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Bonus Episode with Glenn Roush - - Wedding Business Solutions Podcast with Alan Berg CSPGlenn Roush – Scaling a luxury business

When people think of scaling a wedding or event business, high volume and lower prices often comes to mind. Glenn Roush has scaled his entertainment company, LeForce Event Group, with higher prices, higher quality and targeting luxury weddings and events in and around Dallas, TX. Our conversation ranges from how he got started, with just him as a DJ, to scaling up to over 30 DJs and keeping both the quality and prices up at a high level.

Listen to this new episode and get some ideas on how you can scale your wedding/event business, without sacrificing quality or profits.

About Glenn Roush

Glenn Roush is the founder of LeForce Event Group, a production and entertainment company located in Dallas, Texas.  Glenn has had a passion for entertaining almost his entire career. He started entertaining crowds as a high school mascot – that passion went on to college at Baylor University, where he earned a double major in Business and Religion, and then on to the professional level with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has a knack for crunching numbers, even worked in the accounting world for a hot minute, this love for numbers and passion for entertaining created wonderful alchemy for an entertainment business. Glenn loves to share his knowledge of scaling and finding the right fit for sustainable growth.  Glenn’s passions include wake surfing, traveling with his family, playing video games with his 2 sons, and educating people on the perils of gingerness.

Contact:

IG: @glennroush

Website: www.LeForceDFW.com

Email: [email protected]

If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] or visit my website www.AlanBerg.com

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Below is a full transcript. If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] or contact me via textuse the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362

Please be sure to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review (thanks, it really does make a difference). If you want to get notifications of new episodes and upcoming workshops and webinars, you can sign up at www.ConnectWithAlanBerg.com


– As part of my scaling series, I’m inviting good friends on to talk about how they’ve scaled their businesses up or down. And today I invited a good friend of mine, Glenn Roush from Texas, and Glenn and I are going to talk about how he has scaled his business up. Welcome to the Wedding Business Solutions Podcast. Glenn Roush, how are you doing today?

– Man, I’m doing great, Alan. Thanks for having me today.

– Well, thank you for joining me here. And as I kind of explained to you offline, I’m doing this series for my podcast on scaling, because there’s a lot of people in the wedding and event industry that are either thinking about scaling their business up, and some people actually about thinking about scaling their business down.

– Yep.

– Which you might do at some point, right? You might get to that crest at some point. And I wanted to invite you on because you have scaled your business up, and you’re so well-respected in your area. And I wanted to give some tips for people, and the things you’ve learned along the way, like, if I only knew then. Oh man.

– So give us a little quick background, name of your company, when you started, and where you are now.

– Okay, so my company is LeForce Event Group. We have LeForce Productions, LeForce Entertainment, LeForce Media and Streaming. We have a few different subs under the big umbrella, but LeForce Event Group really kind of encapsulates everything. LeForce is my wife’s maiden name, that’s where it comes from. I started doing weddings in 2006. I was a DJ in college just to make money to pay bills. And then my friends started getting married, and that is how I ended up in the wedding industry, found out I loved it, and so started. So my background is in finance and accounting, I made a master’s in taxation. I was doing tax work, and hated my life doing that, I just was not created to sit in a cubicle. At the time, I didn’t know I was ADHD. So, so many things make sense now, but I was miserable sitting in a cube, because I just knew that I was not made to sit there in a little box for 12 hours day doing tax returns. My DJ business started taking off, and I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife, and she spent about the better process of a year telling me that I should quit my job.

– And finally, like a smart man I listened to her, and I quit and started LeForce entertainment. And one of the reasons I had so rigid, I was Glenn Roush entertainment, this is just a little nugget. I pivoted to LeForce Entertainment because I had an experience at one of my weddings where I was working with a high-end wedding photographer. It was actually as I was starting to book some of my first high-end weddings in Dallas, I saw that on my planning forums that this was the photographer. I called her to just introduce myself, tell her I was excited to work with her, go over some of the details that I had. And her assistant called me back and informed me that she would not actually be the one shooting the wedding, it would be one of her associates that would be shooting the wedding, who did a fantastic job, and I’ve ended up being friends with. But in that moment, I remembered that tiny little bit of disappointment on, oh, I don’t get, I’m going to change the name. I don’t get Jennifer, I get Jennifer second. And so

– Yeah.

– when I knew that I was going to branch out and scale up, I knew that I didn’t want my team to go out and have to deal with that. Because I was originally Glenn Roush Entertainment, and I just didn’t want everybody to show up, and constantly the catering manager, whoever, “oh, you’re Glenn?” No, I’m Creighton, I work for Glenn.

– “You Glenn?” No, I’m Nate, I work for Glenn. And I just didn’t want that to be how the conversation went. And it was a wonderful decision because what I wasn’t smart enough to know at the time, that I’d learned now, is it is a fantastic benefit because I’m not the Marquee. And so anyone that wants to join our team gets to join that with the freedom to be as great and as fantastic, and as huge of an entertainer as they want to be. And not necessarily have to be feeling like they’re flying under my flag, but under our flag.

– And so how many different entertainers do you have now?

– 29 Entertainers. I was about to say 30, but one on one has decided that he’s wanting to hang up his turntables for awhile. So, just right at 30 DJs.

– Okay. So Glenn Roush Entertainment started when?

– 2006. And so then in 2010, LeForce entertainment started, and that was just a simple going around and recruiting DJs. I don’t know how many DJs I’ve met with and talked to from around Dallas, and everybody at the time thought I was crazy, and some people still do and it’s fine. It was wacky, I was a young man with a big dream, and I’m out here talking craziness of, you know, imagine if there was a multi op that was targeted towards the high end client that wanted to find a really fantastic DJ, And they’re just looking at me like. Because all the multi ops they had experience with were, multi ops for anybody listening, if you’re not familiar is, multi operational, multi-systems, multi DJs. And all of their experience were with companies that just, if they were a multi op, they hired anybody off the street, they’d give them maybe 15 minutes to an hour of training and then put them on the event. And there was a lot of on the job training that they had to deal with, and work their way through. So everyone was just telling me, “oh, high-end multi op, never will work.”

– Right. So it’s people’s perception of what that means, and you change it. So I love your story, because your story is so common. There were photographers listening that started the same way, right? I was taking pictures in college, and my friends started getting married, right? But my son’s girlfriend, she’s a photographer in Pennsylvania, she’s got 21 first cousins, I think it is.

– Wow.

– So that’s how she got pulled in is, you know, hey Amelia, when you’re coming to the wedding, could you bring your camera? You know, that type of thing. The idea of going to the different name is really important. I said to you offline, when I started my business 10 years ago when I left The Knot, I made alanberg.com as the website. But that was a conscious decision, because I was,

– Yeah.

– I thought at the time, should I have a name? And my company does have a name, if you’re watching the video right over my shoulder, you see Wedding Business Solutions, it’s also the name of the podcast. Wedding Business Solutions, LLC, that is my business name. But I chose to go out as alanberg.com, because my brand was Alan Berg. My brand at The Knot was Alan Berg, that’s how you met new me, you know, originally it was from The Knot.

– Yeah.

– And I’ve made the decision not to do what you did, because I didn’t plan on having any other speakers, any other trainers. So anybody who’s listening, if you’re thinking about growing your business with Glenn’s point thereof, are you going to disappoint people if they don’t get the name on the door? Right? That’s an important part there. So you’re 29, 30 entertainers now, 2010 LeForce Entertainment. How many did you have in those first few years?

– So I did a dinner. I did a dinner for the people that were willing to come on board, and myself included, there were 10 of us. So I probably talked to 30 or 40 DJs, and I had 10 that were like, “yes, I want to do this.” Because, you know, my pitch, it was a long thing, but just the gist, the elevator speech of my pitch was, I went after DJs that were good, that I knew were good entertainers from their reputation, from working with them, from seeing them. I went after DJ’s that were good entertainers that didn’t necessarily want to mess with the business side, or were, and this was the hard part, and I probably stepped on some toes with people, but the people that I knew weren’t very strong at the business side, and I kind of would just tell them like, I know that the business side is a struggle for you. You know, I have my business background, and I want to take this and make this an actual real company, and make it so that people that are entertainers can actually focus on doing the part that makes them money. And so some people got it, and some people didn’t, because in the event industry, for those of you that are considering scaling, you have to remember that some people want to be, some people want to be entrepreneurs, some people want to be self-employed, they want to be their own boss. And we don’t have time to get into all that, but you go look up, because there’s a difference between being self-employed and being an entrepreneur, they’re different drives, different mindsets, and you need to understand both to scale because you’re going to encounter people that just want to have their own business. And then you’re also going to encounter people that are fully happy to not have to deal with taxes and payroll, and all the things that go with an accountant, and all the times you have to talk to a lawyer. And all the other fun things that come along with actual scaling up, and making something that can grow into something. Because the other piece of scaling is, and this is the hard part that people have to be prepared for with the event industry is, a lot of times there’s not buyers. A lot of businesses, you go start, you have some fantastic idea for a restaurant or a food chain, and you go create the box that can be built and ran in some other city, whether it’s, or another part of your own city. And a lot of people build companies like that, knowing that there are these restaurant groups that just come along and swoop up these concepts, these ideas, and do various things with them. That’s not necessarily the case in the event industry, you are building something that someone else may never buy. And that is a weird approach to the business, because you have to really be, you can’t think like some of your friends that may be trying to build something to sell, but at the same time you have to, because if you’re not, you may never find a buyer for it because some other photographer that you’re dealing with, if you’re a photographer, or in my case, a DJ, you know, for me they are not a lot of other DJ companies and DJ owners in town that would have the resources to come buy a company that has 30 other DJs.

– Right, right, right, right

– Or would want to borrow that kinda money. So.

– Well, so let me ask a question. How many of your

– Yeah.

– 30 entertainers, have what we would call a day job?

– That’s a great question. It is probably two thirds of them. It’s probably about 20 of them. There are about 10 of them that try to do this full-time. Because I’m very clear with them that, you know, the DJing is a great secondary job, it’s a challenging primary job. With a lot of things in the event industry, especially for people that are specific to the wedding side of things, it mostly only happens a couple of days of the week, and you end up with a bunch of days that they’re unused capacity. And so, yeah, it’s a challenging primary job, but I have DJs that do do it, and do pursue it. But yeah, most of my DJs have other jobs.

– Right. And there’s nothing wrong with that because it doesn’t interfere.

– Not at all.

– If you have Monday to Friday, and you’re working Saturday nights doing weddings, because we know that’s the popular day, nothing wrong with it. It’s the same with the speaking world. If all I did was speak, it would be a really hard road to get to the kind of income I want, which is another discussion, which is, everybody’s got different needs. You know, somebody might be happy doing it full-time, working whatever they’re working and they don’t want the other job. They like going, I don’t know, hiking or surfing or whatever, and go for it, you know? Go do it. That’s fine. And we should never say you’re right or you’re wrong because what’s right for them, is what’s right for them. What’s right for us, is what’s right for us. But I was curious about that. The idea of the business. This is how I started speaking. In the wedding industry when I was publishing wedding magazines, I had so many talented, really nice people that were my customers, but they just didn’t know how to run a business. They just didn’t know how to run a business. And I started speaking about business because I’m like, listen, if they go out of business, I lose a customer. So it was kind of selfish, you know? At that point. You and I have a little similar background, So my degree is in marketing and accounting, I’m the son of a CPA. I chose not to go into accounting. I didn’t get into it and then get out like you did. But I was in a job that I hated, which got me into the wedding and event industry. People that come into our industry with a business background, definitely approach it differently than people that got in, even in the way that you did, right? I was DJing in college, right?

– Yeah.

– If you didn’t go into business, how many DJs do you know that got into the business the exact same way, but they didn’t have the business background that you did? And then they’re floundering, right? They’re treading water going, I don’t understand why these other DJs are making money. I’m not making any money. I think what’s interesting about your multi op model is, a lot of people when they think of this multi op, they think of low price, high volume, you know, because that’s what they see a lot of them, like you said, they’re not training their people, they’re not doing investing in their people, which is what you described.

– Oh Absolutely.

– Nobody listening here. How long have your people been with you?

– Wow. I’ve got a lot of members on my team that are, I would say the bulk of my DJs have been with us for more than five years. Yeah, the bulk of my team has been with me for in that five to 10 year range. I have a very high retention ratio. I pay my team well. I mean, that is the secret sauce to that, is that I pay my team well. And more than anything, I’m very clear with them about how the compensation works, I have real conversations with them about the fact that like, you know, with the way that we do our compensation, the way that we do our split, I’m very clear with them like that. The money that is the company’s, doesn’t go into my pocket. I’m always very clear.

– Right.

– I want them to look at it as not like you make $500, and I turn around and stick $500 in my pocket, or however you want to look at it. That is absolutely not the case. I’m trying to operate on a very tiny margin at the end of the day, for net net profit. It’s just the nature of the beast. And so you have to pay your people well. I would caution anyone that is listening to this, thinking about scaling, and trying to figure out the masses side of it, that if you’re in a major Metro area and you’re like, oh, well there are 10 thousand weddings in my market every quarter, every year, whatever it is. And if I can price it this aggressively and capture 70% of that, first of all, you’re not going to.

– And second of all, you’re going to kill yourself. If you want to do anything that is like that, where you’re operating on a very small margin going after the budget side of things, go create, do something, and do something outside of the event industry. Let me save you a lot of heartache, because on the people element and just what you are going to have to deal with as the owner, as the leader, as the, whatever title you give yourself, you’re going to have to deal with a lot of people, and they’re going to be the hardest part of this whole thing. And if you put yourself in a position where you are constantly having to hire and train, and just develop strictly for replacement, because that is the thing is, if you’re not going to pay your team well, it is a replacement game. And I respect cash cows, but it is very hard in this industry to do that because of the nature of the business, and the specificity of what people have to know. And then the amount that people can learn over six months, because with events primarily happening on weekends, you know? How many events can they do in a weekend? Over six months, you’ve got 26 weekends. It’s not a lot of experience compared to, for any of you that have worked another job, in a month, you get 20 days of experience working a Monday to Friday job. You get 20 days of experience just in a month. Whereas in events that may take you six months to get to that same level of experience. And that staff doesn’t have the same retention, because of the gaps in between when they do it. So if you’re going to do it, don’t go after the budget, don’t mess with it, it will murder you. At least go after the luxury, go after the mid-market. Do something that actually is fruitful to you, and to your team.

– And you know, the transparency that you talked about. Transparency breeds trust. You have honest conversations with people, you show them where the money is going, and then there’s no animosity to, oh, you know, Glenn’s putting all this money in his pocket, and all that kind of stuff. No, they see where it is, they see where it’s going. Plus, paying your people well leads to the retention. The cost of replacing people. You described two costs there. One is the monetary cost. And the other is just the physical cost on you as a person, always having to think, oh my God, who’s going to leave next? And how do I train them? And how do I get those jobs? And all that kind of stuff.

– I don’t want that stress.

– Exactly.

– The flip side of it is, I get to throw my proverbial weight around in the sense of, and for me, I take a lotta pride. And while I don’t get to see other people’s numbers and what they’re taking home,

– Yeah.

– I take a lot of pride knowing that I’m pretty confident that three to five of the top 10 highest paid DJs in my market, are on my team. Possibly more.

– Right.

– But if somebody in my market wanted to challenge me that, or were willing to come in with tax returns and W-2s,

– I’m willing to take the bet, because I’m very confident that at least three to five of the top 10 entertainers, DJ wise, in my market are on my team, because I pay my people well.

– Right.

– And that’s a source of pride for me because I know

– Right.

– that no one in my market can legitimately talk noise about me or my team, because if they actually talk to my team, my team makes great money. They’re happy, they’re paying their bills. They’re sustaining their family, they’re doing all the things. And as I recruit, and as I get other people that want to talk to me joining my company, or there’s people that have wanted to relocate to Texas after everything that we’ve gone through. And it’s a great conversation to be able to talk through. Like, listen, here’s kind of where we are. I’ve got team members that their W-2s ended up being, you know, kind of in this range. I’ve got team members ended up being here. We an equal opportunity employer, not an equal outcome employer. Meaning that you got to put in the work for the outcome.

– Right. So let’s just. A couple of more scaling things

– Yeah.

– To wrap up here. As you scaled up, you went from you to 10 people, now up to 30 people. What is the marketing challenge you have for bringing in enough inquiries to fill the calendar for those 30 people?

– That’s a great question. The challenge for me now is, the filling that funnel to a level that that can sustain because I have to have a healthy respect for, if I don’t keep my team busy, they’re not going to make money. And then they’re going to turn on me, and I’m very aware of that. So it is really focusing on how do you build those relationships? How do you develop, how do you have the conversations with planners, catering managers, photographers, clients, all the people that are influential to the decision making process? And just understanding, you know, the little things, if there are nuances with, they’re unhappy with a member of my team, you know? They had, not even so much a bad experience, but they just had a DJ that they didn’t like, or they didn’t get the same vibe from, from the DJ that they normally like to refer and work with. And being clear like what we’re trying to do on that front. But it is also spending money on actual advertising, and knowing that you have to diversify your buckets. You’re going to have to advertise on some sort of site. Like, we have Brides of North Texas, which is a magazine and a publication here, obviously, The knot and Wedding Wire, there are other DJ specific ones. So you’re going to have to do some advertising. But you’re really going to have to put the bulk of your effort into the actual relationships. And you’re going to have to have people on your team. And this is the big one, and the hard one. You’re going to have to have people on your team that you trust, and can have a good relationship with, because, for my example, there are so many venues and wedding planners in my market that I couldn’t touch all of the. If I just set out to do, you know, three to five a day, I still wouldn’t be able to touch them all in a year. And when you think about that, a wedding planner that I talked to, and try to do some networking with, and they don’t hear from me for another year, is a problematic sign. So you’re going to have to have people that you trust, that you feel confident to represent your brand, and to kind of go after that width, that breadth of being able to cover a large number of people in developing relationships.

– So your people understand, again, five to 10 years with the company, their name personally, their personal brand under the LeForce umbrella. People know them. The venue knows that this is, you know, this is Nate and LeForce, and they’re as joined at the hip as Glenn is with LeForce, right?

– They’re a brand within a brand.

– Right. So your people have to understand that they’re brand ambassadors when they’re out there as well. But of course they want to be referred, right? If they do a wedding, they want that planner or that venue to say, I want Nate to come back. I want Susan to come back. I want that person as well, because that means more money for them as well. So the relationships, not putting all your eggs in one basket, these are important lessons for everybody. If you’re trying to do 10 weddings a year, you can probably get them from one source. I would hate to have all my eggs in one basket no matter what, but you could. But when you’re trying to do, let’s not talk 2020 Glenn. In a normal year.

– Yeah.

– And let’s not talk 2021. Although in Texas, maybe you didn’t have as many move to some as we did in New Jersey. But in a normal year, how many weddings would LeForce do?

– In a normal year LeForce we’ll do about, I’m trying to think because, in a normal year we would do about 2000 events, but we also do corporate, schools, some other stuff.

– Okay.

– So weddings is going to make up probably about 1200 events, because it’s about

– Okay.

– 60% of our business.

– Right. That’s a lot of events.

– A ton of events.

– Which means, again, 2000 events, it’s a lot of pipeline, it’s a lot of backend. The business end. You said it very well, that entrepreneur is different than being self-employed. Self-employed means somebody paid you to go do something, you’re self-employed, done. You got your.

– Right. And there’s nothing wrong with being self-employed, As long as you are respectful and recognize that when you’re self-employed, you not only have to be the money maker, but you don’t have anything that someone’s going to buy. So your exit strategy can be nothing around selling anything other than the assets of the company. So there’s nothing wrong with being self-employed, but it’s bad to treat a business like you’re an entrepreneur trying to build something to sell, when you’re actually self-employed.

– Right. Again, another important point here, probably that’s a great one to end off on. If your exit strategy is, I want to have an asset to sell that’s more than the physical assets. So in your case, speakers and systems, and stuff like that, you have to have something that’s more valuable, the relationships are part of that. The structure is part of that. All the systems you have in place as part of that. The name is part of that. So that if Glenn decides to go on vacation, the business still runs. If Glenn decides

– Yes.

– to sell, the business still runs. So that is a great way to end off here on scaling. We could be talking about this for hours, but we’re not sitting together with a glass of Texas whiskey.

– So we will do that another time.

– Soon though.

– But soon, very soon. So Glenn, thank you so much for joining me. Thank you for sharing with everybody about this, it’s a great story. A high-end multi op is not something people hear about all the time, and you do it, and you do it so well. So,

– Thank you.

– Thank you, and say hi to the lovely Jennifer who donated her name to your business, I appreciate that. Look forward to seeing her as well. Thanks for joining me. All right, let me stop the recording here. Stop recording.

I’m Alan Berg. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this or if you’d like to suggest other topics for “The Wedding Business Solutions Podcast” please let me know. My email is [email protected]. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.

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