Its at this time of year when the weather is bad that I get to thinking about and updating our Contingency Plans. Whilst the best planning in the world cannot account for the unpredictable or low change events we still need to have some sort of idea about what we would do if an when one should occur. We are bound by the Health and Safety at Work act like any worker is and if we become injured or worse performing a gig, it can impact on any number of our other clients so we have a duty to do things right. We want you to know your in safe hands with us and we have prepared for the worst should it present itself.
We are pretty lucky in our location to be next to two major trunk roads heading both north and south. We are aware that during weekdays we often leave home during rush hour for evening events and adjust our travel timings accordingly. Roads however can be affected by the weather, instances of bad luck or bad driving and the one we hate the most, road works.
Bad Weather - We always leave extra time to travel when the weather is bad and thankfully our van is pretty good in the rain and snow with large ground clearance. Many other drivers will take more care driving which generally slows down the flow of traffic, even when it need not.
Road Traffic Accidents - Be they accidental are bad driving an RTA can close a road for hours should the worst happen. There is more likelihood of accidents in bad weather but when using major routes where traffic is high there is always the chance of coming across something that delays your travel.
Road Works - Its seems our area always has something going on and with the A1 improvements and new road layouts at Silverlink and Testos to follow it can make getting around the region much slower. Thankfully you can plan for most roadworks, it's the ones that pop up without knowledge that cause the most pain to our travel plans.
Vehicular Issues - Our van is regularly serviced and kept in good repair but like anything else even the newest of vehicles can break down and it's often at the worst time.
So what do we do to minimise the impact of travel?
We check google mapping for real time updates and estimated travel time for each journey 1hr before leaving
We look at alternative routes and use live sat nav when travelling to check out estimated arrival time
We have roadside recovery to help minimise any break downs
We have a small rig which can fit in the car if needed
We are often able to get setup in less than the quoted time and certainly able to prioritise getting music on
We simply allow extra time for all our travelling so we never need to rush and have a built in buffer
I work at social clubs, bars, bespoke wedding venues, schools, churches, village halls and a whole range of other community centres and hubs. Each presents its own challenges and issues and setting up is almost never the same in two places. We specifically ask for the venue up front for two main reasons. Firstly to see if its on our blacklist as some venues we consider to be too difficult or dangerous to work at and secondly if its a new venue we normally will do some research to see if its somewhere we will be happy working.
Parking - Not all venues provide parking and we tend to not provide a service where parking cannot be guaranteed. We need our van close by for loading and because it carries our backup equipment should anything go wrong. For security reasons we like it close by again as there is a considerable amount of equipment with high value kept inside. We also have to consider that the van does not fit in some car parks where there is a height limit and in the past this has lead problems.
Access - As mentioned we have a blacklist of venues, which consists of places we have worked and are not comfortable offering a service. The majority of these are blacklisted for access issues. This can include steep stairs, or outdoor stairs that are poorly lit or slippy in the rain. It might include venues where passage is congested or failing to meet health and safety requirements. For example we once worked at a hotel where you couldn't get down the fire exit because of linen and towels blocking the way.
Power - If we suspect issues with the power supply we will use our tester to check its safe. Venues ask us for our pat test certificate but often fail to meet safe criteria themselves. Sockets loose or old outdated power units being the main issues. We also come across sound limiters which are too sensitive and when triggered they kill the power to the equipment. When power is lost it can damage the equipment we use in several ways firstly damaging hard drives and causing boot issues, secondly blowing amplifiers. As you can imaging we don't like having the power cut during a performance as it look very unprofessional on our behalf regardless of it being our fault.
How do we minimise issues at venues?
We look for the reviews of previous DJs and what they encountered at the venue
We keep our own logs of venues and how easy are hard they are to work at
We keep a range of various size cables and extensions available in case we have to route power elsewhere.
We keep all our equipment PAT tested so we know its in good working order
If working at a new venue we allow extra time to work around issues
We try not to take on jobs if access looks poor or is on an upper level with no elevator
In some cases we may visit the venue and carry out a full risk assessment (this can also be done on request)
I've bought new items for the disco that have failed to work straight out of the box. As a mobile operator its true to say the gear does a lot of miles in the back of the van and sometime even the best packing can still cause something to shake loose. Similarly we bring this kit into dens of alcohol, dancing and rowdiness. I've had a woman pick up my £200 microphone and throw it into the crowd smashing it to pieces on the floor. You just never know when something is going to go pop and as mentioned above bad power, dampness during cold months and just general use can all take its toll.
What do we do to ensure the show goes on?
We carry a backup of all major components including speakers, lights and the play-out device.
We carry a small tool kit for on site repairs
We keep our equipment in padded bags for transport where possible
We carry a load of spare cables for power and audio
We carry out regular inspections of all items to make sure they are fit for use
We service items and make sure they not only work but look presentable
We do our annual PAT test
So what if something should happen to me or the member of staff assigned to perform at your booking? Looking back at the above lists there are plenty of places where we could become injured or incapacitated and having done this job for quite a few years now I can tell you danger lurks around many a corner. Only about 14 month ago I fell down some stairs and had to struggle through 2 weeks of work with a mangled knee. It made it all to clear that accidents can happen just about anywhere.
We would always advice that if your DJ has not arrived at least 45 mins before the event, unless you have had a message to say why, please ring us asap to find out what is happening. We always try to leave 1 hour for setting up but getting in touch early gives us more time to sort something out.
If our DJ is running late he will try to call you - we have hands free in our vehicles so calls can be made and answered
We try to keep a list of available DJ's from those I network with so if anything happens we might be able to provide an alternate at short notice
DJ's will adhere to strict health and safety practices to minimize risk of injury
I would add I also have an incapacity plan which my wife has should the worst happen, this outlines what to do with my bookings should I be in any way unable to do this myself. I have a lot of good friends in the industry who would help her to get everything sorted so that your important event can go ahead or be moved to another company.
When booking a DJ for a large event or when you know it's going to be busy we want you to be sure your in good hand, and that we are thinking about the stuff you don't - It's a well known saying people don't know what people don't know, that's why we always say hire an expert. We currently have a 100% record of attending gigs but no we can't guarantee that some sort of accident or force majeure could affect this in the future, but we can tell you that we have prepared for the worse and have plans in place so that we do the very best we can for our clients.