by Jordan Gawley, WPICC, of Black Creek Music
I have been providing wedding entertainment service across southern Ontario for 7 years now through my company – Black Creek Music. It was 2016 when I was first introduced to the concept of “Getting What You’re Worth.” It is funny the lengths people will go to convincing themselves why they can’t or shouldn’t do something.
We were told by so many colleagues that we were providing a valuable service and able to charge more than we were. – “Get what you’re worth” is what we were told.
In my eyes, my prices were going up each year and we were getting along just fine. Doubling my price didn’t make any sense as it may deter the business growth I was experiencing. Even worse, I may get clients that expected the world from me – I was happy serving clients in the middle of the market. I was still improving but the expectations never exceeded what I could provide. Business was great! – or so I thought….The number of events were going up, but so were the expenses, the time commitments and the pressure of providing an amazing experience for each and every couple.
I was encouraged to go to Las Vegas and partake in the Mark Ferrell’s’ – Master of Ceremonies training program – “Marbecca Method Workshops”. I was told that it would change my life, change my business and change the way I viewed all my clients. Mark Ferrell is most known for his movement encouraging DJ’s to get what they are worth along with being what they’re worth – those two concepts go hand-in-hand. He is noted for comparing the price of what a DJ charges to that which a client would pay for celery and carrots on their wedding day. Clients pay more for hors d’oeuvres than they do for their entertainment in some cases. What has a greater impact on the success of an event? The entertainment or the hors d’oeuvres. I encourage you to seek out Mark’s 4 Part Presentation of “Getting What You’re Worth” available online – www.markferrell.com – The movement, although directed to DJ’s is applicable to all wedding professionals.
At first, I found every excuse in the book not to participate in the training with Mark. January to March are normally the slow months for wedding professionals, meaning less cash flow through the business account. It was also the time to do taxes and always proved to be a challenge for me. How could I justify investing in a training program, flights and accommodation and take the time away from a busy weekend when I could be DJing and making money? This was all happening at the same time I was trying to find thousands of nonexistent dollars to pay my personal income tax from the business– again a problem caused by NOT charging what I was worth and not having a great business plan. How was I to have a great business plan as I just fell into this wedding profession as many of us do? Leaving my high-paying government job wasn’t my plan all along by the way. Thankfully my colleagues were persistent and encouraged me until I agreed to go. After attending just one Marbecca workshop I immediately saw my worth, raised my prices and began signing larger and larger contracts. Since March 2017 I have completed 3 workshops and will be attending another in Las Vegas next month with Mark Farrell so I can continue to improve my performance skills.
5 Tips to Getting What You’re Worth
- Always seek new training opportunities. Not only does training enhance your personal skills, it also connects you with more like-minded people who could change the path of your business forever. – While attending a Mark Ferrell training program I randomly sat next to Alan Berg at dinner – A respected wedding speaker most noted for his work with Wedding Wire and the Knot who changed my direction for the better. After purchasing a building to be home to my DJ business, he offered the suggestion of operating as a wedding lounge. One thing led to another and we now own and operate the Norfolk Wedding Lounge – A wedding focused shared office space with 3 levels of membership catering to brides, grooms which at the same time creates opportunity for over 20 other wedding professionals.
- Make a solid business plan. Charging what you are worth does not mean you have to gouge people – this is often the misconception and the counter-argument to getting what you are worth. Your business plan should include not only the cost to run your business, but the costs associated with paying yourself a wage, saving for retirement, benefits, insurance and more. I consumed myself with the fear that I was building a business I would not be able to sell when the time came. I was only aware of 1 or 2 DJ business’s that were successfully sold. That was a scary thought. Now is the best time to plan for the future and the sale of my business is always on my mind. Why do we work so hard if there is no reward at the end of the journey? A great business plan will keep you on track to be financially responsible and building a business that someone else will want to own and continue when it’s time for you to take back your weekends and relax on the beach.
- Stick to your price! Get respect, you deserve it! When charging a premium price and sticking to it, you earn the respect of your clients. Someone who is willing to make exceptions for their price may also be asked to do more when it comes to the event. Respect yourself, and your clients will respect you as well.
- Work with one another and share your knowledge. Rising tides float all boats. Easy to say and harder to do when we are all “competing” for contracts. When we charge a price that reflects our worth, we often find ourselves with a full schedule. When we work closely with our colleagues this gives us the opportunity to send clients to one another and support each other’s business’s. To take care of a client I cannot personally provide service for, I need to know that they will be taken care of by who I recommend. This means building a network of colleagues you can trust which will allow all our businesses to grow, and most importantly, the clients get an experience they will remember for a lifetime.
- Ask your past clients what you are worth and listen! No one is better at telling you what you are worth than someone who has recently experienced what you can do for their event. Follow up questionnaires and phone calls are so important to your business growth. Asking things like “What did we do really well?” or “What can we do better?” are often the most popular questions to ask past clients and do offer great insight. Why not add in one more level? Based on your experience with our company, what would you feel comfortable paying if you required our service in the future? People will be honest and tell you that you are priced right or tell you that they would pay double or sometimes triple. Ask your clients and then be prepared to listen to them! Then give yourself a raise!
Jordan Gawley has been providing wedding entertainment for 7 years across Southern Ontario.Based in Norfolk County, Jordan has been focused on providing amazing entertainment experiences for over 100 weddings each year with the team at Black Creek Music.Currently Jordan’s time is shared between some amazing new projects: The Veil and Tie Wedding Expo, The Norfolk Wedding Lounge, Black Creek Limousine and his newest venture, Jordan Gawley Weddings.
Always looking to provide a better experience for his clients, Jordan has dedicated his career to becoming an amazing Wedding Entertainer.
Proudly, Jordan attends training each year with Mark Ferrell – Master of Ceremonies and Love Story, Bill Herman – The Entertainment Experience and of course is a proud WPIC Alumni member.