Double booking, or the practice of a DJ booking two parties for the same time slot, is one of the most insidious situations that a DJ entertainer can ever face.
About five years ago, our DJ company was in a high growth phase, and we suffered several accidental double bookings. Imagine booking two weddings for a date and then having to tell one of the couples that you made a mistake and can’t perform at their wedding. Yes, this happened to us twice in the same month.
The negative experience from double booking caused me to strengthen my systems and procedures to prevent accidental overbookings. In this article, I’ll share my best tips to avoid double booking.
1. Keep a calendar nearby.
I keep a physical calendar on my computer desk that I can page through to quickly see where dates fall. When writing up a contract for a date like Friday, June 23, 2017, I’ll consult the calendar to confirm that June 23rd falls on a Friday. For the coming year, it’s a good idea to know when Fridays and Saturdays fall. For example, I know that in October 2017 the Saturdays in the month fall on 7, 14, 21, and 28. For dates spanning into 2018 and 2019, I’ll hop on Google and type in “what day is December 31, 2019,” and Google will list the day of the week and date.
2. When booking an event, immediately update your performance schedule.
After you’ve booked an event, the next critical step is to log it correctly into your performance schedule. Don’t procrastinate – log it onto your schedule as soon as you are able. If you fail to log the party, then you expose yourself to the chance of a double booking. After the signed contract and deposit comes back from the client, take the time to re-check your performance schedule and make sure this performance is listed.
3. Reference the date of the event in correspondence.
In email correspondence to clients, in the subject line and text, I make it a point to specifically reference their party date in terms of day and date. For example, “Dear Mrs. Smith, Thank you for sending in the signed contract and deposit for Ariel’s Sweet 16 on Friday, June 23, 2017.” Had I made a mistake with the date, Mrs. Smith would immediately let me know and the error could be addressed at a very early stage.
Another opportunity to reinforce event dates is in your file-naming protocol. For our contracts, I like to use the convention day_month_date_year. For example, I would label the previously cited Sweet 16 party “Ariel_Smith_Sweet_16_Friday_June_23_2017.”
With all of this reinforcement, I’m confident that June 23rd falls on a Friday.
When performing a final consultation with a client, I always like to begin the meeting by confirming the day and date of their event, just in case. And keep in mind that clients occasionally provide the wrong date and time for their parties.
4. Periodically review your contracts.
Once a month, I recommend that you comb through your stack of contracts and reconcile them against your performance schedule. Be sure that nothing has slipped through the cracks.
5. Consider automation.
An office automation system such as DJ Event Planner can help to remove human error from the booking process and safeguard you against double bookings. These systems can also be configured to send DJs and business owners alerts so that appointments and performances are never missed. However, these software systems require robust data, relying on their users to enter new event information on an accurate and timely basis.
6. Don’t double book on purpose.
In my opinion, it’s poor business practice to deliberately double book dates for yourself knowing that you will keep the highest paying job and then re-assign or subcontract out the lower paying job. If you commit to performing an event for a client, then honor this commitment. Indiscriminate subcontracting reflects poorly upon our industry.
7. If you happen to double book, apologize and be generous.
Speaking from personal experience, when discovering a double booking, particularly close to the event date, you are going to feel awful. If this happens, act quickly and see what alternate solutions you can provide to the client.
Then, communicate the situation and prospective solutions to the client. They may be disappointed or angry. I recommend falling on your sword and being honest about the situation. Let them know that you made a mistake, and that you feel terrible about it too. More times than not, you will be forgiven. I don’t recommend lying, as transparent untruths will infuriate clients and damage your business reputation.
Finally, in proposing a solution to a client who was double booked, be generous. Throw in a free upgrade or give them a gift card. It shows that you really care.
I’m happy to report that our company has had a perfect score for the past three years: We have had zero double bookings on our 400 events or so per year. The greater attention to detail is working!
For those of you whose DJ practices are growing quickly, make sure that your systems keep pace. Keep a real-time performance schedule, and check those dates again and again.