Meet Your Event Team Before Hiring Them. Particularly Your DJ.
The clients I work with (particularly wedding couples) often have event budgets of $15,000-50,000. The average cost of a Canadian wedding in 2012 was $21,000. And from my personal experience, I would say the average cost of a Corporate Holiday party would be similar.
It continually blows my mind at how often clients will hire a photographer, caterer, decorator, DJ, etc without first meeting them. Most vendors in the event business are providing a service, which is usually linked to their personal talents. So wouldn’t it make sense to meet them in person? You are really buying into them, are you not? How can you know how they really are as people, without some sort of face-to-face contact?
So to invest $10,000+ on an intangible experience, without investing in the right Event Team, is a huge risk!
I’ll be the first to admit, particularly in the case of DJs, that the status quo is set extremely low. Uncomfortably low. So here are a few tips to help you pick out top-notch event vendors, particularly DJs.
Things to Look For When Hiring Your Event Team
- Do they respond to phone calls and e-mails in a timely manner?
A few years back, a DJ peer attended a convention out of country for 10 days. In that time he received 10 booking inquiries, but could not respond until he returned home. When he did respond 50% of the prospective clients stated that he was the FIRST to return their inquiry! Responding within 2-3 business days is a reasonable length of time. Bear in mind that because most event vendors work weekends, they may take Monday and Tuesday off.
- Are they willing to meet you in person?
Hiring based upon personality not on price is something I recommend always. Meeting a vendor in person, or even an extended phone call will give allow you to determine if they should be a part of your event team.
- Have they sought professional training in their field?
There are many organizations that provide training and a vetting process over the business practices of an event vendor. There is the WPIC for wedding planners, the PPOC for photographers, ISES or CSES for corporate event professionals, and the CDJA or CPDJA for Disc Jockeys. Solely being a member of these organizations does not 100% guarantee the quality of someone’s work. So ask the vendors you are considering in hiring about their schooling, mentorship, conferences they attend, certifications, etc that show they have the training to deliver consistent results.
In my case, I have 2 certifications as a Wedding Consultant, attend 1-2 conventions a year, have traveled North America for specialized DJ and MC training, and hold an undergraduate degree in business. I’m always learning. Over the next couple of years I hope to complete a Project Management Professional (PMP) Designation, WED Guild Certification, and become an expert in DMX technologies.
- Do they have “Verifiers” to show they are a real business?
Business licenses, incorporation, liability insurance, AVLA public music licenses, pyrotechnic licenses, etc. These “verifiers” prove they are a legal, operating and functioning business. At the same time, remember that none of these speak to the quality of the work they do.
- Do they have a track record of success?
Referrals, testimonies, letters of reference, videos, feedback surveys, pictures, etc are a good sign here!
- Do they document their promises and agreement to you in e-mails, invoices, contracts, receipts, etc?
- Are they a member of any trade or industry groups that uphold a minimum standard?
Trade groups are abundant in the event industry. Many of them even offer Arbitration Services in cases where a member falls short of delivering the services they promise.
- Do they have secondary skills that strengthen their core offering?
In my case, I’ve also worked as a magician, public speaker, computer technician, event producer, and a whole ton of other things! I’m also bilingual in French and English. These come in handy more often than I can count.
Expanding this concept to a caterer – is their chef also a trained sommelier (wine service and pairing expert)?
This is not an exhaustive list, but a good start. I hope this helps you pick out an star Event Team! Comments are appreciated. Meeting your Event Team is well worth your time!