The School Gig – Tips to Make Them Want You Back By: Anthony Martorano

April 8, 2008 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

The key to true profitability in the school dance market these days is repeat business. With the amount of money it costs to send out quality marketing material that has a decent return rate, repeat business is almost required to make the school dance market worthwhile. There is nothing better, easier, and more profitable than a long-term school dance client. We have certain schools that have used our services for a decade; here are a few tips and tricks we have learned to help build our repeat business. 

Be reliable and easy to work with

It may seem like a no-brainer, but this is the number one way to gain repeat school business. As DJs, we sometimes forget about what REALLY is important to our clients (the TEACHERS, not the students). While we are focused on the best possible performance, wow factor, and the overall success of the dance (e.g., how much the students danced, how good of a time they had, etc), the teacher’s definition of a successful dance and an excellent DJ is usually quite different. Their list of factors usually includes profanity-free music, a DJ that is ALWAYS on time and very reliable, and someone that is easy to work with (answers their phone calls during the week, returns emails in a timely manner, answers any and all questions, etc). Basically, peace of mind is the most important element a teacher looks for in a DJ. They will be busy running the dance and dealing with any issues that may arise during the event. Knowing they have a reliable DJ that does not need any babysitting makes their job a lot easier!

Solid performance vs. gimmicks

All companies should have their little gimmicks that help them sell their services to schools. These are what usually set DJ companies apart. Whether it is interactive dancers, glow products, or confetti, these gimmicky items may help you book events. These items may help you book the initial dance and help set your company apart from the rest, but your solid DJ performance along with more-than-adequate sound and lighting will be the elements that have the students and teachers calling you back. Gimmicks get you the clients, PERFORMANCE keeps those clients!

New Flavor

When performing at a school multiple times over the course of multiple years, you need to make sure your show has some “new flavor.” Offer different add-ons (add-ons and gimmicks are great, but don’t base your repeat business off the fact that you’re the only DJ in the area with dance platforms or interactive dancers), different packages, and different equipment to your clients. Let them choose if they want to switch it up each time or keep the same show year after year. We have both types of clients. We have clients that book the exact same package for every dance, every year. We also have schools that will try a new package/add-on combination every time. Whether they decide to “try new things” or want the same show, make sure you offer it to them. Also, you MUST keep current on music. The music you played at that dance one month ago is probably completely different than the music you play this month. Keep it new, keep it fresh, and switch up the ordering and flow of music each time.

Teacher vs. Student client

There are two different ways the schools book DJs. Teachers can either book the DJs themselves or they can leave the decision up to the students, the first being the easiest and best way to build repeat business. If the teachers allow the students decision-making power and the job of hunting for a GREAT DJ for their dance, it will be much harder to build repeat business. Usually these are the teachers that are too busy to be bothered with such miniscule tasks as booking entertainment for their event (sigh) so the entire school is at the mercy of the student council president, class president, etc. Sometimes the only contact you have with the staff at the school is their signature on the contract and a quick phone call (“Hey our dance is this weekend; we’re just making sure you’re still showing up”). You perform the dance and do a great job, but it sometimes won’t matter. The next year, the new student council president will probably start from scratch, cold calling all the DJs in the area. You may be lucky enough for them to remember how great of a time they had at last year’s event, but that is not to say they will even have your contact information anymore.

While we will certainly book an event no matter who calls, our repeat business concentrates on the teachers. We send out a “Thank You” letter at the end of the school year reinforcing our marketing, contact information, and name. We also send out holiday cards in December, which also reinforces our name (We usually get a surge in the “Oh yeah, now’s a great time to book next semester’s dances, let’s give them a call” clients). We focus on building relationships with the teachers that run these events. They know us by first name and we know them by first name. They trust that we will be at their school to perform in rain, snow, tornado, or any other circumstance, and we trust that we will be paid in full for our services (of course we have a contract just in case)!

I’m going to sum up this entire article in one sentence: The best way to gain repeat business is to be easy to work with, extremely reliable, customer service oriented, and have a performance that keeps students interested and having a good time.

Mobile Beat Staff Writer (371 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.

Filed Under: DJing School Dances