When I first started my career as a DJ, I was obsessed with running my business in a professional manner.
That included everything from business cards, logos, banners, and even a custom-made DJ console. I just wanted to provide my customers a higher level of service. Because of the personal element of being in the customer-service industry, I found it imperative to get a place where face-to-face meetings could be held. But where to find the right place?
A videographer friend of mine asked me to join him at his office, which was spread over 2,300 square feet. He was only using a fraction of the space and thought there would be a good synergy between his business and mine. I said yes and got everything ready to move in and start operations.
Then a cruel twist of fate happened. My colleague ending up finding he had cancer and, thus, decided to retire from the video business. Before I could even move in completely, I found myself alone with a huge space.
I made the decision that I would follow through and even find a way to occupy the entire space. So, I broke out the credit card and ordered a ton of furniture and technology to support the effort. Three different office-desk stations were made for the staff DJs to meet with their clients – and not have to use my desk. A conference room was put together along with a video-demonstration room – complete with couch, plasma TV and a popcorn maker.
There was a recording room for my podcast gear and record shelves for my huge vinyl collection. Heck, I even made a receptionist desk to really make a great first impression…. even though I didn’t have a receptionist. Fresh paint, new carpet and the space was just amazing!
We opened for business and ended up immediately making impact, as the customers loved the place! They made comment after comment how the office was so professional and I saw my bookings go up as a direct result. I was clearly differentiating my company from the large percentage of competitors who didn’t have any place to conduct meetings.
This space served my company extremely well and was a second home to me for 25 years. Everything was looking strong for a killer 2020 and then… the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
Of course, business came to an immediate standstill. The office lay vacant and silent for months with no one coming in for meetings. The landlords asked for rent, but I couldn’t pay. So, I began to start selling furniture and computers to try and raise the money. But after a few months, it became painfully clear that this pandemic was not going to end quick and clean.
So, I literally put everything up for sale, including my precious record collection. I can still feel the deep hurt as the vinyl collector came to box everything up and cart it away. After 25 years of vibrant business, the office sat without purpose. And my landlords, who enjoyed my timely reliable rent check, were eager to push me out ASAP and get in a new tenant.
Now, that’s a pretty sad story and one would think a disaster for my business? Well, not so much. As so many DJs found out, it was “evolve or go out of business” during the pandemic of 2020-21.
Unlike certain services that were flourishing – like pizza delivery – the private-entertainment business ceased to exist in a face-to-face application. Adapting quickly, we all started using Zoom, FaceTime and/or other means of digital computer-based communication. DJs were not only talking with clients over smart-phone media, but offering live performances and educational seminars. Basically, the need to meet personally became unnecessary and so went the need for an office.
My main client age group is 21 to 39 and that age group was the most influenced by this new way to do business. People were buying everything online, having food delivered and dropped off at the front door, and even having doctor visits via virtual app on their smart phones. Most people worked from the home, so they all became comfortable with the technology!
As difficult as it was to lose my office, I was finding that there was less and less a need for the space. I made up a home office and even designed a section for Zoom meetings with a nice background area, complete with lighting for that studio feel.
Fast-forward to 2022 and much of life has returned to the “new normal” with face-to-face interactions back in play. But, even though I can once again afford an office, I have elected not to return. Instead, I can invest that $1,000-plus a month into other advertising and promotional dynamics.
And as far as my business, we are having one of the best years ever and not finding that any of my clients are asking why we don’t have an office for meetings. Most of our interactions are done via Zoom conference or telephone. And if there is a need for an in-person meeting, we usually get together at a Starbucks. I never thought I would allow myself to do that, but it’s working so well that I can’t justify dumping money into a space that just won’t get used much at all.
Clearly, we all evolve and people have evolved really quickly into the new economy. It’s an evolution that obviously encourages a screen interaction rather than face-to-face connection.
And as far as my wonderful landlords who pushed me out in one month to make room for new tenants? Well, the office is still empty with no new interest after over 30 months on the market. At my previous rent rate, that adds up to $30,000 in my pocket.
And that is why I say, “I lost my office… oh, well…”
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