April 18, 2013 by Mike Hillwig
A few years ago, I worked for a construction management company. One of the things this company was really good at was identifying the things that they’re not very good at doing. And in those cases, what they were good at was managing the vendors who could do it better/faster/cheaper than they could. And that’s exactly what I did with SQL Saturday Boston.
I’m a DBA. Organizing things, stuff, and data is in my blood. What I’m not good at are printing, moving boxes, catering, and serving coffee. These are the things that we farmed out.
Printing? The folks at Fedex Office can do this way better than I can, and it’s a lot more cost effective to let them do it. All I needed to do was give them a PDF, specify the paper color, ink color, and how to cut the paper. They did the hard work. All I did was go into their location and pick it up. Next year, I WILL find a way for them to do our speaker/sponsor SpeedPASSes as well. If I ever have to cut up another SpeedPASS, it will be too soon.
Printing? I had a lot of our signs printed in advance at Vistaprint. I just printed the event logo on 11×17 paper, and then used those as templates to hand-print signs. It worked beautifully.
Shopping? I have an Amazon Prime membership. This thing paid for itself. We gave away lots of goodies, including books and gift cards. Most of those came from Amazon. All I did was order it online and had it shipped to my office.
Moving? Please. The folks at Michael’s Moving and Storage in Boston are amazing. I’ve used them for my personal moves several times. Having their guys coming to my house and schlep the 35 boxes to Microsoft was a no brainer. It was easier than renting a UHaul, and it meant that I didn’t throw out my back the day before our event. Since we only had a few boxes to move, we ran into their minimum move requirement. Still, $300 is really short money to ensure that I don’t have to do the lifting myself. And THEY dealt with driving in Cambridge, something I just refuse to do.
Catering? Wow. The folks at Cosi in Kendall Square were amazing to work with. They provided the lunches for our event, and they were delicious. The only thing we did was buy sodas. They had a box lunch for everyone, meaning nobody touched someone else’s food. It was fantastic. They even sent someone over to stack the boxes and make sure everything ran smoothly. I’ll go back there again in a heartbeat.
Catering? We had our speaker’s dinner at the Black Sheep restaurant inside the historic Kendall Hotel. They made it easy and delicious. All I had to do was pick out a menu, and they did the rest of the work. If I’m doing an event in the future, I’ll go back there in a heartbeat. Their catering manager, Santos, was fantastic, and I couldn’t thank him enough. He arranged a pre-dinner reception on their seventh-floor balcony that really set the tone for a great night.
Catering? We ordered coffee and donuts from the Dunkin Donuts in Kendall Square. That one didn’t go quite as expected, but it was totally my fault, and it’s a story that I’ll probably share next week.
Sure, I could have done some of these things myself. But honestly, there are some problems you throw money at. These are some good examples.