The most common question we get asked as an entertainment company is “What is your price?” or “Can you send me your packages?”. These are by no means silly questions, when you don’t know what other questions to ask, these are the most basic questions to start with. However, this is not unique to wedding entertainment companies. Photographers, cake designers, celebrants and just about every other wedding professional gets asked these sorts of questions. Again, this is only because you don’t know what else you could be asking.
Let’s take this same scenario outside of the wedding industry for a minute to see how this sort of question would play out …
Imagine ringing a car dealership and asking …
“How much is a car?“.
The dealer answers “We can do one for $1000“.
“Great“, you say as you have been ringing around for a while and this is the cheapest you found. So you give your credit card details over the phone to purchase the car and then make your way to the dealership. All the while on the way to the dealership, you have a beautiful black shiny Mercedes Benz car in your mind. (After all, a car is a car right?). When you turn up, the dealer takes you past all the nice shiny cars out the front to the very back. You notice the quality of the cars getting noticeably less the further into the car yard he takes you. You start to worry a little. He ends up showing you a beat up, barely running ugly little hatchback from the 1980’s that looks like it’s had more than it’s fair share of owners.
It sounds ridiculous right? Because of course if you were shopping for a car you would have an idea of what is important to you. You would know how big you want it to be. You would probably have settled on a short list of acceptable colours. You would know if you want manual or automatic etc. Even if you didn’t know, if you called a dealer and asked the first question in our scenario “How much is a car?” the dealer would quickly ask you questions to try and get an understanding of what type of car you had in mind.
However, take this to the wedding industry and people will just ask the most basic question of –
“How much is a DJ?”
“How much are your cakes?”
“How much do you charge to photograph a wedding?”
When you get a price you need to ask what that includes. If I shopped around for limo prices and got some quotes for as little as $150 and some as high as $600, at first appearance the $600 price tag might seem exuberant. But if I later found out that the $600 price also included a bottle of fine vintage champagne (valued at $500) and a night for 2 at a 5 star resort with breakfast included (valued at $600) all of a sudden that $600 limo hire price is looking a LOT more attractive than the $150 one.
If you don’t take the time to ask what is included, you will never know when you wear the blinders of being fixated on pricing. So, you decide to go for the $150 limo. (After all, a limo is a limo right?). On your wedding day, you and the girls are all ready and waiting for the limo. Your phone rings and it is the limo driver explaining that, (in his words), “Sorry, the limo has broken down … again“.
“Again“? you think! It sounds like this happens a lot.
“So don’t you have a back up?” you ask.
“No sorry, but the mechanic is looking at it right now, he is almost finished. We will be there in 30 minutes. It’s okay, trust me this happens all the time“.
45 minutes later, and now this has really made you late and stressed as the limo turns up. Guess what, you were expecting a nice stretch limo. Sorry, you shopped on price and got a standard four door sedan that looks like it hasn’t been washed in months. The driver isn’t even wearing a suit and tie.
Sometimes you get what you pay for and equally … you DON’T get what you DON’T pay for.
I think you can see where I am going with this. You need to dig a bit deeper. The price is not a guarantee of quality nor of lack of quality. The price is simply only ONE of the many factors that you need to take into consideration to find the right supplier to match your budget AND expectations. Striking that perfect balance takes homework and finding the right questions to ask all your potential suppliers.
You might find a supplier that offers just as good a service for a quarter of the price of others, and that is great. But you will only be assured of that if you ask the right questions ALONG with the price question.
As the owner of a wedding entertainment business, I can’t give you what questions you might want to ask other wedding vendors, but I CAN give you some great questions you could ask wedding entertainers.
– How long have you been in business?
There is nothing wrong with giving a new comer in the entertainment industry a go, but are you prepared to “give them a go” with your special day? Would you perhaps feel more comfortable with someone that has been doing this for at least a few years?
– How many weddings have you done?
This might at first seem similar to the first question but it’s not. What if they have been in business as an entertainer for 10 years as a club DJ but have never done a wedding? They would probably not be a good option as a wedding is very different to a being a DJ in a nightclub.
– Do you have a website?
If they have a professional looking website, they have probably spent quite a bit of time, money (or at least effort) on it. This is a good sign that they have invested and believe in themselves and what they offer. (A shoddy, out of date or unprofessional site might be saying the opposite!)
– Do you have any testimonials?
The best place to look for this is on Google. Simply type the name of the entertainment company into Google followed by the word “reviews” and look for the star rating reviews Google offers. Look through and read what past clients have to say about the company. Be wary of companies that claim to have been in business for years yet somehow only have a few reviews. These companies often get enough bad feedback to justify closing their Google business account and making all their bad reviews disappear with it, at the price of having to start again. (Easy Wedding is another great site to review wedding suppliers).
– Have you won any bridal awards?
You will come across some DJs that have a massive dislike and are very vocal against bridal awards. This is usually because they have tried it once, didn’t win so took the ball and went home in a huff. (Or those that are too afraid to give it a go to start with lest their weakness be exposed in public before their peers). We have been fortunate enough to have been winners in the past, but we have lost many times. What we take away from our loss is a lesson. Each bridal couple in the Australian Bridal Industry Academy (ABIA) awards, is given the opportunity to vote for each supplier. When the results come out, reputable DJs take the time to study where they could have improved and work on fixing those issues. This creates a great ongoing improvement for those involved in the ABIA awards, which creates continually improving experiences for our clients.
– Do you have all the legally required licences and insurances?
This is crucial. In fact, it is a legal requirement that DJs have $20 million public liability insurance and PPCA licencing. There are many DJs that have neither, despite the fact that it is the law. If they can’t be bothered to stay legal, how serious are they about their business, and in turn how serious are they going to be about your wedding? You should ask any DJ you book to forward you through their certificate of currently for their public liability insurance as a minimum. Many venues will not allow DJs to enter their premises without this licence. What are you going to do when your venue refuses to let the DJ you booked onto the premises because they are not abiding by the law?
– Are you a member of any professional DJ industry associations?
The DJ Alliance of Australia (DJAA) is a body within the industry that is one such well recognised professional DJ industry association. Involvement in the DJAA is an indication that the DJ obviously takes their craft serious enough to become a member. The DJAA provides training and improvement opportunities for DJs across Australia.
– What type of equipment do you use?
Even the best DJ, playing all the right music is going to sound terrible through cheap, tinny speakers. In fact, what would be the point at all in hiring a DJ if the music sounds horrible? Some DJs will take this to the other extreme where they will try to impress you by telling you they are going to be providing “2 18 inch 1000 watt subs with 2 12 inch 1500 watt top ends … blah … blah … blah …”. Unless you an an audiophile this doesn’t mean much to you. You don’t need to know that, and you certainly don’t need someone bringing in enough equipment to be heard two neighborhoods away. It is a wedding, not a rave party. Sometimes less is more. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to audio equipment for a wedding. Look for quality, reputable brands like Bose, QSC, Mackie, LD Systems, JBL.
Hopefully, this article has been of help to you and armed you with some great questions to ask in your quest for the right entertainment that strikes the right balance between the above factors (and others they haven’t told you about), and … yes … price.
Wishing you all the very best for your wedding day.