Why Do You Wait to Book the AV Crew?

Patty McGoldrick
Audio Visual Staffing Expert with over 30 years of experience

Since I have been in business, that is 30 years now, I have not been able to understand why av stagers continue to hire their av labor at the very end of the cycle of the pre-show. Why wait for the most important part of a show? How can this continue to be overlooked, delayed, extended until the very last minute. You know that you have these shows coming up 6 months a head of time and we get the order 5 days before the show starts. I don’t get it?

Not only does it make it harder for us to book, it costs you more to book it at the last minute and as you know the best get booked first. I know meetings do come up at the last minute, major changes happen but for the most part I know most of this business could be done better than it is done now. I know it. Why not make a call when you get the job to “alert” us of the potential, give us the dates and a very vague idea of the crew numbers that we certainly will not hold you to just so we know something in advance?

This has been a frustration since my very first job I did in June or July 1986. I got a call for 10 guys to work for 7 days in a row at the Hynes Convention Center when the av stager was in the building. Yes, already in the building. To top it off the center was going from an Auditorium to a convention center and we were working with saw dust all over the floors. Each night we had to take down the meeting room equipment because the ballrooms were not ready for the parties so we had to take down the gear and put it back up in the morning or in the night after a gala event took place in a large meeting room or 5 of them. It was crazy. That was the old days when the business was in its infancy. We are a lot better at it now but not by much I will say that as far as labor.

How does a company doing a 1/2 a million dollar rental call a professional av staffing company with 5 days notice for 20 technicians a day for 7 days during the busy times? Do you know how important these technicians are? Do you know you couldn’t do this rental without these guys? Do you know that they either make or break your show? I have had a few bad shows in my day I will admit that, but most of them are from poor planning and not enough advance notice for us to have the quality of technicians needed just days before a big show. I have never said no but I have said “this is going to be an issue” or “we will be short on this day or that day” right up front. A bad show is almost always about poor planning and the lack of experienced labor due to pre-con planning. These shows are not my shows, they are not the freelancers shows, they are your shows and your responsibility. We are almost always blamed for a “bad” show or a lost client. We are always blamed! It is not fair and it is time that labor is respected for what these dedicated professional freelancers provide to your shows. It is time to call at a respectful time in advance so no one gets blamed and we have all great shows. It is time that our technicians work under great working conditions and not under stressful, out of their control situations. They do what they can but when it comes down to it, it is your business and your responsibility. In my time I have seen hundreds of shows saved by my employees. Literally hundreds and hundreds of shows saved because we put the right guy in the right place. So, for all the bad ones there are many more quality, perfect shows.

I think a little more respect for the extra freelancers that it takes to put on a show in a city would really help. After all “you get what you give”. Just watch, if you are disrespectful to someone you will get the very same attitude back. Train your Managers on how to treat local workers from different areas of the country. And I shouldn’t have to mention this but the industry is riddled with discrimination. It’s amazing I haven’t seen anyone of my clients get sued by one of my employees yet. I have seen many incidents that easily could have become lawsuits but for some reason they skated by…

I love this industry and the myriad of people involved in it. It makes it very interesting. I wanted to get across just how important our freelancers are. This week I have had a lot of conversations with some very professional DC freelancers. It was very refreshing I must say. I have had some serious issues in DC but I’m convinced it has changed. I’ll tell you there are so many professional freelancers in this industry that it is amazing we have any bad shows at all. We really shouldn’t! So, lets all try and do a little better booking our great freelancers a little earlier this year so we get better results and keep the business we have. I know I want you to come back to me time and time again! I’m sure you want your clients to come to you time and time again. So, let’s work together and talk a little sooner about what is coming ahead of us especially during the busy times! Thank you for treating our freelancers as important as they really are to our business! Say thanks once in a while! Happy New Year!

Patty McGoldrick
Owner – Immediate Connections, Inc.

January 2017