HOW TO GET THE MOST FROM YOUR EVENT STAFF
YOU CAN PLAN THE MOST AMAZING AFFAIR YOU CAN IMAGINE, BUT WITHOUT A GREAT CREW OF PEOPLE TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO SUCCEED. YOU NEED SKILLED PEOPLE WHO GIVE AMAZING SERVICE SO THAT YOUR ATTENDEES FEEL VALUED AND A SUPPORT TEAM THAT CAN HELP YOUR EVENT GO OFF WITHOUT A HITCH. SOMETIMES, STAFFING IS GIVEN LOWER PRIORITY IN THE PLAN AND IN THE BUDGET BUT WE TRUST YOU WON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE! BELOW, WE OFFER OUR TIPS AND TRICKS FOR GETTING THE BEST FROM YOUR EVENT STAFF BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER YOUR EVENT SO THAT THEY GIVE THEIR BEST AND YOU AND YOUR GUESTS GET AWESOME SERVICE.
BEFORE YOUR EVENT
You're juggling many schedules when you plan a big event. Don't forget that great staffers will be in high demand. Make sure you secure their services early on so that there will be no glitches in getting the best people. If you drag your feet or are non-committal, they will likely bow out and you'll be stuck with sub-par service.
Everyone knows the old adage: you get what you pay for. Staffing an event is no exception. The best catering crews, the best security, the best service staff always come at a premium. Your guests may not remember specific service people, but if the service is flawless, they will remember that it was spectacular. Don't skimp on this one.
GET THE RATIOS RIGHT
Knowing how many people will attend your event, or at least how many were invited, will help you determine early how many staff members you will need for each area. You want the ratio of staff to guests to be correct and that can be a hard balance to strike. A general rule of thumb is no less than one staff person per 25 attendees, but you can play with those amounts depending on your needs. For instance, a plated dinner at your event would require at least a 10 to 1 ratio for to account for the extra service, so be sure you take extra demands into account when you are running your numbers.
PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Don't forget that that the umbrella of "event staff" is wider than just waitstaff passing hors d'oeuvres. You need to account for event security, coat check and valuables, valet parking attendants, and any other peripheral staff that might be required. Additionally, many vendors will come with their own assistants, so be sure that you're also aware of the secondary staff and how they will integrate with the people you've hired. You may also want to consider hiring at least one back-up staff person to handle any emergencies or unexpected needs so that all of your bases are covered.
Maybe this goes without saying, but make sure you hire your crew based on skills and experience and not just on appearances. We know, some events require "eye candy" because that is the culture of the event. However, you want a good, grounded staff that offers the best of themselves and this often has little to do with looks. Of course it's important to make sure that everyone is well-groomed and looking impeccable, but it's secondary to the work they will do for you, so make sure you prioritize accordingly. Checking references is essential, as well. To streamline this part of the process, you can also use a staffing agency--they have already vetted each candidate and are often able to give you a good group of people who may already work well together.
DURING YOUR EVENT
SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
The best thing you can do on the day of your event is to be sure that each person on your staff knows exactly what to do. Get them to tell you what they are best at and use each person in their preferred station. Being honest with them about what you need from them is essential--the most quality work will get done if everyone knows exactly what they should be doing during the course of the event.
MAKE SURE IT ALL GELS
Outfits, hairstyles, makeup, colors--everything should serve the theme or the brand you are trying to reinforce (without going overboard, of course). So be sure that each person on your staff understands and is outfitted in accordance with your vision. When these details all come together, the service is high quality but doesn't become a distraction--and that's just what you want service to be.
GIVE THEM OWNERSHIP
Choose people who you think will work well together and create small teams and put them in charge of particular zones. Designate a team leader who can guide them in your absence and let them work together to give the most they can to their area of responsibility. This way, they feel a sense of control over their own duties and will invest themselves in making it a success. No one likes to be micromanaged and this kind of tactic makes them a partner in achieving the goals that have been set.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR PEOPLE
Since, essentially, this is your own tiny army for your event, be sure you treat them well. No one likes to feel like they are a slave to a lazy pasha, watching all of the fancy folks around them eat amazing food while they toil endlessly. Make sure you feed your crew beforehand and make sure they are hydrated and ready to work hard. One big tip from us to you: feed your staff the food you are serving, even if it costs you a little extra. If guests ask questions about what they are eating, it's most helpful if your staff can answer honestly (oh, that prime rib? I don't know if it's good or not, we got macaroni and cheese). It's demoralizing for them not to have the same meal and doesn't allow them to give their best. And, at the end of the night, reserve a little champagne for a thank you toast. It will be more appreciated than you might imagine.
SCHEDULE BREAKS & ROTATIONS
Hand in hand with our advice above, be sure you have enough crew and a thoughtful schedule so that you can allow the members of your teams to take breaks. Not only are there labor laws in place to protect your event staff, but it's just the right thing to do. Everyone needs to stop and rest and catch their breath once in a while. Have your team leaders put their teams on a rotation schedule so that everyone can get a brief rest, a bit of fresh air, and use the restroom when needed. People are not robots, so to get the best work, make sure you treat them with the respect they deserve.
AFTER YOUR EVENT
GIVE A PERK TO AN MVP
Feeling valued goes a long way when you're talking about service. If someone out-performed your already high expectations, be sure to either publicly or privately give them a special shout-out. Maybe give them one of the extra swag bags or an especially beefy tip, but either way, be sure you tell them exactly what you liked about their special efforts. A specific thank you often means even more than the material bonus.
GET THEIR FEEDBACK
Think of this crew as an idea bank. Experienced service people are a wealth of ideas, helpful tips and great feedback. Have a quick post-event sit down with your staff and make sure you gather their wisdom from the event. Even if everything was seamless, it's helpful to take notes on what really worked well to repeat your success. If there were glitches, crowd-sourcing solutions can improve your process for future events.
PAY ON TIME
Most service workers make their money on a day-to-day basis, so paying them on time is essential for their livelihoods. Have a system in place and be sure that all the event staff know how and when they will be paid (cash? check? PayPal?) and how you will handle any gratuities, bonuses, or any other extras. If you had an errant crew member who didn't perform, be sure you handle that privately with them and work out what to do if you felt they didn't deserve what you'd agreed to pay. Paying on time for a job well done is the best way to ensure you'll get eager help the next time you need to hire.
SHOW YOUR GRATITUDE
Especially in the service industry, gratuities are the best way to show your thanks. Even though you've probably already agreed to a generous amount of base pay, gratuities are often expected, as well. Factoring that into your initial budget is important and as we mentioned above, reserve a little extra for someone who goes above and beyond.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Now that your event is over, keep the contact information of your favorite crew members in your database. Because you treated them so well, they will be eager to help you the next time you need it and you will have a group of people whose work you've already vetted. Likewise, if you worked with a staffing agency, work with them to maintain a solid relationship for future event success.
THE NEXT TIME YOU HAVE AN EVENT AND HAVE TO HIRE A STAFF TO HELP YOU, YOU'LL HAVE ALL OF OUR BEST PRACTICES LAID OUT HERE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. THEY WILL DO GREAT WORK AND YOU WILL GET AWESOME RESULTS. NEED EXTRA HELP? GET IN TOUCH WITH US ANYTIME.