Are your Business Practices School-Friendly?

by Matt Ryan – “School Dance Pro”

Take a moment to think about the terms of the contract you send to schools when they engage your services. Do you require a deposit? Is there a cancellation fee? Do you require payment in full before the event? Do you charge a fee to change the contract?

Mobile DJs that have been in business for a while tend to load their contracts up with these “bad profits” because, frankly, they’ve been burned in the past. The rationale is that a fee or money upfront will lock a client into their end of the agreement if they change their mind about their event or the DJ services.

View Schools as a Long-Term Relationship

Now think about businesses you have long-term relationships with like your cell phone provider or your grocery store. How inclined would you be to purchase again from a grocery store that charged you a restocking fee on a unopened box of cereal? What is your perception of your cell phone provider when they charge you to switch plans?

Mobile DJs need to think of their partnerships with schools as long-term business relationships and their business policies and practices should reflect that. Charging a school a cancellation fee for a dance that didn’t sell enough tickets or is canceled due to weather is a certain way to lose that client permanently.

Evaluate the way these common mobile DJ business practices are thought of by schools:

Deposits: Often require additional paperwork (more hassle) for the adviser, and since the dance is not held yet, no revenue to offset this expense has been generated.

Cancellation Fees: Since dances are held as fundraisers, the school doesn’t want to cancel the dance any more than a DJ wants to lose the gig. If it’s being canceled, the reason is legitimate. A cancellation fee would come straight from the activity fund bottom line.

Payment in Full Prior to Event: Many schools will not pay purchase orders before the services are rendered. Inflexibility on this will require the school to take their business elsewhere.

It’s always hard to just walk away from a cancellation on your most in-demand weekend of the year, but the long-term repeat business generated by a strong partnership with your school clients will more than make up for a lost gig or two over the years!

School dance DJs, do you agree or disagree with these business practices?


  • Matt Ryan is a multi-op DJ business owner, radio personality, developer of School Dance Pros, and educator. Matt has been performing school events, along with many other types of functions, since 1996. Currently Matt Ryan Mobile DJ Entertainment performs approximately 250 events per year, with nearly half of them being school and teen events. Matt is well-known as an air personality on WNCI 97.9, a Top 40 radio station in Columbus, OH, and is a middle school teacher and coach. Matt is able to provide unprecedented insight to other DJs about how school dances are organized. To contact Matt, email or visit

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