The birthday and event business is consistently inconsistent. No matter what day of the year it is, someone will always be celebrating a birthday, a company will always be hosting an event, and our services will always be in demand. The inconsistent part is that; children will always get sick, people will always stay on the hunt for the best price, and the weather doesn’t always cooperate.
Whenever someone calls to book me, I have my agent write up a contract once they agree to the price and time. We then email them a contract and require a deposit that holds their spot and balance due on day of event. The deposit is refundable if the gig is cancelled 1 week prior to event. Having this contract and deposit in order, is a safety net for me so I donâ€™t miss possible gigs and guarantees me at least the deposit in the event someone cancels.
Cancellations stink, but they are part of life and making the customer feel bad is unprofessional and will almost certainly cost you more business. When a customer calls to cancel, I try to start off by creating and suggesting a positive outcome.
Me: Iâ€™m sorry to hear that Holly isn’t feeling well, I hope she feels better so that we can make her birthday bigger and better soon.
Birthday mom: I donâ€™t know when I will be able to reschedule, there is so much going on and I have to call everyone to cancel the partyâ€¦
Me: Itâ€™s OK, I am here to make things easy, may I suggest a class party at Hollyâ€™s school or I can look at my schedule and see if next weekend is open if you want to reschedule. Donâ€™t worry about me today, just worry about making Holly feel better and call me if any plans change.
When you set the tone of the conversation, you can almost always diffuse and salvage the event. If someone is calling to negotiate price and dangle a cancellation because they found someone cheaper here is another scenario to help you keep calm and not slap them through the phone.
Client: I spoke to Jingles and she only charges $35 per hour so why do you charge $125 per hour.
Me: An educated consumer is the best client. I am sorry that I do not know Jingles. I can tell you that my prices are set because I pride myself on being professional and giving the best experience to guests at your party. I am on time, I carry insurance, I ONLY use kid friendly paints, and I am a great face painter. If price is a major factor in booking this event, I understand. I would love the opportunity to show you how having me at your party is well worth my fee.
Client: Well can you give me a little break?
Me: What I can do is include an extra half hour at no charge, or I can include glitter tattoos. (Only offer this if you are comfortable with and can afford to extend these offerings)
As a rule of thumb, I donâ€™t rely on basic common courtesy in business. Steve Jobsâ€™s biography pretty much confirmed my rule of thumb. Everyone they interviewed said Steve Jobs was crude, narcissistic, and would step over you if you were lying on the side of the street. Common courtesy is a dying form, because business is about you. So, donâ€™t rely on your customers to think of you first or to consider your schedule when they are going through something. I always call a day before the event, to confirm any details and ensure I am still on. I donâ€™t wait for the customer to call me in panic mode day of, if something happens to arise. As a birthday mom myself, the last thing on your mind is calling the entertainer especially if something chaotic is going on.
Protect yourself, your business, and have peace of mind when booking events. Send a contract, donâ€™t fight over price or cancellations, and plan ahead. Be proactive and call the customer, ask if there is anything you can do to make the event the best it can be. Business isnâ€™t easy, but planning and putting procedures into place will improve the outcome.
Happy Painting! -Silly Heather