Thursday, December 22, 2011

Assisting the Customer

I was watching TV at home and turned on Iron Chef American. In this particular contest, they had two guest chefs teamed with chefs who regularly perform on the show.  As I watched, I quickly noticed the regular chefs calmly walked around the cooking arena while the guest chefs frantically searched for their utensils. We, as restaurant entertainers, need to be familiar with our restaurant.  We know where the restrooms, telephone, hostess desk and bar are located in the restaurant.  We know the area and what is around the restaurant.  We need to be able to assist our customers in locating the bathroom, banquet hall, or assist in providing driving directions. Many times customers will ask for directions to the restroom, or what to know about local events.  So, it is important for a restaurant entertainer to be knowledgeable about their restaurant, and also the community that surrounds the restaurant.

If you are entertaining in a restaurant for the first time, walk trough the restaurant and look for the hostess desk, bathrooms, coat room, telephones. Also find out were complaints or questions should be direct to.  All restaurants have a manager who can handle these questions, but get the managers name.  This way when asked, you can tell the customer who to ask for and where they can find this person.  Detailed information like a manager’s name, will make your input valuable and appreciated by the customer.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Helping the Wait Staff

When I started working Sunday mornings at a local Crackle Barrel my typical solution to show customers I accept tips was to wear a clear bag with a couple dollars showing.  As the day progressed, I placed more and more tips in the bag.  On a good day the bag is bulging. But on this particular day, I was doing extremely well.  At the end of my shift I sold back my singles for larger bills.  The manger who hired me told me the wait staff was upset with me be because I was taking their tips.  They had seen my bag go from flat to full and they didn’t like that.  The manager told them, “You have to be more like the balloon dude and be happy and friendly and your tips will increase.”  Now that’s not 100% accurate.  Tell the wait staff that you work the entire restaurant while they only have four to six tables.  “If we compare tips, you will find you made about the same amount. It’s just that I (restaurant entertainer) had to work the entire restaurant to make the same”.

The wait staff is your companion on the restaurant floor.  You need to assist them when needed. It may be something as simple as getting their customer a fork, or more difficult as tracking down the waiter/waitress to correct an order.  A simple comment made to a customer can help the wait staff improve their tip.  Inform customers the wait may be longer today because somebody called off and the kitchen is short handed. You are now transferring the problem off the wait staff on to another part of the restaurant.  By doing this you are insuring the wait staff will still receive a tip.  Sometimes people seat themselves or a hostess neglects to inform a waiter of a new table. If you are entertaining at this table – immediately stop and track down a server.  The server will thank you later for getting them another table and possibly, saving their tip.  Servers, like restaurant entertainers, rely on tips to subsidize their income.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chapter 3 - Working with Restaurant Staff

Every owner’s philosophy differs when hiring restaurant staff.  Some only hire experienced professional restaurant staff while other owners hire high school and college students to represent their restaurant. Professional restaurant staff will observe restaurant entertainment and simply ignore it.  The restaurant entertainment is more of a nuisance to professional restaurant staff. Inexperienced staff have the mindset that you are there for them and may be distracting, interruptive or obnoxious.

Typically, restaurant staff is comprised of counter staff, kitchen staff and floor staff.  Each position has specific responsibilities. And when a restaurant entertainer enters a restaurant for the first time, he or she can disrupt the work flow.  Kitchen staff is now coming on the floor to watch or ask for a balloon. Counter staff are no longer answering phones and are more concerned about participating in the entertainment than performing their tasks.  Wait staff start to neglect customers and want to be part of the show at each table.  The restaurant entertainer must take charge and lay down ground rules with staff. After all, the owner brought you in to help business, not disrupt it.

Let the Kitchen staff know health code does not allow balloons in the prep area. Let the wait staff know you are going to be here every week and there will be plenty of time to ask questions - after the rush.  Make it clear, for now our goal is to make money and turn over tables.  Tell the counter girls that, you are here for the customer first – and maybe you can make something for them later.  Do not let the restaurant staff act like you are an employee, because you’re not! You are outside contractor hired by the owner to help increase and improve his or her business.  Your first obligation is the owner and their customers. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trail Night Proposal Dialog

When presenting a proposal to a restaurant, I work very carefully on wording my presentation with restaurant dialog.  Look and listen to the staff’s lingo when at a restaurant:  “No substitutions”, “customers”, “private parties”, “discounts”, “coupons”, and “vendors” are just some of the words that are used in the restaurant industry.  When working on the proposal, make sure you use these words in your description of your services.  This will make it easier for the restaurant management to understand your proposal.  The purpose of this presentation or brochure is to “obtain a restaurant to entertain at.”

Learning the lingo of the restaurant industry is not difficult.  When at a restaurant, read the small print on the menu. When in the coatroom, read the liability signs or look at restaurant discount coupons.  All these documents have words that are common to the industry.  When going out with the family, make a game out of who can find the newest restaurant word.  Customizing your dialog for a specific industry will give you an edge over your competition and improve your restaurant sales skills.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ask Management and Others

Asking for a lead from restaurant personnel can be a valuable resource.  Two brothers who are executive chiefs opened a restaurant which I was lucky to entertain at. They came from a family that owned and operated restaurants.  There were many nights we would have conversations about restaurants and their owners.  The brothers would have knowledge about any given establishment and would say, “That owner is a jerk,” “or my cousin’s family owns that restaurant.”  These two brothers had restaurant connections that could help me obtain another restaurant.

At another restaurant I work, the owner has been in the restaurant business all his life.  Mom and Dad started a business forty plus years ago and now all three kids have a restaurant.  They all run the same chain of restaurants, but each kid runs their business slightly different. They too have connections.  So when you present yourself to a restaurant and if decline, ask if they know of another restaurant that could use your service.  Recommendations from one restaurant owner to another will get your foot in the door faster.

After working with a restaurant for six months to a year, ask the owner if he can recommend your services for another restaurant.  Inform them you are “expanding your business” and would like to find a restaurant out of his area, so not to compete against their restaurant. Restaurant owners are business people and understand the need to expand customer base to be successful.  Asking for recommendation will ultimately make management consider expanding their restaurant entertainment to other nights.

One owner I approached asked me what days I have available. After I told him Monday and Tuesdays he said, “How about we try Tuesday nights here? We’ll keep Fridays and add Tuesday nights.”

We tried it for six months, but the program never fully took off and Tuesday nights were canceled.  But I was able to increase my revenue and advertising (passing out business cards) for six months.

Waitresses work more then one restaurant. Over the years, several waitresses I have met work two restaurants.  (Tell them “you need to make more money” and would their other restaurant do a kids night?) Wait staff understands this need to make more money and presenting the question in this format helps in getting their assistance.  Wait staff, like owners, have friends and families in the industry. They are easily able to give you valuable leads and a contact person.

Over time you will build a relationship with customers. Ask these individuals if they have any “contacts” that they could recommend.  Being in the right place at the right time doesn’t have to be 100% luck.  Create some luck for yourself and talk with customers.  They may have leads not only to restaurants, hotels, event planners or even corporate accounts.

Asking these three groups for assistance in the right dialog can bring a wealth of information.  Once you have this information, follow through and call upon the lead. This way you can quickly report back to the person who provided you with the lead.  By your prompt response, it shows the individual you respect their input and will make them think harder on providing a better lead next time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Research Restaurants

With the Internet, it is now easier to obtain information about restaurants and entertainers.  Use the Internet to search for restaurants that have kid’s night or kids eat free specials. Look for entertainers who list on their web site restaurants where they entertain regularly.  This list can provide you with names of valuable restaurants in your area.

Some of these restaurants are national franchises or have multiple locations in one state.  Restaurants with multiple locations may require more entertainers to help promote their kid’s night at different locations or as new restaurants develop.

The search is to gather potential list of restaurants to market to.  Do not market to restaurants that already have entertainers. It will be a waste of your time and resources.  Seek out similar franchises, but in different cities

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Restaurant Certificate

If you are going to work a restaurant, you should receive compensation for your time.  It is difficult to get a restaurant to part with cash on a trial night.  However, a restaurant can compensate your restaurant entertainment with a certificate good for a meal.  Restaurants feed staff and families for a reduced rate, if not for free. So, it is easy for them to give you a free meal rather than pay cash. Clever managers can expense it under advertising, which the accountant will not question. Negotiate for a certificate, not a free meal at the end of the night.   By negotiating for a restaurant certificate, you will have one year before you need to use it. This way you can give it away or give it to a good customer.  Use it where it benefits you the most.

By taking the meal at the end of the night, management will try to convince you to take a reduced pay with the free meal.  The restaurant is negotiating a better deal for them, not you.  They will give you $25.00 in food, which their cost may only be $5.00.  Always take the cash and leave the food! Better yet, take the cash and get a meal free at the end of the night.

I work an Aurelio’s restaurant on Saturday nights and the original agreement was that I receive an hourly wage, tips and one free meal.  I negotiated this settlement because it was on Saturdays, I have been entertaining all day and, by the end of the night, I am looking for a good meal.  I negotiate meals only on restaurants that are too far from home and the meal would benefit me. All other restaurants I take the money and run!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Price Reduction

Trial nights do not have to be free. You can offer your service for a reduced rate. Rate reduction is a one time event and you let management knows right up front.  In your brochure, provide an introductory coupon that reads “50% OFF on Restaurant Entertainment”, but add a disclaimer that this restaurant entertainment, not valid or transferable and is not valid for birthday, anniversary, grand opening or holiday parties and is only one hour. Trial time is determined by entertainer’s availability. Introductory discount is for restaurant entertainment only.

When presenting a reduced price to management, make sure they understand that they are receiving a special introductory rate and the nightly price is XX dollars a night. Otherwise, tricky managers, will try to negotiate lower prices. It is critical that everyone understands your entertainment price structure. Make management aware that your restaurant entertainment rate is different for your private/corporate event rates. If the restaurant would like to hire you for an event other then restaurant entertainment, a higher entertainment rates will be charged.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trial Night

I never have been a fan of giving away my services, but I always offer a new restaurant the opportunity to try my restaurant entertainment service. There are places out there that will take the free hour and say “No thanks”.  If you’re a smart restaurant entertainer you will have passed out several business cards to customers and the opportunity to leave a stack of business card at the register for future customers. Look at the trial night as advertising for your entertainment business and not a waste of time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Provide Samples

As an entertainer, our goal is to impress the client.  You tend to show them your best trick, coolest face painting, or a complicated balloon design. This is a major mistake.  What you want to show them is what you will be doing at the restaurant.  Face Painters: show off artwork that is efficient and quick. Magicians: you are not bringing live animals or cutting people in half. Demonstrate real magic tricks that you will be doing at the table.  Show them your entertainment skills, not expensive gimmick tricks.  Balloon entertainers: understand that a ten-minute balloon of a Mickey Mouse will not work if you are trying to turnover tables.  Show your versatility by twisting different designs for different holidays.  What management sees in the sales presentation or brochure is what they expect you to do in their restaurant.

When I approached my Friday night restaurant, I presented the owner with a Bugs Bunny balloon. He looked at me and said “You’re going to make this complicated of a balloon for my customers?”  I said “Yes, this is my standard work”.  The owner was not accustomed to seeing the work an accomplished balloon entertainer. I worked with this restaurant for eight years and he was never disappointed in my work.

As a restaurant entertainer you need to know your limits.  Only show what you can do quickly and efficiently and leave the other stuff for clients who are paying for that service.  Never short-change your restaurant by skimping on your service, but understand what is achievable in that environment.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Web Site Brochure

On my web site,, you will see what I call “printer friendly documents”.  These are specific sales brochures that I have created and converted into a Portable Document Format (PDF) documents.  The PDF files are exact copies of my brochures in digital format. The PDF programs capture pictures, fonts and document layout. This allows potential customers viewing your web site to download and print specific sales literature quickly and efficiently. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brochure Pictures, Show them Action

For example, begin with what the pictures do in general; Clowns should have a current headshot on the brochure.  This gives management an idea if “Dimples” is male or female, what their costume looks like, and helps them develop a better idea of what management will be hiring.  All other entertainers consider using an action shot of you performing in or at restaurant with kids.  The key to the picture is not the entertainer, but the reaction of the audience in the picture. Select pictures that show bewilderment, appreciation, surprise, happiness, fun or warmth.  Go for the Hallmark card look. Will you have to create a picture like this? Yes! That’s what Hallmark does and so do large advertising agencies.  You have to create that special picture that will sell your restaurant entertainment service.

Scripted pictures will help impress management and make a lasting impression in their head.  So choose your pictures wisely and make them appropriate for the brochure.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brochure, the Content is Restaurant Entertainment Only

If the brochure is for restaurant entertainment, it is important that you only present key sales information that deals with restaurant entertainment.  The goal is to highlight key points that will make it easy for management to understand the service you are providing.

Content should have bullets, pictures, descriptive text and testimonials from past restaurants and customers.  The goal is to show benefits to the restaurant, so leave out all ego statements.  Managers are not interested in awards. Their concerns are how you are going to retain customers and bring in new clients to their establishments.

If producing a tri-fold brochure, use only one panel to highlight other services.  The goal is to make the brochure 95-100% information about restaurant entertainment.  This restaurant brochure is for the solo purpose of acquiring new restaurants not advertising other services.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brochure, the Design Process

Fliers are normally a quick document produced on a word processor with a splash of graphics and eye-catching fonts.  In the early 1990’s, the best color for fliers was neon green and yellow. It was the beginning of the desktop publishing and everyone was creating their own fliers and printing them on their new laser printers.  Times have changed. With the price of color printing, computer equipment and digital photography, people now create affordable full color fliers.  Not only has the color copies prices become competitive and inexpensive, so too has the publishing software.  Microsoft Word and Publisher provide many templates to help beginners develop a nice bi-fold or tri-fold brochure.  The Microsoft Publisher templates preset the printing area, provide address information and offers examples of text size, verbiage and overall appearance.  This brochure can be multi-purpose mailing material or as standalone literature.

If you do not have, the experience or time, go online and find a graphics designer or place an advertisement in and seek out professional help.  Not everyone has the creativity or skills to produce a brochure, so find a solution that works for you and your budget.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brochures – A tool that sells your service

If you are serious about restaurant entertainment, then you need to develop a brochure/flier about your restaurant entertainment.  A brochure is a powerful marketing tool, which will highlight key points in your restaurant sales presentation.  By providing the restaurant with a brochure, management can discuss, save and pass on your information to other potential customers.  You can use the brochure as an introduction to your service by mailing or delivering it to a prospective restaurant. This will give management an opportunity to call you before you solicit them for business. If you do visit a restaurant and talk with management, you can present them with the brochure for future consideration.  The restaurant may not be considering having any entertainment, but when the need arises, they will know to call you.

Brochures are also great to mail out as follow up reminder.  Let’s say that you have just solicited a restaurant and they have shown little interest.  The holiday season is approaching and you send them a brochure for a follow up.  At this point, all you are trying to do is keep your name and service in front of the restaurant management.  The more you do this, the better chance you have at receiving work form them: be it performing at the restaurant, referral for a private event, hiring for a grand opening/store anniversary or management moves to a new restaurant and pitches the idea to the new owner, they will have a brochure explaining your service.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Know Your Elevator Speech – It will get you work.

Wikipedia defines an elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition.  The name "elevator pitch" reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.

The key to any elevator speech is to have a short, defined, to the point speech that entices people to ask a follow-up question, thus starting a conversation. Consider it the ice-break before the sales pitch.

When asked what you do – do not say I am a clown; instead . . . I'm a specialist in fun, who helps parents control kids at birthday parties, while making it memorable for the guests.

Use words like specialist, fun, exciting, control, words that have action and are descriptive.  The more interesting you can make the elevator speech the better your response when presenting it to a customer.  How often are you asked while performing what is your day job?

Avoid using jargon, technical terms, or fancy acronyms that nobody but you understand.  Keep it fun, interesting and easy to remember.  You want this information to roll off your tongue smoothly and gracefully. So practice, redefine, and practice some more until you have a speech that defines what you do in a creative message.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cold Calling, we do it more then we think

While entertaining at a restaurant, people are going to be asking you about your entertainment service and you will have to sell yourself.  This restaurant customer is a Cold Call. Look at your entertainment service from an outsider’s view can prepare you for Cold Calling.  Cold Calling is when you solicit potential customers that you have never met.  Telephone solicitation or direct meetings are the most popular forms of Cold Calling and each technique have a high rate of failure. You should not skip using these marketing techniques just because the failure rate is high, but instead use them as a learning tool to help improve your marketing.

The goal is to view your company entertainment service from an outsider’s view.  By analyzing your company mentally beforehand, you now are prepared to present logical sales information to them, which will help you close the deal.  This Cold Calling experience will help increase restaurant customer business. Customers will now have a clear understanding what your entertainment service is about and will be able to promote your services.  Many times after performing, customers will ask, “do you do birthday parties?” I give them my rehearsed speech about my services and the type of events (birthday, picnic, trade shows, and holiday parties) that I have done for clients.  Good percentage of the time they will ask for a second business card so they can pass the card to a friend or employer that has an event upcoming.

Developing a written script will ensure you do not overlook any key sales information. Professional telemarketing companies develop detailed scripts with a yes/no reply to every question. This assures the salesperson that when presenting the sales information to the customer, the customers no reply will lead to the next yes answer.  Marketing theory dictates that the more times you get them to say “yes”, the more they will need your service. This is one of the reasons it is hard to get telemarketers off the telephone—they have an answer for everything.

If you were going to do telemarketing, I would strongly recommend you build a script and rehearse it until you sound smooth and know the material backward and forward.  Treat it like an entertainment routine, you need to practice it hundreds of time before you do it live.

Writing your sales pitch down will help you understand your entertainment business.  Start with a mission statement.  My mission is to: increase birthday parties performances. A mission statement is only one sentence with one common mission.  Do not try combining multiple missions or services into one statement.  We are only trying to complete one mission. A bad mission statement would be: I want to increase my birthday party business and increase balloon deliveries. Adding more to the statement will stretch you and your resources and you won’t fully achieve your goal.

If your mission statement is to increase birthday parties then write down everything you can do at a birthday party.  What are your key selling points?  Do you present the birthday child a gift?  Do you bring goodie bags for all the kids? Do you do multiple activities?  This is the information you will develop into a two or three sentence sales pitch. So when customers at a restaurant ask “do you do birthday parties?” you can give them a quick, well rehearsed, two minute sales pitch that has all the key information.  If presented correctly, the customer will ask “Do you have a card?”

Restaurant entertainment is a form of Cold Calling.  You solicit the customers to watch you perform in hopes of a tip and to provide them with your entertainment service information.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How the Customer Benefits from Restaurant Entertainment

We, as entertainers, normally do not think about the customer’s benefits for coming to the restaurant. Nevertheless, if we evaluate why they come, we can better hone our skills to make sure they keep returning. I find that most customers are concerned with the quality of the food.  If the food is good, the customer will return. However, if we can provide an entertaining atmosphere, one in which kids are kept occupied, giving the impression that food preparation time or service time is quick, these customers will return like clock work.

Over the years, my restaurants have changed and currently I am working a different [lace on Fridays.  The focus of the restaurant is still pizza, but with a much larger family menu.  I have a couple who come in every Friday night around 6:30 pm with their two little girls so they can have a good meal and see the Magical Balloon-dude Dale.  The girls are occupied with the balloons and Mom and Dad can relax and enjoy their meal.  I have learned over my years of restaurant entertaining that I can keep families like this coming back for years, or at least until the kids are in their teens and the balloon guy is still cool.  The restaurant and I have provided a service to these families for years and they have repaid us by return every Friday night for years.  At some point, these families do outgrow the food, the entertainment or just move on. However, I will, as you will with your customers, always be part of their childhood memories as the Magical Balloon-dude at their favorite pizza parlor.  If we stay long enough at one establishment, we can get lucky enough to see the grandchildren of these families.

Some customers just come for the entertainment.  These are the people watchers, older couples whose children have grown up.  Most approach me and tell me they love to watch me interact with the kids.  They like coming when I am around because they think it is cute how the kids react to the balloons.  I had some of these couples tip me just because the enjoyed watching me.  I always tell them, “When you have their kids or grandkids in town, make sure you bring them and I will make something special for them.” I have one couple from Wisconsin and we can always joke with each other, especially when it is football season.  A Green Bay Packer fan versus a Chicago Bear fan, do I need to say any more.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Entertainer’s Benefits from Restaurant Entertainment

Entertaining at a restaurant gives the entertainer a big advantage over their competition.  The entertainer has the ability to practice his/her craft in front of an audience each week.  If the trick or routine does not work at one table, the entertainer can quickly correct the routine for the next table.  As the evening progresses, the entertainer can work on timing, delivery and presentation of a routine.

Another great benefit is the contacts made while performing. Customers will ask for business cards, booking availability and inquires about your entertaining background.  A prime example happened while working a train themed kid’s restaurant. A customer asked for my business card.  This is nothing new and I gave him one.  He asked me if I have ever worked for the Chicago White Sox.  I happened to have and said “yes, many years ago”.  He said he was the Tick Sales Manager and would drop off my business card to the promotions department.  Now, I have heard this many times before; someone’s going to pass on my business card and I should expect a call.  Most of the time, it goes nowhere.  But every now and then you hit gold.

I received an email two days later that said, “My brother-in-law was in a restaurant with my niece and saw your work and recommended you. What is your availability to work opening day and five kid’s day events for the Chicago White Sox?”

If you are just starting out, interactions with customer can be difficult.  Beginning entertainers are insecure about talking to customers and need to learn how to develop a dialog with the audience. This dialog with customers will improve the entertainer’s communication skills, and enhance the entertainer’s public speaking ability and give the entertainer confidence.

The financial gain by working at a restaurant is twofold: first, you can get a steady base pay from the restaurant. This insures you will cover the cost of your supplies. Secondly, tips will give you a steady income that keeps you coming back to the restaurant.

As you can see with my White Sox story, restaurants are great for passing out business cards.  Next to that, the best advertising is word-of-mouth. People will see you performing and they will understand what you do.  Unlike an advertisement in the Yellow Pages where people call to ask what you do.  These people have seen you and if they are asking for a business card, they are seriously considering hiring you for an event.  I go through five thousand business cards each year.  I estimated that 75% of these cards are passed out at a restaurants and to people inquiring about my balloon service. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Helping the Restaurant

As a consumer, we know what good service is. As a restaurant entertainer, we should strive to make sure the customer services is top rank. So, it is imperative that a restaurant entertainer be aware of their surroundings.

If entertaining and you see a line forming at the door, check to see what tables are waiting for entertainment because these tables will not turnover unless you visit them. For any restaurant, table turnover is critical to a busy restaurant.  When making your rounds you will encounter people who are waiting for a server, silverware, or just need a napkin, See if you can quickly accommodate their needs or at least acknowledge them.

Simple interaction with the customers will reduce stress and increase the odds that they will return.  The goal of the entertainer is to insure the customer will return—if they have dealings with you the restaurant entertainer.  This is the key selling point to your restaurant entertainment. As entertainers, we do not bring in customer; we just keep them coming back!

Restaurants unknowingly need an ambassador of good will (the restaurant entertainer) who moves around the room smoothing out problems or running interference.  This happened one night while working my Friday night pizza parlor.  The manager approached me and asked if I could go across the room to a specific table right away.  Apparently, the server accidentally gave their pizza to another table and a new pizza was coming. The manager now assigned me the task to run interference with the customer and keep them entertained.

This roll of ambassador is common in the restaurant industry.  As an entertainer, we have to understand this and roll with the environment.  When I arrived at the table you could see the disappointment on the customers faces at the realization of another thirty-minute wait.  I quickly started joking around with the kids, asking them what type of balloon they wanted.  As I worked the table you could see the customer’s minds were now fixated on me, the entertainer, and not their hungry stomachs.  I looked at the customer and said “your pizza was great! I’ll be stuffed for hours, but next time can you hold the mushrooms?”  The customer replied, “Did you at least save me a piece?”  We both laughed about the missing pizza.   If you can get the customers to laugh at their misfortunes, then you have done your job.  When I finished, I apologized again for the mishap. As I left, the manager came over and gave them a 10% discount for their inconvenience.  Later that evening the manager thanked me for taking care of the table.

Another time, I was working a table and I noticed a family, sitting with food in front of them, and nobody was eating.  “Need silverware?” I asked.  They replied “yes”, and with that, I flagged down the nearest server, stopped her dead in her tracks, and ask her “Could you please get this table some silverware?”  She stopped, looked at them, and said, “sure thing.” With that, I crack a joke telling them “your getting the clean silverware, aren’t you lucky.”  Then I want back to entertaining. Needless to say they were impressed that I was able to get the attention of the server so quickly. Problem solved.

Good restaurant entertainers are aware of their surroundings and understand that resolving problems, making sure tables turnovers smoothly and creating a fun-filled atmosphere is part of the restaurant entertainment. If the entertainer successfully achieves this, the restaurant will see regular customers bring in family and friends to see the entertainer.  These new converted fans of the restaurant and its entertainer are now loyal customers that will boast about your abilities and become a great source if advertisement.

Friday nights I would have a family come to the local pizza parlor. It was mom, dad and their twenty-two year old daughter.  The daughter always wanted a balloon because she was the baby of the family and, as she put it, “she was special”.  They were very nice people and I always sat and visited with them.  They become my restaurant “mom & dad and my bratty little sister”.  On slow nights, I would sit and talk with them about everything under the stars. Over time, I became part of the family.  Mom and dad had an older son who managed a Famous Dave’s Restaurant and because they thought so highly of me, they convinced him he had to come see the Magical Balloon-dude.  It only took a week before I got a call to work Monday nights at his restaurant.  Not only that, the mom thought it would be cool to see the Magical Balloon-dude Dale at different restaurants. So on Friday they came for pizza, Sunday morning, they ate breakfast at the Cracker Barrel that I was working. Monday the came to Famous Dave’s Barbeque Ribs and the joke was were they coming to see their real son or the newly adopted balloon-making son?  The mom said she saw me more that month than she did her own son. She jokingly said, “I was more fun then her real son”.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Understanding the Restaurant Business - chp 1

When we choose a restaurant for dinner, we take in some simple considerations: Location - how close is it to the house? Service – are severs attentive to your needs? Food quality – are the portions adequate and is the food good? Ambiance – was the room clean and visually appealing? Each of these factors will determine the quality of dining experience and if we, will return. Therefore, it is imperative that a first-time customer have the best dinning experience to assure their return. We need to understand that customers come in with an open mind; that they have never experienced this restaurant’s environment, service or food.

Good restaurants will take advantage of this every time. If you go to a four-star restaurant, the Matre De or host will ask if you have dined with them before? If you say no, they will politely explain house specialties, traditions, and special events that are going on that evening. This insures the customer will understand the dinning environment and be able to experience the ambiance.

As an entertainer, we can help a restaurant achieve this experience by providing an enjoyable atmosphere so customers will remember the fun they had and overlook the poor service or lukewarm meal. A comical magician rooming the lobby of a crowded restaurant can make customers forget that they have been waiting over an hour for a seat. Moms and dads can enjoy a nice peaceful dinner as the kids play with their new balloon animals. A family gathering will turn in to one big party as the clown interacts with aunts, uncles and cousins.

If your first experience at a restaurant is bad, the likelihood of you returning is slim. Most individuals are very critical of a restaurant on the first visit. So as an entertainer, we need to provide the customer with an exceptionally good time. If the parents enjoy the meal and the kids have fun, you can be positive the family will return. Kids can dictate which restaurant a parent visits. McDonald’s has learned that giving a toy in a kid’s meal the child will want to return to the restaurant. My neighbor’s child likes going to the Sunday pancake house because he receives a helium balloon every weekend. The parents like it because the food is good. Smart restaurant owners understand kids control the family dinning experience and provide special kids meals, coloring material or games at a table.

At the Crackle Barrel, hey provide a Peg Game on the table. Customers would play with the Peg Game while waiting for their meal. This has been a running tradition at the Cracker Barrel location since 1969. Good family restaurants understand family needs and do their best to accommodate their customers.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chapter 1 - Benefits of Restaurant Entertainment

Restaurants are a goldmine of entertainment opportunities.  When I first started entertaining, I was unaware of the potential gains by performing at a restaurant.  This once overlooked money making opportunity is becoming popular with entertainers as stories of entertainers landing more birthday parties, corporate events and major sporting venues by simply entertaining at a restaurant.

Restaurant entertainment is not a recent trend, though. Many entertainers have been performing at restaurants for years. It is with improvements in communication technology that entertainers are networking and boasting about their restaurants.  In this section, we are going to look at how entertaining at a restaurant can help the restaurant, entertainer and the customer.


I would like to thank my wife Michelle for her love, support and for her understanding with my obsession with balloons and entertaining. To my newborn son Carter, who drives me to excel in business and has improved my life. My parents, Ed and Diana Obrochta, who have encourage me to go for my dreams and support me in all my efforts to achieve those dreams. My in-laws, Ron and Kris Langlois who have accepted me into their family like their own child.

The Editors Kevin B and Faye, whose editing skills kept me on track, corrected my spelling and helped make this book what it is. The entertainment community, who has supported, encouraged and challenges me to better my skills as an entertainer and businessperson..

I thank you all!

Since I have started this journey some 5 years ago, life has toss me some curves balls with the loss of my parents Ed and Diana, but also has blessed me with my second son Wyatt. With life settling back to a new normal level, I pursue the completion of this book.

Blueprint on:
How to Succeed in Restaurant Entertainment

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Welcome to the World of Restaurant Entertainment

This is my knowledge and experience about working, acquiring and entertaining at restaurants. The information is not just for the balloon entertainer, but also for all who wishes to entertain at a restaurant.

About Dale the Entertainer

If you ask Dale where he learned his skills, he will tell you from a bunch of twisted people. While attending college he met a group of professional entertainers, which met every Monday and would practice in the gym. Always wanting to learn how to juggle, Dale joined this merry group.

This Illinois entertainer learned from world-class jugglers, unicyclist, magicians, clowns, balloonists, fire-eaters, theatrical entertainers, and vaudevillians. “I did not realize at the time how lucky I was to be working with such talented people and the skills and techniques that were freely given to me” said Dale “I have used all my entertainment skills over the years, but have decided I would rather be a Master of one form of entertainment, than a jack-of-all-trades. So a Master Balloonist I became.”

Dale's unique mix of comedy and balloon twisting has been making people laugh since 1984. He actively writes for trade show blogs, entertainment newsletter and professional organizations while constantly working on new communication techniques to improve his entertainment business.

Dale started DEO Consulting, Inc in 1988 to handle the ever-increasing demand for his performing expertise and special event know-how. Except for taking a little time out to earn a master's degree in Communication from Governors State University, Dale has spent the past twenty-six years performing at private and corporate events.

Dale's background consists of 15 years as an Associate Professor, where he educated faculty, students and corporate America on techniques to improve upon their business and organizational skills, while interjecting lighthearted comedy. His drive to get the most out of himself is infectious and quickly spread to those who are around him.

Dale's performances are always custom-tailored to the audience. Whether performing at a college, entertaining corporate clients after dinner, astonishing guest at a cocktail party with his balloon twisting, or at a private event. Dale ways integrates audience participation, humor and this unforgettable balloon creation ensuring the event will be special

His many accomplishments so far so far in his life have been:

  • Married in 1998 with two sons
  • A Master’s Degree in Communication
  • MC for Cable Television Show
  • Performed on NBC and WGN
  • On premise Promotions Entertainer for major US Corporations
  • Lecture and Mentor for Business Entrepreneur
  • Owner and Operator of E-commerce Store
  • Author of Faces, Faces, Balloon Faces and Mardi Gras Bead Twisting
  • Introduced Festive Alien Head balloons to the balloon industry
 All information is the property of DEO Consulting, Inc and is copyrighted 2011.