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Behind the Review | How an entertainment company trains a team to rely on

Once a one-man operation, Tempoe Entertainment DJs in Long Beach, California, has grown into a network of more than 16 DJs and 30 employees. But owner Ryan still juggles a little bit of everything: In addition to music, Tempoe provides photo booths, lighting equipment, photographers, and event coordinators—everything you need to make an event a success.

That flexibility made all the difference for Yelp reviewer Cassandra G., who hired Tempoe Entertainment DJs for her daughter’s 16th birthday party. “I don’t remember which came first, whether I was looking for the photography studio first or the DJ first, but somehow it all kind of worked out that they were all a one-stop shop,” she said.  

Between the set list and photo booth, the team at Tempoe Entertainment transformed Cassandra’s backyard into a night to remember. Cassandra was particularly impressed by the efforts of both DJ Mike and the photo booth attendant, who helped with other aspects of the party after setting up her own station.

“The fact that they were able to just get in there and get to work on their own without too much direction from us—it really took a lot of stress off of us,” Cassandra said. “We were able to finish up what we needed to do and then go on to play the hosts of the party.” 

According to Ryan, who also goes by DJ Tempoe, that willingness to pitch in is a core value of the business. Tempoe Entertainment plays a key role in milestone events in their customers’ lives—and the team takes that responsibility seriously by preparing for every possible challenge. There’s no such thing as “That’s not my job” at Tempoe Entertainment DJs. 

“Our photo booth attendants are actually trained to do everything except DJ,” Ryan said. “They’re not only just friendly and great at what they do with the photo booth, but they’re always looking at something that they can advance on.”

In addition to training, Ryan has also developed a communication system to make sure everyone has everything they need to pull off a flawless event. The process starts with two consultations to discuss the client’s needs and any specific filters, such as song preferences. Next they go over the plan in a final meeting before the event—with no detail left up to chance. 

But when your product is as experiential as entertainment, it can be hard to showcase your work. Ryan relies on photos and videos of Tempoe in action to draw customers in. “Showing them some samples [of our work] goes a long way,” he said. “Yelp is a really big help with that because we’re able to actually post our pictures on Yelp, and people go through them and they’re like, ‘Hey, you know, I really liked that.’ 

The next step is building trust with customers. To provide a behind-the-scenes look, Ryan has also created promotional videos about Tempoe’s equipment, lighting, special effects, and DJs. “That way they can kind of get a sense of who’s going to be there at their events, before even committing to us for their event,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ryan and his team routinely turn to customers for feedback to improve the business. The DJ said he’s worked to implement ideas from reviewers into his process, which not only makes his business better, but leaves his staff feeling energized for the next event.

“We take reviews very, very seriously,” Ryan said. “That’s how we see what the client not only expected from us, but the finished product as well. So we value our reviews, like 100%. Some customers will come up to you at the end of the event and say that you did a great job, but it really goes the extra mile when someone takes 15, 20 minutes out of their busy work life and says something positive about you online.” 

Small businesses—especially those that are service-based like Tempoe Entertainment—can benefit from these other key business tactics from Ryan: 

  • It’s always your job. Teamwork and cross-training make a huge impression on clients and can improve your reviews. 
  • Reviews can be a key to innovation. Reviews are important for growth as a company and can help you implement new policies and procedures that improve your business.  
  • Always show and tell. Have examples of your work readily available to show patrons, especially when your service is auditory and/or visual.
  • Talk it out. Ensure you’re communicating efficiently with staff and guests, a crucial element when hosting highly personal events like weddings and birthday parties. 

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Ryan and Cassandra, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Soundcloud

Behind the Review, episode 53 transcript
Clear communication is always key

EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Every episode I pick one review on Yelp and talk to the entrepreneur and the reviewer about the story and business lessons behind their interaction. 

Lets see what’s behind this week’s review.

CASSANDRA: It was our daughter’s 16th birthday party. So I wanted the DJ and then I also wanted a photo booth.  I don’t remember which came first, whether I was looking for the photography studio first or the DJ first, but somehow it all kind of worked out that they were all a one-stop shop. 

EMILY: Yelp reviewer Cassandra G. has a teenage daughter, and we know how teenagers can be extremely particular about how things should be handled — especially monumental events like their 16th birthday party. This was something Cassandra wanted to be memorable for her daughter and all of her friends.

In the course of her search she found Tempoe Entertainment DJs out of Long Beach, California. Owner Ryan has been working as a DJ for a long time. And what started as a one-man-band (so to speak) is now a company with 12 DJs and a number of photo booth attendants. And they offer everything from a simple DJ setup to complete light and sound packages. Let’s listen to Cassandra’s review to see how the party went. 

CASSANDRA: We hired a DJ and photo booth from Tempoe Entertainment for our daughter’s 16th birthday bash. Both were a huge hit with the teens and the adults as well.

DJ Mike did a great job at reading his audience and knowing which songs to play, to get people excited and dancing. The photo attendant was friendly, engaging, and helpful, and did a great job at encouraging everyone to take many pictures. Thanks Tempoe Entertainment for helping our daughter have an epic 16th birthday party.

EMILY: Sounds like it was a huge hit! And that’s exactly what owner Ryan – also known as DJ Tempoe – wants to hear from his clients. After all, he’s in the business of fun. That means he has to hire people who have a certain skill set – they have to be able to create a party atmosphere anywhere, anytime, with a varied audience. 

RYAN: Reading the room is very, very important. The events that we do have multiple age groups, and I like to communicate that to my clients and couples beforehand.

Sometimes they’re really fixated on just the group that’s going to be dancing, but for us as a DJ, we want everyone there on the dance floor. So from, grandpa, grandma to the younger siblings, we try to mix up a really wide variety of music. So that way everyone has a chance to go on the dance floor.

We like to start off with some classics, so that way everyone’s really familiar with the music. And then we can definitely dig into the music that you personally enjoy. If it’s like, pop music from this decade, or if it’s, Latin music or whatever it’s specific to their needs.

EMILY: Ryan and his team are handling some real milestone events in their clients’ lives. Wedding music (or sweet 16 music) has the potential to make or break the entire event. With all the moving pieces that go into planning a wedding, picking the right DJ is a monumental decision. And that puts some pressure on both Ryan, and his team of DJs and staff. So he has to be extra careful with all of his hiring practices, communication, and response times.  

RYAN: During the hiring process, it’s really important for us to just create the company culture that we’re looking for. We’re kind of like that small mom and pop shop. We try to operate that way. And we check in on each other, relatively often. We attend outings together. We host different events here at Tempoe Entertainment DJs where we could get all the DJs, all the photo booth attendants together. Even during a pandemic, we still have like about four zoom meetings.

So that way we could just check on how everyone’s doing and just make sure that everyone’s voicing their opinion and what we can do better to strive as a business. 

EMILY: Ryan has established a great team, but as the team has grown, so have the number of customers, and the amount of important events entrusted to Tempoe Entertainment. It also means they have to be prepared to take on new clients all the time. Ryan says the key to success is making sure his communication with his clients is excellent, and his response time is efficient. After all, this is a long-term relationship; planning a wedding or a large party can take the better part of a year from start to finish. 

RYAN: Communication is key. So we definitely try to get back to everyone as soon as possible, even if it’s a job that we could take on right away.

Or if it’s something that we could try to help refer someone over to. We’re part of a larger network, Fate studios in Long Beach, which hosts different vendors. Chances are, if we can’t help them, we do know someone that can in the industry. 

EMILY: In addition to normal client communication about dates and times, Ryan has to do a lot of additional work to manage everyone’s expectations. This means that his communication has to be extremely detailed, and readily available to his clients and his team. He’s developed a system to make sure everyone involved in the event has everything they need to pull off a flawless party. 

RYAN: We created a really great online form for our clients to go in and actually log in with a custom username and password. So all their event details are specific to their needs.  Not only from equipment choices and what they expect from us, but also we need to have, information about what we expect from them.

So we do have a form that are specific to their needs as far as maybe cultural events that are taking place. Specific music choices, if it’s like cues, maybe, you know, a shy couple might want to only dance for their first dance for only a couple of minutes versus a five minute song or so.

So we have different filters where we could appeal to their background and appeal to their wants. I think that is really important. Just hearing out the couple.  We do have two meetings with our clients minimum.  That way we have the initial booking consultation, which gives them a very detailed history about Tempoe Entertainment DJs.

We have a PowerPoint which we go over with them as well. And then we do have a final planning meeting two weeks before their big day. All the forms are completed, their music choices, and we pretty much go through all the details together. That way we don’t miss anything. And we are on top of things with each other.

Really importantly, it also gives us a chance to meet the couple and get to know the couple better. Going into a wedding or a family event, it’s better to be looked at as, hey, this is my vendor, but man, this guy has been helping me plan for one, two years. He’s actually like my friend we’re on Facebook together. We’re on Instagram together following each other and keeping up with each other’s life events and personal events. So I think it’s just really important to just create that friendship with the client as well. It creates for a better dynamic and at the same time, it’s a win-win for everyone.

EMILY: Anyone who has hosted a party – even a small gathering – knows there are about a million moving parts to assemble, and nothing ever goes exactly as planned. So when the photo booth attendant she hired through Tempoe Entertainment DJs started pitching in to help set up the party, Cassandra was thrilled with the help. 

CASSANDRA: The party was being held in our backyard. So we were setting up pretty much all afternoon. And when the photo booth attendant came with her materials, she actually arrived earlier than was planned. And so she set up her booth and then she actually offered to help us finish with our decorations and set up.

And so that was yet another bonus of the photo booth attendant. And then when DJ Mike arrives, the photo booth attendant actually helps him set up as well.

We had told her where we want the DJ stuff to be set up, and where we want the dance floor. So between Mike and the attendant, they were both able to work on their own and get all set up.  I mean, it really did help.

The fact that they were able to just get in there and get to work on their own without too much direction from us. It really took a lot of stress off of us. We were able to finish up what we needed to do and then go on to playing the hosts of the party. 

EMILY: For Ryan, running an entertainment company means cross-training his employees, which ensures a smooth operation for his clients. There’s no such thing as “That’s not my job” at Tempoe Entertainment DJs. 

RYAN: Our photo booth attendants are actually trained to do everything except DJ. So they go around and they could actually set up like our lighting, video screens, things like that. They’re already used to lending a helping hand, regardless if it’s just the photo booth or if it’s customer service, someone needs help carrying something. The list goes on. So with that being said, our photo booth attendants are not only just friendly and great at what they do with the photo booth, but they’re always looking at something that they can advance on.

And there’s always something to do in the event.  From helping out someone carrying something or maybe motivating the kids to dance, we’re just so much fun, and a pleasure to be around at the event. 

EMILY: Reviews, on the other hand, are sometimes the opposite of fun. 

RYAN: We take reviews very, very seriously. That is pretty much the way that we see what the client not only expected from us, but also the finished product as well. So we actually do value our reviews, like 100%. I mean, it’s really, really important to us that we have a clear communication with our clients.

I would say reviews is like our backbone. It really just keeps us going. Some customers will come up to you at the end of the event and say that you really did a great job, but it really goes the extra mile when someone takes 15, 20 minutes out of their busy work life and says something positive about you online.

We’ve been really fortunate to get a lot of positive reviews.  We do have a handful of negative reviews, but of course, nothing in this world, I can go 100%. Right. But we do try to fix it and we do try to just hear out the client and, and, you know, if it’s something that, it’s very hurtful or offensive that we did, and we didn’t know – we try to talk about those things before it gets to the review stage. So just being really communicative with the customers nine times out of 10, there’ll be a really, really understanding, if you’re able to maybe get a phone call with them or an apology in some way. At the end of the day, I mean, we are all human.

Reading great reviews, which we’ve been fortunate to have has just really meant the world to us. And we really appreciate all of our clients taking the time to do so.

EMILY: When choosing what businesses to review, Cassandra feels that it’s just as important to let a business know what they’re doing right. 

CASSANDRA: I write reviews when I have a positive experience.  I think my most recent review was when I went to a coffee shop in San Jose and I was just there for the day and really loved the coffee shop. If it’s a positive experience, that’s a memorable experience for me. If I feel welcome, or if I feel like the employees or the business owner are friendly or go out of their way to make me feel welcomed or to accommodate me. I also Especially like to write reviews for local businesses and independent businesses, because I know that it helps them succeed.

And so I feel like it’s my little way of doing my part to help the small guy. 

EMILY: We’ve talked before on the show about how beneficial reviews can be to a business, and how they can be used to make essential changes to better the business. Ryan is no exception, and understands that all feedback – both positive and negative – can guide business decisions that will enable a business to flourish. And he’s used feedback from reviews to implement technology that makes his customers’ experiences better. 

RYAN: We try to use our reviews as like a model for us to grow. We’ve had reviews in the past. “Hey, you know, we wish there was a little bit more planning involved or some more communication back and forth.”

So we actually do have now an automated system where we can kind of keep our couples on track, to do things. Sometimes people book a DJ a year out in advance and before, they didn’t really hear from us until about maybe like two to three months away. And now we actually have a reminder system in place where it sends an email every couple months just to let people know that, “Hey, we’re there. If you need anything just feel free to contact us.”

We also give the DJ’s contact information, so that way there’s no communication errors. We also have a calendar system where we can have a couple of information as well.  We use reviews just to really address customers’ needs.

If we see everything’s great, perfect work, we’re on the right track.  Technology is changing. So,  we’re trying to make sure that we’re doing more text messages to follow up. Maybe someone might not get an email from us. So we do a follow up text messages.  We have actually seen that in a couple of reviews, like, “Hey, I wish my DJ would have text me a little bit more instead of emailing me.” We just try to find out the customer’s needs. So now we actually send a follow-up text. If it’s a really important time in the planning process. 

EMILY: In addition to using Yelp reviews for feedback, Ryan feels his Yelp page is a great place to really show what he can do, and in his business, seeing is believing. 

RYAN: So if there’s an image of some lighting that you’re into, they could send it over our way, if we’re able to do it great. 99% of the time we’re able to do it, but maybe there might be something that might be very far off far-fetched, Pinterest nowadays or something, you know, might kind of get the ball rolling.

For the most part, even showing them some samples goes a long way too. So that way we have past images of our work. Yelp is a really big help with that because we’re able to actually post our pictures on Yelp and people go through them and they’re like, Hey, you know, I really liked that. I think also alot of videos really capture the moment of, so we do have promo videos for pretty much a lot of our equipment, our lighting, our special effects, and then really, really most importantly, our DJs too. So that way they can kind of get a sense of who’s going to be there at their events, before even committing to us for their event.

EMILY: It’s not just great reviews and thorough communication that attracted Cassandra to Tempoe Entertainment DJs. She and her family intentionally support local businesses, and go out of their way to look for locally owned, mom-and-pop businesses. 

CASSANDRA: My family and I for years, we’ve made it a priority in our home to support and to patronize local businesses, to try to keep them going, because we’ve seen plenty of small businesses open and close in our neighborhood.

We do sometimes patronize the corporate companies, the corporate businesses, the corporate coffee shops and stuff like that. But it’s nice to have a local go-to small business where they know you, they know who you are, you get more of a warm welcome, and they’re also very appreciative that you’re giving them your business.  It contributes more to our community if we have small businesses, because most of the time, the people in those small businesses are part of our community. So we want to support each other. 

EMILY: As someone who works with small business owners on a regular basis, that was music to my ears. Pun absolutely intended. 

So we know from the review that the 16th birthday party was a big hit. But to close us out, I thought I’d let Cassandra share exactly HOW BIG a hit it was

CASSANDRA: I would say that it was epic. I have to add that we were supposed to basically shut everything down probably around 10 or 10:30 that night. And the kids were having so much fun that they just kept going, kept going.

And it was about 11 o’clock that night that we got a knock on the door and it was a long beach police officer.  So somebody had called the cops and interestingly, this was a time when my daughter and her peers were sort of down on the cops, because of events that have happened over the past year and a half.

So I actually invited the officer in. And the officer happened to be an African-American woman. She was very cool. She came in, she came into the backyard and she actually got in the photo booth with our daughter and snapped some pictures. And that was the highlight of the party. 

EMILY: And there you have it – throwing an excellent party can create unexpected moments that you’ll remember forever.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.

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