This article was contributed by DJ industry expert Stacy Zemon.
Scenario #1 – You bend over backwards to please a client and are offered only a sincere thank you and a handshake or hug at the end of the night – but no tip.
Scenario #2 – Something goes wrong during an event, so you don't expect a tip but instead are handed a big one in cash by a smiling bride or groom.
One thing is for sure and that’s that nothing is for certain when it comes to receiving tips. Most mobiles who have been in the business for a while have realized that in order to earn them, we should not worry about getting them, rather focus on providing superior customer service and let the “tips fall where they may.”
Here are ten things you can do to better your chances of getting tipped after an event:
1. Add Gratuities Information to Your Entertainment Agreement. You might try inserting language like this. “Gratuities are at the client’s sole discretion. 10% to 15% is customary for an excellent performance.”
2. Provide an FAQ List to Clients. Provide a list of frequently asked questions to your clients. In it, include questions such as: Can my guests make requests at the event? Should a table be provided for the DJ? Should a meal be provided for DJ? Is it customary to tip the DJ?
3. Turn Down the “Free” Meal. As nice as it is to enjoy a good meal during an event, have you ever thought about the possibility that you may be eating your tip?
4. Greet Guests as They Arrive. Greet guests as they walk into an event. Show them where the bar, gift and name card tables are located. This will make a positive impression on the guests, the client and the venue.
5. Go the Extra Mile. While some DJs may think of themselves as “too good” to be a “servant” at an event, others see service as an opportunity to totally impress their clients. If service is one of your top priorities (and it should be), then releasing individual tables for the buffet line, picking up someone’s sweater that has fallen off a chair or anything else that you can help with by going the extra mile will often be appreciated via a hefty tip at the end of the evening.
6. Make the Venue Look Good. Acknowledge the catering manager, bartender and servers on the microphone. When you make a venue look good, you’re likely to get referrals from them. Your client may also notice your class and professionalism and financially reward you for it.
7. Bring an Emergency Care Kit to Every Event. Bring along safety pins, needle and thread, bandages and even nylons in your emergency care kit. How about giving soft towels to the bride and groom when they come off the dance floor for the first dance? It’s these little touches that no one expects from a DJ that add up to the overall impression you make.
8. Provide the Groom with a Rose to Give to the Bride. Just before the first dance, try sneaking a long-stem red rose to the groom (thornless, of course). Have him hide it inside his jacket, then, when he presents it to his bride at the start of the song, the guests let out a big “Ahhh!”. You need to set this up with the florist ahead of time but the groom is usually the tipper, so if you make him look good, hopefully he will express his appreciation in the form of $$$.
9. Be Prepared for the Awkward Tip Question. At the end of an event if a client asks if they should give you a tip, what do you say? How about, “That’s entirely up to you. Generally clients tip me about 10% to 15% depending on how much they feel that I’ve contributed to the success of their event. Thank you for asking.” Then turn your back and continue loading up your gear.
10. Use Overtime to Remind Your Client About Tipping. Some companies split overtime money booked at an event in half with their DJs, others let their DJs keep it all. If a DJ lets a client know that all overtime money goes directly to the company, this is a subtle way of also letting them understand that overtime money is earmarked differently than a tip.
Under Promise & Over Deliver. What it all comes down to is making people happy by under promising and over delivering. Many people tip when their expectations have been exceeded simply because they just feel that it’s the right thing to do.
Stacy Zemon is author of the world’s best-selling DJ books; Publisher & Chief Scribe of ProMobileDJ.com, a website filled with educational articles and videos; and Founder & President of DJvideoNetwork.com, a website featuring a library of informative shows that can be watched by topic. You can email her c/o Stacy@ProMobileDJ.com