Almost every established entertainment company is willing to offer the benefit of their insight. Invariably, large companies tout the benefits of hitching-up with a capable, resource-rich agency, while individual operators talk-up their personal attention to each event.
In truth, there are fine DJs and excellent customer service practices in place at both large and small companies. And, of course, there are less desirable elements across the spectrum.
Even if you’ve seen a company’s DJs in action, the decision isn’t easy. I’ve seen excellent performers placed in untenable circumstances and mediocre DJs blessed with an “anything goes” crowd. The end results weren’t commensurate with the talent and effort invested in the job.
Of course, you can contact references. But really, who lists their flops on a reference list? And who doesn’t list their brother-in-law and golf partner? After coming to accept the minimal value of references and the potential for disrupting the privacy of our valued customers, our company actually stopped publishing reference lists. They simply didn’t seem useful to savvy consumers.
Some DJ companies use videotapes to demonstrate their finesse. Here again, the problem is that selective editing can project Forrest Gump as an articulate announcer and Tommy Turtle as a skilled music mixer. To keep up with the trend, our company is developing a videotape for customer review, but only those willing to accept Memorex as reality will be swayed by its contents.
Fine, you say, this article has succeeded in eliminating all possible avenues of evaluation. We’re back to (horrors!) luck-of-the-draw.
Or maybe not.
There is an excellent method for evaluating a potential DJ. And it doesn’t involve a great deal of research. The method involves calling and talking to the person. Really! …just talking!
If you can invest just twenty minutes in a phone call, you can learn a lot about the way a company does business, the way a DJ conducts him/herself, and whether their style is a good match for your reception atmosphere.
Ask questions, and listen carefully to both the words and the way in which you get answers. You’ll hear a lot about attitude, personality and professionalism, if you pay close attention. Even the world’s slickest salesperson is forced to drop their mask when your inquiries fall outside the standard response list.
- Tell me how you’ll plan my wedding reception.
- How would you describe your (or your DJs’) performance style?
- How do you recruit new DJs?
- What professional accomplishments have your DJs achieved?
- Do you belong to the Chamber of Commerce or BBB?
- What happens if the DJ gets sick or the equipment fails?
- If we’ve banned a particular song from our reception and it’s requested, how would you handle that?
- What are the credentials of the person who designed your equipment setup?
- How would you play both big band and club dance music at the same event?
- How many other events will you be playing on the same day as my reception?
The last question, by the way, is quite a trick. If a company will own-up to playing 50 receptions simultaneously, you can be assured that personal service is nonexistent. By the same token, a single operator who tries to squeeze two or three jobs into a Saturday is begging sweat-soaked overload. Look for some reasonable workload from your entertainment provider. Planning is absolutely essential to event success, and a “load-and-leave” schedule invariably results in a crazyquilt music program. You’ll pay more for the individual attention, but it’s worth the price.