Should You Collect A Deposit for DJ Bookings?
Recently I’ve had some DJ’s asking me the question, ‘should I collect a deposit for DJ bookings?’ and there is one simple answer to this question. Before I get to that answer however I want to tell you a quick story from my early days as a DJ. I started out DJing like most of us with cheap and old second hand equipment with a classifieds advertising in the local newspaper and off I went. My CD collection as it was back then, was made up of about 50 CDs which meant no more than 1000 songs but somehow I still survived and had happy customers.
Anyway, when I started out I used to DJ as a duo with a close friend of mine and our parents would drop us to the gigs and pick us up at the end of the night, eventually we both got our licenses and were able to drive to the gigs ourselves. One night, I can still remember clearly we arrived at the house of a party and no one was home. We were so confused, I was sure this lady booked and it was in my calendar. I rang the customer and the phone rang out, what now? Did we have the wrong address? Was it scheduled for another date? We sat in the car staring out the window for about fifteen minutes wondering what we should do when suddenly the phone rang, I answered and it was the customer. Apparently she cancelled a week ago and sent an email to let us know but I just never got the message. So there we were, ready and excited to DJ another party and now we’d had a cancellation. It was from that point on, we both decided to collect a deposit for every booking. So here is a few good reasons you should collect a deposit for your bookings.
Reason 1. Without a deposit you don’t have a booking
The way I see it these days, if the customer is not willing to pay a deposit then they are not serious about booking. I mean, without a deposit your so called customer can change their mind at any minute and decide to cancel your booking leaving you out in the lurch. They might have a friend of a friend who says they can beat your price or maybe they go to another party and see a DJ and then decide they want that DJ and not you anymore. Regardless of what happens, if they make a decision to book you and want you to reserve a spot in your calendar then you must collect a deposit of at least $100 and it should be non refundable if the event is cancelled within 60 days of the event.
Reason 2. A deposit will prevent you from loss of income had you turned any others away
The other good reason to collect a deposit is not only so that people don’t change their mind last minute but so that you don’t lose any income had you turned any double bookings away. Especially in high season usually in the months of October to December you are bound to have multiple inquiries for the same date so you should only be reserving the date for those who are willing to pay a deposit.
Reason 3. A deposit will save you from double bookings made by the customer
You might find this amusing, but there has actually been a couple of times when I have arrived to a party and seen another DJ already setting up at the same party. What the . . .? Yes that’s right, I’ve arrived to a party and seen another DJ half way through his setup and then thought, wait a minute I collected a deposit for this booking and then went straight to the customer. After a quick discussion with them we quickly found out that the other DJ company never collected a deposit and the customer claims she definitely booked with me so unfortunately for the other DJ he had to pack up his gear and leave. It’s a good feeling to know that you did the right thing and collected a deposit like you should have.
Reason 4. A deposit will instantly improve your cash flow
Having cash flow issues? Need money to buy that new mixer that’s going to make DJing a lot easier and more fun? Want to buy a facade to make your DJ setup look nicer? You need cash flow. Unfortunately if you are booking events that are weeks or even months away, you might get someone’s word that they want to book you now but you won’t be seeing any money for months now, unless you collect a deposit. Collecting a deposit now for bookings that are months away will instantly improve your cash flow and help you to stay in business when things matter most. You might be going through a tough period, then your quickest way to get more money is to book more events and with a deposit it does’t matter how many months into the future those bookings are, the down payment you collect will help you in the now.
So there you go, the simple answer is yes you should collect a deposit for every booking. How much should it be? What are the terms of the deposit? Are there any exceptions to the rule? Okay let me help you with those questions too.
Question 1. How much of a deposit should I collect for a DJ booking?
The amount is entirely up to you however I would recommend at least $100. For many years I collected a $100 deposit and this works fine, however in recent years I moved it up to $200 to improve cash flow and customers didn’t seem to notice. You could also make it a percentage of the booking, like 20% or 50% but then the amount might always be different so I think it’s best to use a set number.
Question 2. What should be the terms of my DJ booking deposit?
As with the booking itself, you should have a terms and conditions relating to your deposit. This may be that your deposit is non refundable if you choose for it to be that way. Personally, if someone cancels early enough I don’t mind refunding the deposit so I will say in my terms that the deposit is refundable if the event is cancelled before 60 days of the event. This way you are adding a little fairness to the deposit rules as unless you are a wedding DJ, most bookings will come within that 60 day period so you probably wouldn’t have had to turn away any double bookings. You can also add more to your booking terms, not just regarding the deposit but the whole booking but i’ll get back to you on that in another blog.
Question 3. When should I NOT collect a deposit?
There are some times when a deposit may not be required, and that is if you are dealing directly with another DJ or a venue or a venue that regularly sends gigs. In these instances I will not collect a deposit for the bookings, and also with some schools and corporations that have a very bureaucratic payment system, however I find that schools and corporates are less likely to change their mind and cancel the booking on you so they can be trusted more.
Anyway thanks for reading this blog and if you found the information useful then please SHARE this on on social media and leave your comments below (all comments will be moderated, no spam please) and I will be glad to hear from you and even answer your questions.
Paul Anthony is the Managing Director of Event Master Pro and Discosource DJ’s based in Phuket, Thailand. With over 20 years experience as a Professional DJ he built a nation wide DJ service across every major city in Australia teaching over 50 DJs his craft and now developing the EMP online application for DJs.