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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM JULY 2010
Sometimes I write something business-related on my personal Facebook page and I am surprised at the number of responses.
That happened to me recently when I was standing around fuming after an event. It was an afternoon wedding and I was in a bit of a hurry because I had that night off and was heading home to have dinner with my sister and her husband. So there I was already loaded out and I approached the bride and asked her for the balance. She gave me that quizzical look that immediately told she’d completely forgotten the balance. She’d apparently also forgotten that we talked about it a month before her wedding when we met and I’d also mentioned it just a few days earlier when we talked on the phone. For the next ten minutes I waited around while they looked for their checkbook.
Frustrated, I posted a simple update on my Facebook: “What part of ‘the balance is due at the event’ do some brides not understand?”
I wasn’t even looking for a response. I was just venting. After all if you want feedback from your DJ friends, Saturday afternoon at 5:30 I would think is the worst time to ask for it. Yet within less than 24 hours I had 23 responses from industry peers all across the country. The overwhelming response seemed to be something along the line of: “you should get the balance in advance and you wouldn’t have that problem.”
Keith Fox, an industry friend from California posted: “Got tired of chasing money 10 years ago, final balance is due in our office 10 days prior to event.” Brian Harris, who is not only a good industry friend but a great drummer (which makes him a great DJ) added: “Final payment should be due 1 month prior so you’re not asking for $$$ on their happy day or putting another thing to have to remember on their wedding day.” Both of these responses came in within an hour of my posting. And the trend went on. Stacy Zemon, Brendan Lafferty and finally Jorge Lopez all weighed in favoring balance due in advance. The last one was a big one. Jorge is one of those industry icons that I look up to as a wise and experienced man. I’ve had numerous conversations with Jorge and I always come away feeling better and smarter.
I did have a few Facebook friends who said they collect on the day of. Michael Kazis, who I worked with twenty years ago at Star DJs, said he understood both sides of the argument but allows his clients to pay at the event. Denny McConnell, another industry veteran who I respect so much, collects at the event as well. And a fellow New Jerseyan DJ mentioned his preference for collecting cash the day of the event (I’ve never heard of such a thing but apparently it happens.) And my friend Steve Roberts from Dallas had the best “LOL” post of the thread: “I keep all their gifts as collateral…”
So why do I maintain a policy of collecting at the event? There are a few reasons.
1) We (my staff and I) believe it increases the likelihood of gratuities. Obviously it’s an inexact science but we notice that those clients who do pay in advance (we don’t require it but some wedding clients would just prefer to get it out the way) are less likely to tip. When the event is over and they are paying us, they are so thrilled at how things went that they tend to add some extra money to the balance. When they are paid in advance, and no money is changing hands, often times, we just get a hug and a thank you (hugs and thank you’s are nice but they don’t put gas in the car.)
2) We’ve already taken a deposit and that should be enough to legally consummate the deal. I have a “clients perspective” on this same issue. I work with two different production companies who do bridal shows. One requires the balance 30 days prior to the show date (this after taking a 50% deposit.) The other asks for a check at the show. I prefer the second policy and if I had to choose between the two companies I’d work with the second one exclusively because of this. I feel like there is a lack of trust involved between the first production company and myself. I’ve already given them half of the contracted fee and now a full month before the show is going to take place I have to finish paying the balance? It makes me think they are either horrible at handling cash flow, or they don’t trust their vendors. So I’ve thought of that when I consider changing our collection policy. Would our clients feel the same way? Would they be more reluctant to book us because of that?
3) If it ain’t broke . . . I’m happy to report that other than the inconvenience of waiting around sometimes while a check book gets found, this isn’t a problem. We don’t get stiffed on balances. A few times a year a client may forget to bring any form of payment and have to mail it in when they get home from their honeymoon. But we haven’t had to take a client to court in over eight years (and we won that one) so this isn’t exactly a big problem. Except for when I have dinner plans with my sister and I’m in a hurry to get on the road.
I love hearing about issues like this from my Facebook DJ friends (I call them FBDJ Friends). And even though most of my posts are Mets related, from time to time when I do post a DJ related topic, it’s fun to see the myriad of responses. If you’re a regular reader of mine, and we’re not FBDJ Friends, please send me a friend request. And I look forward to your opinions the next time I “vent” on a subject.


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