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Payment for Your Service
To avoid any problems with payment for your disco service, it's best to have a clear strategy for dealing with the money side of your business.
Whether you call it a deposit or booking fee, it's advisable to have one! The proportion of the full price is a personal preference. Some DJs ask for a percentage of the balance. Alternatively, you could opt for a set amount such as £50.
A deposit confirms your commitment to the event, and also that of the client. By taking a deposit, you are less likely to be in a situation whereby the client changes their mind and cancels at the last minute or double books you. People tend to remember when they have parted with hard cash!
Make it clear to the client that the deposit/booking fee is non-refundable if they cancel. If you have had an expense such as a meeting with the client or checking out the venue, then you will not be out of pocket if they subsequently cancel the event. If you are able to re-book the date then you should consider refunding the original client (less any reasonable expenses you have incurred).
The Final Balance
There are two schools of thought on when to take the balance payment.
The first is payment at the event. It is prudent to only accept cash on the night as cheques can take several days to clear into your account. If it bounces after the event, you have the problem of chasing the client. Always insist on monies being paid at the start of the night, not at the end. It is worth, when chatting to the client beforehand, to ask who will be holding the money so that you will know who to approach. If your fee isn't paid before guests arrive, be prepared not to start the evening. After all, no one else works for nothing.
The second option is to take payment a few weeks before the event. Many clients, especially brides, prefer having all suppliers paid in full before the day, rather than having to carry a large quantity of cash on them. It also allows clients to pay using a variety of methods such as bank transfer, cheque, PayPal, credit card or cash. It also means that you can arrive at the venue with your 'DJ head' on, rather than your business one.
Whichever method you adopt, make your terms of payment clear on your contract/booking form and also in your terms and conditions. Bear in mind that, if you work regularly for a hotel or agent, they may have their own terms. This is often 30 days from the date of the function.