Thursday, January 5, 2012

Educate the Customer

The restaurant entertainer is the ambassador for the restaurant and should keep abreast of any restaurant specials events.  In every restaurant, there is a server’s station and the majority of restaurants will post messages instructing servers to promote an upcoming event.  One of my restaurants has a message board in the back, above the servers’ food pickup counter, listing food and event specials.  Other restaurants will have street marquees listing events, posters in the lobby or will have information at the hostess desk.  Restaurant entertainers need to make themselves aware of the upcoming events so they can tell customers or explain the upcoming event to them.

Normally, restaurant entertainers, being independent contractors, are left out of the information loop. By keeping abreast of the upcoming events, a restaurant entertainer can prepare for the event and make sure they have the right materials.  Once I was working what I thought was a typical, busy Friday night when a half hour into my shift I came to find out the restaurant was running a Halloween special.  Kids in Halloween costumes eat free; Parents in costumes eat half price. 

Most my regular Friday night customer were unaware of this Halloween special.  I, being new to the restaurant, did not hear anything about it so I could not promote the event the weeks prior.  The restaurant did have a good turn out and tips were good. But as a restaurant entertainer, I felt I could have increased crowd size or convinced more adults to dress up.

Restaurant entertainers who stay in the information loop make themselves an invaluable asset to a restaurant’s management.  Let management know that you are promoting or what to promote an upcoming event.  Ask management if they have fliers for customers to take.  Show the owner that you are working with them to make the event a success.

Your involvement with any restaurant promotion can lead management to hire you for the event.  So far, management’s main focus has been on the event and may have simply overlooked your service.  Should management approach you about an event, negotiate wisely. Is the restaurant charging different rates? Do you entertain at a different restaurant that night?  Are you off the night of the event?  Is the event on a holiday? All these factors will help you determine the price you charge.  I recommend that you inform management that you are not sure of your schedule and will get back to them the next day.  This tactic gives the performer a slight edge because you can now analyze what you want to do and not make a quick affirmative reply.  You many want to negotiate for paid supplies, a chance to perform a show, an increased rate for less time.  Let management know what your terms are: If they were catering food for your event, they would not provide their service free. You can give them a discount, but it’s off the hour rate.

I normally perform at a local country club for St. Patrick’s Day. This particular year, it fell on a Friday.  I informed my restaurant months in advance that I would not be in for that holiday. A few days later, the country club banquet manager called informing me they were having the St. Patrick’s Day party one week earlier. So I went to my restaurant and told management I was available to work St. Patrick’s Day.  He immediately wanted me to come in early St. Patrick’s Day and work for tips.  I said. “Sorry, I don’t work for tips, but since it is my normal Friday night gig, how about you pay the normal rate for the two hours and I will come in an hour early and, if needed, stay later until I decided to quit.”  He agreed.

The owner of the restaurant knew St. Patrick’s Day is one of his busiest days of the year and was concerned about extra expenses. But once I convinced him that this was not an extra expense, he had no problem paying me my normal restaurant fee.  Next year, St. Patrick’s Day will be on a Saturday and, if they want me, they will have to pay my hourly rate.  If the restaurant is serious about having entertainment, they will pay for the service.

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