Get Real: Success in 2010
By Mark Johnson
With some realistic, creative business management, you can realize a better future
With apologies to the 1992 Clinton election campaign, the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” seems more relevant than ever to virtually every aspect of life these days. Lets look at what this means for mobile DJs-and how can we use it to our advantage.
It well known that while adding professional music to any occasion improves that occasion, it could be argued that we may be the first to be omitted or at the very least, reconsidered for both our added value when times get tough.
LIFE GOES ON, BUT MORE FRUGALLY
Let’s start at the top. Will people change their mind and not get married due to the economy? Probably not. Besides the love thing, getting married allows the two single people to reduce their expenses and combine other expenses like housing, insurance etc. However, when it comes down to planning their wedding, many couples are taking a second look at all of the elements within this important, once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
I’ve seen several “Your Money” segments on various cable programs that indicate an increase in the number of the young couples taking the major amount of money normally spent on a wedding (and perhaps the following honeymoon) and spending it more pragmatically as a down payment on a house. In today’s economy, that’s very hard to argue against.
I personally have been involved with this decision in a few ways. The first has been losing some bookings as couples have changed their minds on the primary wedding reception. Secondly, some have changed their receptions from large affairs to more sedate gatherings coinciding with the actual wedding ceremony. The third change has involved more of a “party” than a wedding reception, held months after the actual wedding and usually at the family home.
All of these have the intention of NOT spending money on the extravagance of a soup-to-nuts wedding reception. While we might wish to have “blank-check” clientele, the current reality seems to inficate a backlash against such large expenses.
This budget-consciousness will in many cases trickle down to other family functions as well. Bar mitzvahs, sweet sixteens, graduations, first communions and birthday parties have all taken a slight turn for the worse regarding the use of our services. Factor in the increase of the “do it yourself” attitude of the clients with iPods and the lesser DJs with their cheaper systems and standards and you have a new storm on the horizon: Less sophisticated events allowing less sophisticated music that’s barely bordering on “professional.”
Corporate events and holiday parties have also seen decreases as recent headlines have chastised major companies for such celebrations. One headline in particular mentioned a solvent insurance company canceling their annual Las Vegas “sales conference” (wink, wink) not based on the money (which they had) but on the negative image of such a luxurious expenditure (which they didn’t need). Despite the company being able to afford this event, the motivational value of such an event to the salespeople, and the business that they bring to Las Vegas, the overall choice was to pull the plug. Everyone loses.
DJs fall precariously into two distinct categories regarding events: Value Added or Discretionary Expense. People will get married, have birthdays, and they will retire or graduate with or without DJs. In essence, these and other events will continue and adding a celebration to the event may or may not require a DJ.
About the only DJ event that we are absolutely necessary for would be school dances. There, the music IS the event, instead of simply coinciding with an occasion that would occur with or without us.
But enough gloom and doom. What can we do about these tentative times?
ADJUST YOUR FOCUS
First, the “sky’s the limit” mentality regarding DJ pricing may take a temporary sabbatical. Our clients are getting squeezed and are then squeezing their suppliers for better deals. Everyone is becoming a better shopper. The intangible qualities of our services (ie., “professionalism,”‘ “worth” and “customer relationships.”) will be seriously challenged.
Second, there will be fewer events to share with seemingly more DJs. And the newcomers to the DJ business will certainly exert pressure to bring down pricing. Now is the time to reinforce your relationships with repeat customers, namely schools and corporate events. Perhaps dangle a free or reduced price dance in January for locking in a whole year’s worth of regular dances. Offer a company a reduced rate for a non-Friday holiday party. Help create mini-sales conventions/celebrations held at the company’s facilities instead of the larger annual blow-out.
Cozy up with your local facilities that refer DJs by offering a greater referral fee. That’s highly negotiable and could make the difference in many cases. These venues are usually on the front lines of booking smaller family parties.
Keep in touch with semi-annual mailings to prior one-time events like weddings and perhaps “freeze” your rate for using you in the future. That should at least inspire a return phone call. Perhaps make it a one-time offering, which should coincide with a projected duration of the current economic situation. You don’t want to lock in a current rate forever.
I’m reminded of FDR’s famous statement during his first inauguration, during the Great Depression: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” Sure the economy is in the toilet. Sure, there’s more competition with lesser rivals. Sure, you have increased expenses with potentially reduced income.
But this time offers a great opportunity to review your overall approach. You have expensive equipment waiting to make you money. Look at other ways to get it working for you, like rentals or sound production. You have time to perform DJ gigs. Doing some freebies won’t cramp your calendar and could potentially generate new long-term clients that will be with you after the economic crisis passes. Why let money get in the way of your business, especially the DJ business? Each performance has incredible referral potential. There are some rays of hope among the clouds.
And when the sky clears (as it always does), the flexible, better-prepared mobile DJ will come out as the stronger DJ, leaving the competition looking for their next careers.
Filed Under: Business, Issues from 2010
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