David Louis of Hawaii’s Dynamic Sounds has some unique ways of getting referrals from other professionals and exposure to potential clients. We’re excited to present our conversation with him here, and share with you some of his ideas that have helped rev his DJ company up to a higher level.
Mobile Beat: David, tell us how you got in this business and give us a little history of your company.
David Louis: I got into the business back in 1985. I just I love music, and so right out of high school I just jumped into being a DJ. The hard part was we didn’t have Mobile Beat back then to really, or I didn’t know about it;anything like Mobile Beat to help teach you. So we kind of had to learn by watching other DJs and going out and just carrying equipment for other people just to learn. And so we started back in 1985, focused mainly on school dances and things like that until we got it under our belts and started moving with events. So we started in Northern California and then moved out to Hawaii about 11 years ago.
M B: Did you work for somebody else or did you start your own thing?
D L: I worked for myself, but I did go out and help other companies at first. So I never really worked or got paid from any other companies, but I just went out there. Started working with friends and family members that were having parties. I think my first event was for my sister’s softball team. It was a fundraiser for them, and I still have the flyer for that. It’s so funny. It says, “Live DJ. Hot music.”
M B: You were working a little bit of cassette, a little bit of turntable, a little bit of CD, right? What was your first deck like, compared to what you’re using now?
D L: Pretty much Radio Shack helped us out. I think that most DJs started off there back then, Radio Shack. Had my little mixer and I had one cassette deck and one turntable for that event and it was fun. I just remember that day getting my “Roof Is On Fire” record taken away from me. I played the clean version, but unfortunately, since it was my sister’s softball fundraiser, my dad was there and everybody sang the words; even though I didn’t play them and he walked up and asked for the record…
Now, it’s a little bit different. Now, we actually have four teams out here, and we have different types of systems…
Running Pioneer, quite a few Denon decks; and it’s just easier now having not to carry five to six crates of records to every event. And it’s easier to be able to find your music now, and I don’t know if I’d still be doing this if I still had to carry records and do all of that….We’re running Bose or we’re running the smaller EVs and things like that.
M B: Okay. And how about on the lighting side of things? Do you bring out much in the way of lighting or you’re pretty much a basic sound show?
D L: We do have lighting, but it’s just a basic, basic DJ lighting system for the dancing part of the weddings because most of our business is weddings now. And we do have uplighting as well. So it depends on what the client’s looking for.
M B: We’ve been told you have a unique touch with talking to event planners, those kinds of people. “Tell us a little bit without giving away all your secrets” about how you’ve been able to parlay that into business going both directions, you working for them and them working for you.
D L: Well, I believe that what we do is different than what they do. When we ask couples what they want their day to be like, if they say fun, the coordinators over here realize that they can?t help their client make their day fun, but they know that we can. And just by joining something like NACE, the National Association of Catering Executives, you can get in there and just build relationships with them; find out how they sell their business; find out what they love to do and what their strong points are…
…So it’s really it’s building the relationships and the friendships, not sitting
there trying to hand out business cards saying, call me, if you need help.
It?s inviting them over for dinner and seeing how they’re doing. Really I think it’s about listening. I think it?s about listening to what their struggles are. You always say, “Hey, how’s business?” “Oh, business is great. We’re busy right now,” or, “You know what, we’re just slow right now.” “Well, what can I do to help you?”
…I think that if you can get into that mind focus of helping people, it will all come back to you, and coordinators see that as well. And if you can get in there and help coordinators with their business, they’re just like DJs. Most of us DJs, we didn’t get into it for the business side; right? We got into it because we like to rock the parties and have fun and be part of people’s memories. But they got into it for the same type of thing, to create something and help people create that peace of mind for their day.
…We helped one coordinator who
was struggling with her business. We connected her with Send Out Cards actually, and we helped her do a couple
of different things to get on referral lists around the different hotels here. And it really turned her business back around. So once you see something like that and you’re able to help them, then they love you.
M B: Yes. Got you.
D L: And once it’s like that, you’re helping them out, and you’re sincerely
helping them out. I didn’t help her out thinking, “Oh, I’m going to get a ton of business from her now.” I helped her out because I really liked working with her, when we did work together. So if I could help her, I’ll be doing more events with people that I like.
M B: Most of your business is coming off referrals, off of web? How do people track down your company?
D L: Well, most of it is we are on the preferred vendor’s list of most of the hotels and different vendors out here. So many DJs think, oh, if I can get on that preferred vendors list at that hotel, that’s going to help me, or that location, that’s going to really help me. But don’t forget all the other vendors. If you can get on the photographer’s list and you can get on videographers and florists and the officiate’s list and things like that, it’s just as big as the hotel. Sure, the hotel or the church might get the first call, but as they go through everybody else and they just keep hearing your name, it almost makes that sale so much easier for you.
M B: And in the end they’ve already heard about you from five different locations.
D L: …One of the cool things we do is the grooms-only workshop…I’m just helping them with grooms? ideas and showing them how to stay out of trouble on their day or how to prepare things or how to just wow their guests by the little things, and they get excited. And when they get excited, it really helps when they sit down. I’ve had a bride before call me and tell me, “You know what, when I hired you, you were a little bit out of our budget. In fact, you were a lot higher than we expected and “but when we went to cut back things,” he said, you know, “I just need to have Dave there at my wedding.” I also do a timeline workshop, which gets me in front of a lot of couples now. I’m just showing them the differences and the timelines, what we have here in Hawaii, what we have in California, what they see on the East coast, all the differences, and I share with them how I believe that your timeline shouldn’t be set up because of where you’re from. I think it should be set up because of the words that you use to describe your day; right?
I also teach them how to do that. I show them how to move things around because I believe that if it works one way in Hawaii and it’s totally different in the other two locations, why couldn’t you move things around to match what you want your day to be like? And so that’s what I teach in the timeline class, and with that I also take a moment and I share “wow” moments on how to wow their guests not through design but through entertainment, how to create moments that their guests will never stop talking about. And when I can get in front of that many people, I book quite a few weddings. There was this one sales book I read years ago that said the more you can get in front of your client, the easier it’s going to be to make that sale. The more they see you, the easier it’s going to be. And so if I’m in front of them at the expo and I’m in front of them at the groom’s workshop and the timeline workshop and maybe another workshop somewhere else, I’ve already spoken to them four times and they feel comfortable with me. So makes it easier.
M B: So where do you see yourself going with your business? Where do you
see yourself in five, 10 years with your company?
D L: Well, eight or 10 years ago I actually quit. I actually quit to slow down a little bit because we were doing 150 to 200 school dances and other types of events in California, and I also managed a restaurant and there was all these other
things going on. So I stopped. When I came out here, 9/11 hit, and when that hit, my job fell through. And so I just went to the wedding expo to see what the market looked like, and within the first year we were full-time. And so it was just a different thing.
There’s so many different ways you can take things. I mean, with the economy and things like that, I’ll tell you we were in the right position because we are working with the locals here [on Oahu]. On Maui, the other island, they’re mainly destination, and when the economy got hit, they lost 50 percent of their business….So it’s like I guess I’m watching to find out where we’re going with things. I think that I’m happy right now having the four crews in our company. I don’t think that I would grow that much more. I think we’re just going to stay on top of just being able to create some unique and really fun events for our couples. And we don’t only do weddings. We do quite a few project grad nights too to keep the kids safe when they graduate…we try to do any type of event that is memorable. So we don’t do a lot of regular school dances, but we’ll focus on the proms.
M B: Is there anything else you want to make sure people know about you or ways to check you out?
D L: Well, we have made DVDs for the groom’s workshop, as well as the timeline workshop. And there are probably
over 75 DJs around the country right now that are doing the groom’s workshop…So if people are looking to stand out in their area by doing a groom’s workshop or focusing on the grooms when everything is about the bride, it really helps you stand out…
The website is groomsworkshop.com, and they can get the discs on there, if they’d like.
My company site is DynamicSoundsHawaii.com. MB
Filed Under: Events, Exclusive Online News and Content, Issue #140
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