When To Turn Down A Client (And How)

You’ve been talking with a client, they want to move forward with the booking and give you their deposit. Great! But, something just doesn’t feel right. Deep down something feels off.

Here are a few reasons you should follow your gut and turn down the gig, and how to do it with tact.

Why Turn Down A Client:

1) Tastes & Specialty

You simply don’t have the music or acumen for what the client wants. Most times I’d advocate taking the gig and figuring it out, but you need to tread lightly. NEVER commit to something you can’t follow through on. There’s a difference between pushing your comfort zone and being stupid. I’ve done a number of gigs where the client wanted international music for a portion of the event. I’d be honest and tell them I didn’t have experience working with Bollywood for example, but if they were willing to work with me and provide some examples I’d be more than happy to help. If however a client wanted 100% alternative indie for their wedding I’d have to decline (and have). I had no basis of confidence for how I’d pull that off and make everyone happy.

2) Style (on the mic)

They want someone on the mic… All, night, long. But that’s not you. Maybe you’re not even comfortable on the mic. Hard pass here, unless you outsource that job and bring someone else in while you DJ. Over the years I’ve become more comfortable on the mic and can belt out energetic, cheese-free introductions no problem. But aside from coordination and standard wedding engagement, I’m no hype man. I make this very clear to my clients. I go one step further and provide a live recording of a wedding introduction so they know exactly who they’re getting. If you’ve been hiding behind your MC abilities or style and sense they want something else, pass.

3) Client connection

Perhaps you just don’t click with the client. Do they want to control every aspect of the playlist, providing a minute by minute screen-play of what songs to play when? I don’t work so well under micro-management. If that gels with your personality and how you operate, great! Or maybe you’re having an extremely difficult time getting a sense of the type of music they want. They change their mind every other email. Your communication styles might be getting in the way, aside from the simple fact they could be indecisive.

If a flag like these come up, act on them. Otherwise everyone will be miserable.

Ultimately it boils down to:

  • Can you deliver the expected product?
  • Can you collaborate effectively to prepare?

Declining

Ok you’ve decided you don’t want to work with a client. How do I turn them down!?

Be honest (as much as possible)

  1. If it’s as simple as musical misalignment, this is easy:
    • “I don’t think I’m the best fit for the music you’re looking for”

  2. Same for your MC offerings
    • “I don’t think I’m the best fit for the atmosphere you’d like to set”

  3. But if it’s them, being 100% transparent may not work out so well (but still be honest)
    • “I don’t think we really click on how we operate”

If they don’t sound crazy, you can try and forward the hot lead to someone in your network that would be a better fit. You win in both eyes because you were helpful to the client and the other DJ appreciated the passed business and will want to reciprocate in the future.

Win-win.

Business Review Pt 2: 200% Client Reviews

When you’re in the nascent stages of building a Mobile DJ business, you need to prove to your market that you’re the real deal. With sites likes Wix and WordPress anyone in their mother’s basement it’s no longer enough to have a decent looking site. That is, if you want to make more than  a couple hundred bucks a month. I’m talking triple digit annual growth here.
 
A tenet remember is this: What got you here will not get you there. 
 
What helped you grow from a four figure business to a five figure business won’t get you to six figures. 
 
Five figure income might require a tasteful website, a handful of professional event photos, and a couple of words from past clients
 
Six figures requires a change in your game. Six figures requires your clients to go to bat for YOU. You need to blow them away so they want to help you. Double digit testimonials at this point is a MUST. 
 
One of the ways I did that is by gifting custom soundtrack mementos.

I ordered a hundred custom vinyl CDs I could burn music onto. For each couple I then ordered a wooden engraved CD case with their initials and wedding date. I burn their special songs (Ceremony music, first dances, wedding party introduction music) and recorded toasts onto the CD. It only costs me about $30 and 30 minutes per couple, and it blows their minds.
 
Here is the end result:

Not only are they clamoring to write you a review, they’re raving to all their friends and relatives what their DJ got them. Word of Mouth on steroids.
 
Then it might sit on a mantlepiece in their home for future visitors to ask what that box is. It’s some of the best marketing dollars you could ever spend.
 
Only about 30-40% of clients give their vendors testimonials. By going the extra mile, I’ve been able to get testimonials from about 90% of my clients.
 
And I picked up a ninja tactic to double your testimonial rate:
Ask your clients to write a few words on why they decided to book you after they sign that contract!
 
No longer do you have to wait 6-12 months before getting a review!
 
It’s not enough to throw money at paid advertising and wait for clients to come to you. You need to have the assets consumers are looking for these days to get them to click BUY. You wouldn’t buy anything on Amazon without reading great reviews would you? Booking DJs is no different.

Business Review Pt 1: How I Doubled Revenue Six Years Straight (and counting)

We’re just crossing mid-year and I hit a major milestone: I have as much on the books halfway through this year compared to ALL of last year!

I’m keeping up with my targetted revenue growth of doubling each and every year. I hit $25k last year so basic math would tell us that I’m looking at $50k for 2018.

It’s also looking like I’ll be able to keep expenses flat despite the massive uptick in revenue.

Gross Rev Expenses Total Gigs Private Gigs Private Rev Bars/Clubs Bar Rev
2012 $100 $234 3 3 $100 0 $0
2013 $1,510 $625 5 5 $1,510 0 $0
2014 $1,841 $2,022 7 7 $1,841 0 $0
2015 $5,128 $3,399 15 13 $4,478 2 $650
2016 $12,840 $11,010 24 16 $10,790 8 $2,050
2017 $25,175 $13,916 67 14 $11,975 53 $14,250
2018 $25,945 $7,168 46 21 $19,795 25 $6,150

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

So what can we glean from all these fancy numbers? The big thing sticking out is the explosion in Private Gig Revenue. Weddings have accounted for the big growth here.

I had five weddings in 2016 and unfortunately followed that up with absolutely zero in 2017. That changed in a big way this year, as I played five weddings over a four week period in May ALONE. So far I have 11 on the year with another already booked for 2019.

Bar revenue has fallen off a bit but that was to be expected. I stopped spending any and all energy working into the bar scene to focus exclusively on weddings and clearly it’s been paying off. I even began turning away bar gigs to double down on growing the most valuable part of my business.

As you can see below, I’ve done fewer gigs and my revenue has grown. Bar gigs pull in $200-250 not including tax or expenses. My average weddings have been priced at $1500 depending on the package. This is exactly what I planned on.

From Whence They Came

Below I break down percentages of where my revenue has been coming from.

Since a large portion of my income last year were bar gigs, Industry Connects & Multi-ops contributed to half of my revenue. Now that I’m turning away from bar gigs they’ve contributed to only a quarter of my revenue with Paid sources picking up the slack.

Paid sources include sites like Gigmasters and WeddingWire. A big reason why they’ve spiked up is because of the testimonials I’ve gathered.

Sources 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Word of Mouth 100% 100% 100% 70% 41% 31% 33%
Multi-ops 0% 0% 0% 18% 10% 30% 15%
Paid 0% 0% 0% 0% 26% 19% 39%
Industry Connects 0% 0% 0% 0% 2% 20% 7%
Barter 0% 0% 0% 13% 21% 0% 5%

Revenue by Source YoY

More Reviews = More Leads (& Gigs)

In August of 2017 I signed up for a Wedding Wire Pro account and through January 2018 I only had two reviews. By June I got that up to TWELVE, with every single wedding client writing me a testimonial.

Industry average is 20%, 30% at best if you follow-up four times. Once you break double digit testimonials Wedding Wire’s traffic DOUBLES. Anyone can tell you that doubling your ROI is huge, because now you’ve got twice the bang for buck. And Wedding Wire is not cheap.

I’m getting more and more qualified cold leads from clients who are willing and able to pay for quality service. If you don’t have the reviews or marketing assets (like a great website and professional photos), you’re just not going to make the sale outside of budget shoppers.

How Did I Get Reviews from 100% Of My Clients?

It all boils down to doing the unexpected. Spending just 2% of my gig revenue  on a gift, my clients were jumping up and down to write me a glowing review!

Look out for the next the article or sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know when it’s posted!

Behind the decks view of getting more gigs.