We’ve been talking lately about vendors and how to hire them and with our niece getting married we figured we’d jump in and talk about how to find great vendors – not great salespeople.
In our previous post Words Have Meaning we discussed what vendors say, and hinted at how to get behind that to what they really do or mean. In Stop Hiring and Start Interviewing to Save Your Wedding we talked about the process to hire vendors. Now let’s go deeper and take our previous blog posts to the next level. Let’s look at some questions they say to ask, and what you should REALLY ask. Keep in mind, there are going to be a LOT of vendors who won’t like this post because they don’t want to answer the tough questions or to give up ‘control’ of the sales process. It’s your wedding and the success of your event depends on you hiring a great team of vendors.
I’m going to focus on DJ’s first because we are a DJ company. We’re going to start with the ADJA (American Disc Jockey Association) and the first 3 questions on their list of questions. I’m not picking on the ADJA – as a matter of fact, I’m a member. Their questions are just easily available and I can tear them apart without another DJ feeling like I’m picking on them. In other words, I picked these questions for a reason.
Typical questions that DJ’s recommend you ask fall into 3 categories. The first are ‘nothing’ questions which don’t really ‘mean’ anything because they’ll answer how you expect them to. The second type are ‘checkmark’ questions which you need proof of and are important parts of verifying certain requirements. The last are the ‘important’ questions that can use to identify vendors that are a step above the norm and you want to work with. For each of these types of questions we find on the internet we’ll look at how you can change up the question to get the ‘real’ answer. This will allow you to REALLY find out about the company and the people behind the ‘sales facade’.
Question 1. Have you committed yourself to follow the ADJA Code of Professional Conduct? ADJA code of Professional Conduct.
While this is all said and good, anyone can say they ‘follow’ the code of professional conduct. It’s a ‘nothing’ question to which they’ll smile and respond ‘of course’ to.
Instead, consider asking them if they’ve ever been asked to issue a refund and why. Ask them when was the last time they had an unhappy client and how did they handle it? Ask for specifics of what happened – not the persons name, venue, etc – but what really happened to cause them to be unhappy. Dealing with an unhappy client is something that happens to EVERYONE at one time or another. HOW they deal with it is what differentiates and shows their professional conduct. And as a follow up, ask them what they did to insure it won’t happen again.
Question 2. Are you insured? Can you supply me with proof of liability?
This is a ‘checkmark’ question. You would be AMAZED at how many DJ companies (or other vendors for that matter) do NOT carry liability insurance. Liability insurance is for if something ‘goes wrong’. Someone trips on an uncovered extension cord, or Professionals that provide services that deal in professional opinion should carry ‘E&O’, also called ‘Errors and Omissions’ or ‘Malpractice’ insurance. This protects you and the professional if they give you bad advice. Expect this for wedding planners, decorators, etc. ALWAYS as for PROOF of insurance – do NOT take their word for it.
Question 3. Will you be willing to play requests and discuss music ahead of time?
This is another ‘nothing’ question in the sales process because the ‘typical’ DJ will say, ‘Sure. No problem.’
Instead, ask them how often they normally meet with their clients, and if those meetings are in person, on the phone, or done in some other fashion (Skype, online chat, etc). Ask them how long those meetings typically last. And when you talk with their references, ask them how many times they met with them, how long they lasted, etc.
I’ve looked at dozens, if not hundreds of DJs’ websites for recommendations on how to hire a DJ and the questions you need to ask. On ALL of those websites including the one that has more than 50 questions you should ask of your DJ before you hire them – the number that listed ‘tough’ questions was ZERO. That’s right, every single question I saw was tied to either ‘nothing’ questions or ‘checkmark’ questions. NO ONE is telling people to ask the HARD questions – until now.
It’s time to stop bad things from happening. The most important thing you can do to insure the success of your event is to ask tough questions of the vendors you meet with. Don’t be afraid to ask those tough questions and if you don’t like the examples they give, ask for another one. Look for professionals that can back up what they say they do. And if a vendor isn’t comfortable answering a question, you’re probably asking the right questions. The only advice I have is that if a vendor refuses to answer the tough questions, there’s something seriously wrong and you should RUN from that vendor as quickly as possible.
First Day Entertainment is a wedding entertainment company providing a DJ and Master of Ceremonies for weddings throughout Pensacola, Mobile, Destin, the Emerald Coast, and beyond. They specialize in creative entertainment for discerning couples – coupling cultural, religious, and personal taste into your wedding entertainment.