Chantelle Turner’s start in business came as a side hustle with a network marketing company. She and her husband, Eric had hefty hospital bills to pay because their daughter suffered major complications at birth (which she has successfully overcome!). So Chantelle took the opportunity to make some extra income, paid off the medical bills, and went on to launch several other solo ventures as an online business owner, a speaker, and a sales coach.
When her husband Eric, who had been working for over a decade in the events production industry, asked her to team up and launch their own high-end events technical production company, it seemed like the perfect next step for them. Who would have thought that their partnership would achieve what seemed impossible for an events production company post-pandemic – a million dollars in revenue in under 12 months!
In this article, we talk to Chantelle Turner about the path to success of their events production company Turner Group LLC. She shares the people, systems, and tools that have helped her and her husband along the way. Don’t forget to check out her Read-Listen List and her Productivity Stack Quick Reference at the end.
Table of Contents
- Scaling and Success
- Hindsight: What Turner would have done differently
- Wrap Up
- Turner’s Read-Listen List
- Turner’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
- More About Turner Group LLC
Challenge 1: You don’t know what you don’t know
When they officially set up the company in 2017, it wasn’t just Eric who had direct experience in the events industry. Chantelle has a degree in theater arts with an emphasis on lighting, worked in audio-visual sales for a hotel, managed a theater, and did rigging for events herself.
Her husband had been a technical director and project manager for large events like annual meetings with thousands of attendees and concert tours. Their tandem had the expertise and experience to handle the lighting, sound, video, stage, screens, and all of the equipment used for live events, plus the crew that ran it.
But their experience did not quite cover the nitty-gritty of running a business in this industry. Starting out, they did have some reservations about knowing enough about what they should be doing.
“A lot of our hurdles came from what do we not know. ‘What are we missing? What are we not doing? We need insurance, right? Do we want to be a company that hires a ton of employees? Or do we want contractors?’”
Solution: The couple figured it out and are still learning along the way. While neither of them had a business degree, it helped that they had experience with previous businesses and were knowledgeable about the industry.
But most importantly, they have decades of great work and connections in the events space. The relationships and reputation they had built over many years gave them access to jobs as they were learning the ropes of running their own business. Big production houses hired them to pitch in for events like sales launches or other corporate gatherings for companies like Amazon or ServiceNow. Some smaller companies and events hired them to handle full productions as well.
To this day, their new business mostly comes from referrals from their network of clients and contacts.
People: Founders Chantelle and Eric Turner, their network
Systems: Learning and figuring out as you go, networking, and referrals
Challenge 2: Delegation: Growing from a single contractor to multi-project setup
In the beginning, Eric was fulfilling jobs for Turner Group LLC as an individual contractor. By early 2020, the couple decided they would bring on additional team members so that the company could work on multiple events at the same time.
The couple decided to work with contractors instead of full-time hires. This was the more popular practice in the industry, as it allowed events specialists the flexibility to take on more jobs. Without full-time staff, they could control their payroll, but on the flip side was the challenge of making sure they have contractors for when there is an upcoming job. How do they make sure they always have the resources to manage multiple upcoming events?
Solution: Turner Group focuses on a lot of large, high-end events for big clients. Given the scale, these tend to have a significant lead time – events are planned out six months to one year in advance. They are also usually booked for recurring or annual events, so there is some predictability in their lineup of projects.
To manage the staffing side of the equation, they sign a right of first refusal with the contractors they like to work with. Chantelle tells us how these arrangements work.
“So we’ll say, ‘Hey, we have this [event] coming up. Can you hold these dates?’ We’re trying to get to them, obviously, before everyone else. And then a lot of times, they’ll let us know, ‘Hey, I just got an offer for another show over those dates you have me holding. Do you still need me? And that’s the moment where we really have to go back to our clients [to confirm their event is pushing through and what dates]. Because if we cause someone to lose out on another opportunity, we feel an obligation and responsibility to compensate them financially for that.”
People: Founders Chantelle and Eric Turner, network of contractors, clients
Systems: Signing right of first refusal agreements with contractors, long-term scheduling and planning of events
Challenge 3: Events during COVID stay-at-home order
Just as they were getting the hang of working on multiple projects, the pandemic hit. When the stay-at-home directive came out in late March 2020, they had been gearing up for a big event in Vegas just two months away.
Chantelle recalls, “There was this juggle for a couple of months where we had contracts with people that were working for us and with our clients. We had hotels contracted and all sorts of stuff for events happening in May, June, July, and August of 2020. And things kept getting pushed. What state is still open? What cities are still allowing events? Where can we go? And so there was this weird juggle, and [we] were just kind of waiting to see how the chips fell.”
Solution: When it became clear that live events as they had previously been done were not going to be possible in the near future, clients had to pivot to virtual.
Turner Group is fortunate many of its clients are big tech companies for whom events like sales launches and other corporate gatherings were considered necessary and had to push through. And that they had the technological savvy and the means to shift to web-based events. Chantelle recalls, “So they had to find a way to pivot and do their events online. And because we had some background and some resource there, we just kind of pivot along with them.”
The scope of work was much smaller, but Turner Group was back to work.
People: Founders Chantelle and Eric Turner, their contractors, tech clients
Systems: Leveraging technology knowhow to pivot with clients to a new format
Challenge 4: Taking on the CFO role and managing teams
When the couple started this business, they had a clear division of roles. Eric handled on-site work and traveled around 60-70% of the time. Meanwhile, Chantelle worked from home with their young daughter and focused on the administrative and management side of things.
As business picked up right before COVID and soon after, she had to manage bigger contractor teams, make sure their projects were properly staffed and running smoothly, invoices were sent and paid, their website was up and running, and taxes were in order. How did she adjust to this rapidly expanding role?
Solution: Chantelle tells us that she and her husband have a great working relationship, and in their 16 years together as a couple they have always communicated well. But taking on the management side of the business, she credits both her natural inclination to take a leadership role and her different business ventures for preparing her. “I’ve always been someone that really enjoys taking a role in leadership. I’m happy to take a backseat and follow a leader all day long, but if there isn’t a leader present, I’m also one to be the first to jump in and lead.”
She looks back at her early days as a network marketer as her ‘gateway into becoming an entrepreneur.’ This is where she learned how to build and manage teams, how to build a website on WordPress and ClickFunnels, file taxes and market a business. She applied these skills in the different service businesses she launched afterward. So transitioning to running an events production business was not starting from scratch.
Chantelle also adds, “Network marketing was a huge educational gateway for me as much as it was an entrepreneurial gateway. In that space, they’re constantly throwing a ton of self-help books and entrepreneur books at you.” It was through her involvement with network marketing that she learned about online marketing, ClickFunnels, made connections with successful business owners, and got to know about the Two Comma Club, which motivated her to get that first million dollars in sales.
Chantelle and Eric’s partnership and division of responsibilities helped them achieve that important milestone in the seven months from November 2021 to May 2022. Turner Group generated $1 million in sales with 55 clients – an impressive feat in the midst of all the economic uncertainty and disruption in the events industry during that period.
People: Founders Chantelle and Eric Turner
Systems: Carrying over leadership, business, and management learnings from network marketing experience
Scaling & Success
Challenge 5: Setting up systems and tools: Finding the right project management system
With many of their projects being massive, high-end events, Turner Group needed tools to manage their scaled-up business and the multiple jobs they were committed to executing. They shopped around for some time for a project management tool that could help them keep track of the critical timelines, dependencies and technical requirements of their complex projects, but they couldn’t find one off the shelf that fit what their business and industry needed.
Solution: They tried a few tools like ClickUp, but none worked out. So Eric took the lead in improvising with Google Sheets. Chantelle says, “A lot of credit goes to my husband for creating the world’s most complicated Google spreadsheets. But they work really, really well.”
They are currently working with a simple tech stack now consisting of ClickFunnels for hosting their website, QuickBooks for bookkeeping, Vectorworks for drafting and designing event venues, and Harvest for time tracking with contractors. More recently, they have adopted HubSpot as their CRM, to track each client’s journey with them as they work through the event together.
People: Founders Chantelle and Eric Turner
Systems: Creating/building own tool from simpler ones, paying only for tools that are a good fit for business needs
Challenge 6: Time management: How to avoid productive procrastination
Working from home on the administrative side of the business, Chantelle has flexibility in how she manages her hours. But it can be challenging setting those boundaries between work and downtime under this setup. How did she arrange her schedule, and what time management strategies does she implement to keep focused and productive at work, while devoting quality time to personal and family needs?
Solution: Chantelle built her work-from-home routine around their daughter’s schedule. She carves out Mondays to Fridays, 9:00 am to 2:30 pm, strictly for business. That way, she can have some personal time early in the morning, take her daughter to school, and pick her up at the end of the school day.
During these work hours, she is completely focused on work and doesn’t do personal errands like laundry, even though she’s at home. But outside of these hours, she is also 100% offline. If a client emails her at 2:00 am, she will reply at 9:00 am, and the client knows to expect it. “Setting those boundaries really early on during an onboarding process is what makes the difference. You can’t say down the road, ‘By the way, stop contacting me at two o’clock in the morning. I’m not going to respond to you.’”
Chantelle, however, doesn’t like to schedule her work time down to the minute. She learned from her college days that having a fully packed schedule was actually the best productivity hack for her because it just forced her to be hyper focused.
She shares her story of how she was a C-student all through grade school and high school and struggled once she got to college. “My first semester, I took 12 units. I ended up failing. I just didn’t have enough on my plate, is what I realized. If I am not overwhelmingly busy, I am the best procrastinator in the world. In the second semester of college, I took [the maximum allowed] 21 units and took additional units at the community college while working 40 hours a week. I had no life. I just put so much into my day, and I aced every class because there was no time to not get stuff done. And I learned a lot about myself. I ended up graduating with a full bachelor’s degree in just two years.”
She prefers to have a lot on her plate at any given time to eliminate any space for productive procrastination – which is when you prioritize what feels like useful tasks while delaying one that is more important or urgent. This strategy of stuffing her to-do list uses Parkinson’s Law to her advantage. That is, if you have a lot of time to finish something, you will take as long as you have to actually complete it. By virtue of having so much to do that she has limited time to finish each task, she ends up being more focused and working faster.
Chantelle doesn’t claim to be consistently on the ball, though. “So I’m either incredibly great at it or failing miserably. There are days and weeks when I’m incredibly productive. And there are weeks where I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ I have no motivation to do anything. But I learned that being busy was what definitely made the difference for me. So I find those periods of rapid success, growth, and accomplishment happened for me when I have too much on my plate where it’s almost overwhelming. Because there is no time to time block, schedule, and plan, and I just have to get [stuff] done.”
People: Chantelle Turner
Systems: Communicating boundaries early with clients, time blocking, performance pressure
Hindsight: What Turner would have done differently
Looking back, Chantelle thinks she could have taken more risks earlier and allowed herself to ‘fail faster.’ She shares, “I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I wish I hadn’t had so much fear of doing something wrong or failing because we could be a lot further along if I was willing to risk it in certain cases. But the people that are really big risk takers are the ones that you see have incredible growth and success and speed because the only way to learn that you did something wrong is [to] actually fail at it.”
From their experience struggling to adopt ClickUp as their project management tool, Chantelle shared something else she would have done differently. “Always hire someone else who knows how to do it instead of trying to learn how.” When you have the budget to hire an expert to work on something, don’t insist on doing it yourself as it will just use up your time better spent on something else, and you won’t be the best person for the job.
But at the same time, she advises against outsourcing a problem without having a good grasp of what you are trying to solve. You have to know enough to be able to communicate what you need and know that you aren’t being ‘screwed over.’ She goes on, “When your computer has a problem, you call tech support, and they say, ‘Well, have you turned it off and turned it back on again?’ You need to be like six pages into the tech manual of anything you’re doing, past the turn ‘off and on again’ stage, skip to page six.”
Without looking at their backstories, one might think Chantelle and Eric’s Turner Group was an overnight success. But it was decades of experience, learning, building relationships, and proving themselves inside and outside the industry that were the foundation of the success in events production.
They were nimble and able to quickly pivot during the COVID lockdowns. Their solid connections in the industry and relationships with their clients gave them opportunities and resources to work through that transition to virtual events.
The husband and wife team played off their strengths to create a synergy in their team that allowed them to run a thriving business together while raising their young daughter. Chantelle’s realizations on how she responds to performance pressure and how she could use this as a motivation and productivity tactic may not work for all. But the idea of allowing too much time to accomplish a goal being counterproductive is something that we should also consider in planning time blocks and schedules.
Turner Group now serves a global clientele, with the surge in popularity of virtual and hybrid events contributing to this. We look forward to seeing how this business grows and what other ventures Chantelle and Eric may develop together.
Turner’s Read-Listen List
- Tony Robbins
- Audiobooks by ClickFunnels founder Russell Brunson taught Chantelle learned a lot about marketing.
- Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz is a great educational resource for those in sales.
- The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth about Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan helps you figure out what the most important thing is that will drive you forward to the next phase in your business.
- Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom and other books by Robert Kiyosaki helped Chantelle with the financial side of things.
- Delivering Happiness by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gave insights about how you want to run your business.
- Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days by Joel Coleman is a great read on customer retention and customer fulfillment.
- Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention by John Ruhlin
Turner’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
Scaling & Success
More About Turner Group LLC
Eric and Chantelle Turner, Co-Founders of Turner Group, have both spent several decades in the event industry. Eric had his start working in the concert space and touring with bands like Hootie & the Blowfish, while Chantelle began her career working in theatres and eventually moving into the sales side of the industry. Eric and Chantelle discovered a passion for the event industry and for working with clients to bring their visions to life. In 2017, they founded their company Turner Group LLC.
Turner Group LLC is a worldwide technical management and event production company. It is one of the most respected companies working with prestigious organizations such as Amazon, ServiceNow, Box, Splunk, Alteryx, Atlassian, Biogen, and more.
They provide services such as technical and event consulting, drafting, technical crewing, project management, technical budgeting, virtual events and streaming, and more; and provide them to clients and events all over the world.
With over 200 diverse events and counting, Turner Group has partnered with companies big, small, and everything in between. They bring quality, well-executed, and budget-conscious precision to each client they work with.
To find out more about Turner Group, visit:
You can also get in touch with Chantelle through her social media: