By Brian Buonassissi:
Here’s a statement I never thought I would make: After some 22 years of business I turned down my first client. Last year, I was listening to one of the PHDJ podcast episodes hosted by Mike Walter and Joe Bunn (if you’re not subscribed to it, you need to be) and the question came up if either of them had ever turned down a client? Like me, up to that point, neither of them had. However, the question gave me serious pause to think about clients that were “questionable.”
I can think of a handful of clients our company has taken on where, when we went to contract, I had a feeling they were going to be trouble clients. In the end, they all ended up to be exactly that – every single one of them. In some cases, we had to give a partial or full refund. Listening to the podcast, I began to ask myself, “Why did we take these clients on?”
The reasons varied. Part of me didn’t want to feel defeated. I wanted us to take on the challenge of making these clients have the party of their life. Another part of me may have wanted to make sure our DJs were working and there was fear that another booking may not come. And then there was another part of me that wanted to bring in the revenue.
As my DJ profile and demand has grown over the years, I’ve had the luxury of being able to pick and choose which clients are “the right fit” for me. If a client wasn’t a good fit, I’d send it down the chain to one of our other guys. That type of client didn’t really affect me as our other DJs had to deal with it and I masked it by saying, “It was good training” for them.
It hit in me in the face that I was being rather selfish. That started a process over the last few months of 2017 in identifying just who our ideal client was. I’ll share some of that with you.
Our ideal client:
*is between the age of 22-35
*is kind and generous
*is creative – loves uniqueness
*is cutting edge – enjoys social media and mobile apps, open to incorporating the latest and greatest
*Loves a variety of different music or at least has an appreciation for many different genres
*has an awareness that a DJ can make/break their event
*easily recognizes and appreciates value over low quality
*is willing to collaborate with us (there’s a mutual trust between us)
*has a crowd that loves to dance any chance they get
*communicates well and appreciates timely responses and reciprocates
That’s our Top 10 list. Once I identified our ideal client, it really put me (and our sales staff) in the driver’s seat and we found ourselves interviewing our clients just as much as they were interviewing us before taking on a job. There is still nervousness that I may lose out on revenue but the negatives of taking on a client that isn’t a fit completely outweigh any positives.
Back to the client I turned down…in a nutshell, they didn’t pass muster on 5 of the 10 on our list. It was enough of a warning sign for me that I knew this wasn’t the right client for us. I sent the client a contract anyway. However, when they came back with changes they wanted to see to the contract, it was like a little nudge from the heavens telling me to abort.
I spent some time thinking through how to communicate that I was going to rescind the contract offer; the last thing I wanted to do was for the planner to stop sending referrals (some of our best parties came from her). I talked to the planner first (over the phone) and she totally understood and even said she wished she had done the same. I tried calling the client twice but got v/m both times, so I drafted a nice email and sent it off. I never heard back. Again, more confirmation that I made the right call.
Have you ever had a trouble client? What have you done? It’s not a matter of if you’ll ever have one but when. If you take one thing away from post today, I would encourage you to identify your ideal client with no more than 10 bullet points. The process challenges you to real drill down. I think it will do wonders for your business. It has for mine.
Based out of NYC, DJ Brian Buonassissi is a successful internationally traveling DJ/MC specializing in luxury destination private events. He runs a multi-city mobile DJ/event business with offices in Southern California, Destin, FL and New York City. You can connect with him at email@example.com