Ending the Line on an Up Note!

One of the hardest parts about being a face painter is when I have to turn down excited customers that want to get painted. I have been called names, threatened by angry parents, and have had to ask police officers to escort me to my car.  All because I had to turn away a child after I finish my gig. When I first started face painting,  I would paint without watching the time. I was so concerned with pleasing all my customers that, if time escaped me I would stay later until I finished every person. I got busier and started getting back to back bookings so I had to start managing my time and ending the line better.

Line for face painting

When I book myself, it is in my contract that I can paint up to 20 kids per hour and if you do the math that translates to 3 minutes per child. I try to stick to this formula so I know how to pace myself. When I am painting at a birthday party I tell the birthday mom to book me 30 minutes after the party starts so that it gives the guests time to arrive and meet and greet. I try to explain nicely that I cannot stay longer if guests are late. Time is money.

My first attempt at ending my line was by asking the last person in line to tell anyone that came to get in line that the line was closed. Well that failed, because the last girl left and 20 more kids came running to the line. Then I started giving stickers to the kids in my line but they were giving their stickers away after I painted them if I forgot to take the sticker back. I bought an end of the line vest and while I loved it and it seemed to work. One kid walked home with it.

So my newest and most successful way to end the line is, I take a color hard to find like cranberry or metallic purple and I start at the back of the line and write numbers starting with the number 1 and make my way to the front.  This has been my life saver and has worked well for the past 2 years. Metallic purple is a hard color to copy and parents  don’t have a readily available metallic purple pen or marker to draw on their kids hands to sneak in my line. As I am moving my way down the number line I make sure to announce that only children with numbers on their hands have time to be painted.

When parents come and ask for a number I say I’m sorry the line is closed.  They tend to get upset and sometimes insist on making me feel bad, but I know that if they weren’t in line when I ended the line, then they haven’t been waiting too long and I have to close the line at some point. Getting tough and learning to say no was hard for me, but losing time and money is even tougher.

Happy Painting! -Silly Heather

7 thoughts

  1. Thanks for posting this article. I’m new to the business of face painting and learning these things by trial and error. I’ve been using the number technique but I start at one and go back to the end of the line. I’ll probably do it in reverse the way you do because sometimes I get to the end and kids are begging me to keep writing numbers.

    1. I have been doing this for years! It allows me to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and takes the pressure off of everyone! I usually give the upset parents a coupon for something small, like $5off a party. It isn’t much, but it allows them to realize that this is a business.

  2. We also tried many different ways and lot of them were disastrous! I even almost had to call police to break up an altercation between 2 moms because I was closing the line n they were arguing who was in front of who etc…. Now we use a stamp n so far it’s working great :) now a stamp with our business name etc we couldn’t afford at the time so I bought pre-made stamps. One said approved,another said ‘good for one’ which is my favorite :) because a stamp on one child’s hand suddenly at front of line was for their whole family of 5. So good for one means what it says :) I can also stamp pretty quickly thru a line,especially at fairs when I can see a long line forming and I only have 30-1hr of time left.plus I’m not away from my station for long(sticky little fingers ) love thus blog and all the advice given and experiences shared :)

  3. I like to find a nice, talkative Mom at the end of the line. I tell her that I will paint her child for free if she doesn’t let anyone else get in line. Also I give little tickets that I buy in a roll at Party City that have “Admit One” on them and I have numbered them on the other side. Every once in a while I tell the people in line that they must have a ticket to get painted.

  4. I paint something on every kids hand too and if things are looking really desperate, I’ll ask the parent of the last child in the line to please explain to new comers that the line is closed and that if they let anyone else join then I won’t paint THEIR child! Works a treat and is always good for a laugh… 😀

  5. I like the stamp idea too! I paint numbers but that does seem to take a little bit so I think I’ll try the stamp. I do also offer disgruntled parents coupons but you just can’t please everyone.
    People really can be quite stubborn! It’s kind of sad really. Usually my end of line people will help too, but sometimes they aren’t willing or are more timid.

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