Building a Wedding Business Empire

Show notes:

Today I am joined by Wedding DJ, turned ‘Eventpreneur’ Toby Burns as he tells the story of building a wedding business empire. CEO of the ‘Silent Disco Company’ Toby now has a team of employees and an international customer base. In today’s episode he shares his journey and talks about how he believes customer service and innovation have transformed his own business and life.

Find out more about The Silent Disco Company

Watch Toby over on Youtube

Time Stamps:

The journey from wedding DJ to entrepreneur (00:00:00)

Toby discusses his transition from a children’s entertainer to a niche wedding DJ in the Jewish and Arab wedding market, leading to his eventual founding of the Silent Disco Company.

Spotting an opportunity and scaling the business (00:00:57)

Toby shares his entrepreneurial journey, from recognizing an opportunity in the event space to scaling it into a successful business, including the decision to start the Silent Disco Company.

Innovation and customer feedback in business development (00:16:33)

Toby emphasizes the importance of innovation and customer feedback in evolving and growing the business, highlighting the role of customer feedback and continuous improvement in business success.

DJ’ing and Dry Hire (00:19:13)

Toby talks about still enjoying DJ’ing nd the business model, including dry hire and in-house DJs.

Innovation and Product Development (00:19:54)

Toby discusses the importance of simplicity and innovation in product creation, citing the example of a karaoke product.

Challenges Faced during COVID-19 (00:22:00)

Toby reflects on the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the events industry, and the mental strain it caused.

Staffing Challenges and Recruitment (00:25:52)

Toby talks about the challenges of managing a team, recruitment processes, and the importance of retaining the right employees.

Hiring Process and Employee Categorization (00:27:36)

Toby explains the detailed hiring process for senior management and the categorization of employees based on performance.

Mental Strain of Business Ownership (00:33:47)

Toby reflects on the mental strain of being a business owner and the importance of seeking advice from fellow entrepreneurs.

Conclusion and Call to Innovate (00:36:11)

Becca concludes the interview, emphasizing the need for innovation and action in business.


Toby: And then you’ve got like the middle ones that are okay, they’re not quite pulling their way, you can see they’re not as good. And the problem is if you don’t get rid of those middle ones, the 5, 6, 7s, the 8s, 9s and 10s will leave because they’re still there. And I think that’s a really good way of putting it, that your superstars will leave.

If you don’t sort out the people that just don’t pull their weight.

Becca: I’m Becca Pountney, wedding business, marketing expert, speaker, and blogger. And you’re listening to the wedding pros who are ready to grow podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level.

If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business, doing what you love, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get going with today’s episode. Today I’m chatting with Toby Burns, founder of The Silent Disco Company.

Originally a wedding DJ, Toby saw an opportunity and scaled it into a thriving business. Toby now calls himself The Eventpreneur, having founded multiple businesses in the event space, both here in the UK and further afield. I’m looking forward to finding out today more about how the wedding DJ from Essex became the multi business owning entrepreneur he is today.

Toby, welcome to the podcast.

Toby: Thanks for having me. Great to be on.

Becca: I’m really excited to talk to you because I’ve got so many questions. I want to dive into your story. And I love the fact that despite now being this big event preneur, you started out in my favorite industry in the world, the wedding industry.

So take us right back to the start. At one point you were a wedding DJ. How did that happen?

Toby: So it actually goes even further beyond that. I was actually a children’s entertainer very, very early on. So children’s parties. Didn’t want to do that all day, every day. I was doing like 10 parties a week, something like that.

And then I got into a very specific wedding market, which was the Jewish and Arab wedding market. And I think, I don’t really know how I landed there. You do one and then it’s snowballs and you know, three people, you know how it is in the industry. It’s the snowball effect, but I ended up in this specific market.

Along with sort of corporate DJ work where, you know, some of these events are spending quarter of a million pound on a wedding, not with us. Unfortunately, otherwise I’ll be retired by now, but they would spend a lot on the overall event, especially some of the Arab ones or four, 400, 600, 000 people. I don’t even think I know a thousand people that I could invite to a wedding, but that was really how I landed.

In that space, but like I’ve said before on other podcasts, it’s like, it’s a profitable job in a way being a DJ, like you’re swapping time for money if you’re not out, you’re not earning money. So that’s where we transitioned into Silent Disco and I knew that, you know, that’s our main business, but I knew that I could bring that.

into the events that I was already doing at the time where, you know, I make an example of there’s 50 kids at some of these weddings and then while people are eating, they’re causing havoc. So the silent disco really was born about trying to entertain people when there was the food service which could be an hour, hour and a half and people eat in 10 minutes and then they’re bored.

And that’s where the idea really sort of stemmed from and then it sort of grew beyond that.

Becca: It’s interesting you got to that point quite early on in your career because I work with a lot of people who, you know, want to become artists. wedding businesses and I helped them grow their wedding business and they’re a florist, a cake maker, a DJ, and then they become successful and they start getting work in.

And then they hit that point that you’ve just described perfectly where they realize that there’s actually no further they can go. So they’ve got to make a choice. Either they put their prices up or they start building a team around them. Or they look at alternative income streams to bring in different parts of the business.

So obviously that’s the route you went down with starting your Silent Disco company. Like where did that initial idea come from? Did you see it somewhere else first? Were you one of UK to bring it here? Talk to me about that process.

Toby: Yeah, I mean, look, going back to your point, I think it’s really interesting that I was always very entrepreneurial and there’s that entrepreneurial flair and you are swapping time For money and I did all of those things that you just mentioned that part of my price I went into something else.

But the problem with our industry, unless you you can create a team around you, but certainly the in the event space when it’s personal weddings or celebrations, the client is booking you booking your expectees. Your ideas, your vision, because you’ve been doing it years. So we had team members, but it’s really hard because people still want you to produce the event, you know, production ideas, stuff like that.

Yeah. You can bring a team in to do the production, but it’s very key person driven, and I think that goes for anything like a florist, for example, like they have that artistic flair to create. Those beautiful bouquets you can bring in a team, but it’s not that person that’s doing it. So I think it’s really key person driven with regards to your question in terms of silent disco I did see it.

I was in america at the time and I saw it In a festival setting and they were like really cheap chinese plastic Headphones, and I just thought again with the the market that we were providing to in the wedding and corporate space I thought One, we can just do this so much better. We can create a premium headphone and we can do it in a model that we don’t have to go.

We can do it as, as that, but we could do it as a, a dry hire, like a do it yourself, where if you’ve got another DJ or you have a band or you want an after party at your wedding, you literally take it out of the box. Connect it to your phone and you’ve got a silent disco. So it had to be easily accessible for anybody to be able to set it out simple and easy.

And that was the model we went down. I think at the time there was a couple of companies in the UK. Now there’s about 30, but we’re, we’ve got the highest star. We’ve got a really big team. We’re not a small do it from home business. We’re sort of a much bigger animal in the market where We’re doing a hell of a lot of hires and a lot of them are to weddings.

I’m sure you’re going to ask me a question later about why Silent Disco works so well for weddings, so I won’t go into that quite so soon, but that’s where really the idea came from and As I said, now it’s, it’s such a popular form of entertainment.

Becca: I love that you got the idea from America because I actually quite often tell my clients to go and look at the American market.

Go out to America if you can go to Wedding MBA, where I went last year and go and saturate yourself in the American market because so often things go to America before they come here. And if you want to see So I’m going to talk a little bit about how you can set yourself apart from the rest of the industry if you want to be the first person with the newest photo booth or whatever the next trend is coming, actually, we can learn so much from looking outside of our UK market, which is typically further behind everyone else and find new concepts and then take them bring them here and do them better, which is exactly what you’ve done.

But most people don’t have the balls or the thought process to actually go ahead and do it. So how did you take that? I could do that in the UK. Better to actually bringing it to life.

Toby: It’s, you are so right about America. I mean, I religiously went every November to a specific trade show for new entertainment, and you’ve just gotta do it.

Okay. You treat it as a holiday. I mean, I used to go in November for four days. I used to get there, do the show for three days, fly back, and one of our businesses that we sold before COVID was like a virtual reality simulators and, and that sort of thing. And that came from America because it all comes from there first.

Being honest, most of it gets made in China. So now we go straight, we do all the shows in China because you’ll see like weird and wonderful wacky ideas. But what, when we saw it and we thought we could do it better, I had experience dealing with China already. You know, we’d buy some DJ equipment from China and I, I, knew how that works because it is like language barriers.

It’s hard work dealing with China. Literally 90 percent of what we buy for our business, like even down to like cable tires to tie up a box, everything we import. So I had quite a few meetings with factories in China. We had loads of samples and then we settled on this headphone. And, and since then, as I mentioned, there’s lots of other companies doing it.

Everyone sort of copies, you know, any great business people copy. And I was, I was listening to the Airbnb owner the other day and he was like, you know, Verbo VRBO came along and if it’s a good business, people will copy, but people want to go with the experts in the field. So how we differentiated ourselves is, and I’m not going to go boring technical stuff, but the internals of the headphones, I came from a DJ background, I also studied sound technology and sound engineering.

So the inside of the headphones are what’s different. They may look the same as everyone else’s, but I think when you wear ours. Listen, it had to be a quality because of the wedding market and the corporate market I was DJing for. And now quality is like, you know, one of our leading KPIs and vision of the business is we have to be high quality, but an affordable price to.

You know, be in the marketplace.

Becca: Amazing. So you basically took some knowledge you had and went out there and actually did it. And I think that’s the big thing that stops people is that they think, think of the idea. They might even have some of the knowledge and then they just don’t do anything. So if you want to make something happen, you’ve got to take action.

You’ve got to step out of your comfort zone. And I’m sure there was a time when you’re thinking, why am I buying all these headphones from China? Is it, is this actually going to work?

Toby: Yeah. I mean, I I’ve said it before. My parents genuinely thought I was mad. To buy I, I bought 200 headphones, saved up, you know, DJing kids, parties, blah, blah.

And I bought 200 headphones. It was about 10, 000 at the time to import that. And they literally thought I was bonkers. But what I think is really key and, and probably other people that listen to the podcast is they’re probably in the space. They’re thinking about, you know, doing something else, an additional revenue stream.

Well, what I did is I was like, right, I’ve got these weddings booked in, in two months time. Let’s offer them silent disco now before, before they’re even here. Let’s offer it now. And we could test the market before we even bought the headphones. So Before they even came in, we were fully booked for a month.

And then I was like, okay, I think we’re going to need a few more, more, more. And literally I was almost selling it to the clients that we had already before we’d even got it. But like going to these shows, like it’s, it’s so low risk. Like I’ve been to a few, as I said, going to America every November. And there were years where I would go and not buy anything.

I’ve had a holiday for four days. That’s, you know, that’s the way you treat it. I didn’t always find something there, the new and upcoming thing, but it does give you ideas of like, Oh, I liked the look of that. Maybe I could create something a bit different on that, you know, on that product. So it’s not always guaranteed, but I think you’ve got to put yourself out there and go and see this stuff.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. And it separates you from the rest of your competition and it’s better to be the person that’s doing it first than the person everyone else in the UK is copying for sure. So talk to me about use cases then. So you said that Silent Discos work really well at weddings. What are the use cases that people are using them?

How are they being used at weddings? And do you sell directly to the client or do you work with other suppliers, for example, DJs, and then get them to buy into what you do as well?

Toby: We work with literally everybody, whether that’s event companies, production companies, the client themselves. And we, we use headphones for such a variety of, of uses.

Now, private parties, like you’re having a birthday, everyone has a birthday every year. We love celebrating here in the UK. So birthdays and private parties are probably the most popular use, but we’ve seen a trend really over the last two, three years of weddings. Have grown tremendously in terms of use.

And for me, I’ve DJ’d quite a few weddings with Silent Disco. And sometimes you go to these weddings, I’ve got a DJ, and you don’t, someone might not like the song that the DJ’s playing, or it’s not their cup of tea. With Silent Disco, there’s three different channels of music. So your guests now have a choice.

Of what they want to listen to. And it, the energy that it creates, it’s just a completely different atmosphere in the room. One it’s entertainment because people are like switching between channels on the headphones and like, Oh, turn over to blue. I love this song, but it gives people variety. And people do like variety, you know, in life, if you went into a shop and there was only one brand of something, you’d, you’d go mad.

People like to have choice. So the headphones really give your guests choice at a party of like, okay, I want to listen to 80s. I don’t like this song, switch over to the next one. And I think that’s, Like, that is the number one point, I think, aside from that, hens, I mean, we do so many hen parties, so we’ve got some specific packages where it’s got like a bride and groom branded headphone, again, no one else does that, so, if it’s, we know it’s a wedding, we do a bride and groom headphone, that’s specifically for them.

If it’s hens and we’re doing tons of these now every weekend that we have like a bride to be and some funny dress up stuff that we put in the box as a package just to make it a bit more fun. I mean, we do conferences with the headphones where you’ve got different languages, like it’s so varied.

But the weddings and hens are super, super popular every single week.

Becca: I actually went to a hen party myself a few months ago and they had a silent disco. And on paper it was the weirdest thing because as soon as you take your headphones off you’re basically in a village hall in silence. But it was so much fun and I think the music choice thing is massive because they had a real variety in what we were listening to.

So some of us were listening to like musical theatre tunes which we were going mad for and some people were listening to 80s music and some people were listening to the rock. You know, there was such a variety. So, you know, I can see where there is definitely a market. Oh, it was fun.

Toby: Rather than listening to one person’s playlist that they’ve created.

And I think that’s where the karaoke higher company was really born from is we got asked like hen passes, love a karaoke party. And that was quite a few years ago when we’ve developed that and now launched it. as its own brand last year. And we’ve like invested thousands of pounds into R and D to make the best possible karaoke machine.

That’s like super easy, but that was really born out of hemp artists because they love singing. And once they’ve got the headphones on as well, like no one can hear their voice, like they love it.

Becca: I think my listeners will have already identified that I think your business is basically just my perfect night out because I love karaoke, I love cheesy music, and I love a disco, so I am definitely your target kind of customer.

Which brings me on to my next question actually, because I think one of the things, having looked into what you do and looked at your website, is that you’ve continued to evolve the business. So you went from wedding DJ to To silent discos, but you haven’t stopped at silent discos. As you just alluded to, you’ve now got karaoke, you’ve got other parts of the business.

So how do you make sure that you’re continuing to evolve, continuing to grow and continuing to find new avenues?

Toby: I use one simple term to my team every single day, which is if you don’t innovate, you will evaporate. And I think that’s the easiest thing to say because if you’re not innovating somebody else’s and then they’re going to eventually take you over.

So I think that’s why I make it a goal to go to China every single year now and we’re back out in April. But I think like customer feedback, like what do they like? What did they not like about it? Like innovate with it. Don’t just go, this is my product. This is what I do. And that’s it. Take it or leave it.

We’re continuously. Improving every, every little part of what we do to make the overall package like awesome for the customer. So I think you have to innovate, otherwise you’ll just get left behind. So customer feedback is super important. Like reviews we love, like if they didn’t like something, like some business owners get really like defensive and offended.

I’m like, okay, well let’s actually work out what didn’t work for you. Okay. It might be one in a hundred, but if there’s a little nugget in there that could. Make the service like 10 times better. Why not? Why not explore that? And I think that’s where that differentiates us from everybody else. And I say about my team every day, we innovate, like the best ideas come from the team.

So cinema hire, for example, the cinema hire company is one of our others. That was one of our guys, AP, who had been with us five years or so. And we sort of looked at the idea and I left it to him. I was like, let’s try and create something. With cinema that goes in a box that fits in our model. That you at home could plug it in, in the garden, it inflates, you plug in a projector and you can have a movie night in the garden.

And that idea is probably we’ve been doing that about five years now. And that’s really what kept us alive in COVID because people couldn’t do anything in COVID apart from like have a home movie night with your with your children, your family in the garden, everything had to be outside. So again, that was innovation from our team.

And now is a standalone brand that’s super successful. So you’ve got to innovate. Simple.

Becca: So you’ve got all these different avenues, but what draws them all together and the part that I think is super clever is that you’re not going to any of these events, like you’re actually just in a warehouse or in your offices, sending out this equipment to people, and then they’re doing the events.

So you’re not limited to how many events you can build. be at over a weekend or where they are geographically because it’s all done by post. Is that right?

Toby: Yeah. And that’s the thing. I mean, I am out on Sunday DJing, which I still do because I love it. I don’t need to do it, but I genuinely still love going out and this client’s had me before.

So once I’m there Sunday, I can’t be anywhere else. And I would say 90 percent of what we do is, is dry hire. And 10%, we do have an array of DJs that work for us in house. We may have a wedding that, you know, wants a staff member there to hand out the head, maybe not a DJ, but just the staff member to hand out and collecting the headphones, help any of their guests.

So we do. All of that, but I’d say 90 percent fits into that model and everything that we create or innovate in terms of products has to fit into that model of your nan can set it up. It’s got to be that simple that it’s plug in and play. And that’s why the karaoke. Going back to that took us 18 months to create and we went through so many samples off the money I don’t say wasted because it was R& D to find the perfect one But we spent a lot of money on samples and now we’ve created this one that literally you turn it on you connect it to your Wi Fi everyone knows how to do that pretty much but we give simple instructions and that’s it You connect it to Wi Fi and you’ve got like 70 to 100, 000 songs, hit play, lyrics come up on the screen, like so simple, out of a box, set it up in 30 seconds, and that’s the model that we have, which has allowed us to scale to where we are today, and that was always the important thing, that scale, a business that works with a team without a You know, if we had to staff all of them, I’d need 150 staff every weekend.

And that just, oh, I think I’d jump off a cliff at that point. No, team are great, but that’s a lot of staff to be, you know, managing, driving across the country. We can ship anywhere. across the UK on a next day service with our courier. We ship it on a Thursday. You get it on a Friday and then on Monday it gets collected again.

So you’ve got it all weekend to enjoy. And our team now are like, what about this? What about this? And a lot of the ideas don’t fit into the model. Of in a box and like something we explored years ago was like, can we do bouncy castles in a box, you know, like, cause people have bounced castles at home, but it’s really heavy.

They got to set them up, there’s insurance, but then there’s some other inflatables that we do now do in a box because it fits into the model. And that’s just how we operate our businesses, making sure that it fits into that model of what we love and know how to do perfectly.

Becca: Yeah. And it’s so simple and that’s what consumers are looking for.

I talk about it to my clients all the time. We overcomplicate things. We make things really difficult for people, but actually when it’s just one simple price, one simple system, and it’s easy for them to do, they’re much more likely to purchase and go ahead and give great feedback as well. Now we’ve talked a lot about your successes, but you know, All entrepreneurs, all of us have struggles along the way as well.

So I would love to just dive into that. As you look back over your career so far, have there been any points that have been really difficult? Have there been any things that are, have been a real struggle, but that you’ve learned from?

Toby: No, I think every listener will relate to, I would say the biggest challenge of ours, which was COVID.

And I think everyone can relate to it. And I think the events industry as a whole Got left behind by the government. We didn’t get we didn’t come under hospitality and leisure and get the VAT reduction We didn’t get some of the other help because again, we’re not hospitality and leisure in my opinion I think we are hospitality and leisure We’re providing to hospitality and leisure venues But we really got left behind and that was a big learning curve of that was really tough Mentally, like I have a team I have you know livelihoods that I’m sort of responsible for and on a mental health basis, that was a really, really trickle, tricky time for me.

I mean, like if it happened again now, it’s like, it was the unknown at the time and you didn’t know when it was going to end. You didn’t know how to overcome it. And you just had to pivot and do what you do, but that was so hard, like literally the week before I knew it was coming because you’re looking at what’s happening around the world and every single call, hundreds of calls a day, cancellation, cancellation, postponement, postponement, and that was really hard as a business owner who was like, built up something over at the time, seven years for it, just to like a click of a hand, just be gone overnight.

And I talked about at the beginning of the podcast, that snowball effect, especially with DJ work. And at that point, like I was still DJing probably two, three times a month since COVID. I now actually only do one or two a month. And I’m happy with that because it gives, I think it gave everyone a perspective on life.

What’s important. I have a child now. I don’t want to be out every weekend. But that really put into like perspective of the snowball effect that it had been snowballing and snowballing for seven years. And then everyone wanted to do a wedding on zoom or something, which I wasn’t really keen on because I’m all about in person, none of our team work from home.

We’re, we’re a very in person company. And I think that snowball effect completely just like stopped in COVID. And now you’ve a lot of these, especially other DJs and bands have had to start again where. They do a job, four people see them, those four people book them and then the snowball effect starts.

So I think that, you know, is really the biggest challenge I’ve had to deal with. And I think the second challenge, which again, I’m sure lots of business owners that listen to this, is, is staff and your team, where You know, whether they think, Oh, I can go and do this on my own and take a client, which are what, which will always happen in our industry, like especially DJs and I’ll, I’ll do a few jobs for you.

And then they’ll just go out and do their own. But I think staff is one of the biggest challenges that I’m continuously learning from that just when you think you’ve got it perfect with the perfect team, one person wants to go traveling, like your top person, or it’s a real challenge. And recruitment in the last two years, or at least since COVID where everyone wants hybrid, it’s really difficult to get great people.

Takes a really long time. And one of my terminology is like higher, slow, fire, fast. Like if you can’t change the people change the people if they’re no good, we try and get rid of them. But now we hire so slowly to make sure they’re the right person. And again, once you think you’ve got it perfect, something happens or someone wants to another challenge.

So we’re trying to challenge our team as well. Nobody wants to do the same year in school like you do year eight. Oh, okay. You’re going to do year eight again and again and again. People want a challenge. Yeah. So for my team, I try and give them a challenge in that way, that not every year is the same, whether it’s new responsibilities, because people like to be challenged.

But staff, that is the hardest thing, like now we’re, we’ve grown beyond. I think once you get past 10 staff, like everyone’s loving life, you go out for dinner, everybody’s friends, you split the bill evenly. Once you get to 15 staff, there’s like these little clicks in the office or you go out for dinner and one person goes, well, I didn’t have a starter or I didn’t have to, and it changes and that I know they’re silly things, but it does change the culture.

So my job. and I’m failing in my job if I don’t do it is to keep the culture and to keep everyone as one. It’s a challenge, but I think we do it really well.

Becca: Yeah, it’s so true. So when you talk about hiring slow, what does that look like for you? What sort of things are you looking for? Because I know there are listeners who own venues or work at venues who typically do have this problem with employment and retention and finding the right people.

So what are the things you’re looking for in that process?

Toby: It’s, when I say slow, we really go slow on senior management. So if they’re a warehouse manager, a social media manager, anyone sort of at a senior level, we tend to do a four step interview process. That’s what I like to do. And that’s, we’ll interview them first with one of our team, whether that’s my assistant or, I mean, we’re not no HR department or anything, but we’ll get someone to interview them.

In the second interview, someone else will interview them. But the first person will sit in because the first person might go, Oh, they were brilliant. And then when the second person interviews them and they’re sort of, Oh, you know, I asked that question a little bit different actually, but they’ve answered it a completely different way.

Where I thought they were really good. So I think that’s really interesting. The third interview, I will meet with them generally. And on the fourth interview, I will ask them to do a presentation, which some people don’t like. And I think doing this four step interview, it’s a deselection process rather than going.

That’s the one I want. Let’s get them back in. I want them to deselect us of like, okay, maybe that’s not for me sharing that because I’ll share the vision of the company on that fourth one. I will get them to present like a social media marketing. This is our vision. This is what we want to do. And then they will present to me what their battle plan is to get there.

So that’s what I would do for. Senior management, but it’s hard and it’s a skill that takes years to master. But I think if you start with that four step basic process, it’s really helpful. The other stuff, look, we use some of the online CV library indeed, but I feel You know, it’s really, really difficult to find great people that want to be with you long term.

I always ask questions like, what’s your dream job? I want to be a chef. I’m like, well, why are you, why are you interviewing for this? I don’t understand. And you’d be surprised how many of them we get. But I think take your time and do at least, even on the, on the less senior roles, I say three interviews.

Get someone in your team to interview them. Get another person of your team to interview them with the first person sitting in, and then you interview them last. Because by that point you’ve got two people’s opinion. They’ve spoken about it. Are they right the right person for the role and they need to be long term employees and then I will interview them and make that final decision with my senior team of where they’re fitting into and I’ve sold this Story before I know we’re tight on time I categorize staff on a scale of one to ten and in that you’ve got one twos and threes Maybe even fours, one, two, three, fours, I call them.

And these are the people that are not very good at the job. You don’t really want them there. They don’t really want to be there. You’re having a conversation. They’ll be happier in a different row when they leave. You’ve got the eights, nines, and tens, which is what we aim to get. Higher, slow. You want eight, nines, and tens who love the business.

You love them. They’re hard workers. They’re, they’re superstars of your business. And then you’ve got like the middle ones that are okay. They’re not quite pulling their way. You know, you can see they’re not as good. And the problem is if you don’t get rid of those middle ones, the six, seven, the five, six, sevens, if you don’t get rid of them, the eights, nines, and tens will leave because they’re still there.

And I think that’s a really good way of putting it that your superstars will leave. If you don’t sort out the people that just, you know, don’t pull their weight. And it’s a really tricky balance. I feel I’m a recruiter as well as a director. I feel that’s my main role to recruit. amazing people for the business.

And it’s, it’s tough. It’s really, really tough.

Becca: Yeah. Well, a business lives or dies on the people that you have in the team. When you get to a certain point, I think that’s a really helpful analogy. And I can imagine right now, there’s probably some venue owners sitting at home, categorizing their staff members, format and thinking, how on earth am I going to get these people out of my business and start focusing on the eight nines and tens.

But I think you’ve, you’ve shared some really helpful advice. And the thing is, it sounds like a long process to hire someone, but I’m sure you know and I definitely know that when you hire the wrong person and you take the time to train them and then you’ve got to take the time to try and get them out the business, that takes a whole lot longer than doing the four step interview and making sure you get the right person.

Toby: It takes time. It really, and we’ve literally, we just this morning given an offer of employment for a new salesperson. And it doesn’t take that long. We’ve done that four step interview. They’ve been very, that, you know, they really want the job as well. But we’ve done it with about three candidates, but we’ve done that process within within two weeks from first interview to presentation to offering the job this morning.

So it’s not like it’s a three month process, but I think the struggle we have and I think so many owners will do it is Well, how am I going to get someone else? I’ve got to go through the training. And sometimes it’s like, Oh, it’s better off like the devil. I know than the devil. I don’t. And I’ve been guilty of this is like, I don’t want the headache.

Let’s just put up with it. Let’s get through the summer and then we’ll deal with it in September, but you’ve got to do it. And I’ve only just got good at this is that if you don’t, the others will leave before that. Cause I would have had enough. And that’s why I said hire so fire fast. Cause if they’re not right, yes, it’s annoying.

And I had this only a few months ago where like, you’re putting it off. Maybe they’ll change. We’ll have a few meetings, maybe they’ll get better, but. It doesn’t normally happen. If I’m honest with you, it just doesn’t happen.

Becca: No, it’s a tough old world out there. It’s been so interesting to talk to you, Toby.

Thank you so much for sharing. You’ve given us so many different insights. It’s been fascinating to hear more about your business. I always end the podcast with the same question, which I’m going to pose to you now, which is this. What’s one thing you personally wish you’d known sooner in your businesses?

Toby: Oh, I wish. I knew how tough it was in terms of the mental strain as a business owner, whether I would have had like a mentor or a coach, because it’s a very lonely place being a business owner. You’ve got responsibilities. You’re thinking on a Friday, am I going to be able to make payroll Monday? You know, a partner, a family member doesn’t understand it unless they are an entrepreneur or a business owner.

And I think I wish I knew that because I would have asked for more advice from other business owners. And I always say that if you are a business owner, it’s a lonely place. It’s tough. Speak to other business owners, not your accountant, not a family member who hasn’t got to speak to another. Business owner that’s been there, done it, got the metaphorical t shirt because they’ve been through the same struggle as you’re going through.

And I think that would really help you’re not on your own in that respect.

Becca: Totally, totally agree. Finding peers that you can talk to or who understand that. Things that your family or partner really don’t understand or want to talk to you about is so, so vital to your own mental health and the success of your business.

Toby, it’s been such a pleasure. If people want to find out more about you, about your businesses, about what you’re all about, where’s the best place for them to find you?

Toby: So if you want to see a little bit of behind the scenes, a day in the life of what we do behind our businesses, check out the eventrepreneur on YouTube or Toby Burns and if not check out the silent disco company.

co. uk. Bye. It’s got links to all of our other sister brands. So go there, check out our socials and if you need a silent disco, you know where to go.

Becca: Amazing. I will make sure I put all of the links in the show notes and I am going to go back to your website and look into that karaoke hire because I feel like there’s a party happening at my house soon, which involves a karaoke machine.

Although my neighbors might not like it, so maybe I’ll need to hire a hall. But yeah, I love the look of the karaoke machine. I can imagine that I’ll be singing some songs on that very soon. Toby, it’s been so lovely. Thank you for your time.

Toby: Thank you.

Becca: Wasn’t that a fascinating conversation? I always love diving into people’s history, finding out where they’ve come from and where they’ve got to and all of the steps it takes along the way.

If you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, yeah, it’s time for me to innovate and to do something different with my business, learn from what we’ve talked about today. Innovate, think outside of the box, and ultimately you’ve just got to take action and go and do it. I’ll see you next time.

Becca xo