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By Professor Jam

Our wedding reception market is large in comparison to other parts of the country; the unofficial estimate being tossed around is approximately 20,000 last year. My rates for basic no lighting receptions range from $850-$2,500 and I have limitations on events I can personally participate with due to the fact that Friday, Saturday, and Sundays are our main reception dates. Having a large market, I only have to do 1% or less of these events and I'm jamming; team that with 90% of my bookings being referrals, and I don't have that hard of a time. There are a few who have raised the bar in my market as well, however it's no more then a Limbo Pole. They charge top rates for their personal service, but still bid low when needed and they sub out jobs at a lower rate as well. This practice serves to benefit no one. I feel that dangling the higher rate as bait for anyone willing to pay it is un-ethical;my rates are in print and solid-- no bargains, no sliding scale, no hype!

I've found it easy to collect what I'm worth due to the high percentage of receptions in my surrounding market, but what IS amazing, is that I have priced myself out of my local market or "county".  I did "0" business other then the donation of my services for several worth while causes last year, so when I read "Geography has nothing to do with getting what your worth", I would only agree if the worth is scientifically based on your specific market; not on a nationally established fixed rate. I used the exact same marketing materials, offered the exact same service, and quoted the exact same rate, and not one client booked me-however, the majority did ask or tried to obtain a reduced rate.  What I consider my local market now is everything within a four-hour drive; on average, I drive a minimum one-hour drive to each event. As I raised my rates, I actually found myself changing my market area and increasing the size of my market. I've read posts where others have expanded their marketing area to collect higher rates also, so it is possible to price yourself out of your local Geography. Planning and market research is very important. I've read where many companies include lighting with every package. I have approximately thirty thousand in Intelligent lighting which I offer as additional packages. I decided long ago, when the manufactures give me lighting, I'll then give it to my customers. LOL!  I only had two up-sale's last year that booked lighting, and it has not affected my business; if it had, I would have quickly re-added this feature to my packages (this would have been market research via trail and error LOL).

It seems that the higher value many have obtained that I've read, offer extended or VERY personalized services or years of experience in justification of higher rates. I'm not an average DJ as I've read others claim they are, my personal experience and detailed event production is a couple of my power points; however, I would be first to admit there are markets I would never be able to obtain my present rate plan and sustain my present position as a FULL-TIME, it IS my real job, professional entertainer.  I don't get the Friday evening sock-hop or the Thursday evening birthday party or the car show at In-&-Out Burger, or the ribbon cutting at the new 7-11; it's been years since I did a Toga party and you sure as hell won't see me at the local pub any night soon. There are enough events in my market for my small percentage willing to pay my rate for my personalized service and there are thousands of events that will say rate is a major issue and look for their perceived value from another who is willing to only charge that rate and that is a fact I live with.

My advice to anyone wishing to charge the rates many boast of and you feel is unattainable; work on your performance, educate yourself as to the type of events you feel confident in, and as you gain experience and knowledge, the value will be reflected in professionalism and obtaining such rates will be a breeze. However, Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail.


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