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Topic: A New Broom Sweeps Clean
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Jul 13, 2003 04:06AM)
"A new broom sweeps clean". In our business this could be applied to someone new starting up in your area, or someone moving into your area. Have you had many "new brooms" in your locality since you started? Fortunately we have only ever had one broom - the rest have been feather dusters! ALSO, have you as an established entertainer ever moved and started up again in a new area (and swept clean)?

I appreciate that some non-English speaking members may not understand the meaning of this thread and I duly apologise.

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 13, 2003 08:31PM)
I often never try and think about other brooms coming into my so called closet. I have so much to concentrate on in my own performances and with getting my show to be the best that it can be.

If I give a great performance and if I am good to my clients and the children I perform for, then that is the only thing I really need to be worried about.

It is my reputation that I concentrate on the most. If I give good quality entertainment, then word of mouth will keep me working regardless of how many brooms fill the cloest.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Jul 14, 2003 12:39AM)
There's always a new broom creeping in, they don't last long as they're usually feather dusters as Ace put it, but even if they're good I don't worry about them. I cover a large area, have a good reputation, and put 120% effort into each party.

There was only about 6 magicians / Childrens entertainers working here when I started, now there's at least a dozen, only 4 of which are any good. I'm doing 25-30 shows a month, Billy Whizz is doing the same and we charge more than most of the others. So what are these others doing. Most newbes on the scene are part timers, their diary's are resticted by there jobs, so they'll never be a real threat, no matter how good they are.

A new magician moving into the area will hopefully join the Plymouth Circle so I'd get to know them and we'd hopefully become friends.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 14, 2003 08:49AM)
I always only worry about giving and presenting the best show that I can. I also concentrate on being the best performer and offering the best service out of any magician in my area. If I continue to do this, I will get repeat performance gigs and my reputation alone will keep me working.
Message: Posted by: Jewls (Jul 14, 2003 06:34PM)
Even though I am very focused on giving top notch entertainment. I become frustrated when I see talented acts undercutting professional entertainers, because they don't understand the business or do the proper research to join the market competitively. It not only hurts others it does nothing to benefit them. I do not worry about it but I see it happen. I also see entertainers that are totaly out of their league and in no time at all they are gone.
Knock 'em dead!
Message: Posted by: wizardofsorts (Jul 14, 2003 08:48PM)
I am moving to a new market in September. I am moving from Pittsburgh to Chicago. Since so many performers don't want to talk about what they charge, how do I make sure I am not undercutting anyone. I assume the prices in Chicago are going to be higher in Pittsburgh since the cost of everything is higer. I am sure that my show is good and it's getting better all the time. According to the feedback I've gotten in the past, my show is excelent.
Message: Posted by: Christopher (Jul 14, 2003 10:01PM)
Someone in my area has recently been running an add that states he will beat anyone's price by $50.00. I actually have had customers calling and requesting written quotes to get the discount from him.

I noticed this person last summer at several of my fairs that I was performing at as well as just attending. Of course he had is handy video camera out for every show and wouldn't you know it, he has been doing alot of the same effects that went over well in the shows.
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Jul 14, 2003 10:25PM)
I figure anyone competing on price like that is going to burn out when they can't make ends meet sooner or later. In some ways that would be better than having a competitor with a high price and bad show.

When people request a written quote so they can get his discount why not offer them a written quote for a $50 show.

I moved to my current city about 5 years ago. Initially all my work was coming from the yellow pages. I had a lower price until I got established. It helped me pick up all the shoppers from the yellow pages. Now most of my birthday party work comes from referrals I am charging much more than I was a few years ago.
Message: Posted by: Christopher (Jul 15, 2003 11:53AM)
It's sad that in the business, so many people base all of their decisions on price.

I arrived at a party scheduled three months ago this past weekend. Only to find that they had already had the party a week earlier b/c they found someone to do it for half price.

I wasn't able to call ahead to confirm that day due to her unlisted phone, and she acknowledged that she received my TWO confirmations by mail. She just figured I would find out when I got there and that I would appreciate the time off because it was "such a beautiful day"

During career week in our area, I don't time to the local schools. Not so much to encourage the students to make magic a career. But, I explain how I have taken something I loved and can now do it as a profession. I also conveniently hand out my flyers for my summer magic school programs.

I have to admit that this former adult student of mine had a lot of guts. He had just taken lessons from me in December and after my appearances in Feb., he called the schools, told them that I worked for his assembly program company and offered them an assembly with him performing. He actually told them that he was my manager and that I was just sent out to drum up interest. He took my press coverage which was on the front page of our local paper and mailed it to them as part of his promotional pack. Unknown to him, I used to work as a teacher and the schools quickly called me and let me know the situation. The sad part is, I know he actually got to do at least two schools because they wouldn't let me come back the next year. He performed, for hundreds of students, Svengali, scotch and soda, and the raven and here we go....the 21 card trick with jumbo cards. So watch out, we may all have some competition.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Jul 15, 2003 05:23PM)
I hope you charged her, I would. I would also have passed her name on to all my magical buddy's so next year she wouldn't be able to book any of the decent entertainers.

A couple of times I've turned up to parties to find they've been cancelled, like you I was unable to contact them beforehand. They had to pay, and when they tried to get out of paying I contacted Equity who got me my money. Ther way I look at it, is if I don't charge them they'll do it again to someone else, it's very inconsiderate.
Message: Posted by: Christopher (Jul 15, 2003 05:45PM)
I'm debating about going back to taking deposits. I always preferred to receive all of my money at the time of the show. I never liked having to track deposit amounts. I guess if I go to a flat deposit fee this may solve some of the problems.

The worst part is, I do an average of 320 shows each year. I've only been stuck on 4.
1 was due to an accident. The other three have all been from the same small town, with similar stories. I show up and plans have changed with notice.
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Jul 15, 2003 06:24PM)
Iíve been burnt like this a couple of times. Fortunately now I am pretty good at picking the sort of people that are likely to be problems. Some people just sound dodgy or have a very low class sounding accent or mannerisms that you can pick up on thru the telephone. When I get someone like this I always request a deposit, which is maybe once per month. It is amazing how many of these people suddenly get cold feet when they realise they need to send a non-refundable deposit.

Watch out for single mothers planning birthdays & naÔve sounding business people doing grand openings or organising other big events for the 1st time. From my experience these are the sorts of people that like to book shows they canít afford.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 15, 2003 07:25PM)
Nice advice. I always say learn from past experiences and go with your instinct. I also ask the client a lot of questions concerning the show. I do this in part for myself to feel them out better as well as to get the information I need in order to give them the best service I can offer.

Usually though this process you can tell the ones that are serious and the ones who really only want a babysitter or can not really afford you.

It has always worked for me in the past.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Jul 16, 2003 03:00PM)
We have taken a deposit since 1987. We call it non returnable - but play it by ear on this. I agree that you must always concentrate on what you are doing personally. But when "new brooms" deliberately target your business one cannot help but notice. Regarding finding out what others charge - people don't do this to us now (because we have our birthday price on our website) - but it is common practice to 'with-hold' your phone number and simply call someone, or get your mother, wife or girlfriend or boyfriend/husband to call posing as a parent seeking entertainment for a party. Nothing underhanded - just business! Once again I like your honest forthright opinions Andy.
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jul 16, 2003 03:47PM)
Hi Ace,

You suggestion was a good one and I'd like to add to it and give another point to ponder.

I remember when I first started in the business and wanted to find what the going rate was in my area. I checked out the yellow pages and called the first person. I led her to assume I was curious as to her pricing for a supposed party for one of my nephews. Hung up the phone...felt really dishonest and called her back immediately. I told her the truth. This led to a long friendship with someone that passed along all her extra bookings. I then proceeded to call all the others and was honest each time. They send their extra bookings my way and I made lifelong friends.

I'm now at a point where now I pass b-day parties on to newcomers, if I am booked for the day. In doing so I make it clear to the customer IF I have not seen them so as my reputation is not damaged. I keep a book with names and pass along three names usually and let them call and make the choice. With regular customers I always do the business myself. This sets up a comeraderie amongst fellow performers and some have paid me back tenfold. They may get a wonderful booking which ask for two performers and I found they suggest me..I've done the same for those that helped me.

I find it good PR work too if someone calls and I feel someone else is better suited for the job...I have no qualms about telling them. Let me explain first before the backlash..:O)For example, If someone calls for a show and really wants facepainting as the highlight of the show. I am honest and tell them while I can do this, magic is my main focus and if there is 20 children then a large portion of the show would be taken doing the children's faces. If however, they want strickly facepainting then I know someone whom would suit their needs better as this person is the best facepainter in the business. I find a lot of these people call me back the next year wanting something different than the previous one.

You'll find that the people you send business to will do the same in return for you. The facepainter will get a call for a magic show and pass on the business to you. Makes for nice working relationships with everyone. That's just my opinion.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Jul 16, 2003 04:13PM)
Regarding finding out what others charge - people don't do this to us now (because we have our birthday price on our website) - but it is common practice to 'with-hold' your phone number and simply call someone, or get your mother, wife or girlfriend or boyfriend/husband to call posing as a parent seeking entertainment for a party

They have started Emailing for prices to now using an alias on their email clients. I don't care if they know what I charge if they just asked me I would willingly tell them.
Message: Posted by: japanjazzy (Jul 16, 2003 08:56PM)
I have tried to work it like Crystal. We had a group here in Okinawa and we got to know each other and we also decided to work out a fair pricing for everyone's level of experience/quality of show. We then were able to boost everyone's business by refering everyone else if you were booked or it was not your specialty. I am now in the works of moving to the US and I will have to see what happens there. I don't want to be a "Broom" as stated earier but I do want to continue a business that has been very good to be for many years.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 16, 2003 09:55PM)
(appluads) God bless you!! I could not have worded that any better myself. You truly have set an example for which many a performer could learn from.

I follow almost the same philosophy that you have stated. I do not feel right about lying to anyone and that includes my fellow performer. I find us all a brethern and comrades even if they may be working in the same territory as I am working.

I have also found that by being upfront and open and honest I have received much better rewards then if I had called, lied or been sneeky about things.

I now have a network of magicians of which we all work the greater Philadelphia area. Instead of us ganging yup on each other, we have teamed up. There are indeed strengths in numbers.

This network is open and honest with each other. We gladly pass on work if someone is booked up for the day and can't handle it. We know that the client appreciates us giving them extra references for other magicians when we ourselves can not meet their needs.

In this way we have developed a good reputation in our area. And to me, this reputation is everything.

Once again, thank you Chrystal for conducting yourself in this manner. I only wish others in the business may learn from your fine example.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jul 17, 2003 02:30AM)
When I first received calls from the Yellow Pages I didn't receive deposits. I got a few cancelations. That was too many to me. I want to be sure the customer is being honest to me so I always request a deposit to make sure they are serious.

Requesting a deposit will also show you are serious to them also. They might get worried or nervous you might not show up if you don't request a deposit.

A deposit does not have to be a lot. I request only $25.

When more entertainers come to your town and challenge you, you might want to try improving your act. My acts require 5 live animals and a birthday gift. That is how I sweep those new brooms away. After my clients see how well I performed, that keeps them calling me back again.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jul 17, 2003 03:15AM)
I've only ONCE shown up to a gig that wasn't on. I lost a potential $150.

I figure if I divide the $150 by the thousands of gigs I could have gotten a deposit on but didn't, it would have cost me less then 1c per gig.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Jul 17, 2003 04:39AM)
<<<<<<<I'm now at a point where now I pass b-day parties on to newcomers, if I am booked for the day. >>>>>>>

I pass on work to people if I'm busy, but only to people I know are good. If you pass work onto someone who's rubbish it's your name the booker will remember as the one who reccomended them.

Any newcomer in my area would have to prove themselves before I'd pass on work to them. I've got a few friends who I'd never reccomend as I know how they work and they don't meet my high standards. They know I don't give their names out and why, but their opinion is I set my standards to high. When discussing how we all operate they often say "you don't need to do that, you can get away with just doing this, the booker doen't care" To which I always answer "If they don't care, why am I doing twice as much work as you then?"
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Jul 17, 2003 04:44AM)
Lovely idea Chrystal - but if back in '78 when we started we'd have tried this it would have just been a brick wall of grumpy old guys trying to do each other down. There was also a guy at the time doing vast amounts of advertising - who, wait for it! - had a history of indecent assault! There are others present now who continuously let people down or even try and up the fee the day before!! It must be nice to live in an area/Country where all one's colleagues are beautiful, - but I'm afraid all ours are not! Thus I am more prepared to talk to you guys around the globe than many other 'entertainers' in my locality.

Message: Posted by: wizardofsorts (Jul 17, 2003 05:41AM)
I am moving to an new area in September and I'm going to try to be honest first and see how it works. If that doesn't work, I'll just have my girlfriend call for prices for a party.
By the way, does anyone know any good agents in Chicago?

Visit the Wizard of Sorts at http://www.wizardofsorts.com
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Jul 17, 2003 07:30AM)
Notice from your website Edd that you cover many facets of magical entertaining, so you probably will need Agents. If it were us now at our particular stage in life and the business, we would just appear on the Chicago scene to coincide with new editions of Yellow Pages. We'd find out what time spans, what fees, and what type of programmes others did for kids parties. We'd have loads of giveaways with publicity to start off with, and after a few months would expect to have a very big 'broom' indeed sweeping away. We'd not however alert any other entertainers to our imminent forthcoming presence - but that is just the way we would do it.

Message: Posted by: Christopher (Jul 17, 2003 09:58AM)
Great, now i'll have to watch for anyone recently relocated named Tony from Cheshire in my area.
Message: Posted by: Jewls (Jul 17, 2003 11:47AM)
Chrystal is right networking is the way to go. Visit the magic shops and talk to them... A wealth of info there. They will also know when and where the magic clubs meet, and where the lectures are. Good way to meet the others in person, you can discuss business and find out which agents are the best to work for...