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Heather Rouffe

How Special Event Pros Can Overcome Day-of Obstacles

Don't let day-of challenges sink your special event; Heather Rouffe of Atlas Event Rental has the strategies to save you.

When you’re planning an event, there’s only so much you can anticipate in advance. Sometimes, day-of challenges can show up, and it’s important for event professionals to be prepared to combat these unpredictable obstacles to preserve a client’s celebration.

From incorrect weather forecasts and forgotten decor pieces to last-minute changes to the guest count, there are always potential logistical issues to appear on event day. We have come to learn to expect those obstacles, which has helped us to remain calm and patient in handling any issues that arise. While you might not be able to foresee the specifics of any given situation, you can still mentally prepare your team members to think on their feet and act with a solution-driven mind-set.

One key aspect of preparation is a strong team effort. This isn’t just internal; there should be a solid group dynamic between all of the vendors involved in the event’s production. Together, everyone should collaborate to be as proactive as possible to resolve any and all issues that arise.

It is important to have a list of who is the main contact on the day-of for each vendor involved, as well as the best way to reach each of them. This will ensure that when something comes up, you know exactly how to get to the specific person who can collaborate with you to resolve the issue. At the end of the day, we all have one goal as event professionals: to provide our clients with the best service possible.

When it comes to our clients, we operate under two core values: honesty and transparency. If there is an issue that might affect an event, the client should always be made aware of it.

Lying or omitting something essential can come back to bite you in the end--you never want to conduct business that way. Be sure to assess the situation at hand and notify your clients accordingly. Assure them that you will take every effort necessary to overcome the issue, then handle it in the best way possible.

Part of being quick to find a solution comes from experience. You learn from each and every event, so it’s important to draw on those lessons to figure out how to deal with the latest obstacles at hand. This also can help you implement proactive strategies to prevent such issues from happening again in the future.

For example, we’ve learned from past events that we must require all clients to provide us with a floor plan for their events. A proper layout helps alleviate day-of obstacles by providing us with accurate detailing of the space. We also make sure to do on-site visits to get a better understanding of the logistics for delivery and setup, as well as a final review of the client’s order to avoid the need to order additional products on event day.

We also double-check with the venue on when we are able to deliver and pick up the items, since the event might have an event right before or after and need to have the space prepped for someone else. It’s always helpful to contact other vendors involved, such as the planner, florist and caterer, who will be working closely with us on the day-of for setup and breakdown.

Another way to avoid obstacles on the day of is to be sure you speak with your clients and other vendor team members to lay out all expectations upfront. For instance, we have frequently run into the issue where we don’t expect to do the setup of all of the client's items. Of course, we’ll stay and make the setup comes together as needed, but we also have to consider how that will affect the rest of our deliveries for that day.

If you want to stay in front of frequent day-of issues, consider having a post-event meeting at the beginning of each week. You can discuss and celebrate what went right, as well as find common themes in the cases when something goes wrong. This will allow everyone on the team to learn from the problem, and it will ultimately help you to implement processes and procedures to stay ahead of anything that seems to be a recurring issue.

Each of these steps has been implemented based upon lessons we have learned from prior event experiences and sticky situations. All of our prior event experiences have allowed us to grow as a company and to provide higher quality service for our clients.

Don’t get caught up panicking over obstacles; instead, stay calm and use these challenges to improve your business.

Heather Rouffe is the director of sales and partner of Boynton Beach, Fla.-based Atlas Event Rental, a full-service event rental industry serving the southern Florida market for more than 30 years. Atlas is included on the latest Special Events “30 Top Rental Companies” list.


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