Do you really get what you pay for?
I recently saw a post on Facebook from another DJ. I am not going to mention names or where this person is from. The post was actually slamming DJ's that charge less then this individual does. This individual said that if a DJ is charging less than $600 they are cutting corners and basically won't do a good job for you. Let me explain why this individual is very wrong.
Years ago when my Wife and I were looking for a DJ for our own wedding we called around (no Facebook wasn't what it is today and you couldn't get 75 DJ's commenting on a post back then) just to find that the cheapest deal we could find was $700 for 6 hours. I asked what does the DJ do at the wedding and almost every response was the same play the music for the party and dances and MC the event. Ok, fair enough but we just couldn't afford that much money at the time.
Our decision was to do our own music. Wow was that an eye opener. By no means was I a DJ back then. I was fortunate to have a friend loan us a laptop and another friend be willing to learn how to play the music. There were many glitches, nobody knew when to do the events (Cake Cutting, First Dance, other dances etc.) or how they were suppose to happen. Thankfully the Photographer we had was very skilled in weddings and suggested when to do things. We pulled it off but by no means was it professional.
Now, fast forward quite a few years.
I decided I wanted to be a DJ. Before buying any equipment or booking any gigs I thought long and hard as to what I wanted to do and what type of business person I wanted to be. I investigated equipment, I talked to a few DJ's that were nice enough to talk to me about it. I found that most were not willing to offer advice because they didn't want the competition. I come from a Restaurant Management background and I have always felt that competition is a good thing. It keeps us on our toes, it offers our clients choices of services not just pricing and it helps keep us fair to everyone. After these discussions I had the basics of what I wanted to do.
1. I would be fair in my pricing. Yes I had to make money but just because I heard the word Wedding I wasn't going to charge more than what I would want to pay myself.
2. I had to keep my costs low. So low in fact that every penny I made if I didn't have to buy food or keep the lights on had to go back into the business. I started this business after being unemployed during the long unemployment boom that hit Michigan very hard and nobody was hiring.
3. With having almost no money to start I had to purchase used equipment. I quickly learned just because it is used does not mean that it's junk. I will take a set of JBL or Peavey used speakers over certain other brands new ones any day because they sound so much better.
4. I wanted to be helpful. From our own wedding experience I discovered there are so many people that do not know how to not only put on a Wedding but most large events they need a helping hand in orchestrating.
I had to learn how to do Weddings. This was not an easy task. I did many weddings for gas money. As I learned more I started charging enough to purchase another piece of equipment. After using YouTube and other sites for coaching ideas and from the now almost 10 years and hundreds of Weddings later I have become quite good at Weddings. Am I perfect or the best? No, I don't think so even though many of my Clients have felt that I am.
Now to answer the individual that made me write this to begin with. Here are a few ways that I can afford to do Weddings at a lower cost and still provide even more services than most others.
I owe nobody for anything that is purchased for my business. I do not use credit or loans to buy equipment. There have been many times where I wanted to but to do so would force me to up my prices to my clients. I am not willing to do that.
I make a lot of my own things. If I can make a stand or piece of equipment that will do what I need it to do over buying it I will do so. If I have to purchase something for a gig I now need to make the money back for that purchase. I will try and make it first before buying it.
I am very clear and open about what we offer, what we can do and what we will be willing to do at our clients weddings. I don't promise the best light show around because that isn't where the money is going. I don't promise that we will have the best sounding or looking setup. I do my best to make what we have look good and be presentable. I am to the point now that we have backups for everything and the new equipment we do purchase will last because I learned the hard way what doesn't.
I can't talk for other DJ's but with me here is what a lower cost DJ will get you. A very experienced and skilled DJ that does gigs 5 nights each week (I am not a normal weekend wedding warrior DJ).
A highly trained individual in operating very succesful restaurants that is now willing to take that knowledge and work your event.
A DJ that will do whatever is needed to keep the event going, on time and to make sure all of your wants and goals of the day are met.
A DJ that buys all of the music and ensures that each song you ask for is ready to play on your special day.
A professional that is willing to work with your other vendors as a team to ensure their part of your day is also succesful.
Someone who will the day of your event change everything because you decided that you wanted something different.
Those are just a few things that you get for paying less. Oh, you also get music from start to finish, dance lighting, free karaoke, free pictures and more.
I hope this clears up the individuals confusion as to why some people can and do charge less. I hope they get enough gigs each weekend to make those payments.