspective.
OWEN: So that’s kind of like trust but verify.
JENNIFER: There you go.
OWEN: How do you track and verify that the results are being delivered by your employees?
JENNIFER: Ever since the two main things are retract sales performance through CRM, we’ve got the system of reports that we use to track everybody’s sales, particularly their closing ratio for clients that we’ve met with. That’s our biggest thing. We don’t hold it against our DJ’s, if somebody’s kind of a tire picker and they’re just kind of checking it out. But somebody actually means that the DJ, we do track their sales performance on that regard. And then we also track the online reviews and kind of social media buzz that we get for specific advance as well.
OWEN: To see how they actually did…
OWEN: Since you have more free time, which areas of your business do you focus now and why?
JENNIFER: I think my main focus when I do get involved with it is really relationship building with other business owners that have the potential to refer business to us.
JENNIFER: Honestly in our industry being so relationship-based I find that it’s way more effective than client-facing advertising.
JENNIFER: We definitely do get referrals from former clients but typically most of the couples we worked with, they may have a few friends or family members who they can engage and use our services. But other people with this industry, they are meeting with dozens or even hundreds in some cases of potential clients for us.
OWEN: Yeah, I can vouch for that because I know who do my wedding, the flower guy who introduced us to so many different people, so I can definitely understand that.
JENNIFER: Exactly. So really cultivating those relationships. It’s so important for me. I think it’s a good use of my skill set, my interests. It keeps me positioned as the leader of our company as oppose to working up the lower levels in our company.
OWEN: What is the next stage of growth for the business and what are you planning to achieve next, and why?
JENNIFER: The DJ business, we’re always looking for creative ways to expand our services. We’ve currently got some partnerships with some companies that value services for our clients. Things like lighting, photo booths and things like that. But we’re always looking at more things that we can offer, in-house, adding on to other celebrations that people are making her state stuff like that. And then also working out some other ventures that I’ve mentioned I actually re-launched a wedding business blog that write this year, it’s called WeddingIQ. It’s definitely such a passion…
OWEN: A blog for people in the wedding industry?
JENNIFER: Yeah, it’s business facing which is something that I think is kind of that…
OWEN: Yeah. I usually see a lot of wedding for the consumer stuff type sites.
JENNIFER: Yes. And so what WeddingIQ does is it really addresses topics that are relevant to business owners and the wedding industry. So all kinds of things related to marketing and operations, and customer service, and ethics, and things along that line. Through that ??I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of small business coaching on other small business owners and then doing speaking engagements as well. I found the passion of mine, was doing the coaching and speaking. It gets me back to that excitement of the start-up. I found it really rewarding to help other business owners.
OWEN: As we come to the end of the questions for the interview, I’m wondering, can you summarize the entire step by step that the listener should go through in order to transform their business based on what we’re talking about.
JENNIFER: Sure. The first step is going to sound pretty elementary, but it’s really to make sure that you’re aware of everything that you are currently doing yourself as the business owner, really being able to take in the inventory of the tasks that you’re doing on your own. Because until you know how you’re using your time you’re not going to know what could be delegated. You can track your time over maybe a period of a week, two weeks, something like that, and write down every use of your times that you’re currently doing. And then you’re able to categorize things so that you could determine if there’s something that could be automated through technology, if there’s something that could be delegated to another team member or even to a virtual assistant. Or if it’s something that actually a good use of your time as a business owner and a leader. And then once you’re able to do that, move forward with creating those processes to empower people to do them for you or to utilize technology properly as well.
OWEN: Final question for you, I’m wondering is there a question that you were wishing that I would’ve asked you during this interview that I did not ask. Even if it’s not related to the systems, that you thing would give more value to what we’ve been talking about so far. Go ahead, post the question and the answer.
JENNIFER: I would say the question that I would ask is what is the most important reason for systematizing. And this goes back to my real passion for thinking about what you want your life to look like. And I think there are a lot of business owners, typically small business owners but they are trapped in this business that they’ve created because they haven’t thought bigger picture and thought about what they want to get out of their life. It’s very easy to think small and picture what you’re going to be doing a year from now. But what do you want your life to look like in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years? if you are currently single but think you might someday get married and have children, what’s that going to look like? Whatever it might be. If there’s some interest that you want to be able to pursue and what kind of freedom do you want your business to be able to give to you. I think that’s a big motivator for me. I would think it would be for other people as well.
OWEN: So basically start with why even before you start creating systems. Figure out why you even want to create systems in the first place.
JENNIFER: Yeah, I think that’s the first step to really reaching any goal in life is to be able to envision what it is that you want to get out of it.
OWEN: What is the best way for the listener to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview?
JENNIFER: I would say people can reach me through, I have a shop site. It’s kind of my personal site for all of my brands, and that’s just jenniferreitmeyer.com. People can contact me directly through the site and there’s all kinds of information on my different ventures available there.
OWEN: Thanks so much. And I’m speaking to the listener. You’ve listened to the interview all the way to this point so I’m hoping that you’ve enjoyed it. To leave us your feedback I want you to go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes to leave us a review, hopefully a positive one. Also, if you’re using an Android phone you can leave us your review by going to sweetprocess.com/stitcher. If you know another entrepreneur who might find this interview useful please feel free to share with them. Finally if you’re in that stage in your business where you’re tired of being the bottleneck and you want your employees to know exactly what you know, sign-up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. Jennifer, thanks for doing the interview.
JENNIFER: Thank you for having me. It was really a pleasure.
OWEN: And we’re done.