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Topic: Pre & Post Show Customer Service
Message: Posted by: TroyRoark (Feb 8, 2003 03:23PM)
I'm guessing most of you use contracts (if not, you should be.) Besides that, what do you do for your clients before the show, and then after the show.

All of my school show clients receive an evaluation, with room for comments. I send it along with the contract (save on postage), and get a bunch back. The comments are great for next year's flyer.

This is just one example, and I've read other people stuff in other threads. Seems like a good topic.

Anyone else?

Troy Roark
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Feb 8, 2003 04:31PM)
HI,
I do not use a contract for birthday parties,
I do send a confirmation letter, party tips guide and printed invites if required . I also ring the client a couple of days before the gig to check everythings OK.
After the gig (actualy the morning of the gig) I send a thank you letter/referal discount request, eval sheet and something for the birthday child.
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Feb 8, 2003 07:47PM)
I send out a contract with every booking even birthday parties, When I get to a venue I have the signed contract in my pocket in case there are any mis-understandings.

I once got to a party to be met by a very angry booker, "your late" she said I booked you for 4 o'clock it's now 10 past" I informed her that I wasn't late and that she had booked me to start at 4:30. She wouldn't believe me, so I got the contract out with her signiture on it and took the wind right out of her sails.

It also means I can put a cancellation clause on it, so if they cancel at short notice they still have to pay, Or as has happened twice, I've arrived at a party only to find there wasn't one. They'd cancelled it and hadn't told me. I got paid, but I had to go through Equity to get my money.

Other things on it are that there must be parking close to the venue entrance, and that I don't unload and then move my car and park elsewhere. (I do more than 1 show a day and to muck about with parking takes up valuable time)

Payment is to be made on my arrival, I don't make a point of insisting on the payment, but the clause is there so that if I walk into a room and it looks dodgey I can ask to be paid before I start. If I have my doubts I usual say I have to get away sharpish to get to another show, and as you'll be busy sorting out getting the kids away it's a good Idea if we settle up now. It's better to get paid before you do a dodgey show, than to do the show and find they can't pay you.

I also send out a party timetable and tips page to birthday parties, for other events if required I send out a few posters so they can use them to advertise my presence at their event.

The last thing I always do before I leave a party, is thank the birthday child for inviting me, and tell them I had a lovely time, I thank the parents for booking me and say to the parents, "If your pleased with what I've done, Please reccomend me."

All the kids go home with a balloon model and a colouring picture with my name and phone number on it, If it's a 2-Hour party with the games they will all go home with a prize. The birthday child will also have a little present that they magiced during the show. All the assistants go home with Emazdad the magician badges.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Feb 9, 2003 03:21AM)
I'll not go into detail about everything we do, but I think it essential to cover yourself against that one bad customer, or messer about you are liable to get every few months! I agree with Clive over parking. I think you should also tell them about your insurance, about "duty of care" at parties (which must primarily rest with the organiser and not just the entertainer), and also quite correctly get them to confirm the fee and times back to you. We also take a deductable deposit that would cover travelling costs etc. We started taking deposits in the late 80s after one bad cancellation by the oldest male actor in the oldest British TV 'Soap' (you work that one out), who claimed the kids in his daughters class were seeing too much of us! All his friends said we should have taken him to County Court. But in subsequent years we've seen him go bankrupt,lose a Court case against Britain's biggest selling tabloid paper - so I guess that will do!! :coffee:
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Feb 9, 2003 05:18AM)
Hi,
The reason I decided not to use a contract but a confirmation letter is that I would never take any action against someone cancelling a show anyway. I simply could not be arsed with the hastle for the money involved or the possibility of someone bad mouthing my business every person knows 25 people and each of them nows 25 ext. I simply treat them polightly and hope that they might use me again sometime (provided they had a good reason for cancelling) I do not think I have ever had more than 2 shows a year cancelled within 3 weeks of a party though and usualy they have had a good reason.
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Feb 9, 2003 05:56AM)
I see your point Phillip, but if you let them get away with it they'll just do it again and again as they think they can get away with it. It's no hassle I send them an invoice, I offer to accept a lower fee if they pay within the 10 days, 10 days later a reminder saying they now have to pay the full fee owed, 10 days after that I contact Equity and then I forget about it untill Equity send me the money once they've got it off them.

As for them bad mouthing me, I don't care as my reputation is strong enough to cope. I've only done it to about 3 customers in 5 years and it hasn't effected my work load one bit. It's my living and My cut off for birthday parties is only 7 days notice, (21 days for corporate booking etc) below 7 days they have to pay the full fee. I think it's very generous and fair. if someone phones me up on a friday to cancell a party for the saturday, it's too later for me to get another job. How would they like it if they turned up at the office and their boss said, go home I don't want you this week, and you not getting paid.

I'm very fair though if the customer phones to cancel the party as the child is ill, I say "I won't charge you the full fee as per the contract, just send me 50% and when the childs better we can re-arrange the party and you'll only have to pay the other 50%". That way I come across as being a fair and considerate proffessional. One lady I had to do this too phoned up the next day, to say that she'd managed to re-book the hall for the following week as the child should be better by then, and could we re-arrange the party now. We did and she finished by saying she'd post the 50% off that morning, I told her not to bother as she'd already re-booked.

Why do I do this? Some people use the illness option as just an excuse, and used to say can we cancel and re-book when they're better, previously I used to say, "Oh I'm sorry the childs ill, ignore the contract, I won't charge you, just give me a call when you ready to re-book" they sometimes never came back to re-arrange the party and I lost out.
Message: Posted by: kenscott (Feb 9, 2003 08:20AM)
Phillip

I totally agree with you. I do not take a deposit or do a contract on birthay parties. I send them a confirmation letter along with the letter I had posted a while back. I too have only had maybe two per year cancel on me. I think contracts can scare parents and it is more paper work for me to do. Schools and companies I send out contracts and deposits.

As for evalutions I give them one the day of the show with a stamped envelope. I ask the mom when you guys hav a free chance if they would sit down tonight and feel out the form and send it back to me. I now get 100% of them back.

Ken

Ken
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Feb 9, 2003 12:55PM)
HI Ken,
I too enclose a SAE but forgot to mention it as I just took it for granted that if you want something posted back then you would enclose one out of professional curtisy.


quote:I see your point Phillip, but if you let them get away with it they'll just do it again and again as they think they can get away with it. It's no hassle I send them an invoice, I offer to accept a lower fee if they pay within the 10 days, 10 days later a reminder saying they now have to pay the full fee owed, 10 days after that I contact Equity and then I forget about it until Equity send me the money once they've got it off them.

Whatever works for you Emazdad but I have not found anyone trying it again and again in my experience. I am not an Equity member as I politicaly dislike Unions in genneral.

phillip
Message: Posted by: Tim Zager (Feb 9, 2003 01:38PM)
I think hand-written thank-you notes are very important. One to thank them for booking the show and one after the show.

If it's a birthday, I send a separate one to the birthday child (addressed separately, not included with mom's)

I NEVER send a thank-you via email... ALWAYS hand-written.

Tim
Message: Posted by: keeblem (Feb 9, 2003 02:08PM)
[quote]
/referal discount request,
Phillip
[/quote]
Hi Phillip,
How exactly do you work your referral discount request?
Thanks
Mark
Message: Posted by: Billy Whizz (Feb 9, 2003 02:36PM)
I always send a contract out for EVERY booking. If I get one person a year cancel for no genuine reason, that's one too many. At the end of the day, its the bread and butter on my table.

Philip, I had someone try it on with me after 'ripping' Emazdad off a year earlier. Which goes to show there are people out there. He eventually had too pay because I had all the children sat down ready for the show, but told him if he didn't pay me I would walk out now.

Ken, I find it's the same amount of work to type out a contract as it is to type out a confirmation letter.

I don't send a stamped address envelope, but I always get back about 99% without any problems. The odd one I don't get back, I always phone before I go to make sure it's OK, and it usually is. In the past few years I've had 2 problem shows where I had to use Equity, and got the money both times without any hassle on my behalf. So I highly recomend them.

All the best, Billy
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Feb 9, 2003 04:17PM)
HI Keeblem,
I have Jay Abraham to thank for this idea as he is a great believer in Back end marketing and Client nett worth.
Client nett worth being the average profit you make from a client over the life time of your relation ship with them.Knowing this will help you decide what incentive you can afford to offer to attract a new customer. for example a birthday party client might on average book you for 5 parties so 5 * £XXXX = client net worth. so lets assume you are making £ 130.00($208.00)per kids party that's 5*130 = 650.00 ($1040.00)
now maybe you would be happy to invest say £25.00 ($40.00) to get £650.00 as a return. therefore
I would then include in my letter that if the person referes me to here friends who must be a new client to me and they subsiquently book me and I perform the show (you need to include this clause or you might get scammed)I will give them a cheque for £10.00 ($16.00) or a discount of £15.00 ($24.00) on a future show and the person that they refer a £10.00 ($16.00) discount on the show. Further more I will do this for EACH AND EVERY REFERAL THEY PUT MY WAY THAT BOOKS ME!

Believe me people will go out of their way to refer you if you do a good show !

The great thing is unlike advirtising you only pay for the bookings you get!

I should add that I give them a tracking number that the person must quote when placing the booking so that I can reference the discounts.

hope this helps
Phillip

I always send a contract out for EVERY booking. If I get one person a year cancel for no genuine reason, that's one too many. At the end of the day, its the bread and butter on my table.

Philip, I had someone try it on with me after 'ripping' Emazdad off a year earlier. Which goes to show there are people out there. He eventually had too pay because I had all the children sat down ready for the show, but told him if he didn't pay me I would walk out now.

HI Billy,
I suppose that we are all different as whilst I do not want to lose any shows through cancellation ext. It is not the end of the world to me if I do, surley the type of income we earn as performers allows us not to be too bothered about loosing a few hundred quid (crist I have spent more on a trick that turned out a duffer). calling it bread and butter on my plate to me makes it sound like scraping by to just make a living. I also think the same when magicians bicker about having to wait 30 days for payment ext from large companies. to me image is important to my positioning in the market place. As well as the bad publicity that one might get from taking such actions against people (remember most friends of the bad payer wil believe them before you)I would also consider how desperate it makes me look.
Just my view though.

If I new that a booker had ripped of somone previously I would just tell them that I had a previous booking on said date.
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Feb 10, 2003 03:42AM)
It was only when Billy was at the party, and the guy started acting a bit strange that billy realised it may be the guy who ripped me off, he even phoned me during the food break to check if it was the same bloke. if he'd realised beforehand he would never have taken the booking.

As for offering discounts to referals, maybe because the bookers think my price for a party is very good they don't need any extra incentive to book me. I don't see the point in it, my diary fills up to the extent that even if they don't book me again, i know someone else will for that date/time. All my work comes in from yellow pages and word of mouth and I don't do anything extra to atract it except put 110% into every party which in itself is an advert for my services. I just answer the phone. I also don't take provisional bookings.

Hi Tim, 2 hand written thank you notes is a very nice idea, until you start to do a lot of parties, then I suspect you will find it's an awful lot of work, and with three stamps a party, contract/thank you to mum/thank you to kid it would start to get expensive.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Feb 10, 2003 04:20AM)
As for offering discounts to referals, maybe because the bookers think my price for a party is very good they don't need any extra incentive to book me.

Hi,
This is a good point! I offer referal discounts because I am reasonably expensive compared to competetors. Lot's of people would love to book me but simply cannot afford it. to be honest this is the exact position in the market that I am positioning myself in. However, If you are playing the price competitive game then there is no great benifit in paid referals provided your bookings are comming in.

It's the same with thank you notes and including postage stamps. if you are running price competitivly it as Emazdad says probably price/time prohibitive to do these nicetties. Again you really need to look at where you want to position yourself in the market place and how many shows you want to perform to achieve your target income. I enjoy marketing as much as magic. But if you dislike marketing then a position similar to Emazdad where work comes in with little marketing may suit you better than a higher ticket show more marketing.

Phillip
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Feb 10, 2003 06:21AM)
That's it Phillip, it all depends on your target audience, I aim at the middle earners and upperwards, My price is just a tad too much for the lower earners to afford so it keeps me out of the rougher estates where problems may occur, Unlike you Phillip, I find marketing a bit boreing and a bit of a chore, I'd hate for this to become work like a real job. it's coming up to lunchtime, and so far today I've had breakfast with billy whizz, I've visited the Café and now I'm going to take the dog down the park for an hour, that's what I call a days work. You aim mainly for the more affluent market, which does mean you have to work that little bit harder, and offer a few more enticements, and as you love the marketing bit you enjoy the added work.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Feb 10, 2003 07:03AM)
and as you love the marketing bit you enjoy the added work.

Hi,
Very true, I enjoy playing with copy to get just the right headline ext. mind you the computer is great for speeding up repeated prossesess like confimation letters ext. once I have the client on my data base the computer tends to do the bulk of the work.
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Feb 10, 2003 10:19AM)
I've got my business templates where as they open I can fill in the details, but I would like a better way of getting the information onto a database, At the moment I just have a copy of every contract I've ever sent but to look up the names takes ages. I'd love to get hold of a program where I type in the details for the party just once, and it appears on the contract and in a customer database, But my knowledge of computers is pretty basic
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Feb 10, 2003 10:38AM)
I use A PROGRAM CALLED EASYMAIL PLUS
simple but does the job I will find a link to the website for you tommorrow
Phillip
Message: Posted by: gman (Feb 10, 2003 10:38AM)
"I'd love to get hold of a program where I type in the details for the party just once, and it appears on the contract and in a customer database, But my knowledge of computers is pretty basic"

Emazdad, If you are using word for your contracts you can customize your contract with mail merge. You can imput certain into a data base then when you go to customize the contract just put in the mail merge word for that particular area.

Example: if you added a merge word say the date of the party and it is named <bdate> then the <bdate> is all you need in the contract. To do this just go to tools, click on mail merge click on get data, click on create data source, then look to the left there should be a box where you can put the field you want.

If you are using some other word processing software and it can do mail merge then you might want to play with it.

Hope this Helps.

George :patty:
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Feb 10, 2003 11:07AM)
Thanks George, and Phillip.

I'm using word 2000, but I'm probably only using a small fraction of it's capabilities.
I'll have a play about and see what happens.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Feb 10, 2003 12:53PM)
HI,
Here is the link to the easymail site
there is a time ltd demo if you want to try it
http://www.easymailplus.com/index.html
Phillip
Message: Posted by: kenscott (Feb 10, 2003 01:31PM)
I use act 2000 for my database that does all my letters for me.
ken
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Feb 10, 2003 03:09PM)
Cheers guy's I'll take a gander at them and see if they are what I'm after.
Message: Posted by: TroyRoark (Feb 10, 2003 10:57PM)
This is great and all, but I'm really wondering about everyone's customer service techniques.

I might suggest a thread on setting up contracts on your computer, maybe in the Tricky Business section? There are a ton of great computer guys on the Café that don't hang out in the Kids section.

Troy Roark
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Feb 11, 2003 02:22AM)
If your interested I'll E-mail you a copy of mine, I've got it set as a template where when I open it, fill in boxes appear where I type the details, and I end up with a completed contract. All I need to make it better is for that info to be automatically entered into a database at the same time, Which is what I'm working on now.

I use 2 contracts one for private parties, one for business/corporate, the business one has a few more conditions than the birthday one.
Message: Posted by: Fitz (Apr 18, 2008 02:28AM)
Wow this is an old post but still useful. Does anybody have an evaluation form for a birthday party show that you might share with me? If so please PM me and we can take it from there. Or if you like I guess you can list your questions here.

Thanks,
Fitz
Message: Posted by: solrak29 (Mar 21, 2009 08:27PM)
Sorry for digging this up too, but I am also interested on what everyone has on their evaluation forms too...

How do you rate or know your show is doing well? What do you look for? Most people seem to be nice, so how do you get the real meat out of an evaluation?

Currently, I use a rating system (1 for bad 10 for the best), but I use a sliding scale based on how I feel the evaluators perception was. Thus if they gave me a 7 overall, then I know that something was amis in my show. I expect 10's and maybe 9's, but anything less raises a flag...

What do you do or think?
Message: Posted by: Michael Taggert (Mar 21, 2009 09:06PM)
As this tread Dates to 2003 a feew things that I amight add to update things a bit here. I no Longer send out confirmation letters VIA post. I send them soley through email. I request a return email ro confirm the booking.( I also key the email to signal when it was opened and to request a read return.) I then Print these out as a packet.
After this I send them My tips on partty planning etc.
Now here is where it gets fun I have them sign Up for my news letter/ fan club.
I also send a thank you note in the next days post. All of the kids leave the show with my Coloring sheet (that has my website on it) and a magic trick that has been repackaged with my information on it.
The birthday child gets a magic kit from me at the end of the show. I also get Video/Audio testimonials now.
even the adults walk out of the party with some thing.
I have not been aboe to get the refferinal rebate program to take hold here. Im going to give it a few months rest and then try it again.
Michael
Message: Posted by: Michael Taggert (Mar 21, 2009 09:10PM)
I forgot to add That I use an email marketing service and they send a customer survey out to my clients for me. This tracks everything and gives me the stats that we need to be successful
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Mar 23, 2009 02:05PM)
I don't do contracts for b-days either. Requiring a signature often means you having to wait for the contract to be returned. I do take deposits for birthdays though! If they cancel on me, they lose the deposit which never happens. I do use contracts for schools and other clients but don't get a deposit from them. If they cancel on me, I charge them a cancellation fee which is outlined in my contract.
Message: Posted by: jackturk (Mar 23, 2009 03:49PM)
For birthdays I send a confirmation letter. And while I don't take a deposit, I offer a small "bookkeeping discount" for paying up front with a credit card.

There's something really wonderful about getting paid before the event. Even though it costs me a couple bucks, I generally make it up in tips anyway. And it definitely does cement the deal.

--J
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Mar 23, 2009 04:00PM)
I would think that people would be reluctant to pay in full up front. How do they know that you'll show up? I know I don't like paying for something in full until I get whatever it is know am buying. This could also cone across as you being hard up for money.
Message: Posted by: JimbosMagic (Mar 23, 2009 04:24PM)
I take the booking, then let them know I need a deposit that can be paid on my site by a credit card or PayPal, or if they prefer by check thru the post.
Sometimes when the mom realises its easy to pay on the site they will pay the full amount. Its good at the time but I hate the day when I have to go to the party and pick no money up.