From $500 per wedding in 2010 to $3500 per wedding in 2015, I am often asked, HOW and WHEN did you raise your price, Dave? What motivated you to make those price increases? Were there certain signs you were watching for before raising your price? How often did you raise your prices? Once a year? Twice a year?
In five short years, I’ve moved from being a DJ with a base wedding price of $500 (basic speaker system and a very basic 4 fixture “T-bar” light system) to a DJ/MC with a starting wedding reception only price of $3500 (basic speaker system and a pair of moving heads with a couple of LED par lights for dance floor ambiance). It should also be noted that along that five-year path to increasing my prices, there have also been major changes made to the time spent pre-planning with my wedding couples and my personal development as a Wedding MC. But this post isn’t about what changed with my services or how much better I worked to make them. (We’ll assume you’re already working on that.) This has to do with the “million dollar question” (or couple hundred bucks anyways!) – WHEN do you/should you raise your price?
Depending on your commitment to these ideas as a whole, what’s listed below are things that have worked for me and things that will work for you. Most times, it was a convergence of two or more of the following ideas coming together at the same time that resulted in a price increase. This is what has worked for me, and this is what continues to work for me to this day.
1) After six consecutive inquiries go through your consultation process and book your services, consider raising your rates.
Think about this for a moment… if the last 6 wedding couples that inquired about your services told you that you were worth your price, How much would they have actually been willing to pay? How many of them would have paid more? The ONLY way to discover the true answer to those questions is…well, you’ll never actually know. And doesn’t that bother you? To know that you might have left money on the table? That they might have — no, very likely would have — paid you more than you were asking? When six inquiries book in a row, it’s probably time to raise your price.
2) “If you want to become a millionaire, surround yourself with millionaires.”
Why does this statement matter when figuring out when to raise your rates? If everyone you’ve surrounded yourself with is struggling and fighting for rates that you want nothing to do with, find a different group of people. Everyone needs to surround themselves with people who support and encourage their goals.
When this crazy $3500/wedding idea finally became a real goal for myself, I decided to surround myself with everyone I knew making more money than I was. I wanted to be around people who would encourage me, coach me and people who would be positive influences to me. I didn’t want to have much to do with people who might tell me it couldn’t be done. Did everyone I tried to surround myself with become that group of people for me? Of course not. Personalities, tastes and styles don’t always mesh. But I kept on looking.
This does not mean that I simply left everyone else behind, but this does mean that my priorities changed. We have complete and free choice on a great many things, but the amount of time we have in a day is something we have absolutely no decision over. We have exactly 24 hours each and every day. With the time we are given, it is up to you to determine how that time will best be spent and with whom that time will best be spent.
From those in my chosen circle of influence, came constant encouragement whenever I brought up the idea of raising my rates. The idea was ALWAYS met with overwhelming enthusiasm.
3) Take a workshop, attend a conference…raise your rates.
Much like point number 2 suggests, when your confidence goes up, so does your willingness to increase your rates and your ability to close sales. Attending conferences always boosts my confidence, but attending a workshop REALLY boosts my confidence. I have raised my rates immediately following a workshop more times than in nearly every other circumstance.
Looking for upcoming situations where I knew my confidence was going to be lifted, I would often plan ahead of time (in my head) for rate increases. When unquestionable confidence comes through at a consult, half of the sales job is complete. When you believe in you, the prospective client sitting on the other side of the table will believe in you. Workshops and conferences give me this confidence, which makes the days immediately following them, a great time for a raise.
4) The time of year does not matter. Stop waiting to raise your rates… “next year.”
Seriously, the time of year does not matter to you, nor does it matter to the couple inquiring about your services. Over the past five years, my basic wedding reception rate changes went approximately like this: $500, $895, $995, $1295, $1495, $1695, $1995, $2200, $2500, $2800, $3200, $3500. If you do the math on the number of rate changes per year, it equates to an average of 2.4 times per year when I would lift my rates. Imagine if, by using the same dollar figures as noted above, I had waited until the first of January every year before raising my rates. Where would I be… $1495? $1695?
Due to the regular nature of raising my rates multiple times throughout the year, it became easier and easier each time because it wasn’t an annual “event.” The more often you do something, the easier it becomes. You might not have all of the signs more than once in a year telling you to raise your rates, but what I am saying is that IF YOU DO, do not ignore them! Act on them! Your bottom line will thank you. Plus you’ll have additional resources to put back into personal development, and anything else that is important to you.
5) Ask your past wedding couples what type of value they received from you in relation to what they paid for your services.
If your past wedding couples tell you they received more value from you than what they paid for… LISTEN TO THEM! Mark Ferrell speaks about this idea in “Getting What You’re Worth” and it just makes sense.
If your past wedding couples are telling you you’re worth more, listen to them. Early on in my five year journey, I once had a couple insist on tipping me 30% more than the agreed upon fee for their wedding. That couple, whose names are featured in the “My Story” portion of my website, taught me A LOT about my worth as a mobile DJ. They were a huge motivator for me and are two people I’ll never forget.
6) Turn regular competition into friendly competition.
This sounds like fun doesn’t it?! I am here to tell you that it truly is, and there is good reason why this is the final tip for this post. Find someone local that you relate to and can build a positive relationship with. Then compete with him or her to race to the top. When they raise their price, YOU raise your price! When you raise your price, THEY raise their price.
It was back in 2010 when I met Bryan Podworny of Expressions Entertainment and we became that person for each other. We “clicked” and we pushed forward together, hard. I mean really hard. We were constantly moving up together, at times “leap frogging” each other, but always moving up together. Five years later, I can say unequivocally that this $500 – $3500 journey would have never happened had Bryan and I not met each other and become this positive form of competition and support. As a result — “a rising tide lifts all boats” — others in our area also raised their rates and as a local industry, we all started earning closer to what we are worth as mobile DJs.
So…have you ever booked six inquiries in a row? Do you associate with those who will build you up, motivate, and inspire you? Have you recently attended a conference or training workshop? Are your wedding couples telling you that you did an amazing job and that they got more than they paid for? Do you have a friend in your market or region that you click with who’s willing to race you to the top?
Did I hear a “Yes!”?
Then it might just be time for a raise. Congratulations, that’s how it’s done.
~ Dave T.
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