When Price Doesn’t Matter

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 at 3:08 PM by   

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking in front of my colleagues during an early morning seminar at The 2012 Las Vegas DJ Show & Conference. One of the first things I explain is Why Price Does Matter and When Price Doesn’t Matter. I wasn’t attempting to tell them how much a wedding dj should cost. I was actually attempting to refute an argument that we hear all to often.

I asked the room a simple question. “Who here has even been told that DJs all do the same thing?

Darn near every hand went up. I think the ones that didn’t were still catching up on sleep.

Actual Yelp Review

An actual review from Yelp. I never met this person, only exchanged two emails.

I decided to make a more tangible example during the seminar by comparing two purchases that (seemingly) were identical. Prior to my trip, I had searched for car rentals in the area. I discovered that a Kia Rio, the lowest and cheapest class you can find, was $64.88 for a three-day rental period at Budget Rent-A-Car. I compared that to Hertz, who wanted nearly twice the price, $120.12.

But… They are the same thing, right? Anywhere in the country I go, a Kia Rio is still a Kia Rio. These two rental companies are side by side at the airport. Why wouldn’t they cost the same? I gave some reasons, such as the results of a Zagat Survey rated Hertz #1. I brought up that Hertz was the very first car rental company, founded in 1918 with just a dozen Model T Ford cars.

When we got to the Q&A session at the end someone asked, “Which car company did you choose?” I took the easy answer, stating that my father was in the back of the room and had just driven out from Phoenix.

But after the show I realized two things I should have said. First off, Hertz is able to charge what they do because of the experience they deliver to their customers. This is much like the talent and personality that you are likely seeking in your entertainment choice.

The second thing that I should have answered was that, in this instance, I would have probably selected Budget. In this instance, I did not need anything extraordinary, I just needed a car that would get me to the hotel from the airport, and a few trips up and down the Las Vegas Strip. In this instance, the rental car experience was not important to me.

However, if I knew that I planned to drive out to the Grand Canyon or Lake Mead or Area 51 or my favorite Moapa Paiute Fireworks Stand, then my priorities shift. Now I’ve got to change my mindset from getting the best deal to getting the best quality, which will result in the best experience. This is something that Allen Tucker mentions on his blog about how paying more can actually get you more in the long run.

This is why I rarely will offer a quote via email or phone. This is why I insist on a meeting before I quote, and it’s also why I will not let someone sign a contract without meeting me first. I need to know that you are not simply seeking the best price, and I want to know what your expectations are before any contractual agreement takes place. Only then do I know that the experience you are after can be achieved and delivered with the best talent available. Sometimes that’s not me, but at least we discover that before you’ve spent any money.

When I do find the couples that understand this value, moments like this are achieved:

Daniela and Will, courtesy of Rosaura Sandovol Photography

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  • http://MagnoliaJazz.com/blog Robbie Schlosser

    Hi, Jason.  
    First, that’s one wonderful photo!

    Second, thanks for reinforcing the idea that know-how, vision, experience, and personality, among other features we bring, really DO matter to the quality of experience our clients enjoy.

    May I add my two cents?

    Some clients insist on these special touches that only a few can bring.  On the other hand, some clients REALLY want nothing special.  Nothing.  What we could bring would be useless and pointless.

    Shopping for the best price, people often ask, “What’s the going rate around here?”  In other words, all DJs are the same, all bands are the same, all photographers are the same, all caterers are the same, all venues are the same, all cars are the same, all wines are the same, all breads are the same, all football teams are the same, all books are the same,… 

    Where did this idea come from?  As I see it, everything is the same to someone for whom the differences don’t matter.  For us, it’s not a matter of good or bad.  It’s a matter of how our clients want to make their celebrations special.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve read it explained, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but you’ve made the case well.

  • http://www.spencerweddings.com/ Jason Spencer

    Thank you for your feedback @RobbieSchlosser:disqus .  This is a topic near to my heart.  I’m not sure where it comes from, and I’m sure it will be around for a while.

    As you mentioned, there are couples that really desire nothing special. I’m not sure if this is because they have low expectation — due to prior experiences or preconceived notions — or if it is simply because they do not value/desire the level of talent that, as you say, the “special touches only a few can bring.”

    And I use the word talent because that’s really what artists are selling.  I am an artist, you and Magnolia Jazz Band are artists, event designers and photographers are artists.  While what all of us do within our trade is classified similar, there is an individual spirit and talent that resides behind the tools used to reach the end result.