Full Package Or Optional Extra?
Upsells are a contentious subject. Love letters, up-lighting, photo booths and LED-lit dancefloors are all popular extras that can appeal to clients. But should you actively sell them or only provide them at the request of your customers? Does the modern DJ need to upsell services or are clients starting to expect more from their party and wedding DJs as standard?
Recently, at the Pro Mobile Conference 2016, there was plenty of talk about upsells, with some DJs arguing for and some against, pointing out a number of advantages, but disadvantages too. Some of it comes down to the style of events a DJ works; many wedding DJs, for instance, offer their clients a series of packages, many of which come with things like up-lighting as standard. But some DJs prefer to sell these extras separately, often after the initial booking has been made, as a way for the client to ‘enhance’ their event (and for the DJ to make more money).
Each DJ has their own thoughts on upsells, but let’s take a look at the debates and issues that seem to crop up all too often when discussing this controversial subject!
To upsell or not to upsell, that Is the question
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how or why, the fundamental question for many DJs is whether to upsell services and products at all. While many, including South East-based DJ Carl Hirst, say that “it’s definitely a no-brainer,” others don’t see the point in upselling at all: “In my opinion, if you’re upselling then you aren’t doing things properly; focusing on your key service as a DJ/host is the most important thing”, explained Chris Burford. “I don’t upsell and I don’t do dance-floors, but I do include up-lighting free for my all-day weddings and, of course, if my clients specifically ask for something I can always supply it via one of my contacts in the industry,”
In fact, moving away from the yes or no debate, this idea of including things for free is something that a few DJs feel is a necessity in the age of modern events, where the service and experience offered to the client is vitally important. Tony Winyard – an all-day host/DJ and Wedding Industry Award-winner – believes in the idea of an ‘unlimited’ service, telling us that he has “two main packages that people go for, which kind of include everything. As Peter Merry says, it’s unlimited as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if they’re finishing at 12- or 2am, it doesn’t make any difference to me, it’s going to be the same price for everything that I can do to make their wedding day special. However, I don’t really go in for the equipment extras, the profit margin is so small on doing things like dancefloors that I just don’t see the point. I mean, if a customer wants me to get a dancefloor then I’ll do it, but I don’t actively try and upsell it.”
Favouring a similar approach, Nigel Harwood also stresses the potential loss of money when offering upsells. “I used to try and upsell but the problem is that clients can say ‘we don’t want that, we don’t want that…’ and before you know it you’re going out for your basic price,” he said. “So now I tend to try and sell myself, as a package. I mean, it’s more than just ‘do you want fries with that?’ – we’re talking about people’s wedding days!”
But what about when selling extra event features and services does work? DJ Lee Russell argues that upsells can be incredibly lucrative and that, along with his all-white setup, the up-lighting, love letters, photo booths, dancefloors and candy carts he provides “bring the money right up.” Meanwhile, Charlie Rogers’ main upsell, up-lighting, goes out on “probably 75- or 80% of jobs” and is generally “DMXed into the effects lighting and sold as a package.”
Toby Oakley, a wedding DJ working in the New Forest, is another fervent proponent of upselling. “Extras can in some cases double your turnover, so they can be a very viable and lucrative part of your business”, he tells us. “My evening price for 5 hours is currently £620. If the client then books my up-lighting, mirrorball, static monogram and TV screen (with interactive slideshow) the price goes up to £985, which - considering the set up time, maintenance and operation, of each service - is not a bad return on investment.
Another ardent believer in the lucrativeness of upsells is last issue’s profiled DJ, Robin Kershaw, the man behind successful multi-op Dancefloor Couture. For Robin, the key is to offer the add-ons last and to always give the client more of an incentive to book. “We do floors, love signs, up-lighting… but we always offer clients 10% discount if they book more than one item, as an incentive to book more,” explained Robin. “Upsells are a good thing. The company does better if we can be supplying everything; the event also runs more smoothly and looks better, because instead of having lots of different suppliers doing different things, we can do everything and make sure it meets our high standards.”
The potential problem here, according to some DJs, is that having all these add-ons confuses the message when dealing with clients – something that wedding DJ Adam Carr was quick to point out: “I think putting products which can essentially be provided by anyone – up-lighting, dancefloors, etc. – within your package confuses the message,” he said. “As DJs we’re selling ourselves and the unique way that we can host an event. By grouping in extra products with our service we run the risk of clients comparing us, like for like, with anyone else who can supply these extras.”
It seems the decision as to whether or not to offer upsells at all is still as tough as it’s ever been, and for DJs who are new to the game it can be a tricky area requiring thought and exploration. Chris Binns, who attended the Pro Mobile Conference as a new delegate this year, is one DJ who is still looking at his options when it comes to upsells, especially when thinking about getting his business off the ground. “Upsells are something I need to explore; the potential is amazing,” Chris explained. “I think upsells are really important because that’s what can get you to the next level. They can make you that bit more money to be able to do more things. Because all the money I get I try to reinvest in my business. And that reinvestment itself will hopefully pay dividends later on down the line.”
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 77, Pages 46 - 52.