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.