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Topic: Promotional Problem
Message: Posted by: Matthew Bennett (Jun 12, 2005 09:30PM)
One of the restaurants I work at has received two complaints about me.

One person saw my promo picture at the counter, and told the owner that playing cards are evil.

Another lady saw me doing magic at other tables, the people were laughing and clapping. When I approached her table, I said "How are you all doing tonight" She said, "WERE FINE AND WE DON'T WANT TO BE BOTHERED" (I replied, "No problem at all, enjoy your meal. Thank you for coming and please let me know if you need anything" She later told one of the servers that I was a "nuisance" and that people would stop coming to the restaurant if I was there. She didn't even see the magic.

That ALMOST killed my happy nice-guy persona for the evening. Almost.

This did: Based on two complaints, the owner is only going to put my promo picture out on the nights that I am performing (the promo says EVERY MONDAY EVENING, 5:30 - 7:30) So now the only people who will be able to see it are the people who are already there when I am performing.

The owner told me that in business, for every one person that complains, there are 10 others that don't but are still unhappy. I wanted to say "that must mean that there are hundreds of people who are very happy", but I didn't say anything because I knew it would come out cocky and argumentative.

I don't know where to go from here. I need to talk to him, but I am not even exactly sure what to say. What I REALLY WANT to say is that if he is not going to put any effort into promoting me, then this won't work out. BUT, I don't want to lose the job. So any advice is genuinely appreciated.
Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Jun 12, 2005 09:42PM)
Inasmuch as the first complaint was specifically about playing cards, perhaps you could suggest to the manager that you redo the picture without the cards, but that you believe that promotion on the days you're not there is key to making this venture successful.

On another note, please avoid the expression, "no problem". If you mean to apologize, say, "I'm sorry." If you mean to accept thanks graciously, say, "You're welcome."

Best of luck.
Message: Posted by: Matthew Bennett (Jun 12, 2005 09:50PM)
S2000, thanks for your comments. Just curious - I'm not arguing - Could you elaborate on why "no problem" Is a bad thing to say? I use it often
Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Jun 12, 2005 10:19PM)
So does everyone else.

Think about what that phrase expresses compared to what other phrases express:

"I'm sorry" means that you feel badly that the customer was bothered by your actions, and suggests that did not intend to bother her and that you might even consider doing something to make it up to her. "No problem" suggests that you aren't bothered by her comment, but in no way accepts responsibility for her situation; indeed, the implication is that whereas her specific comment wasn't a problem for you, if she had chosen a slightly different comment is may have been a problem. For you.

Similarly for substituting "no problem" for "you're welcome".

In general, replies such as "I'm sorry" and "you're welcome" make the conversation all about your customer (a good thing); the comment "no problem" makes the conversation about you (not nearly as good a thing).
Message: Posted by: Matthew Bennett (Jun 12, 2005 11:33PM)
If she had expressed to me that I was being a nuisance, I would have said, "I am truly sorry." Aside from that, I don't know if I'd apologize for doing my job. She didn't say I was bothering them, she said they didn't want to be bothered.

I can't see how my response was impolite at all.

I do see that "No Problem" is a statement about ME, though. Essentially, "That's no problem for me" That makes sense.

I'll take it under consideration, and decide if that's the way it works in real conversations.
Message: Posted by: aussiemagic (Jun 13, 2005 12:00AM)
This is just my opinion, but if you don't have the support of the owner than I would start looking for a restaurant that is more supportive of you. Restaurants can be a little bit tricky to work. Customers can be very rude and can make things difficult. Some restaurants are more suited to magic than others too.

I think you handled the situation very well. I would have done the exact same thing.

If the owner thinks magic is a positive feature in the restaurant and he has seen you interact with the customers and is confident that you are friendly to the customers, he/she should support you. Particularly, if complaints only happen on the rare occassion, which they should.

If you want to continue to work at that restaurant, perhaps suggest putting comment cards at each of the tables. That will give people the opportunity to give positive feedback as well.

Good luck

Message: Posted by: Matthew Bennett (Jun 13, 2005 12:10AM)
Thanks Simon. I asked him (owner) how many complaints he has had in the six months that I have been working there. He said it was just those two, in the last week or so.

I like the comment card idea, I will talk to him about it.

S2000, I will also suggest the removal of playing cards from my promo at this restaurant. Thank you for that idea.
Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Jun 13, 2005 12:57AM)
You're welcome. (As opposed, say, to [b][i]No problem[/i][/b].)


I didn't mean to suggest that you're reply was impolite; it simply doesn't accurately convey the idea that I suspect you had intended. For the most part, it doesn't convey the idea that anybody who uses it intends to convey.
Message: Posted by: kinesis (Jun 13, 2005 03:55AM)
If you discuss things with the manager, I think it is time to remind him of all the positive things that you do for the restaurant (remind yourself first). Also remind him that until that evening there had been no bad feedback. I think you should enter into this conversation with a 'how can we improve the situation' showing a genuine desire for the restaurant to improve. You can work your way round to mention how pointless displaying your advertising blurb on Monday nights it etc.
Message: Posted by: astoundingbruce (Jun 13, 2005 01:30PM)
On 2005-06-13 01:00, aussiemagic wrote:
Perhaps suggest putting comment cards at each of the tables. That will give people the opportunity to give positive feedback as well.[/quote]
The restaurant in which I work has comment cards on the tables. I take advantage of this whenever I am offered a tip. I thank them for their offer and suggest that instead of money, they could write some positive remarks on the comment card. (I actually say something like, "Thanks, but that's really not neccessary. If you [b]really[/b] liked my performance, you could just take that comment card" -- here I point to the card -- "and write something like, 'We liked Bruce the magician!'" I always mention my name, to suggest that they liked [b]me[/b], not just a magician.)
The manager sees these comment cards.
Message: Posted by: Matthew Bennett (Jun 14, 2005 04:06AM)
Thank you all for you help! I went to work tonigt, and he wasn't there. So I'm going in tomorrow to speak with him. Your advice makes me more confident that I will do and say the right things. I appreciate ALL of you!!!
Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Jun 14, 2005 09:54AM)
Please let us know how it goes.

We like to hear success stories.

(We also like getting fat tips and Italian sports cars. ;) )
Message: Posted by: magic guy (Jun 15, 2005 10:18AM)
Hi Matthew,

I'd like to weigh in firmly with S2000magician about the "no problem" problem.

When I hear that response, and I hear it a lot, I have to take a breath, bite my tongue, and try to remember the person who said it really means, "You're welcome," or something else appropriate to the situation -- that person is probably a relatively intelligent human being an not an ignorant DOLT -- and that person does NOT actually mean to tell me, "You're not worth caring about."

I consciously remind myself that "no problem" is not a snarl. It is a common expression within your generation -- and one that many in your generation consider polite.

So I take the extra time to avoid resenting what some would perceive as the speaker's self-centered arrogance -- but some people just won't take that time.

Hence, "no problem," becomes a real problem. The words generate a negative emotion for many listeners, and that negative emotion blocks thought -- or in my case, delays it. I have to take a moment to catch up.

Matthew, one of the hardest things to remember about communication is how useless it is unless the other person understands exactly what you mean. "No problem" comes across initially to me, and permanently to many as a belittling comment. I strongly recommend you avoid it -- and thereby avoid the risk of offending anyone with it.

If you do so, your words will set you apart from your contemporaries. Your words will mark you as a gentleman -- a man of culture and education.

More importantly, your words will make your listeners feel as if you really care about them -- and they will honestly care more about you.

Best regards, ed.
Message: Posted by: jezza (Jun 15, 2005 10:35AM)
However much you analyse situations these things will happen and theres nothing you have done wrong and theres nothing you can really do about it ,some people like magic some don't, You were polite when they didn't want to see the magic
(dont worry its their loss)
ps a good tip when working restaurants ( I don't do restaurants myself much)
Is when you get good comments gasps on your magic and they say wow that's amazing they will be in a good frame of mind so I say with a smile don't tell me tell that guy over there and look at manager)some magicians will prob say no but its worked for me
good luck
Message: Posted by: Scott Wells (Jun 15, 2005 01:42PM)

I have to agree with your manager's position that for every comment given there are 10 similar comments not spoken. That's not to say that there are a bunch of folks out there who feel the same way, but you have to consider the source and the specific complaint(s). In one case, they obviously have religious convictions that preclude them from having anything to do with playing cards. Hey, there are plenty of people out there with similar beliefs but take heart in knowing that they are in the minority and you are doubtful to encounter another one for many, many years, if ever.

As to the other group, they could have been a little intoxicated (perhaps not) but certainly overly zealous. If I heard a group laughing loudly and generally having a good time, then I would have rushed over there as quickly as I could to "keep the feeling going." I mean, they are already warmed up and laughing for you so the hard part of your approach is already solved. And keep in mind that it doesn't matter who approached their table, they were just not ready to have any "outside" influence on their laugh fest. Sorry to hear about your experience but all of us have similar stories of problems, too. Itís hard to shake them off and some stay with us for years.

As to your promotional photo, I was going to suggest that you change your publicity shot but Bill Campbell III beat me to it ;) With today's digital technology, word processor and photo software, and color printers, it is easy to produce economic promo shots nearly every week for your restaurant. I would suggest that you offer him a variety of promo shots to use. And if you prepare several different types of materials (i.e. lobby board, table tents, flyers, etc.) at no cost to the restaurant, they have nothing invested and everything to gain. And they are more likely to use your material(s) if you tie in the restaurant closely with your image (i.e. restaurantís name, color theme, type face, logo, etc.).

And, Bruce, I like your idea of comment cards. Can you share whatís on your cards? I suspect that they can also be generated inexpensively on index card or business card stock from the office supply store. But anything that you leave on the table should be cleared with management.

Many years ago I had table tents printed and placed them on the tables. By the end of the evening, there were no tents left. I thought people were taking them but found out that the bus boys were throwing them away as they cleared the tables. If management would have bought in to it from the beginning then they would have told the bus boys not to get rid of them. But as it was, the table tents were just something else on the tables that took up space when orders were served. Just a tip there.

Anyway, I think Iíve droned on enough, but good luck Matthew and let us know how it goes.


One other thing I forgot to mention has to do with saying "I'm Sorry." I recently read Giovanni's book, "Live a Thousand Years" (which I highly recommend for a self-help book) and he makes a point of asking for forgiveness instead of saying, I'm sorry. In other words, saying I'm sorry is for you but it doesn't give the other person the chance to actually forgive you. So the better thing to say is, "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?" Otherwise you walk away and you feel better by having taken the burden off your own shoulders by saying you're sorry, but the other person may still hold strong emotions toward you. They need to be released and you are offering them the chance to release those feelings by granting you forgiveness.

Sorry about continuing that thread, but I just read Gio's book a month ago and there were some good things in it that are sticking with me.

Message: Posted by: S2000magician (Jun 15, 2005 06:01PM)

Good point!
Message: Posted by: anticoin (Jun 16, 2005 10:13AM)
I would think a "you're welcome" and "no problem" is just a cultural issue.
Where I come from, you say "no problem" after someone says 'thank you' to you, to show that it really wasn't any problem helping him/her....
It's sort of like "Don't have to say thank you, I didn't do much anyway"

But perhaps it's differnet in the business world out there
Message: Posted by: Steve Dela (Jun 16, 2005 12:55PM)
I have to add something here...
In the UK if you say 'I am sorry, will you forgive me?' you are highly likely to get punched! or you will get many more complaints! and lots of people that think your arrogant and stuck up.
I have sat here for about 5 mins now trying to say that line and sound sincere, I don't think it can be done in a british accent.

Cards can really bother some religious people.
I once offered to help raise money for charity by performing, but they would not let me as magic is evil and had no place in a church!!! I am sorry but there is a fellowship of Christian magicians right?

I think to change your promo is wrong just to suit one person, the expense and hassal is not worth it.
Doing restaurants is fine, but I have never bothered doing them on a regular basis because I think as a magician I should not have to put up with sarcy spectators and those that insult you.
I also think being over appologetic to somone that doesn't want to see magic is extremly naff!
It makes magicians appear as if they are not worth watching if it is passed up so quickly and moved on by the magician.
Don't forget, this is entertainment that is being paid for and offered to the customer for free.
When ever anyone does not want to see my magic... I say... 'OK' and I move on, making a big deal out of it is a bit tacky IMHO.

In Magic
Steve Dela
Message: Posted by: Corey Harris (Jun 16, 2005 01:09PM)
I can see people being offended by cards if they are tarot cards. Heck I bought a Tarot starter kit at B&N and the first cashier wouldnt check me out because Tarot was of the Devil.
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Jun 16, 2005 01:11PM)
Some people are just that way...and if the manager doesn't understand that hes amoron too....in business you try to please everyone but some folks well theres just no pleasing...dont feel bad BUT you'd better fix it or that job will evaporate right before your eyes....

I hate it when people try to force their ,orality on others....dont watch if you don't like it...change the channel.....screw em dude.

if ti were me I would tell my audiences that if they enjoyed the magic let the wait staff or the manager know so you can continue to come....'

if theres 10 for everyone then there must be at least that for to the good side,,,,,unless you suck?.... :)
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Jun 16, 2005 01:19PM)
I've had the occassional run-in with the "magic-is-evil" and"magic-is-lame" crowds. Since my emphasis is on comedy entertainment that is loosely centered around magic, I don't get these complaints often. Fortunately, my managers & waitstaffs love my persona and team spirit...so, they generally tell the whiner what he or she wants to hear then blow it off.

I'm also a bit unusual in that I don't hop from table to table. I always approach the tables with children first. Then I visit the tables that are clearly celebrating something or have a loud, boisterous group. Then, I watch the eyes of the adults as I walk by a table...the guests who are curious and WANT you to visit will usually make eye contact with you...and I can just tell that they're hesitant to ask me over...so I stop and ask. If I guess wrong, I simply smile, welcome them to the restaurant and stroll on by. Apologize? For what? Pshaw!

Finally, I visit tables that have specifically asked the waitstaff to have me stop by. If the guests avoid eye contact with me or just seem completely disinterested, I stroll on past. If they want me, they know where to find me.

At any rate, I'm usually having WAY too much fun to let a few holier-than-thou zealots and we're-too-cool-for-magic geeks spoil my nights! Hmmm...wonder if they have street Cafťs and Bistros in Hell?

:o) Skip
Message: Posted by: Matthew Bennett (Jun 16, 2005 03:17PM)
Thanks for all the replies and advice. As it stands now, he is "thinking about it" regarding keeping the promotion up all week. He said I didn't really need to remove the cards from my promo picture, and that it wouldn't change anything. As long as he keeps paying me, I'll keep working there, but I told him that business won't improve until he helps promote this thing. (I didn't say it that boldly, but that's what I said) So he is "thinking about it"

As for the "I'm Sorry" issue on this thread, with all the differing opinions, I have to say something. I don't think anybody is really "WRONG", it just makes me think more about something I already knew. I said "No Problem" to the lady, because that is what popped out of my mouth, not because I CHOSE to say it. And I think that's the whole point. Words should be chosen, and the words that you normally say, the words that just "pop out" may not be right in some situations.

So, I may continue to say "no problem", or I may start changing my words. But the next time it comes around, I will be choosing to say the words, not just letting them pop out of my mouth. I hope that makes sense.

just a couple of other thing:
Scott, sorry I was unclear - The table that was laughing was the table that I was working at. After I left that table, I went to a "non-laughing" table, and that is where they gave me grief

I have no problems changing my promo pictures for my customers. I design them on Photoshop, save as a jpeg, and take them to Walgreens and print up an 8X10 glossy picture, for $2.50, then buy a frame at the dollar store. So, $3.50 per restaurant isn't that difficult to do, even if they want to change it weekly, as someone suggested.

Because of the "thank you" discussion, I find it hard to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone without sounding like I am making fun of people. So I will say this:

I appreciate all of you and your time, for making these comments.
Message: Posted by: Scott Wells (Jun 16, 2005 03:30PM)
On 2005-06-16 14:19, Skip Way wrote:
I visit tables that have specifically asked the waitstaff to have me stop by.
:o) Skip

I like that idea, but in my restaurant, the manager insists that I go to every table before I leave. Rarely to patrons ask to see the magician. Throughout the evening she keeps asking if I have been to this table or that. She is busy in the kitchen and elsewhere around the place and doesn't always see me work. I assure her that yes, everyone who wanted to see me has been entertained or at least I have made an offer. I know that some people don't want to see me, but she still says, "go over there and do that table." Hey, she's writing my check, so I go. The show may be short if they even let me try to entertain them. I can see that they are engaged in conversation and don't want anyone to intrude. But it's my job to at least ask...according to the manager.


On 2005-06-16 14:09, Corey Harris wrote:
I can see people being offended by cards if they are tarot cards. Heck I bought a Tarot starter kit at B&N and the first cashier wouldnt check me out because Tarot was of the Devil.

You should have see the looks I got when I inquired at the book store's information desk about buying the books necessary for Brad Henderson's "Satanic Book Test" :devilish: :yikes:
Message: Posted by: Larry Davidson (Jun 16, 2005 04:24PM)
Scott, the manager in your restaurant sounds like a buffoon who's lacking social skills, not that I have an opinion on the matter. :baby:
Message: Posted by: Steven Steele (Jun 16, 2005 05:40PM)

You took the words right out of my mouth. I'd be looking for another restaurant ASAP. Yes, for every person that says something there are ten that do not. Here's a couple of more statistics. One person's voice doesn't constitute a majority opinion. And here's another a customer with a bad experience will tell 15 people about it. A person with a good experience will tell 3. How many of us go up to a business and thank them for a job well done?

I do it occasionally and in every instance, the owner/manager just about passes out. The comment is "we never hear any feedback about how good we are doing." Keep the comments in perspective and if your manager can't it's time to look elsewhere.

As I tell people, I have bills to pay, I don't have time to play games. If you want a business relationship, let's do it, but let's not pretend. They're wasting their money and I'm not using my talents in the best use.
Message: Posted by: Allan (Jun 17, 2005 11:20AM)
I agree, it is a gereration thing "no problem" I personally think it is rude, but I do understand that the person saying it is really sincere.

As far as the comment about the cards, ask the restaurant manager how he would respond if a vegetarian made a complaint about having meat on the menu. Would he take meat off the menu to please a few. The vegetarian (Indian name that means bad hunter) should just pick the items they want to eat and not worry about what other people want.

As far as the person who did not want to be bothered. They have a right not to see magic. They probably pre judged your performance by other bad performances they have seen. They have a right to be wrong but telling the manager about it is as stupid as something a waitress told me the other day. She had two complaints in writing. The first was because she served water to someone with a lemon wedge in the water. The person went off the deep end because she did not like lemon. It was changed in a second but a letter of complaint was sent. The other was a complaint that the menue beeing too large and they had trouble deciding. This moron actually made a written compliant about the menue.

I am in my 13th year in the same restaurant. I have only had one complaint. A guest was in a back party room & wanted me to come into his room to entertain. The problem, he did not tell anyone about his request until 30 minutes after my performance hours were over & I had left. Instead of realizing his error, he demanded that I be fired for deminishing his party. The manager approached me because he had to get back to the customer. He told me that he knew in advance that I had not done anything wrong but just needed to touch base because of the letter. We had a good laugh about the non problem. He then called the customer & pacified him as best he could. He just explained that the magician has set hours & the client should have mentioned his request earlier

There are some people out there that are crazy & love to complain. They look for any reason. A smart experienced manager should be able to tell the difference between a valid complaint & one that comes from a raving lunatic.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jun 18, 2005 12:08AM)
With regards to the lady who referred to you as a nuisance, the response could well have been "Then please accept my apologies and I will take my leave of you. Please enjoy your evening." It's a bit more formal and people with attitudes like hers tend to be a bit more accepting of the more formal response than a simple "I'm sorry," with all due respect to my colleagues.

Regarding the Manager, the response is to get people clapping more, if you can, and, as you leave the table, tell them, as I often do, "If you liked my work, please make sure that you mention it to the Manager on your way out. That way, they'll keep me!" Done with a wink and a smile and a nod at the hostess stand, you increase your chances for a positive result there.

I've also sometimes used a small feedback card that I will drop on the table as I leave, but only in extreme situations. These can come in handy. You tip a waitress to pick them up and to give them to the Manager (she will if she wants the money) and the positive comments will help you out, lots. Just three or four check the box items like - "Did you enjoy the magic?" "Was the magician funny?" "Was the magician well dressed?" And a place for their name and address, so, if the Manager gets them , you are helping him build his mailing list (which he will appreciate) and shows your value to him as well. You also have every right to get copies of them as you provided them, but don't push that, for obvious reasons.

Hope this helps.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Mesquita (Jun 18, 2005 08:52AM)
[quote]I have to add something here...
In the UK if you say 'I am sorry, will you forgive me?' you are highly likely to get punched! or you will get many more complaints! and lots of people that think your arrogant and stuck up. [/quote]

In Brazil I think this can work the same way as in the UK...so this can't work here.
Just my little thought.

Thanks for this enitre topic, I realy like all the comments.

All the best,

:bikes: Mesquita :bikes:
Message: Posted by: James Munton (Jun 18, 2005 09:31AM)
Larry, I disagree! I think the manager sounds reasonable. He had complaints. He brought them to Mathew's attention. He discussed the photo and said it wasn't necessary to remove the playing cards. All in all he sounds like a good guy.

My contribution to this thread is that I beg you not to change the promo picture. This is getting scary when a small minority of religious fanatics are imposing their beliefs on everyone else.

C'mon people! This is America not Iran! It's a slippery slope. First you have to change your promo picture, next thing you are only allowed to do coin tricks - god forbid!

Live and let live!
Message: Posted by: JeffWampler (Jun 18, 2005 10:58AM)
The manager is unreasonable because he's bringing unreasonable complaints to Matthew's attention.

If he says not to change the picture...that that the picture is fine, then why did he bring the complaint up in the first place. Why would you tell someone there's a problem, then when they solve it tell them that it doesn't need to be solved? It doesn't make sense, that's unreasonable.
Message: Posted by: Larry Davidson (Jun 18, 2005 03:23PM)
On 2005-06-18 10:31, James Munton wrote:
Larry, I disagree! I think the manager sounds reasonable. He had complaints. He brought them to Mathew's attention. He discussed the photo and said it wasn't necessary to remove the playing cards. All in all he sounds like a good guy.


My comment wasn't about Matthew's manager, it was about Scott Well's manager. As I stated in my post, "[b]Scott[/b], the manager in your restaurant sounds like a buffoon who's lacking social skills...."

My characterization of that manager is based on Scott's statement that the manager insists that he approach every table in the restaurant including those tables that clearly do not want to be disturbed.

If I were in this situation, I'd explain to the manager at the end of the night that I didn't initially approach certain tables because I perceived that they didn't want to be interrupted, and my perceptions proved to be accurate based on their reactions when I did approach. If the manager still insisted, I'd tell her to find another magician.

Message: Posted by: Smoke & Mirrors (Jun 18, 2005 05:08PM)
Learning a lot here!

I never thought about it but I am going to try to stop saying "no problem".
Both words are negatives, "no" and "problem"

If they tell me they want to be left alone, I will use positive words, "yes, absolutely", and then I will leave.

I will not apologize because I would not be sincere, it would just be trying to pacify her.

But next time I am sorry for something I will take the advice given earlier and instead ask for forgiveness.

You gotta put these people out of your head. Make it automatic, DO NOT let them get to you. Say, "yes absolutely" as you are walking away and deleting the memory from your brain. Go find a table of enjoyable people who WANT you, that's it.

Also, I am always asking people to let the manager know what they think, he must here 20 compliments a night, if he heard 1 complaint a week I doubt he would even come to me about it.

You are a good guy and you have good talent, a moment in time will never change that. Move forward!

Message: Posted by: James Munton (Jun 18, 2005 05:45PM)
Oops! Now I see. And I totally agree! Yes, Scott's manager is indeed a nincompoop. And your solution is what I would do.
Message: Posted by: Scott Wells (Jun 21, 2005 08:46PM)
James (and everyone),

I agree that my manager is a nincompoop, but she writes the checks. Indeed there are other places to work, but the four of us who alternate on Thursdays and Saturdays are all past or present performers at Houston's Magic Island (the exact opposite of working in restaurants ,... there they WANT to see magic). I also kind of look at going to some tables as a challenge. Most times it works and people enjoy the show (that they weren't planning on getting or wanting) but I have also learned how to be more courteous to those who say no by my saying, "I understand, please enjoy the food and your evening and we hope to see you here again."