Frustrations Of Caring

I have an incredible job. My job is to help people have one of the greatest days of their lives. While I don’t take myself very seriously, I do take my job seriously and it seems that almost every week, I find myself in yet another situation where I’m frustrated at how easy it would be for someone to hit a home run, but they just stand there with the bat on their shoulder.


Last night’s frustration came from the photo booth operator at the wedding where I provided the entertainment. Full disclosure – I own two Photo Booths and we’ve put a lot of time and attention into figuring out how to make the Photo Booth experience awesome. The reason I added a Photo Booth to our company in the first place was because I used to have experiences like last night a lot. I figured the only way to eliminate those bad experiences was to do it myself, and I was right.


I knew there would be a photo booth at last night’s wedding. What I didn’t know until minutes before the wedding just blew me away. I went to the booth operator and introduced myself. I told her that I would be happy to announce when the photo booth was open and that there would be some times, like during the introductions, toasts and first dance, when it should not be running, out of respect for those moments.


The operator said, “We don’t open the booth until 7:00.” The wedding was at 5:00, at the same location. Huh? It’s set up in the back yard, where the reception will take place, but not open during that whole hour when we were waiting for the bride and groom to join us after photos? She said, “Oh, sometimes if someone REALLY wants a photo, I’ll let them, but they only booked us starting at 7:00.”


So now I know what’s up. This was one of those stupid, greedy vendors with a loss leader price, a “3 hour special” with the hopes of upgrading, but this client didn’t upgrade.


But wait – it gets worse. After waiting through that time with the photo booth just sitting there, idle, while the guests sit at their tables just a few feet away, she walked over to me just as I was getting ready to begin the introductions, about 6:45, and said, “I’m bored. Go ahead and make an announcement that they can come to the photo booth.”   She wasn’t kidding.


But wait – it gets worse. Throughout the toasts, the booth was open. I’ll bet my last dollar that they didn’t take 100 photos last night (we typically take 400-500) but during the toasts, they let a small, but loud group use the booth. And during the intros, same thing, but it wasn’t so noticeable, because for most of it, we were louder. Although, during the dedication of the celebration to those who had passed away, we could clearly hear the laughter and talking from the booth, mostly from the attendant herself.


“I’m bored.’ That was her motivation. Not, “Gee, the guests are all sitting here for an hour, a perfect time for them to be entertained with my service.” Nope, nothing, until she was bored.


But wait – it gets worse. She brought along her teenage son to help load in and out, wearing sagging pants (you know the shorts that end up halfway between the knee and ankles) , a t-shirt, baseball cap turned backwards, and ear buds in his ears. He stayed throughout the wedding. I know he stayed, because during the toasts, he was playing basketball on the sports court in the backyard and it was easy to hear the dribbling of the ball throughout the toasts. He wasn’t alone, but that only made it worse.


This vendor could have provided a great service, but she simply made no effort. The back of the booth was left open all night, which was an eyesore. She kept the booth closed when it should have been open, kept it open when it should have been closed, and of course, shut it down before the end of the celebration, because her time was up.


She’s guilty of working for her clients, instead of with them. I get it – the client didn’t pay for more time, but sometimes, as a service provider for weddings, you have to tell the client what they need to hear, instead of just taking their $350 and running. 3 hours won’t work at a 6 hour wedding reception. Your motivation can’t be, “I’m bored.” It must be, “What can I do to make this event the best it can be?”


Zig Ziglar has a famous line: “You can get everything you want out of life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”   If her motivation was to serve, her service, and the client’s experience could have been much better and she would find a higher demand for her service. But her motivation was simply to find a way to make a couple of hundred bucks. Bringing along a teenage boy to a wedding dressed like that was disrespectful. Playing basketball during the toasts was disrespectful. Running the booth during toasts and dedications was disrespectful. Booking an event knowing they haven’t gotten what they need for the event is selfish and disrespectful.


Maybe I’m spoiled. I see what a wedding CAN be every week, but then I see things like this and I want to scream.   We have a photo booth at most of our weddings. It took us a few weeks to figure out how to make it great, but we made those adjustments pretty quickly and without listing them all, none of those ideas were incorporated into last night’s photo booth. It was the least they could do for the money, but of course, they don’t sell it that way and the client gets screwed.


Mostly, I like how much I care, but sometimes, caring this much can be very frustrating.

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