By Stacy Zemon
Recently, I posted the following question on Facebook: “How do you respond when you are speaking with a prospect, and she/he tells you that you charge too much?”
DJ responses poured in by the dozens. Their answers were as varied as the DJs themselves and offered a plethora of ways to handle this awkward situation that we all face all too often. Here are some of the posts they made from which you can glean effective ways in which to respond yourself.
Terry Moran: I politely ask, “Compared to what?” And let them talk. It usually ends with me pointing out the lower priced has 1/4 the experience, none of the training, and none of the press, tours or big
Canute J. Chiverton: If one has made a good presentation then when you state your price, it should seem like a bargain. To answer the question directly, when someone says “you charge too much” it is only an objection. What they are actually saying is that they do not see the value. You have to go back and sell the value first. The worst thing one can do at that time is to try and justify price! Do you have a mousetrap? How big is the mousetrap? What can your mousetrap do that the others cannot? Before answering any question that has to deal with price or before divulging prices, one should gather all the pertinent information. Think in terms of a Baker, what will the Baker do or say if someone goes up to him and asks “how much for a cake”? First the Baker will have to know what kind of cake, what size of cake etc. then and only then can the Baker give a price. In other words, before a price is given, the DJ has to know what is needed. Once the DJ gets that information, they have to create a presentation to go along with that price. As a matter of fact the presentation should be that once delivered the prospective client should be expecting to pay much more than the price they really eventually receive. If the price is too high, then do not blame the client. The blame lies on the person who did not do a good job selling the product. Plain and simple. One should also be prepared to have other products or other options available that a sale can still be made. Ever wonder why Burger King has small medium and large fries? You may want the large fries but if you don’t have the money for it you may have to settle for medium or small. DJs are no different. Many feel that it is only talent that makes a DJ. They are leaving out a lot of elements that not only justify the price but can increase the price. For a long time now, I have been trying to debunk the thoughts that the equipment does not matter. Yes it does matter! If you are only basing the price on your skills, then you are shortchanging your self. Are you the one setup DJ? Do you expect two 12 inch speakers that you normally use for 50 people to suffice for a party of 400? That scenario alone shows there is a difference in something other than the talents. That difference equates a price change. Posting prices on a website and waiting for calls the come in is nothing more than “order taking”. That is an easy way out. It is like going into a store and seeing the items with prices over them. You are buying without any full knowledge of what the product fully entails. I am also in the Art Business as a another venture. I used to have an Art Gallery. I used to have people walk in and say “I want to frame this piece but don’t want to spend a lot of money!” I viewed this as a challenge and what I will do is show them my best designs first. Even though the prices were going to be higher, I was making a presentation and at the same time planting a seed in their mind. I got them to love it first and then told them the price. Then I showed them the cheaper option, at which time, they had already fallen in love with what I had first shown them. That is called a giveaway take away. Many times the client will go with the best option I showed them or for the very least something very close to it in price. They almost never went with a cheap option. Learn to ask questions first, then use those questions to create a presentation and an experience. Properly delivered, your stated price, will seem like a bargain, whether or not it is in the person’s budget. You will not be accused of being too high. They will realize that they don’t have enough funds. If you have something as that will work for the price they want to pay then you can present at. Question is, will you be sacrificing quality for price.
Mitch Taylor: What do you think the outcome of your event is worth? Or throw a curveball…how many times do you plan on getting married?
Scott Aber: If they can’t see the value in what you provide for your price, they are just not the right client for you. I have personally found that the clients who I have to try harder to convince, are typically my most troublesome once I get the job. I once was told by a potential client that someone else quote them much lower, but they shopped me anyway because they knew how good I am. Yeah, they just didn’t want to pay for the better quality. They wanted the better product for the inferior price. I just explained that I am worth my cost, and why. I also told them that I completely understand budget restraints, but that it would simply not be worth my while to perform for the amount they can afford. Partly because I could not in good conscience provide the level of quality they truly deserve, for their budget. It happens. I just booked a wedding with a couple I felt very good about, and still do. I was able to meet their budget for various reasons. It is a new market for me, and that really excites me, so I wanted the job. But I wasn’t so desperate for it that I would have said anything just to get it. One of the factors that I truly feel landed me the gig, was that when they told me they still had to talk to some other DJs, I sincerely told them I understood, and actually encouraged such smart shopping. I also described a scenario where I had recently turned away a client because I didn’t feel it was a good fit. As I told this story, I explained how people get shocked that I would actually turn away business, but that it is not just totally business. Weddings are very personal. And if I just don’t feel I can do a good job for someone, I wish them the best and move on. I firmly believe that this helped land me the job.
Donovan Yaukey: I invite the prospect to meet with me personally one-on-one so we can discuss the DJ industry and why prices are so far across the board with different DJs.
Jeff Richards: I would be very polite, thank them for their time and start to leave. As I’m leaving I would say something like “well my last 500 clients didn’t think I charged too much.”
January L’Angelle: It’s REALLY NOT their issue… it’s how you feel about your own self-worth. If you know your value. Stick to your guns. Be firm in your convictions and don’t waiver. It’s all in YOUR attitude and how you come across to them. If you vacillate on your price then they have wiggle room to play the bargain game… you know your value and you are worth every cent!!! Don’t EVER look like you need them more than they need you!
Fernando Curcione: I would say, “Entertainment and entertainers, in general, are under valued, and under priced. I’m just giving you a realistic price in relation to my self-worth which by the way is very competitive. You are welcome to keep searching” ~ Always stand your ground and stick to your personal standard. You may also suggest that they offer you an amount to see where they’re at and then walk.
Justin Prahar: I never have to. I get “out of my budget, ” but never “you charge too much.” If we repeatedly get this, we’re failing at either targeting the right clientele, or building value before the conversation takes place – or both.
Skip Kelly: I bring up some food for thought and tell them this: “What I have found is that the other DJs in town charge way too little. But, then again, everyone charges what they feel they are worth.” If they tell you your price is too much, ask them what parts of your service would they like you to cut out in order to meet their “budget” requirements. If DJ’s would simply stop calling it “prices”, “fees”, “rates”, “costs”, “charges”, “value” and “worth” and start using the term “TALENT FEE”….I think you’d find a lot more success and a lot less push-back when you mention the number.
Angela Belella Kershner: I probably wouldn’t respond favorably if the client used the words “you charge too much,” or at all. Like Justin said – if it were phrased as “out of my budget,” then I would attempt to educate them. To me, it sounds that the person is more open to hearing what you have to say if this was the case. I don’t think every conversation or interaction has to yield a sell.
Jeff Brown: You really do have to know your market. If you are the only one charging $1500 in a market full of $800 DJs, you have your work cut out for you explaining your worth. I’m not saying it cant be done. You are just going to stand out and maybe not for the reason you want.
Jason Hamner: I have gone a few different routes on this subject. I try to work with any couple that truly wants me to be a part of their day. I have worked out different deals for different people and deviated from my standard rate. I know when my wife and I got married, we didn’t have much money and had to cut lots of corners. I’ve always wished I could go back and give her the wedding she really wanted. I don’t change up my rate for everyone, but if a client is upfront and honest and really wants my services, there are times when I will alter my fee so I can make sure they have the memory.
Francis S. McKinney: Compared to what? A Rolex tells just as good a time as a Timex but you never see a salesman negotiating with someone looking at a Rolex. A Bentley cost more than a Prius yet there is a huge price distance for each. What would you like for your event, a Bentley or a Prius? Some will choose a Prius and it might be just fine but if you want to get there in style???? PS….if you are charging a Bentley price…..you darn well better give Bentley service!
Mark Peace Thomas: I will typically respond with a very ‘statistical’ point of view. I will tell her that I spend an average of 25 to 30 hours on her event which often includes setting cue points and rehearsing scripted information while my colleagues that offer “average” service report to me that they spend about 12 to 15. I will usually give her a small example so she will understand the concept. If it is important to her, she’ll set up a meeting (or understand). If not, she’s price shopping and not much can be done past communicating. I’ve found that “emotion” is the key which of course is a challenge for some of us guys! At minimum, my two face-to-face meetings will run 4 hours (sometimes more) since we talk about their lives, their wants and then I go over timeline ideas and things for them to think about. I will normally spend an average of 2 hours preparing music for their event from adding them to a Spotify list, buying them (and backing them up), This includes listening to their first dance in full and often listing to intros and outros of songs I do not know, or know vaguely. An expanded grand entrance will take me an average of 2 hours depending on how they’ve given me the information. It will then an average of 2 hours of rehearsal to go over script, cue points, timing and/or names (repeating every day for the last week, or two. My ‘love story’ anecdotes (I have not been doing full love stories anymore since budgets have decreased so I do an abbreviated version which is usually a minute to 3 minutes. Preparing love story anecdotes will take an average of 2 hours. An hour of time is the average for answering e-mails, doing paperwork, contacting venue before event. An average of 10 hours on the day of the event including drive time, set-up and entertainment. That’s 23 on “average” so I suppose I could say 25 as an “average”. I have not brought up hours in a long time since I stopped advertising 8 years ago so 95% of all my business is word-of-mouth now. I was giving you an example so you had another way to approach it. The other MAJOR factor is talent and people nearly always comment on my “hosting” ability and “way” with the crowd so bringing up my acting and voice classes and experience is another way to bring value to what we are doing.
Darryl Santell: I have for a long time been a high-end DJ and I get those responses and I say nicely that as much as I would love your business that I cost more because I am the best at what I do which includes preparing for your individual wedding for many hours to make your special day the best it could ever be.
Chuck Lehnhard: For me, it depends on “how” they say it. if they say it in such a way that they are truly asking, I try to explain it, but if it is a shot at me or said in a way that I feel is downgrading, I will just tell them…. “I understand that you have a budget that you are trying to stay within and it appears that I am not the DJ for you. I won’t take up any more of your time and let you go on with your looking. If something happens and you feel that you can fit me in your budget, please let me know.”
Dean Carlson: I simply show them about a thousand reviews that say otherwise.
Kenny Zail: “We’re obviously not a match, but I may be able to recommend someone in your price range.”
Robin Wilson: If they ask the question right off, I try and get them to tell me what they are looking for which is usually answered with “very basic, just someone to play the music.” So your not looking for someone to make announcements, play your preferred music and no lighting or up-lights? Get into a conversation with them, most will answer “I didn’t think about all of that. Talk about their venue, their wedding coordinator. A little time on the phone can get you a gig and start a good relationship with your client.
Jose Heredia: “I agree with you, for some, it’s way too much. But for those who value quality, it’s not enough.”
Joe Hakim: Agree with them, then explain more about the value. Honestly, by the time price comes up they are very excited to have me DJ already because I go through a process of finding out their hopes and dreams for their event, and explaining how I will fulfill them and when they hear the price they usually are ready to pay my asking price. Many times after hearing price I hear back after one to three days usually, saying yes we talked it over and would LOVE to have you, DJ! Because I explain and fulfill their fantasies about their vision for the night. Meeting in person helps seal the deal even more. The last couple I booked had a “DON’T GO OVER X DOLLARS” and a blank check from the bride’s mom. It was a decent budget for my area, but they ended up giving me 2 checks! One from their personal account so they could get everything they wanted including the video DJ package. She said don’t say anything to her MOM LOL.
Lee Mills: Let them go and thank them for their time…
Brian Scott Redd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDI6dBUiS2g&feature=youtu.be
DJ – Why Do You Charge So Much? A Simple Cost Analysis…
Alex Belmonte: I show them my reviews and ask, “Is that how you want YOUR event (insert type of event) to turn out? Yes, answer usually ensues. Fee quoted….done deal.
Cap Capello: My prices are on the web site. Saves me and the customer unneeded grief, over kicking my tires, and potential embarrassment. Yet, should it still come up, “We all have budgetary constraints and limitations. I’m sure you’ll find adequate services for the numbers you have in mind. Thank you for your call and consideration. Good skill in your selections processes. Good day.”
Jerry Bazata: Reading all the comments and the countless others in various chat boards, why is it as an industry, that DJs appear to be insulted or offended when a client provides feedback that the price is too high or out of their budget. I deal with this every day in the banking industry, my rates are higher than the bank down the street or they don’t like to pay “service charges” or fees. Yet I can’t find any banker raging on Facebook or chat boards about it. Plain and simple your price is the value you place on your service. A client that sees the value you present and has trust and faith you will deliver upon their expectations…price is not an issue.
Starlett Ann Tulchinsky: I would ask her compared to what?