Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let Management Know You Have Friends

In my twenty plus years of entertaining, I strongly believe in networking.  Networking gives you an upper hand over your competition because you are creating a circle of friends are willing to pass-on or recommend you for work.  This network is valuable when you get in a booking jam.

Why would you tell management that you know other entertainers?  As a restaurant entertainer, our goal is to work with restaurant management to create a successful restaurant.  By educating management about your network of entertainment friends and your abilities to call on them if needed is an extra benefit to a restaurant.  The perception given is that you are a reputable entertainer with good entertainment connections.  The better caliber of entertainer’s connections, the better repetition you will get with management and entertainers.

So how does having a network of entertainers help a restaurant entertainer or restaurant owner?  Lets first look at the restaurant entertainer and how a network of friends can help. 

Restaurants are great for providing a weekly income. But can become a burden on a restaurant entertainer when planning vacations, family events, or more lucrative accounts.  I have found it is a great help to call upon my network of entertainers to help fill-in dates that I can not do.  For these entertainers, this is extra income. During the slow seasons entertainers are happy to get the work while in the busy season, it’s the little extra money that makes for a great year.

The restaurants I normally entertain at are looking for quality entertainment. If I can replace myself with another balloon entertainer who does quality work, I can take off or work better paying job.  But finding another quality balloon entertainer available may not always be achievable. So, from time-to-time, I will ask a magician friend of mine to fill-in.  The Magician entertainment style is different treat for regular customers while the restaurant will quality entertainment for its customers.

I have learned over the years that it is best to use entertainers who has worked a restaurant, or works a restaurant on a weekly basis.  These entertainers understand the pay structure and how to work the restaurant environment.  By offering other entertainers the opportunity to cover a restaurant, you are creating a bond with that entertainer who in turn will feel an obligation to you and will reciprocate by passing work back to you.

Restaurant owners can greatly benefit from knowing that their entertainer knows “people”.  A restaurant may have an upcoming event and is looking for a stage act, promotional entertainer, magician, balloonist, or face painter and may not know who is good or how to find them.  Management can save time and get recommendations from their restaurant entertainer, which can lead to rehiring or recommendation on who they should, hirer. 

Restaurant owners are great for running a restaurant, but do not understand what would be the best entertainment for a particular event. 

During the holiday season, restaurant owners try to add that little “extra” atmosphere to help draw holiday customers. One year, a waitress convinced the owner that her husband’s country band would be good attraction. 

The band was good, but the acoustics of the restaurant was lousy. The band proximity coupled with the busy restaurant was more of a nuisance to the customers than a benefit.  If the owner would have talked to me, I would have expressed my concerns that when the restaurant is busy it is difficult to maneuver around customers and wait staff, seating will be lost do to band area and the noise will be increased during the busy hours.

That was the only time her husband’s band played that venue. The owner now offers free candy canes or a holiday chocolate to customers as a holiday treat.

Providing quality fill-in entertainment can become a win-win for all parties. One of my fill-ins is Frank Birdsall, a world class unicycle rider.  While filling-in one Tuesday night as a balloon artist, the manager asked Frank what else he did.  Frank told him about his unicycle act and places he performs regularly.  When I returned the next week the owner informed me he was having a ten-year anniversary party for the restaurant and was wondering about Frank’s unicycle act.  The owner was asking my opinion and was wondering if Frank’s show was right for the crowd and would it be entertaining?  I assured him Frank’s unicycle act was a very entertaining and family originated show and his customers would not be disappointed.  The owner asked if I could call Frank to get pricing and to check availability.  Thrilled, Frank preformed at the ten-year anniversary party and everyone was happy with his show. 

This owner has asked about other entertainers I deal with, so when the fifteen-year anniversary arrives, he has some ideas who to hire.  Frank in turn has passed my name on to agents, customers and has referred work.  This was a win-win for all parties.

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