(Close Window)
Topic: How to Successfully Book a Restaurant
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Nov 5, 2010 11:20PM)
Quite a while ago, I had posted my formula on [i]How to Book a Restaurant[/i] here to the Café' and then I removed it because I wanted to use it in my [i]Sleightly Delusional Column [/i] in The Magic Menu.

Now that The Menu has reached it's conclusion, and since several on here have contacted me directly asking me to repost it, and since my pal "Sly the Magic Guy", already posted "a portion" of my post in another thread, I thought I'd go ahead and toss it back up here for my Café brothers and sisters to use as a reference tool.

I really think this should be attached as a "sticky note" to the top of our forum here, but I'll let the powers that be make that decesion.

On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked “how” I am able to walk into any restaurant I want and walk out with a gig. I will take this opportunity to share with you my formula. What you are about to read, is my strategy that is designed to [i]“set you up for success!”[/i] while you’re out there in the trenches looking for work.


[b]STEP 1: SCOUT OUT A LOCATION[/b]

There are people in the world of magic who believe that any restaurant [i]“willing to pay your fee”[/i] is a good match for your services. Please trust me when I tell you that those people need to be taken out behind a woodshed and severely beaten!

I feel that all too often, magicians go on what I like to call the [i]“cold call rampage”[/i] trying to find work without having an actual strategy. Over the years, I have heard many magicians tell me that they’ve pitched between 50 and 100 restaurants in a day’s time looking for work. Now granted, I believe those numbers may be slightly inflated, but regardless, in my opinion, that’s a lot of work considering that the return on the effort will be minimal if any.

In my ripe old age of thirty something, I’ve become very lazy in the sense that I don’t believe I should have to work that hard to land a gig. I would much rather spend the time researching the venues I'm interested in and only pitching restaurants that meet a certain criteria which in turn will increase my chance for successfully landing the gig and more importantly…keeping it!

Before you ever pitch a restaurant, always go and check it out to see if it would be a good match for your services. Visit the restaurant on two different occasions for dinner and always make sure it’s on the night of the week you wish to perform…during the time of night that you wish to work.

While at the restaurant, observe everything. The questions you need to ask yourself are:

· How busy is the restaurant on this particular night?

· How do the servers handle themselves? Do they seem friendly or overly stressed out?

· How is the restaurant laid out? How far are tables/booths spaced apart? Isle Access?

· What type of clientele frequents the establishment on this night?

At no time should you mention to anyone working what your intentions are. Avoid the temptation to try and perform for your server or other employees of the restaurant. They are there to work, not to watch you perform. Nothing will turn off a General Manager/Owner more than seeing their crew distracted by some idiot with a deck of cards.

Arrive, Order, Eat, Observe, Leave. Don’t over complicate the situation.


[b]STEP 2: MAKE TELEPHONE CONTACT [/b]

You have now made the decision to pursue this restaurant. Now you need to do some research to figure out if it’s a place that you wish to pitch. However, before heading out for that first meet and greet, you need to find out some important information about the venue:

· Is this restaurant privately owned, franchised, or are they a corporate owned chain. My advice to you is never pitch a restaurant that is corporate owned as there is too much red tape to try and cut thru. In the corporate arena, everyone has a boss and nobody is ever empowered to make decisions, so don’t waste your time on a dead end. Only pitch franchised or privately owned venues.

· You need to find out the Owner or the GMs name [i](sometimes the same person)[/i] and get a feel for their demeanor and personality. Getting their name should be an easy task as many restaurants have that information posted on the door when you walk in. However, the restaurant you’re pitching may be the exception, which means you have to probe to find out that information while at the same time, not overplaying your hand. The idea is to qualify the venue without ever letting on to your intentions.

Call the restaurant and ask to speak to the General Manager/Owner. If they’re not in, then ask whomever you’re speaking with what the General Manager/Owner's name is. If they question you as to why, just state that it’s regarding a private matter and leave it at that. Usually, they will be forthcoming with this information without giving you a hassle. Write down the name and ask when the best time to call back would be so you could speak to them directly.

However, if they’re in, then ask to speak to them. Once you have the General Manager/Owner on the phone, ask who you’re speaking with. You now know who the top dog is. Write down their name and the call continues.

[i]“My name is Christopher and I was at the restaurant with my wife a few days ago and just wanted to call and let you know how much we enjoyed our visit. Everyone was very friendly, our food came out very quickly and was delicious, and we really enjoyed ourselves. I know that many people call just to complain, but I have always felt that restaurants need to hear about when they do a good job.” [/i]

This will begin a very positive back and forth banter between the two of you. You now have them in a good mood and they’ll want to do anything and everything to keep you happy.

[i]“I wanted to write a letter of praise to tell of my experience…do you have a corporate address I could send it to?” At this point they will either say “YES, our corporate address is…” or “NO, we don’t have a corporate office.” [/i]

If they say YES, then clarify, [i]“so you guys are corporate owned?”[/i] If they say YES then begin your wind up as this is now considered a [b]DEAD CALL![/b]

But if they say [i]“no, we’re private owned or a franchise,”[/i] then continue the call by getting their official address and whatever info about their location that you need. Wind up the call and thank them for their time.

In that 5 minute phone call, you were able to get the name of the General Manager/Owner along with learning of their status (corporate, privately owned or franchised). As I stated above…if they’re corporate owned, I walk away. Not worth the trouble.

So…do you actually send the letter? I never use to. I would simply collect the info and leave it at that. But just recently, I decided to. So I now have a form letter that I have typed out and I do send it to the restaurant. I use only my first name to protect my identity.


[b]STEP 3: THE PITCH [/b]

It’s very important that you pitch the restaurant IN PERSON! I know that many people do this over the phone and I can tell you that it’s a bad idea. By pitching over the phone, it gives them an excuse to tell you no or just hang up on you. How many times are you bothered by a telemarkter over the phone? Do you ever listen to anything they ever say, or do you (like myself) hang up on them in mid-sentence? If you pitch restaurants over the phone, then you've become a telemarketer. Face to face interaction will always yield better results.

Wait about a week [i](time misdirection)[/i] from when you made the initial phone call. Dress for success by looking professional in a suit and tie even if that’s not what you wear when you perform. Walk into the restaurant and ask to speak to the General Manager/Owner. Ask for them by name. When the General Manager/Owner is in front of you, then deliver your pitch.

If the General Manager/Owner is not at the restaurant, try and find out when they’ll be back to discuss your business matter. [b]DO NOT[/b] waste your time pitching to an Assistant Manager. They have a feather title. Their job is to make sure the restaurant doesn’t burn to the ground when the General Manager/Owner isn’t there. Always speak to the boss.

So now that you’ve done all of the above, it’s time to pitch your potential client.

The below is my [b]ACTUAL PITCH[/b] that I have used now for over 15 years. Feel free to use it exactly as I have written or change it up to fit your own style.

[i]“Hi, my name is Christopher Lyle and I’m here to offer you the opportunity to provide your guests a unique dining experience that no other restaurant in your market is able to match. Do I have your attention?

What’s the one drawback to going out to a restaurant? THE WAIT…right? What if I told you that I have the ability to make time fly…would you say I’m crazy? Let me explain…the art of providing quick service is to minimize the wait time…or to give the illusion that the wait time is diminished. That is achieved by the art of distraction…or misdirection in my case.

I’m here today to offer your restaurant my services as an entertainer. I’m a Magician offering table side entertainment to all of your guests…either while waiting for the delivery of the food or if you have a long wait for seating, to entertain those waiting in your lobby. Let’s face it…people can go anywhere for food…but what’s going to KEEP them coming back again and again? Something that is unique that they cannot get anywhere else.

By providing your guests entertainment, you diminish the perceived wait time making them more apt to return in the future. Would you be interested in trying me out?” [/i]

If they seem hesitant, then I say, [i]“Let’s do this. I will come out to your restaurant next Wednesday Night and will play from 6pm to 8pm at no cost to you. It will give you the chance to see me in action. There is NO OBLIGATION. If you don’t think it’s something you’d want, then we can part ways and you’re not out anything, but have just gained a free night of entertainment for your guests. Either way, it’s a win/win for you. What do you say?” [/i]

If you can get them to say YES, then you’re 90% of the way to booking the restaurant. In all my years of performing, I have only had THREE (3) restaurants tell me to take a hike after that first free night. Sometimes, the hard sell is getting them to let you come out on that first night. Getting your foot in the door is what it’s all about.


[b]STEP 4: STACKING THE DECK[/b]

You have now gotten approval from the General Manager/Owner to come out and perform for one evening. Now it’s time to stack the deck.

Whenever I am about to audition for a restaurant, I always call on a small group of my [i]“non-magician”[/i] friends and invite them to the restaurant to watch me perform. This is a great way to guarantee great reactions, screams, applause, etc. The types of reactions that you need to get so you can capture the attention of the management.

Look at this step as a way to ring in a gimmicked card into your deck before beginning a routine. Your friends are your gimmick and they will assist in producing a desired effect…the effect being you booking this restaurant.

The following day, I will have my friends contact the restaurant and ask for the General Manager/Owner to compliment them on a great night and thank them for having such wonderful entertainment.


[b]STEP 5: THE FOLLOW UP[/b]

It’s very important that you follow up with the General Manager/Owner after your audition. Do not wait for them to call you. It won’t happen. If you want this gig, then you need to close the deal yourself. But timing is everything. You need to follow up with them while your audition is still fresh in their mind while at the same time, not appearing to be over anxious or needy.

It’s very rare when I do my follow up on the same night as my audition. Some may disagree with this, but let me explain my reasoning…

First and foremost, the General Manager/Owner will usually leave before your audition shift is completed. Don’t take that as a sign that they hated you, it’s just a fact of life. Many General Managers/Owners work 60+ hours per week and they want to get home to their families. Waiting around for the magic guy to finish up isn’t top on their priority list.

If the General Manager/Owner “IS” still at the restaurant when I’m done, then here’s my routine. I will always approach them, thank them for allowing me the opportunity to come out and play their restaurant, and tell them that I’ll be in touch in a day or two. That’s it! Pack up your stuff and hit the road. Unless they invite you to the bar for a meeting, then don’t hang around.

You need to be cool, calm and collected. Be a pro! Leave them with the impression that you don’t really need this job. If it works out then that’s great…but you’re not going to beg. If you overplay your hand and seem “over anxious” then it’s very possible that you’ll talk yourself right out of the gig. They’ll either book you, or they won’t. At this point in the game, the less you speak the better.

It is “rare” for me to ask for the sale on my audition night. Why? Simple! I want a few days to pass to allow time for “the buzz” to begin. What will stick out in the mind of the General Manager/Owner is that you came out to entertain, you were a smash hit and that people are now calling to sing praises of the wonderful entertainer they saw while dining at the restaurant. It’s that buzz that will land you the gig!

That’s it! It couldn’t be any simpler. Follow this simple 5 Step Process and you’ll be well on your way to more work than you can handle. This formula has kept me gainfully employed my entire career anywhere from 4 to 7 nights a week. I hope that it finds you well and that it brings you much success in 2010 and beyond.

Now go forth…and magish, but do so ethically, because I’ll be watching...

Christopher Lyle
Message: Posted by: Radmak (Nov 6, 2010 04:39AM)
"Let’s face it…people can go anywhere for food…but what’s going to KEEP them coming back again and again?"

isn't it a suggestion that the food their restaurant serves is of the average quality and doesn't stand out? Is it really the best way to approach the owner?
Message: Posted by: DavinSimone (Nov 6, 2010 05:38AM)
Awesome write up. I am certain I will use this to my advantage in the future!
Message: Posted by: funsway (Nov 6, 2010 05:44AM)
From the business side, when the owner/partner is the Chef he is concerned with controlling food costs, delivering a consistent product, minimizing waste and managing fractious kitchen help. Quality is relative to price and presentation. He relies on the Manager for all "front end" stuff including marketing and service. The Chef will always blame the front end, and the Manager will always blame the kitchen for lack of success.

So, your selection of terms and "hot buttons" will depend on who you are talking to as to what "quality" means. If there is a very active bar you may have a third opinion to deal with. Therefore, it is wise to scout the business first and discover the dynamics of the decision making process before approaching anyone. The guy who sells wine to the restaurant is a good source of inside info.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Nov 6, 2010 09:21AM)
[quote]
On 2010-11-06 05:39, Radmak wrote:
"Let’s face it…people can go anywhere for food…but what’s going to KEEP them coming back again and again?"

isn't it a suggestion that the food their restaurant serves is of the average quality and doesn't stand out? Is it really the best way to approach the owner?
[/quote]

Not at all! I think you may be reading into something that isn't there.

As a customer myself, I CAN go anywhere for food. But the places that I frequent on a regular basis are the places that have great service and great food and offer something that I cannot get at other places.

Truth be told, there is NO RESTAURANT on the planet that absolutely needs a magician. A restaurant will never close down because they didn't offer entertainment. People go to a restaurant for one reason...FOOD!

However...since there are so many food options out there, people also are attracted to novelty. WE are a novelty and must attempt to convince the restaurant that they DO NEED US...even tho' the reality of it all is that they don't.

So "YES!" The statement makes perfect sense and it's a great way to approach the Owner or GM.

As I stated, I think you're reading into it a tad bit too much! Perhaps it translates differently in the spoken word vs. written.

Then again...it may just be a UK thing... :)

Christopher
Message: Posted by: T_C_Magic (Nov 6, 2010 10:14AM)
That was some really great advice from someone who has been there and knows what he is talking about. Great resource and thank you for sharing it with all of us.
Toby
Message: Posted by: aalexander (Nov 6, 2010 03:29PM)
That was a great post. I decided just yesterday that I was going to take a run at the restaurant scene, and I got all excited when I was reading through your techniques. Good timing.

Speaking of naive posts, what kind of restaurants take performers? Your advice is great, but I'm not entirely sure what sorts of places to hit up with your strategy.
Message: Posted by: slyhand (Nov 6, 2010 04:55PM)
Good stuff. I copied this one to Word too.
Message: Posted by: jimhlou (Nov 8, 2010 03:29PM)
Thanks for the info, Christopher. This is priceless information, which you are sharing with the Café members at NO charge. Kudos to you.

Jim
Message: Posted by: Magician Toronto (Nov 11, 2010 05:03PM)
The sales aspect of the booking is an area where most magicians are weak in. I know magicians who are terrible and yet because of their sales skills are always busy! I also know of great magicians who don't know how to market themselves and are not doing that many shows.

It's funny because you think if your a great performer the gigs will come. That is not the case as the other posts have indicated. Every successful business needs some sort of plan and sales force. Magic and magicians are no different. A full time pro magician is should split their day between practicing and doing sales, shows are usually done at night. A real full time scenario!

http://www.MagicianToronto.com
Message: Posted by: jnrussell (Nov 13, 2010 01:06PM)
Great information! Thanks so much, as I've been thinking of diving into this arena. May I ask a general question that I know depends on an unlimited number of variables? What's the going rate for this? Let's say the restaurant is suburban, family oriented (but serves alcohol), average meal ticket between $25-50 for two people?
Message: Posted by: gbaratta (Nov 14, 2010 02:36PM)
Great stuff.
I always got my gigs booked through an agency, so I never actually had to do it myself.
If I should start doing it from now on I would definitely follow your advice!
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Nov 17, 2010 01:26PM)
I think this is fabulous information. Thank you for sharing it.

For those of you who are working restaurants, here's a question: What do most performers in your area charge? I know from a relatively limited exposure to restaurants that costs are key...and keeping them down very important.

Do you do a basic minimal hourly fee...and add tips?

Would be very interested in whatever you may have to share, folks....

David
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Nov 17, 2010 06:48PM)
To both jnrussell and David Thiel,

This is a very hard question to answer...and truth be told, I don't believe that there is any right and wrong to it. You should bill what your comfortable with.

Personally, I bill an hourly rate and I also accept tips, which on average will equal what I'm paid by the restaurant on any given night.

Good luck with it...!

Christopher
Message: Posted by: sleightly (Nov 17, 2010 07:39PM)
Christopher:

What is your hourly rate for restaurants? Just curious...

ajp
Message: Posted by: rockthemike (Nov 18, 2010 02:02AM)
What do you think about bringing in a list of benefits to the restaurant on paper? It's one thing to recite them, but when the GM can look at all of them I think it's hard to say no and/or dismiss them.

What do you guys think?
Message: Posted by: magic4545 (Nov 18, 2010 10:37PM)
What a great article! Chris really walks the walk with his venue in Irving, Texas at Crystal's Pizza and Spaghetti. There's no doubt when you walk into the place that Chris is the headliner, and when he's going to be performing!

If he used these techniques and tips to get THIS gig, then I'm going to start using them in every aspect of advertising that I use. I'm awful at selling myself, and it's great to know someone as business savvy as Chris that can help here and there.

Way to go, and congrats on a beautifully stage product!!!

Jimmy
Message: Posted by: Hansel (Nov 19, 2010 03:59AM)
Nice Advise here!
Message: Posted by: jonathandupree (Dec 4, 2010 04:35PM)
Can you unsuccessfully book a restaurant?
Message: Posted by: Aaron Smith Magic (Dec 5, 2010 01:09AM)
[quote]
On 2010-11-17 20:39, sleightly wrote:
Christopher:

What is your hourly rate for restaurants? Just curious...

ajp
[/quote]

It is not proper etiquette to ask someone how much money they make. I'm sure Christopher is not going to answer that question. As a person who has worked that particular field, I can tell you that it can range from about 30/hr all the way up to 75/hr. The key is what Christopher already said, charge what [i]you[/i] think your worth. If you think your worth 75 an hour, then ask for it. You may have to go through quite a few auditions until you find the right restaurant, but in the end you'll be happier working for what you believe your worth. That is what I learned from my mentor Jim Pace, and it has always worked for me.
Message: Posted by: jonathandupree (Dec 5, 2010 08:36PM)
Depending on the restaurant it can be far more than $75 per hour. ;) but yes you are right - you are only what you believe you are worth.
Message: Posted by: PhillipHayes (Dec 11, 2010 03:10AM)
Thank you for a great help, mostly a stage performer. Because of not knowing how to get other work. Will put into practice at once.
Message: Posted by: jimvines (Jan 8, 2011 08:02AM)
Great article- thank you, Christopher! Anyone who has not tried booking themselves in restaurants (or who have had limited success doing it their own way) will benefit hugely from this article. Nice work!
Message: Posted by: topchange52 (Jan 13, 2011 09:30AM)
Great advice from someone who's been there and done it, thanks
Message: Posted by: WalkerMagic (Feb 19, 2011 10:18PM)
Great advice! I'm sure this will help me get more restaurant gigs!
Message: Posted by: astoundyou (Mar 18, 2011 10:19PM)
Great information I feel this is the correct way to get and approach a restaurant. But please remember that your magic should be polished and professional. Please don't take a restaurant if you are not ready. It will hurt the pro that has been doing this for years and anyone else after you. You need to know when to approach a table and when not to. What are you going to say when you walk up to the table?? This comes with experience. Good luck and keep them entertained.
Philip Klipper PM(Professional Magician)
Message: Posted by: atinczor (Apr 5, 2011 08:19AM)
Great article. Thank you for sharing it with the Magic Café community.
Message: Posted by: houdini (Apr 21, 2011 01:49AM)
Christopher, at what point in your pitch do you discuss your fee for doing your walkaround gig? How do you go about presenting your cost to the manager for your entertainment?
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Apr 27, 2011 09:55AM)
Usually right after "THE PITCH" the owner/gm will ask "so how much is this going to cost me?" That's the point where my fee is discussed...

Glad to hear that so many are finding my article helpful!

Christopher
Message: Posted by: donrossmagic (May 16, 2011 04:36AM)
Awesome article. I am certainly going to use these principles. I had always wondered what to do when approaching a restaurant. you have certainly given me food for thought.
Message: Posted by: Keith Raygor (Jun 14, 2011 10:03AM)
Over the years, I've been asked quite a few times for my list of benefits, and have posted it here on the Café a couple times. The first time is [url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=88858&forum=5]here[/url].
That thread also has the approach I used to secure my latest residency, which has me in my 13th year at 5 nights per week.

Personalized entertainment - especially good for special occasions, like anniversaries and birthdays

Unique entertainment

A cover for delays in seating or delays in the kitchen

Entertain guests on busy nights

Increase business on slower nights

A way of attracting return customers that bring new customers with them

A way of attracting publicity

A way of delaying the customers from leaving, generating increased revenue

A way of stimulating conversation between strangers in the lounge

An extension of the restaurant’s hospitality

Thanks for opening this topic back up, Chris. I was looking for the thread you had removed as it had so much wonderful information in it from others as well.
I hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: newbstermagi (Jul 17, 2011 07:15PM)
I know this thread is a bit older, but I do have one question: What if you know the restaurant is privately owned (A local business) and the original call to get the info is not needed, do you call to set up an appointment for the pitch, do the pitch over the phone and then go in for an audition? I guess what I am asking is, if you know they are privately owned, and you want to catch the GM/Owner, how do you go about it for this circumstance? I am a teenager, so there are mild transportation issues at this point, but knowing I have an audition, meeting time or if they accept me, knowing when I work is not a problem in arranging transportation, but going in just to strike out in finding who it is I need to speak to seems a bit, for lack of a better word, impractical at this point. Any suggestions would be great!
Matt B.
Message: Posted by: kennewhitson (Jul 21, 2011 02:38PM)
Great info! Thannks for your insight.
Message: Posted by: jasonpartin (Aug 2, 2011 10:41PM)
Great tips from seasoned performers - thanks!

I'll offer a tip from a seasoned performer who has been a first-timer TWICE... I took a 15 year break as other responsibilities dominated my ability to perform a couple of nights a week. I recently returned to working restaurants. My advice is: don't over-think picking a restaurant for your first gig, just visit the place a few times and find an off-time to approach the manager or owner, then be honest about being relatively inexperienced and ask if you could perform before the busy times on an off-night. I choose Thursdays, even though I've been on a break, I have enough experience under my belt to jump back into it and know that I don't enjoy working on weekends. Thursday is a happy medium. Tuesdays or Wednesdays are ideal for a first-time performer, and you could always add more nights after the restaurant sees your value.

Regarding tips, again I recommend not over-analyzing it. Get a few weeks under your belt for free, then figure out what works for you. Personally, I start off by saying that I'm offering a free service provided by the restaurant to ensure that everyone has a good time. I find that this diffuses inevitable tension (most people don't want to be solicited during an already expensive meal), yet I still get tips (even better, they seek me out later in the evening - it's feels more sincere!). Plus, being good pays for itself... focusing on making people feel good and have fun can lead to private parties or corporate gigs that add up more than tips.

Above all, be courteous. All of the analyzing about how to approach a restaurant, how much to charge, or how to get tips goes out the window when performers interrupt a conversation, rush through effects without developing a personal connection, or try to impress people rather than entertain them. If you're a good entertainer (more than a magician), the methods of obtaining money unique to your approach will unfold. Good luck!
Message: Posted by: paymerich (Aug 17, 2011 09:28PM)
I know of one restaurant that would close with out its entertainment : HOOTERS!
Message: Posted by: mgsmagic (Aug 30, 2011 08:58PM)
I've been trying to get a restaurant for sometime now to no avail. I tried approaching a few but they all whine that I'll compete with the wait staff for tips, so when I offered an hourly rate they balked that they'd have to pay anything at all. At the end of the day it seems that no matter how I structure this I don't get gigs. I'd like a mid term regular restaurant gig to aid in marketing other gigs, however thus far I haven't gotten anything.
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Aug 30, 2011 09:40PM)
Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I've been eyeing several local restaurants and this list will help immensely!
Message: Posted by: Merc Man (Sep 15, 2011 02:04PM)
Christopher,

Many thanks for taking the time and energy to write up such an informative and interesting article.

Can I just clarify a few points?

(i) Do you (and other magicians in the USA) work for a set wage OR do you receive a small retainer from the restaurant and work for tips?

(ii) If you work for tips, what is your 'come on' to get you at the tables?

(iii) Do you get any problem with the waiting staff as you are potentially reducing their opportunity for tips?

I'd be really interested to hear from yourself (and obviously other magicians) that may have some answers to these points.

Sincere regards,

Barry
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Sep 15, 2011 04:39PM)
[quote]
On 2011-09-15 15:04, Merc Man wrote:
Do you (and other magicians in the USA) work for a set wage OR do you receive a small retainer from the restaurant and work for tips?
[/quote]

I NEVER work for just tips! Other people do and that's there deal...but you'll never see me working for tips alone. Any restaurant that I perform in I am being paid an hourly rate + I accept tips + my family and I eat there for free whenever we want.

[quote]
On 2011-09-15 15:04, Merc Man wrote:
(ii) If you work for tips, what is your 'come on' to get you at the tables?
[/quote]

n/a


[quote]
On 2011-09-15 15:04, Merc Man wrote:
Do you get any problem with the waiting staff as you are potentially reducing their opportunity for tips?
[/quote]

Nope! The waitstaff make more money on the nights I work b/c I'm keeping their customers happy. The servers let their guests know about the awesome magician and ask if they'd like me to visit with them. Since the server let's them know about me, they get (normally) a nice tip from their guests.
Message: Posted by: Blayk P (Nov 6, 2011 01:19PM)
So much great information here. I'll be using a lot of it soon! Thanks!
Message: Posted by: JeffWampler (Nov 30, 2011 02:43PM)
The part about getting the contact information and finding out if they are corporately owned is priceless. However, I would caution not to be totally turned off by a corporately owned restaurant. The chain of command is a little different, and many times these places have a budget for entertainment. Very good information!!!
Message: Posted by: ThatsJustWrong! (Dec 5, 2011 10:46PM)
I used to work tables often back in the 80's and 90's and can agree with everything said here. It was my policy, however, to work for a flat fee and a meal, and not accept tips from guests. Instead, I would encourage the guests to show their appreciation to their servers who I always took the time to get to know by name. Happy servers make life a lot happier for a manager and I DID accept a cut of tips when offered by the staff. Be aware of what they do, the traffic patterns, the pulse of the restaurant and the timing of the meals.Be supportive of the staff in the trenches and they will be supportive of you!
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Dec 17, 2011 11:04AM)
Good marketing stuff, thanks. I worked a semi- restaurant for years and got good money since the clients coming in paid for entertainment. The economy wrecked that gig though.
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Dec 31, 2011 10:05AM)
Christopher, thanks so much for taking the time to share this invaluable info with all of us! I am considering finding work in restaurants while I'm still in college, and this helps a lot!
Message: Posted by: HighClass (Jan 6, 2012 01:12PM)
I always work for a set fee and give what ever tips I recieve to the waiter staff working the table. This keeps the staff happy. It also incourages the waite staff to introduce me to table, so I almost never approach cold.
Message: Posted by: yabi (Jan 26, 2012 08:02AM)
Christopher, the information you shared here is priceless. It takes a lot for any successful person to share their "secrets to success" like you have. It's truly appreciative.
Thank you for making this contribution (again).
Message: Posted by: WilliamMckeehan (Feb 4, 2012 01:29AM)
Great Post! The info will be very useful if I ever get out there working, thanks!
Message: Posted by: borderjs (Feb 14, 2012 12:58PM)
Great topic, as I am still a beginner I have no plans to use this information anytime soon but I hope I can use it in the future! Thanks everyone for the tips!
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Feb 14, 2012 01:08PM)
Glad to hear everyone is finding it helpful! :)
Message: Posted by: EXTREMENINJA1 (Apr 5, 2012 07:21AM)
This article is very helpful. I'm 16 and hoping to get into restaurant magic. A couple of questions though. How should I dress? Is a suit or other formal wear the best way? I would feel odd in a suit and don't think I would perform well. Is jeans and a button down shirt + formal shoes a good idea? And finally, if the owner/general manager is not in but the assistant manager asks to take a message, what should I say? I know you said it is not a good idea to talk to the assistant manager but I don't want to be rude.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Apr 5, 2012 08:53AM)
Everything you just asked is IN my article...
Message: Posted by: EXTREMENINJA1 (Apr 5, 2012 12:32PM)
Ah I just noticed the suit bit. But I can't see anything about talking to the assistant manager apart from you shouldn't pitch to them. Though I could just say its a private matter.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Apr 5, 2012 12:55PM)
You just answered your own question...
Message: Posted by: EXTREMENINJA1 (Apr 5, 2012 03:08PM)
So I did... I suppose I'm just nervous and over thinking it :)
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Apr 5, 2012 03:52PM)
Indeed
Message: Posted by: Brainbu$ter (May 22, 2012 12:39AM)
Another benefit of having you is:

The servers will receive HIGHER tips when you're there, making the guests happy.
Message: Posted by: link8822 (Jun 14, 2012 02:44PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-02 23:41, jasonpartin wrote:
Great tips from seasoned performers - thanks!

I'll offer a tip from a seasoned performer who has been a first-timer TWICE... I took a 15 year break as other responsibilities dominated my ability to perform a couple of nights a week. I recently returned to working restaurants. My advice is: don't over-think picking a restaurant for your first gig, just visit the place a few times and find an off-time to approach the manager or owner, then be honest about being relatively inexperienced and ask if you could perform before the busy times on an off-night. I choose Thursdays, even though I've been on a break, I have enough experience under my belt to jump back into it and know that I don't enjoy working on weekends. Thursday is a happy medium. Tuesdays or Wednesdays are ideal for a first-time performer, and you could always add more nights after the restaurant sees your value.

Regarding tips, again I recommend not over-analyzing it. Get a few weeks under your belt for free, then figure out what works for you. Personally, I start off by saying that I'm offering a free service provided by the restaurant to ensure that everyone has a good time. I find that this diffuses inevitable tension (most people don't want to be solicited during an already expensive meal), yet I still get tips (even better, they seek me out later in the evening - it's feels more sincere!). Plus, being good pays for itself... focusing on making people feel good and have fun can lead to private parties or corporate gigs that add up more than tips.

Above all, be courteous. All of the analyzing about how to approach a restaurant, how much to charge, or how to get tips goes out the window when performers interrupt a conversation, rush through effects without developing a personal connection, or try to impress people rather than entertain them. If you're a good entertainer (more than a magician), the methods of obtaining money unique to your approach will unfold. Good luck!
[/quote]


Thanks for posting your experience. I'm planning to do restaurant magic this summer & also a 'first time performer' in that I haven't performed magic for pay before. I've only shared it at social events & had a job doing small science shows last year.

To those who work restaurant, do you have experiences in promoting the restaurant's new foods, events, etc. into your routines?
Message: Posted by: helder (Jun 14, 2012 03:03PM)
Great tips from one of the best in this field.


Thanks Lyle.
Message: Posted by: leolaurindo (Sep 2, 2012 05:17PM)
Awesome article.
At least you're not greedy. Instead of writing a lot of ******** to make a book and sell for 30 bucks, you're honest!
Very nice man!
Message: Posted by: imDavidQ (Oct 8, 2012 02:26PM)
Thank you for the generous post. Everything you say is spot on imo.I have some experience working the types of venues you describe. If I may be so presumptuous as to add an addendum. You mentioned (quite rightly so) keeping the gig is equally as important as getting it. May I suggest that your rapport with the wait staff is extremely important. Approaching the table at the right time of their dining experience is paramount. The magician should be an enhancement to the wait staff as well as the patron. Generally speaking. Rule #1 is stay out of the way. No one cares how amazing you are if you're keeping them from eating. Timing is key. My thinkng is, never entertain anyone who doesn't want to be entertained.
I've had good expeience with approaching a table after they've received their drinks and have ordered their meal, and after they've finished their meal before the check has come. I believe it's not a good idea to perform after the check is down, and most cetainly (unless by specially request) when there's payment pending. Many restaurants want to give their customers a memorable expeience and then turn the table over to the next guests to enjoy.
Ask the wait staff if there are any special occasions at their tables, and if you can find out the names of the birthday 'girl' or anniversary couple. This will not only ease your intro, but you may be able to work it into an effect. Tell the wait staff to let you know if they want you to approach a table because they've been waiting a while for their meal or for any othe reason. Do the same for the manager.
My general point is: You will not keep the gig if the staff is not on you side. Sometimes it may only take one person on staff complaining that you're in the way for your status to change.The manager WILL ask the wait staff about you. Do your best to make sure they have something good to say about you. If a customer loves you and raves about you. I usually say, "Tell my boss! No really, tell my boss."

P.S. At least once during your peformance, have the table give "rousing round of applause for Cindy (enter celebrant's/assistant's name here. People at other tables (and hopefully the management) will hear this applause and think that you must be as wondeful as you are. Good Luck.
Message: Posted by: imDavidQ (Oct 8, 2012 02:32PM)
I should mention that many of these ideas were passed on to me by Michael Weber at a restaurant seminar given at a gathering of the Long Beach Mystics held in the early eighties. I still think they ring true today.
Message: Posted by: illusionistaxe (Oct 18, 2012 04:51AM)
Hit right on the target mate! Great tips. Thanks a ton!
Message: Posted by: Magicdjdon (Oct 25, 2012 04:19PM)
I work in restaurants weekly and the best advice I ever got on how to dress was from Jeff McBride and I quote "dress like you are going somewhere better after your show."
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Oct 25, 2012 07:38PM)
[quote]
On 2012-10-25 17:19, Magicdjdon wrote:
I work in restaurants weekly and the best advice I ever got on how to dress was from Jeff McBride"
[/quote]

Jeff wears pajamas everywhere he goes. Fashion tips from him would worry me! LOL ;)

(j/k Jeff)
Message: Posted by: MagicJim (Nov 16, 2012 09:26PM)
I would recommend 3 cd's3 Valuable CD's to the performer

Michael Ammar's Negotiating Higher Performance Fees

Michael Ammar's Making Magic Memorable

Restaurant Magic Business: Charles Green III

I have posted on the magic items for sale
Message: Posted by: howlinhobbit (Dec 26, 2012 08:37PM)
I'm a "re-noob" as I used to do a magic act a number of years ago and am just now getting back into it. my first "steady gig" (and many others thereafter) was table-hopping at a restaurant. this is my current goal as well and this information is priceless. thank you very much!
Message: Posted by: Bicycle Rider (Dec 31, 2012 02:24AM)
Thank you for sharing your experience and tips. I have a question regarding the tricks to perform: as a card magician mainly, is it possible hopping tables using only card magic?
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Dec 31, 2012 08:56AM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-31 03:24, Bicycle Rider wrote:
Thank you for sharing your experience and tips. I have a question regarding the tricks to perform: as a card magician mainly, is it possible hopping tables using only card magic?
[/quote]

Absolutely it is! There are some people who make their living from cards alone. With that said, if you're playing a restaurant that caters to children and families, you may encounter problems with younger kids not being able to follow what is taking place so you may need to diversify your skill sets in other areas. But in my opinion, it's very possible. :)
Message: Posted by: Bicycle Rider (Dec 31, 2012 08:36PM)
I will consider some coins routine and possibly some sponge balls in the future then. Thank you for your quick reply. And happy new year!
Message: Posted by: Benjamagic (Feb 12, 2013 05:14PM)
Thanks so much for this valuable information and tips!! I really appreciate it :)

By the way, you should write a book on this!
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Feb 12, 2013 10:04PM)
[quote]
On 2013-02-12 18:14, Benjamagic wrote:
Thanks so much for this valuable information and tips!! I really appreciate it :)

By the way, you should write a book on this!
[/quote]

Well for now, my lecture will need to do. It will be available on DVD with my lecture notes by April! :)
Message: Posted by: AAAL (Mar 3, 2013 12:52PM)
Do you ask for tips? or you split it with the waiting staff? do you make considerable income from tips?
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Mar 4, 2013 03:24PM)
No, I do not solicit for tips while performing magic. I do accept them, but I don't ask. I also don't work for tips alone. I am always paid by the restaurants I perform in. I don't split anything with the waitstaff. Back in the day, I was required to put my tips into a "tip share" jar that was split evenly at the end of the night, but that's now illegal here in the states. On a good night, I will make double if not triple what I'm paid from the restaurants in tips. On a bad night, I may make pretty close to what the restaurant pays me.

It all depends on if I'm doing magic or creating balloon art. People tip higher for balloon art. :)
Message: Posted by: Anthony Istar (Mar 12, 2013 08:28AM)
That's a great article Christopher, thanks a lot!!
Just a question: if the manager still asks you for a trick —even after he saw the great effect you had on his/her clients— what killer trick would you do to convince him/her? I imagine you'll answer: "the routine that suits you"... but I'm just curious!
Thanks a lot,
Anthony_
Message: Posted by: magicalmilton (Mar 21, 2013 01:23AM)
There is a slight issue in terms of business ethics in having your friends, essentially, as "stooges", trying to inflate the reactions people have to your performance, during your audition. As someone who has been in the position of hiring entertainers and performers I can tell you that this, when spotted, goes down like a lead balloon. It is far far more ethical to perform to your highest standards during your audition and really induce those reactions. If they do not happen then so be it but at least what is reflected is a genuine reaction to your abilities rather than an inflated one.

This also works in your favour for later performances. Instead of you having an amazing reactive audition, followed by two or three incredibly mundane and uneventful performances, you instead maintain a positive curve where people who were genuinely impressed return with their friends who should in turn be genuinely impressed. Thus the reaction becomes cumulative, not an initial crescendo followed by a sharp diminuendo.

It also really helps you to actually make a good performance!

Apart from that though, I have to completely agree that Chris's method is workable. It is important for beginners to note, though, that whilst this is a way of getting bookings, it is not THE way. There are an almost infinite number of ways to book a restaurant/club/theatre. This is simply one of many.
Message: Posted by: harbour (Mar 24, 2013 04:53PM)
Another is being a regular at the restaurants you want to perform in and after having conversations with the general manager, make it seem like HIS idea.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Mar 24, 2013 11:01PM)
[quote]
On 2013-03-12 09:28, Anthony Istar wrote:
That's a great article Christopher, thanks a lot!!
Just a question: if the manager still asks you for a trick —even after he saw the great effect you had on his/her clients— what killer trick would you do to convince him/her? I imagine you'll answer: "the routine that suits you"... but I'm just curious!
Thanks a lot,
Anthony_
[/quote]

You are correct...whatever suits who you are...but in all my years, it's never happened! :)
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Mar 24, 2013 11:08PM)
[quote]
On 2013-03-21 02:23, magicalmilton wrote:
There is a slight issue in terms of business ethics in having your friends, essentially, as "stooges", trying to inflate the reactions people have to your performance, during your audition. As someone who has been in the position of hiring entertainers and performers I can tell you that this, when spotted, goes down like a lead balloon. It is far far more ethical to perform to your highest standards during your audition and really induce those reactions. If they do not happen then so be it but at least what is reflected is a genuine reaction to your abilities rather than an inflated one.

This also works in your favour for later performances. Instead of you having an amazing reactive audition, followed by two or three incredibly mundane and uneventful performances, you instead maintain a positive curve where people who were genuinely impressed return with their friends who should in turn be genuinely impressed. Thus the reaction becomes cumulative, not an initial crescendo followed by a sharp diminuendo.

It also really helps you to actually make a good performance!

Apart from that though, I have to completely agree that Chris's method is workable. It is important for beginners to note, though, that whilst this is a way of getting bookings, it is not THE way. There are an almost infinite number of ways to book a restaurant/club/theatre. This is simply one of many.
[/quote]

I didn't explain this very well when I originally wrote this article. I should better explain...

Whenever I am about to audition for a restaurant, I always post a message to my fans on Face Book, Twitter, etc. and invite them to the restaurant to watch me perform. This is a great way to not only provide my fans another opportunity to see me in action, but it guarantees that I’ll get great reactions from people who are use to my style and seeing me perform. I know that if they're FB Friends of mine, then they "liked me" b/c they wanted to keep up with the going on's in business.

Does that make better sense?

Also, I never said that what I wrote was the "GOSPEL!" It's what works for me and has continued to work for me. By using the methods I describe above, I am able to walk into any restaurant I want and walk out with a gig. Some may think that comment is smug or braggart, but it's not, b/c I can back it up with experience.

Your mileage may vary... :)
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Mar 24, 2013 11:08PM)
[quote]
On 2013-03-24 17:53, harbour wrote:
Another is being a regular at the restaurants you want to perform in and after having conversations with the general manager, make it seem like HIS idea.
[/quote]

Another wonderful idea!
Message: Posted by: magicfish (Mar 29, 2013 03:03AM)
Being a regular has as its pitfalls as well.
Message: Posted by: mystre71 (Apr 2, 2013 05:45PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-17 22:28, paymerich wrote:
I know of one restaurant that would close with out its entertainment : HOOTERS!
[/quote]

Hooters, use to have a magi perform there. His name was Joe Cole. Sadly that wasn't me :(...lol


Best,
Joe Cole
Message: Posted by: magicalmilton (Apr 7, 2013 03:12PM)
Having this as a sticky on the top of the forum imply's that this is the most appropriate or accepted standard of practice when it comes to obtaining restaurant gigs... and I'm not sure that this is the case. That not to challenge its efficiency or the efficiency of the thread originator, just that it may be better to, instead, have a sticky that links to a list of methods/threads instead of glorifying one in particular... this does seem to be the precedent in many other parts of the Café and, I suspect, would be far more beneficial.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Apr 10, 2013 09:42PM)
[quote]
On 2013-04-07 16:12, magicalmilton wrote:
Having this as a sticky on the top of the forum imply's that this is the most appropriate or accepted standard of practice when it comes to obtaining restaurant gigs... and I'm not sure that this is the case. That not to challenge its efficiency or the efficiency of the thread originator, just that it may be better to, instead, have a sticky that links to a list of methods/threads instead of glorifying one in particular... this does seem to be the precedent in many other parts of the Café and, I suspect, would be far more beneficial.
[/quote]

This is a sticky note b/c so many "newbie's" would come on here and ask the question. I thought having it as a sticky note would prevent that and it has. Also, this entire thread has had quite a few share their methods so it has opened up a great topic for discussion.

I never said that my method was gospel, just that it works for me. It may not work for you or others, but some of the ideas may. Your mileage may vary...
Message: Posted by: nautimike (Jun 3, 2013 09:09AM)
I am excited about having all this to read! I am planning on approaching one of two restaurants that I've dined at recently about a gig. During our drinks, I performed a couple magic tricks for my friends/family. At the first restaurant I was watched by a neighboring table, so my second trick I performed for one of the kids at that table (which was watched by a third table). Great feedback from all tables (including mine). The other night I was at another restaurant and did a "cut and restore shoelace" routine which was watched by a large neighboring table that gave me a loud round of applause at the end. It was then that I knew I was ready. I had the smarts to come here first looking for good advice, and I found it! Thanks Chris and everyone else for the advice I needed. I love to entertain, and now if I can get paid to do it, even better!

Mike
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Jun 4, 2013 02:30AM)
Thanks for all the wonderful information Christopher. I'm really getting to the point of putting this into practice and landing a gig, but I also have business start up concerns. I also asked these questions in Jamie's essays thread, but I would greatly appreciate your input on this aspect of landing the gig.

What do we absolutely HAVE to do when we are first starting our magic business? Do we need a promo pack? Insurance? A business account? Do we need to set aside 33% of all income for taxes? Save receipts? Can you give us a brief outline of the essentials to help us get started with that?

Again, thank you so much for this great thread; it is a great wealth of information for those of us just getting started.
Message: Posted by: link8822 (Jun 6, 2013 09:05PM)
[quote]
On 2013-02-12 23:04, Christopher Lyle wrote:
[quote]
On 2013-02-12 18:14, Benjamagic wrote:
Thanks so much for this valuable information and tips!! I really appreciate it :)

By the way, you should write a book on this!
[/quote]

Well for now, my lecture will need to do. It will be available on DVD with my lecture notes by April! :)
[/quote]

Is the DVD & lecture notes available online anywhere to buy or only at your lectures?
Message: Posted by: Christopher Lyle (Jun 6, 2013 09:57PM)
Currently, I'm still in POST production on the lecture DVD. The footage has been shot, but life keeps getting in the way of focusing on this project. I'm hoping by the year end making it available for stockings. :)
Message: Posted by: Geoff Williams (Jul 23, 2013 06:27PM)
My 2 cents worth:

I recommend you approach the GM/Owner around 2:30pm on a weekday. That is usually the slowest time in most restaurants which should maximize your chances of getting an impromptu meeting with them.

My thoughts regarding tips:
Part 1: I personally try to graciously turn down tips but accept them when the guest insists. If I end up taking a tip, I do an extra effect for them (as payment).
Part 2: If the tip I received is UNDER $10, it ALL goes to the server who is assigned to that particular table. If the tip is OVER $10, I split the tip 50/50 with the server.

The LAST thing you want is a server to see you accepting a tip at their table. Right or wrong, it may be seen as you taking tip money from "their" table. The last thing you want is for there to be any hint of hostility between you and the wait staff (because the wait staff can say mean, nasty stuff to the GM and hasten your departure from that venue).
Message: Posted by: ku7uk3 (Aug 9, 2013 11:17AM)
'Charge what you think your worth' - utter nonsence.

I think I'm worth a thousand pound an hour, but I'm not stupid enough to charge that. You charge what the client can afford to pay and what your happy with. You can get this figure by doing several things:

1. You can ask your fellow magician friends how much they charge and take an adverage amount.

2. You pretend to be a potencial client and email all the other magicians in that area (from a new email account) asking for a price. Once you have a guideline, either adverage or undercut them all.

3. Find a magician already working a restaurant in another town and find out how much they charge by asking them or going on forums like this and asking people to pm you what they charge.

4. Find an entertainer (working a restaurant already preferably) in another profession like a clairvoyant, musician or caricaturist. These are your competition but because your in a different profession, they are often more willing to share info with you (If you say your from a different town / city as well, its even easier). Find out their price which you can get by pretending to be a restaurant and asking them for a quote and work around that.

5. Having a good relation with entertainment in different professions can be beneficial in also getting the work, as you can promote each other if the restaurant suggests bringing in other entertainers. No one ever likes to bring in another person in the same profession as they run the risk of being better than you or doing something that upsets the management and gets everyone fired. Suggesting artists in other professions keep your role as magician special to you only.

6. Know the area. Every town has a rich side and a poor side of town. As magicians we are a commodity, so if your trying to sell yourself to the poor side of town, your wasting your time quite frankly. They will take the free night option and never use you again (or worse, say you can do more free nights and hand out your card).

Often I find the best resturants to approach and book you for long stretches are those connected to a hotel. I'll repeat that sentence because its probally the most important thing ive said so far - the resturants that book you for years are those connected to a hotel.
I have had several long term residencies at high fees. The first was a resturant in a hotel in the centre of a major town which was every Sunday afternoon for three hours, and it lasted four years. They also hired a musician (which I will come back to later).
That one ended with a change of managemnet and them trying to reduce costs. The second was the holiday inn near the airport, which I started a month after the previous one ended, again for three hours on a Sunday afternoon in the restaurant. That lasted two years before I ended it as private parties were bringing in more money for me as Sunday afternoon is an in demand period for me. I have had several others but they wernt connected to a hotel so they didn't last as long.

The important things to take away from this when finding the resturant for you is:

1. Pick a resturant connected to a hotel and in a part of town (city centre / airport) where customers are changing on a somewhat regular basis and they need to keep old clients coming back and using them again. don't bother with tiny resturants in the suburbs, and even avoid the family restaurants and they don't offer logetivity in my experience (they only hire you on one-off special occasions). You want to seek out the restaurants near tourism routes or corporate businesses. You only have so much time to market yourself and you only have so many 'free audition night' to offer. Might as well target the places which have the potential to offer better longer lasting, rewarding results.

2. Look for the resturants with a musician. These could be keyboard players or harpist. These are the venues that are use to hiring entertainment and are much easier to sell yourself to as they already have the resources in place to hire one-off artists like yourself.
If you can, find out how much the musician is being paid. This is obviously not something you can easily do, but I knew one or two of them from other gigs and so they were willing to share that info with me. I then knew how much to pitch myself at with that paticular restaurant. Quite often the restaurant will only pay what they are paying the musician so with this info you can find out if its a job even worth pursuing. If the pay is not good enough, you know to look elsewhere instead.
I have heard some family restaurants have musicians working for free (I've never seen this myself, but have heard about it). In which case, these are restaurants you shouldn't even try approaching. Were a high value commodity item so only approach the businesses which see themselves and there staff as much also.

3. Sunday bruch (1-4pm) is the key time that most resturants wanted me for. Some booked me on weeknights but they never lasted more than a few months. The residencies that lasted years were those that were on Sunday brunch.

4. As for working weeknights, the work is there but its not as easy to keep as the volume of customers is simply not there at these times and the pay is less for some reason. There is also more compeition with clairoyants, charaiturist and singers charging less than you at these times. Sunday afternnoons for me at least, seemed to bring in better fees and longer lasting results.


Securing the gig for long term contract

1. Never take tips unless the customer really forces it down your throat. I once had a gig where the client wanted to tip me £40 which was a lot of money back then. But he only had a credit card and so I said, thank-you that's okay - Give it to the waitress. He was insistent it goes to me and called the manager of the restaurant over and got him to promise that if he used his credit card and the restaurants machine, that I would get the money. It was flattering, but more problems than it was worth. As all the waitresses and staff members saw how much the tip I was getting was and that they were being upstaged.
I never took tips and asked that they give them to the waitress at the end of the night, so hopefully they understood that this was a one-off occasion, but since waitresses change almost each week, its impossible to predict they all knew that.
Anyway, if your fee is set at a price where tips are not needed. Don't take them. Off course, in America you have a different system there so my advice may not apply to you.

2. Change your tricks each week, and have at least four 'sets' of tricks on you at all times. that's 12 effects on you if not more.
While you may only be performing at one table, the other tables will also be watching you through the corners of their eyes. They will see the tricks you are doing and know the endings before you get to them. If you then go to the next table and perform the exact same effects, you have already lost because they have already seen those tricks and will be looking to catch you out and ruin the endings. If there are ten tables and you do the same three tricks only, by table four you will start hitting some heavy negativity from your audience.
It gets bad reactions from the customers and therefore bad feedback.

3. Another reason to change your tricks regularly is to keep old customers coming back again for more and seeing something new. The whole reason you are there each week is to get customers coming back again and again. If you do the same effects, you are not providing the service which the restaurant hired you for.
Also, if you expect any bookings from that gig, you need to show that you have other tricks in your repetoir so that everyone knows the time they see you, they will see something different.

4. Smile. For the love of god, please smile. It can be as fake as anything, but smiling is contagious and no-matter how bad your feeling - you are the entertainer and you need to smile so that it encourages others to smile. I cannot stress this enough as I have seen some very depressing magicians recently which couldn't even last the table, never mind the night. Most problems magicians have when approaching a table is they take it all too seriously.

5. Have fun with it. Your suppose to be having fun - that's why your in this profession. And like smiling, people will feel that your enjoying yourself and it will spread around. That joy will infect others. If your not enjoying the gig, you will lose it very quickly. If this is a problem for you, find out the cause. Do you need to change your tricks? Are you bringing problems from home to work with you? Did a trick not go as planned and it caught you off-guard? Did a heckler say something that you had no response to?
Whatever the reason, don't spread that negative energy from table to table.

6. Choose the right tricks. Chop cup may get good reactions with your two kicker endings. But the whole routine of 'where is the ball' is insulting to the audience. Your making them look stupid by always getting it wrong and that is something no one likes. You are getting them to hate you very quickly, because you've made them look small and stupid.
Then you have to clear the table to do the trick which doesn't look good and has bad angles with trying to see the small ball through the clutter on he table.
It also has bad angles for the steels because there are people sat at your sides and they can see you steal from the pocket. I know this trick is a favourite for magicians, but think about the venue and decide whether it really is the best effect for this type of environment.
Also, this is a restaurant that follows health and safety codes. No rocky the raccoon and no fire or flash effects. You will be in breach of several safety policies which will get you kicked out the restaurant, never mind coming back the following week. Think about it - flash paper and lighters near alcohol and drunks and in venues with a no-smoking rule.

7. Further to choosing the right tricks, the management will be watching you periodically throughout the night. They will see the same trick many times and have worse viewing angles for seeing for steels. If they catch on to how you do your tricks, you become less impressive to them which can hurt longevity. Choose effects like ring and string which can fool people over again without losing its appeal to management watching from afar is a better choice.

8. Your there to promote the restaurant, not yourself. Don't hand out your business card like its free money. I will not personally hire or recommend any other entertainer who I see begging for work at a gig. At a residency, this kind out stuff is the quickest way to get fired. Only hand out your card if asked for, or if you can find a way to incorporate it within a trick that doesn't look like self promotion. But at all times you work for the restaurant. They have hired you and you represent them and not yourself. To the customers you are staff at that restaurant and it looks bad to everyone if you give them a personal card when your suppose to be staff.

9. Learn about the restaurant. You are staff so you should know where the customers toilets are if they ask you and get a rough idea how long it takes the courses to be cooked. Know where dedicated smoking spots are and move tables to help the waitresses if it looks like they need assistance. If the restaurant has an interesting history like being an old school classroom, talk about it with the guests. It encourages interesting conversation and for the management it shows you are integrating the restaurants history into your performance which looks good.

10. Talk to the other staff members and show them tricks. Find out what the managers and waitress and cooks do for fun and engage in team building activities. Organise a games night if you can and make friends with the staff. It will be better for you when you work along friends and it will improve team morale for everyone and make your importance there even greater. If you continue to isolate yourself from the group dynamic at the restaurant by just being the magician, its easy for them to let you go. But make yourself part of the family and they will back you no matter what.

Stephen Ablett
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Aug 9, 2013 01:35PM)
Interesting thoughts Steven. Thanks for contributing to this awesome thread.

I’d like to add two thoughts of my own.

I agree with you about the chop cup. For the life of me I can’t figure out why some many magicians (including some top pros) present this as a ‘Where’s the ball? YOU LOSE!’ routine. I just began doing a chop cup routine this year and decided to present as I am the one who keeps getting it wrong, while all the time its obvious to the audience there’s some awesome magic going on.

Tips is a hotly debate subject here in this forum. I just want to say I like them and always graciously accept them. Sometimes I’ll make it clear they don’t have to and I am being paid by the restaurant. But, I really don’t know any people that give tips when they have no desire to, or really can’t afford to. Who am I to say? If someone gives me money I’m going to assume they are grown up enough to make that decision.

True, it is important to keep harmony with the wait staff. But that can be done in different ways. I am helping the waiters by helping their table have an overall pleasant evening, thereby helping THEIR tip. In fact, I have had waiters share part of their tip with ME!

And I don’t understand the argument that the GM might take offense to accepting tips and it might shorten your stay at the restaurant. Every manager I’ve worked for wants me to accept them and is very happy for me. And it makes me happy too.
Message: Posted by: ku7uk3 (Aug 9, 2013 04:14PM)
In the US, I understand the resturant industry is mainly based around giving tips. While here in the uk, its a very different thing. I imagine its different from state to state also. So there can be no set rule for what to do with tips. It depends on where you live and the contact you have with the resturant.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Aug 9, 2013 11:52PM)
It's not, so much, different from state to state as it is from geographical area to geographical area.

For example: I have a friend who worked two nights a week here, on the west coast, and when he moved to the south (bible belt) he hasn't worked a single restaurant or performed at a single party in 6 years. Tips (and work) are also cultural.
Message: Posted by: link8822 (Oct 13, 2013 11:15AM)
Hi everyone,

Just wanted to thank you for this well-written topic. So many thoughts & opinions on restaurant gigs & I want to share my own experience of how I landed my first gig.
First of all, I put together a promo folder and called to find out the GM's name. Turns out she was in that day, so I walked in to the restaurant & asked to speak with her about possible entertainment options for the restaurant to which I was told I should speak with the sales manager. They scheduled a time for us to meet 2 weeks later, and then I dropped off my promo folder in person a few days later when the sales manager was in.

In terms of tips, I made it very clear that I would not solicit tips because I am here to help the restaurant make more money. When I my one free trial night, I tried refusing tips but couldn't do so without being rude, plus the manager on duty told me to just take it. At the end of my shift, I wanted to split the tips with the servers but they were a bit surprised & also insisted I keep the tips I earned. I'll admit I felt a bit bad since I wasn't keeping my word, but what could I do?

In retrospect, I realized I completely forget to try the line "Please, the management takes care of me very well & the best tip you can give me is to notify the management how much you enjoyed the performance". I also feel that sharing my tips with the hosts would be a good idea because I don't believe they get tips, even though they would be the ones to introduce me to the customers and/or direct me to lines at the entrance.

Long story short, I ended up getting my very first restaurant gig at 65 an hr plus free meal...however, I would not suggest this price unless you have a decent amount of experience approaching strangers cold. I would also highly suggest Kranzo's "The Gig" booklet & "Real work on Restaurants & Bars" by Sankey. It helped me put my promo folder together, refine my pitch, & choose appropriate material. (just out of curiosity, I noticed someone mentin chop cups...do magicians really perform chop cups at restaurants?? It just seems so out of place to me at a restaurant, but I could be missing something)
Message: Posted by: Shawn D (Dec 21, 2013 07:44AM)
I close my set with Carl Andrews cups an balls at every table I do. Strolling or table hopping. Not out of place at all an great reactions. Hardly takes any room to do. I use mike rogers baseballs an end with bigger balls hacky sack socer ball an a potato.
Message: Posted by: flavioromano (Dec 29, 2013 02:00PM)
Very Useful topic!
I have al ittle problem; I have done a free night for a ristorant owner, he calls me on the busy nights. He says to me "call me sometimes to remember me to do magic nights" but often when I call him, he says "Sorry this evening I have few reservations, call me another time!".
This is very frustrating, because this is a high value restaurant and I get other jobs from it, I would like to be there very often!
Message: Posted by: wally (Apr 2, 2014 05:27AM)
I am a childrens entertainer at the moment, But I am putting a list together for some Adult close up work. is there such a dvd that gives advise on starting in close up. cheers from UK.
Message: Posted by: 1KJ (May 29, 2014 07:52PM)
[quote]On Nov 6, 2010, Christopher Lyle wrote:
However...since there are so many food options out there, people also are attracted to novelty. WE are a novelty and must attempt to convince the restaurant that they DO NEED US...even tho' the reality of it all is that they don't.

Christopher [/quote]

This is a great thread! I very much appreciate the wisdom. I would suggest just a slight shift from the above statement. I don't think we should convince them that they DO NEED US, when you just stated that THEY REALLY DON'T NEED US. I would say that we need to convince them that THEY WOULD BENEFIT FROM US. The bottom line to a restaurant is more revenue. If you can convince them and ultimately prove to them that they get more revenue above and beyond the additional expense, they should be happy.

Given this, I love your idea of "stacking the deck" with friends. You just generated more revenue for the restaurant. I say you should constantly stack the deck. When you are standing in line at the grocery store, give the person behind you and the person in front of you a card to the restaurant and talk about what great food they have, plus a great magic show. Most everyone standing in line at the grocery store on occasion would rather someone cook and serve them.

This was an awesome article about how to get the restaurant gig, but an idea to keep the gig: Get co-branded business cards. The restaurant on one side and your info on the other side. Perhaps the restaurant would even throw in a little incentive, making the card something they would present to get a little something extra. This way, the restaurant can clearly see how you are "stacking the deck".

KJ
Message: Posted by: tpratt38 (Jul 23, 2014 02:53PM)
Thanks for all the tips I hope I put this to good use when I move to New Orleans in April 2015.


Mentally Speaking,
Make today your best day possible

Tim.
Message: Posted by: ku7uk3 (Oct 14, 2014 02:06PM)
You make Voodoo Dowells and are moving to New Orleans. Look up the Ghost tour company there, you will have more work with them than you can possibly handle.
Message: Posted by: gowenmagic (Jun 9, 2016 09:54AM)
I've landed 2 restaurants now just heading out an afternoon armed with business cards, an invisible deck and a well rehearsed pitch and asking for the general manager. The GM is usually there %90 of the time between 4-5 on Thursdays and Fridays.
I work at a breakfast place called Cora's on the weekends and I'm having a trial this Friday at Ricky's all day grill and a third one is looking promising. I'm waiting on a phone call.
I've had to approach about a dozen restaurants to get those. In Canada, most places that have roots in the states are terrified of all of the red tape they have to go through which is a shame because there are some really great places.
Message: Posted by: MagiCol (Jun 10, 2016 01:05AM)
Flavioromano: Do you actively advertise your services through places other than that restaurant?
Newspaper adverts, notice boards in supermarkets, local radio or TV station. Word of mouth.

Look at it as objectively as you can: this is a negotiation problem, and it seems to me that some/most? of these times you are on the losing side.
If he wanted you lots the restaurant would be planning to have you more involved I think. How can you make it a win-win situation?

I suggest you do some reading/research on negotiation skills. Books, youtube?, whatever.

Alternately, keep him low on your list of priorities of venues and get to and make more money at other venues.

All the best...
Message: Posted by: SimonG-97 (Jul 22, 2016 05:03AM)
[quote]On Dec 29, 2013, flavioromano wrote:
Very Useful topic!
I have al ittle problem; I have done a free night for a ristorant owner, he calls me on the busy nights. He says to me "call me sometimes to remember me to do magic nights" but often when I call him, he says "Sorry this evening I have few reservations, call me another time!".
This is very frustrating, because this is a high value restaurant and I get other jobs from it, I would like to be there very often! [/quote]


I'm not a restaurant worker, but from everything I've read in preparing to do so it seems you have missed one key point. Make sure to tell the manager the role of a magician is to entertain guests and drum up business when they have average/slow nights.

Think about it from a business perspective, if an audience is having a great night and making lots of money, why would you need a magician to come and make the night more successful?

Magician and entertainment should be there to help the restaurant out in the week and slow nights and make those kind of slow nights better for the restaurant. Even if a restaurant owner doesn't believe you can drum up more custom, even if you do have a couple signs, leaflets in menu racks advertising when you are appearing at the restaurant, you can still approach with the angle that by entertaining guests on quiet nights those guests are more likely to come back, reccememend the venue to friends, and it turns their perspective of "oh it was a good restaurant but a little quiet" to, "yeah it was a really nice place, they had a great close up magician perform while your food was being prepared, it was great"

That's what you should be telling the restaurant owner.


Ps I know this was an old post, but if anyone else reads I hope it helps





Ps s s edit 2. Sorry , yes I did say I'm not a restaurant worker yet but this is all advice a VERY knowledgable restaurant magician friend of mine gave me
Message: Posted by: Wesr3 (Oct 6, 2016 10:19PM)
What a great article! This is very insightful. A close magician friend of mine suggested leaving the tips that you receive for the waiters and waitresses. This causes them to like you and they will speak good of you to the boss... thus increasing your chances of keeping the gig. its food for thought.
Message: Posted by: obrienmagic (Dec 29, 2016 09:52PM)
I have started using a sort of "Tags for Tips" method when it comes to tips and has worked out quite well. That is Rather than accepting a tip, you give them your social media info and take a group picture with them. Ask them to tag you in it and follow you on social media. I encourage them to videotape my performances and post them AS LONG AS THEY TAG ME AND FOLLOW ME! :) This has done a great job at helping get some organic follows on my social media which is what I use primarily for marketing.

I then tell them to give the monetary tip to their wait staff instead :) If the person insists they want to give me an additional monetary tip as well I will graciously take it only after turning it down for the photo op. :)
Message: Posted by: wchoo002 (Mar 13, 2017 02:51PM)
Hi all,

Was wondering what happens if you are halfway through an effect and the food comes.
Message: Posted by: RowB (Apr 19, 2017 05:27PM)
[quote]On Mar 13, 2017, wchoo002 wrote:
Hi all,

Was wondering what happens if you are halfway through an effect and the food comes. [/quote]
From my experience that's why it's best to do short effects while table hopping. So you can finish fast.
Message: Posted by: Nickoli Sharpe (May 9, 2017 07:23PM)
Not sure if anyone is still following this.
When food arrives is when I say enjoy your dinner
And leave.
Message: Posted by: Brainbu$ter (May 9, 2017 09:55PM)
[quote]On Apr 19, 2017, RowB wrote:
From my experience that's why it's best to do short effects while table hopping. So you can finish fast. [/quote]

As good or better, modular effects. These have multiple climaxes, where you can stop pretty much any time
and they think it was the natural ending of the effect. A trick you can do the effect more than once is ideal for this,
such as Crazy Man's Handcuffs (where you can repeat it a couple times but have each time seem more impossible--1st the usual way,
then looking from below, then looking from over performer's shoulder, then spectator holding the bands...get The Magic of Michael Ammar,
because this is one of those tricks that's easy to do badly, but when done well is amazing), or ACR,
or Homing Card (from Card College...card jumps to pocket, then whole deck minus selected card jumps to pocket).
Message: Posted by: wchoo002 (May 17, 2017 09:31PM)
Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Ceierry (Oct 10, 2017 10:41AM)
Perfect !

have a look at this post ! Don't make the same mistake !

http://olivierboes.com/blog/my-weirdest-interview-yes-that-was-weird/
Message: Posted by: RickDangerous (Mar 6, 2018 02:39PM)
[quote]On Dec 29, 2016, obrienmagic wrote:
I have started using a sort of "Tags for Tips" method when it comes to tips and has worked out quite well. That is Rather than accepting a tip, you give them your social media info and take a group picture with them. Ask them to tag you in it and follow you on social media. I encourage them to videotape my performances and post them AS LONG AS THEY TAG ME AND FOLLOW ME! :) This has done a great job at helping get some organic follows on my social media which is what I use primarily for marketing.

I then tell them to give the monetary tip to their wait staff instead :) If the person insists they want to give me an additional monetary tip as well I will graciously take it only after turning it down for the photo op. :) [/quote]
Pure gold!! thanks for sharing
Message: Posted by: Masterallen (Jan 1, 2019 08:21AM)
Christopher...I am a locksmith in my local town and in the beginning I approached home builders in that very manor. “It works like a charm”. Nothing beats good old customer service and salesmanship” the buyer always wants a memorable experience and sometimes that’s the only thing that sets us apart from everyone else and convincing a person to buy something they didn’t even know they wanted. GREAT JOB!