October 21, 2014

The Irritant Client

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It’s Not Always Wise To Do Everything a Client Asks. Consequently, Some DJs Have Found Ways to Work Around the Demands.

Jennifer Tigges of Video Creations knows firsthand the complications that can arise when a wedding client wants something that she knows from decades of experience is not to going to work.

“Just last week I did exactly what my bride in Maquoketa, Iowa, wanted— knowing that she would not be pleased—and sure enough the client was not happy in the end,” says the Dubuque-based videographer, who works with bridal parties and other event clients in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. “Fortunately, in this case I had charged an extra $400 ‘irritant quotient,’ so it was worth it in the end.

“I actually call it pain-in-the-ass add-on,” Tigges adds. “I quote a higher price when I know I’m going to have to do more work, to stay later or when I know the client is going to be a pain in the rear. If I know I’m going to have to work overtime, my minimum extra charge is equal to taking my family out to dinner.

“By the way, my clients don’t know this is factored into their quote.”

What do mobile DJs do when our brides ask us to do something cheesy or that’s guaranteed to fail? Do we do what they ask for anyway, even if we know it will flop? Or do we gingerly suggest an alternative that might work better and earn us praise from our client?

Over on the West Coast, Mark Haggerty, director of operations for Denon & Doyle Entertainment in the San Francisco Bay area, says he uses his experience and expertise to create a unique experience that will please his clients.

“When I do a wedding consult with my couples,” he says, “I start off by reminding them that this is a live event, wherein I need the flexibility to respond to their crowd as things happen. Having a rapport and establishing trust with my clients, in most cases, usually helps eliminate awkward situations.

“One thing I never do is to flat-out tell them, ‘No!’”

Of course, Haggerty says there are times when simple persuasion simply doesn’t work on a bride.

“I recently had a bride wanting me to open the dancefloor with the ‘YMCA’ and do a whole set of older tunes first,” he recalls. “In the planning meeting, I thought, ‘What the heck—it’s her day!’ But as I was playing dinner music, her friends and other 20-somethings were the majority of the crowd, and they looked to be the cool, hip San Francisco crowd.”

Worried that he would lose most of the guests after the first dance set he had already agreed on playing—and with mainly the older guests and some young ones already on the dancefloor—Haggerty noticed a few of his younger crowd packing up to leave, grabbing purses and jackets.

“That’s when I realized some of the missing folks had gone outside and to a balcony, and I even had someone come up and ask me, ‘Are you going to play anything new tonight?’

“In that case, I picked up the pace a little bit, everything turned out just fine, and everyone stayed and danced to the end.”

Another time, Haggerty says he had a bride who wanted five interactive games during her wedding reception, though he doubted he could fit in so many games during their party.

“After the third game, people were starting to lose interest, and after I had already made up my mind that we were done with games, the bride approached me and said that was enough games—they could just dance now.

“OK, so I called it!”

Back over in Ogunquit, Maine, Jerry Bazata of Jaz Music & Entertainment can vividly remember two wedding receptions during which his brides chose music for their parties that might have ended in disaster.

“In 2002, I was contracted for a wedding in Portland in which the theme of the reception was based upon Broadway shows,” recalls Bazata. “The bride and groom had been collectors of show memorabilia, so they created an entire reception around a theater setting including doormen, red ropes and a concession stand.

“Because they wanted the guests to enjoy all of the memorabilia on display, they had an extended two-hour cocktail hour, during which they wanted only Broadway show tunes played and nothing else.

“The first 30 minutes were tolerable, but then the guests—in a very polite manner—kept coming up to me asking if this was what I was playing all night. In fact, after 90 minutes the uncle of the bride offered me a $100 bribe to play something else.

“Knowing that the quests were within minutes of slitting their wrists with butter knives, I politely convinced the bride to allow me to play some Rat Pack music to tie the theme together.

“Overall, the bride was happy and the guests were relieved to know they didn’t need to suffer through yet another version of ‘Singing in…
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