A Skill Set Q & A Guide To Obtaining Your Ideal Event Entertainment
All DJ’s do is play music. Isn’t that the common perception? Are there no other values to be considered?
Put the needle on the record. Put the tape in the handler. Put the CD in the drawer. Push play on the computer.
Same with customer iPods, droids, and tablets. Why shucks, a monkey from a zoo can be trained to do that!
That seems to be the prevailing perception and, unfortunately, many DJ services are providing what these customers perceive. The only skill set needed is to bring some equipment and just push play. Where’s the value in the just push play service? But also where is the value in a service costing three or four times as much?
Value! Listen for it. Compare it! Expect it. Seek it. Demand it.
A favorite quote relating service and product value to price is often referred to as the “Common Law of Business”:
"There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person's lawful prey. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money -- that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot -- it can't be done. “ John Ruskin (1819-1900)
Value.In the quest for entertainment choices, a customer often fails to take the time to evaluate the immense value there is in a well known, high quality, talented, and experienced service and that such a service, in turn, helps to protect all the monetary investments of the event. The latest stats put a typical wedding day average cost at $24,000. No other service will break and shatter an event more quickly and completely than a poor entertainment choice. Does your entertainment choice have the time commitment, the learning and experience, the right tools, the intellect and personal attributes, and skill sets needed to insure you, the customer, you’ll get full return on your total investment? The quality of the entertainment service choice must be considered as your total bang-for-your-buck guarantee.
If the thought process is all perceived service requirements are automatic with every entertainment service choice, are your perceptions of expectations too high?
Does your entertainment selection fulfill beyond basic requirements?
Have you inadvertently placed your event day in potential jeopardy due to assumptions? Sadly, there is no, “Let’s come back next week, try it again, and get it right next time.” It is never too late to reconsider your service, contracted or not.
Here are some points to be considered when selecting your events musical entertainment. Be it band or DJ:
Credentials & Experience
Are you insured?... prove it! (More and more venues are requiring this from vendors and you should even if the venue does not.)
Are you a licensed business? What is your License Number? How can I verify?
How many successful events has the service performed? Prove it!
How many references can be verbally checked? Numbers please?
Are there any on-line reviews? What web sites?
Are there any unsolicited reviews and thank you cards? Show them!
Timelines & Planning Guides
Does the service provide a specific timeline of calendar markers and what mutual responsibilities are to be met? See it in writing!
Does the service have an event specific Planning form, laid out in a clear, easy to read, fully understandable, and logically formatted? See it in writing!
How does the service integrate their insider’s knowledge of the facility and other vendors into your event planning knowledge and expectations?
What avenues of contact are available for questions and answers? Phone? Email? Text? Facebook? Twitter? How quickly can responses be expected? Prove it!
Will the service share to planning documents with your other vendors in advance with your permission?
On-Site Day-Of-Event Coordination
How much coordination will the service provide on-site at the actual event?
What is the service’s philosophy in dealing with your other vendors? Any known conflicts?
How will the service handle possible conflicting timing & procedures with the other vendors? Explain fully with examples.
Standard Expectations & Documentation
Does the service provide a mutually protective easy to read and understand legally binding service agreement? Prove it!
Remember a Service Agreement or Contract should never be a point of contention. It’s sole purpose is to outline responsibilities of both party so everyone know what to expect and thus eliminate any points of contention.
Does the service have an up to date business license in the county it is based in? Prove it! Do not accept "they is no license for mobile DJ Services".. There most certainly is. Would you trust an unlicensed caterer, venue, minister, bartender, transportation service to work your event? Having a license is one of many indications of a professional.
Does the service have and maintain a business liability insurance policy? Limits? Prove it! (Ask to see the Insurance Binder.) A lot of area venues are requiring vendors to have a current insurance policy. Why would a professional not have insurance? Again would you trust an uninsured venue, caterer, etc... Another sign of a professional who is vested in their business.
Has the service been involved in any business litigation in the past year? Five years? Ten years?
Has the service been involved in any criminal litigation in the past year? Five years? Ten years?
Emergency Contingency Preparation
What steps does the service have in place for emergencies such as :
Family illnesses or deaths;
Transportation breakdown (e.g. towing service agreements);
Equipment failure and backup gear. Prove it!
A guest gets injured? (Here's where liability insurance might come into play.)
Now Let’s Talk DJ
Is the person you’re talking to the actual DJ at your event? If not, who is and when can you meet them? Before signing the contract? After signing the contract? What if you don’t like the choice?
Does the DJ have a voice that is pleasing, confident, commands attention politely, and has that “it” quality that makes you, your family and guests, and the staff comfortable and at ease? Listen closely.
Does the service provide an audience pleasing audio system proven to avoid teeth shattering, brain piercing, and ear ringing, bass heavy wall shaking and tumbling glasses off the table, a system which will gain you the thanks and compliments from Grandmother, to Mom & Dad, and all your guests? It’s always wise to go with brands and gear you know and trust, or at least have heard of.
What media does the service use? What are the backup plans in the event of a media player failure? This includes mixers, computers & laptops, external hard drives, controllers? Ask the questions and ask to see the answer in person.
What is the service’s mission statement, business philosophy, customer service philosophy, and how will they adapt to your vision of event outcome? Are you personally comfortable and confident of the value and in the service?
If the answer is anything but a resounding YES, Start Over!
The majority of this blog came from an e-mail exchange with a fellow event DJ New York, who is undeniably an industry professional; and used with his permission... Thanks Cap.