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Topic: Working for tips at a restaurant.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 27, 2012 02:05PM)
So I know how many of you feel about "free" gigs, and I used to feel as strongly. Heres the gist. I had one restaurant that I got paid and got tips and handed out a lot of cards. They are not wanting to pay someone, but I was still getting tips from there and no one knew I was getting paid or not. I want to get more restaurants, so should I go and do this for only tips?
Message: Posted by: Paddy (Dec 27, 2012 02:24PM)
NO! If the restaurant thinks you aren't good enough to pay you, find one that will.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 27, 2012 02:27PM)
It's not that. I think he isn't doing as well financially as he started. I was getting good enough tips to keep going. It wasnt I got fired, It was he didn't have money to pay.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 27, 2012 02:34PM)
Unless you mean they didn't see the value in my magic
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (Dec 27, 2012 02:44PM)
If you are happy with the arrangement with it's benefits and opportunity costs, then go for it. Don't forget to negotiate for additional benefits that cost them little or nothing but benefits you (advertising, feature billing, etc).

It's not my cup of tea but I don't know your present goals and opportunities.
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Dec 27, 2012 03:41PM)
Well, I find it hard to advise you because of how different it is in Montana. But, generally, I think it’s a bad idea to work for tips only. If you need to put food on the table then you have to do what you have to do. Only you can decide if its worth it for you.

Maybe you can agree to do it for a 3 month trial, make yourself loved and adored by the customers, wait staff and management and then negotiate from a position of strength. However, its hard to come across as a professional when you’re willing to work for free. I just find it hard to believe that the restaurant can’t come up with some kind of compensation.

At the very least, make sure you get a ‘glowing’ letter of recommendation on their letterhead. You can also make it worth your while by breaking in some new material.
Message: Posted by: Paddy (Dec 28, 2012 07:48AM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-27 15:34, Kameron Messmer wrote:
Unless you mean they didn't see the value in my magic
[/quote]That's EXACTLY what I meant.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 28, 2012 08:34AM)
What works best for you?

See there is different value inn things for all of us. If you find it with it to be in front off an audience then this may be ok. Iit you get enough of them it nasty be ok. Each situation is different and in Montana you probably know best.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Dec 28, 2012 09:03AM)
I can't imagine you making enough money on just tips to make it worth your time.
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (Dec 28, 2012 09:58AM)
The value of being in front of people on a regular basis is worth it. Use your tip money to invest in a small camera, and use it as credibility to pitch another restaurant to actually pay you. You can also use the footage to create the show you wanted. Make the arrangement worth your time
Message: Posted by: Paddy (Dec 28, 2012 10:48AM)
Dave, I disagree. Just because every uncle Joe can do some simple magic trick does not mean that we as magicians are worth nothing. Uncle Joe may be worth nothing but the time, money, hours and hours of practice & rehearsal I put in is worth something. You have to get off your lazy butt and get out to the restaurants and SELL your act. I do one freebie as an audition, but they pay me for all the others. I will admit that at one time I had 7 restaurants a week and now I am down to 3 a week, but that is increasing with the new year
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 28, 2012 11:29AM)
Ive been out of town for a few months on business not doing ANY shows or being out there. I don't have another job or anything to go back to, so I'd rather get tips and maybe get some shows than look for another job that will ALWAYS cut into my magic. I had this gig a few times a month, but I think he is running the business into the ground and can't afford me. So calling some restaurants to do and get my face back out there is my way of advertising and getting back in the game. During the summer I am at every event I can and I run into people that recognize me constantly. With not many options I may not have a choice. I may not go back to this restaurant because he is either a jerk, or too weird to deal with.
Message: Posted by: Dimitri Mystery Artist (Dec 28, 2012 12:02PM)
This is simple...
ask yourself if you have other options, I mean other ways and places to perform magic?
if not, so this is your best option to date.

another question I would ask is...does doing magic there will improve you as a perform, ask yourself what you can gain and what can you lose.


personal story, in 2009 I had no job as a magician, nothing!
I felt I must be in front of people otherwise I will lose my mind, I started working 5 days a week for tips in restaurant and I was very happy,
because I could live out of magic, I got experience, contacts and had invented new routines, etc

the reason I wasn't getting gigs in 2009 is because I wasn't good enough, I can see it now and restaurant magic for tips was a very important step in my magic career.

but everyone should do his thinking.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Dec 28, 2012 12:15PM)
Kameron
You are far more likely to book more gigs than you are to make any real tip money.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 28, 2012 01:21PM)
True, It would be better to get some practice than sit waiting. Im not thinking the tips will make enough, but its nice to have some cash. The main thing is to get out there and pass out cards. I am probably freaking out because ever since I started I get shows when I need them. I'll probably do fine, but its nice to have some constant exposure and cash...
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 28, 2012 02:53PM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-28 13:15, Al Angello wrote:
Kameron
You are far more likely to book more gigs than you are to make any real tip money.
[/quote]

Why do you say things like this? I have worked restaurants in season that make FAR more in tips than salary.

In the right environment you can EASILY do well on tips, if you are tip worthy.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 28, 2012 03:09PM)
At the restaurant I did, I got about the same in tips as I was getting paid. Id like both...
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (Dec 28, 2012 03:34PM)
I never said that magicians aren't valuable. Im saying being in front of people is valuable for performers. If you don't have a platform, you need to build it. Sitting at home doesn't accomplish that. Think long term strategy
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Dec 28, 2012 05:28PM)
Danny
You most likely worked in finer restaurants than I did.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 28, 2012 05:41PM)
Al, this is why rash generalizations are just not helpful.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Dec 28, 2012 07:08PM)
Too many establishments with "family nights" that are willing to pay for entertainment and allow you collect tips too! Don't sell yourself short.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 28, 2012 07:29PM)
Last time I tried to get into restaurants, they blew me off cause they didn't have it in the budget. The economy was a bit worse, so maybe they will do it again.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Dec 28, 2012 08:11PM)
Danny
Perhaps you are right in Philadelphia I do a no brainer birthday party business, and in Billings a guy may have to hustle a bit more to get steady work.

Kameron
Thy it out and let us know how it went.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 28, 2012 09:33PM)
When I get back to town I'll be calling lots of restaurants. We'll see if any are going to pay. If not I'll go to tips.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 28, 2012 09:41PM)
It doesn't matter how you get to the nut, just so ya cover it.

Don't let others tell you about your market. The only universal truth, is there are no universal truths.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Dec 29, 2012 01:25AM)
Kameron, if you feel comfortable doing it, go for it. It is a good way to get your foot in the door. You will be getting hands on training before you find a restaurant that will pay you at each revenue. You will be able to mention you had experience.

I advise contracting a 1 or 2 month plan with the restaurant. When your contract is over, they might want to pay you to stay longer.
Message: Posted by: Blair Marshall (Dec 29, 2012 06:26AM)
Kameron, make sure when you make those "lot's of calls" that you actually get though to the decision maker who can actually make the decision and approve payment.

Sometimes the decision maker is well insulated by his staff (floor manager etc.)

Blair
Message: Posted by: Paddy (Dec 29, 2012 07:12AM)
Kameron, do NOT call the restaurants. It is so easy to say "no" to a voice on the phone. Go in person and see the General Manager (not the manager on duty.) Remember the saying "the secret to success is just showing up."
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (Dec 29, 2012 09:13AM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-29 08:12, Paddy wrote:
Kameron, do NOT call the restaurants. It is so easy to say "no" to a voice on the phone. Go in person and see the General Manager (not the manager on duty.) Remember the saying "the secret to success is just showing up."
[/quote]

Exactly, find out when he/she is in and go in person. There's a thread in the table hoppers forum with a video with great tips on approaching a restaurant.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Dec 29, 2012 09:23AM)
The best way to get a restaurant managers attention is to eat a meal there, and after you are presented your bill ask to speak to the manager. After buying a meal in his restaurant he will be in a mood to talk turkey with you.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 29, 2012 10:02AM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-29 10:23, Al Angello wrote:
The best way to get a restaurant managers attention is to eat a meal there, and after you are presented your bill ask to speak to the manager. After buying a meal in his restaurant he will be in a mood to talk turkey with you.
[/quote]

When we had the restaurant this was the fastest way to not get my attention. Suprise business meetings are NOT a way to set a relationship off on a good footing.

If you want to be treated as a professional, then you have to act like one. Summoning the manager over to the table to "talk turkey" based on you simply buying a meal is outrageous behavior. Most would not give you the time of day.

The manager takes meetings at appropriate times of day. He meets with food vendors, with corporate people, with liquor reps and furnature sales people and so forth. IF you want to be thought of as a pro, schedule time.

YES go in and talk with him, not on the phone but definately don't just show up after a meal and ask for him to "talk turkey".
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 29, 2012 11:43AM)
My question is, when? A manager is not always in. If I call to make an appointment, they can easily say no to a voice on the phone. If I stop by randomly, I could be blown off or miss the manager.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Dec 29, 2012 12:11PM)
I don't know Danny
How about "I think that you have great food here, and BTW here is my business card" is not exactly a surprise business meeting. Perhaps a trick or two for your waitress. They may throw my card in the trash after I'm gone, but they are always cordial with me.
Message: Posted by: Kameron Messmer (Dec 29, 2012 12:24PM)
Ive heard someone also mention making personal videos to send to clients. Maybe a cheap flash drive to send a manager with a video explaining the process. Harder to throw away a free flash drive then a flyer...
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Dec 29, 2012 01:35PM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-29 13:11, Al Angello wrote:
I don't know Danny
How about "I think that you have great food here, and BTW here is my business card" is not exactly a surprise business meeting. Perhaps a trick or two for your waitress. They may throw my card in the trash after I'm gone, but they are always cordial with me.
[/quote]

Al may have a good point and it may work well for him. I think much depends on the person an dpersonalities involved. My family had a restuarant for years and nothing p***ed us off more than when a magician "just did as few tricks". In every time in our case it created just the opposite effect - we immediately identified that person as bothersome, a pain in the a** and he was forever tagged. Anytime he came in that was always our (the entire staff's) first thought. He could have offered us $100 to talk to us and we wouldn't give him the time of day.

I've asked it before, in part due to this exact situation...why do magicians always feel everyone wants to see a magic trick at any given time? They don't. It is always only very self-serving.

They only way I would even give this the time of day is if this person went through proper channels (not conniving, backdoor or sneaky tactics, much like Dany said), I heard him out, decided if I would be interested, and perhaps asked him to let me watch him do five minutes. That is the only possible way I could see this.

From a business perspective I would also think this is the best way to do this. Wanted, with permission, and you have the ability to present yourself and do a live demo under the right and desired circumstances, when you have their attention and you are on the topic, in the moment.

This is better than any video or dvd demo, and backhanded attempts of getting the manager's attention while he is almost always involved in something else, and it would seem to me to be your best chance to succeed.

I think everyone is making this so much more complicate that it needs to be. We have all heard Kameron for months talking about his small town mentalities and resources. Here is one time this can actualy work to your advantage. Take a day or two and simply go in person from restaurant to restuarant, either by advance appointment or in person asking for an appoitment.

Seems much attention is on this one restaurant. If he doesn't want to pay you for whatever reason, fine, there are others that may. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, approach several to many. I have booked magic in restaurants, but have had better success with balloon artists, caracturists, phychics and handwriting/drawing analysis. The one thing I've learned is others want what others (including competition) have. We started by booking one of our balloon artists at one restaurant, then went to others talking about the success we had there and that opens there yes to the possibilities. Soon you are in 3, 4, or 5 different restuarants per week in a ongoing basis. Quite easy to book actually. Not a lot of money for an agency, but ideal for the self-represented artist.

My only advice is there is a lot of magician's thinking going on here. Think of this from the restaurants needs, interests and perspectives, not yours.
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (Dec 29, 2012 02:05PM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-29 13:24, Kameron Messmer wrote:
Ive heard someone also mention making personal videos to send to clients. Maybe a cheap flash drive to send a manager with a video explaining the process. Harder to throw away a free flash drive then a flyer...
[/quote]

I've given a way full binders outlining what I do, as if giving them a bunch of information at once some how convinces them. All they need to know is if you are a good person and what you offer. People do not have more emotional attachment to a flash drive, especially when they can see what you do on youtube without extra clutter on their desk.

Perhaps it may help you to think of it as "making friends with the owner" than to think of it as hard selling. Even if one restaurant owner doesn't want your services, that doesn't mean that he/she may not know someone who would. Its hard to turn away a friend, especially if they end up trusting you and liking what you offer. They simply may not want it at the moment.

You may want to just to make friends with the GM, give them a one page flyer, thank them for their time, and let them know you are available if they should ever need you. Then, you can follow up with them and offer a trial night.

Another thing. I started going to networking events. My original intention was to meet event planners and restaurant/catering company owners in an open & neutral environment. However,I ended up connecting with someone who does direct mail marketing for restaurants. His service is so fantastic (28% return rate), they trust everything he tells them. In the duration of an hour, he introduced me to 3 restaurant owners. I've already booked one and have another trial night with another. His credibility helped me not need to approach them cold. They trusted the messenger, so the new message was accepted willingly. I was very lucky to make friends with him, and you can bet I will recommend his service to other restaurant owners I may meet.
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Dec 29, 2012 02:07PM)
No time is a bad time to ask, 'when is a good time?'

Tom
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 29, 2012 02:49PM)
Managers often have a bit of time after lunch rush, before dinner starts. This is often when deliveries get accepted and when appointments are had. I doubt you will find a manager not working during this time.

Mindpro is right. What posesses a magician to do a couple tricks for a waitress who has a million other things to do is beyond my ability to comprehend. They have side work to do, they have other tables. It is just not smart.
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (Dec 29, 2012 02:58PM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-29 08:12, Paddy wrote:
Kameron, do NOT call the restaurants. It is so easy to say "no" to a voice on the phone. Go in person and see the General Manager (not the manager on duty.) Remember the saying "the secret to success is just showing up."
[/quote]

Exactly, find out when he/she is in and go in person. There's a thread in the table hoppers forum with a video with great tips on approaching a restaurant.
Message: Posted by: eatonmagic (Dec 29, 2012 08:12PM)
I've spoken about this stuff for YEARS! I look at restaurant magic like I look at politics and religion. It's a fact that EVERYONE is going to offer THEIR way of doing it. A ton of variables come into play depending on who you are and where you're approaching. But, I suppose I'll jump on the bandwagon and offer my two cents worth.

I will admit that since I've joined Restaurant Magic Business here in Orlando, the process is a lot smoother since not only are we a corporation specializing in magic AND marketing/promoting but we also have an entire call center and our CEO does the initial consultations with the restaurants. Since we've been written up in several restaurant magazines and periodicals, they usually approach us.

BUT...with that being said, when I was approaching the restaurants on my own, I would always eat there. In fact, I have had several of both my past and current restaurant owners/managers say that one of the things that impressed them is that I came in as a customer and it wasn't all about business. Some places would take me months to close for the simple fact that I didn't want to give off the perception of being "needy". On the contrary, I would create the desire for them to want to hire me.

Earlier this week, I saw a thread on here with my good friend Howie in Atlanta. He made a very good point to mention that in his approach (which was very similar to the one I used) is that you "plant" the seed in the manager's/owner's head that they need you. I would eat there and occasionally like they almost always do, the manager would make their rounds checking on the guests. I would comment on how the environment reminded me of a very nice restaurant I used to perform at. Generally, when you phrase it like that it arouses some curiosity and they would almost always ask me what I did. I would mention I was the "resident house magician" and name drop a few local, high-end places. I would also encourage the manager to look into using my services in the future but not right away. A seasoned restaurant performer should be on par with the restaurant industry and know what times of the year are best to perform in. For example, here in Orlando January is a busy month for the convention center and I would use that to my advantage to influence the management to hire me for that month to help out with overflow in the lobby or lounge.

I would also like to add since I have been one of the magicians working for the Orlando Magic, that also lends a HUGE hand in the introduction phase with the restaurant. Borrowed credibility is a major marketing tool when used right. You see a LOT of magicians and entertainers use it in their accolades. They've used company logos and/or testimonials to basically show off their talents. And that's nothing out of the ordinary...especially with magicians. We're one of the worst groups of people when it comes to flaunting our own egos. But in some cases it's alright. It;s the ones that tend to overdo it that make it hard for the rest of us.

Anyways, getting back to my point, I would pay my bill, shake the manager's hand and hand them a card. But I would close with, (and listen to how I say this):

"What's your schedule look like for next week?...I have an opening for 3:00 on Tuesday or 4:00 on Thursday. I'll stop by, grab something to eat and drop off some literature with you. I'll go over what I do and how I work with restaurants and what the major benefits are for you and then I can address any questions or concerns. I'm thinking between 10-15 minutes tops. So which day works best for you?"

So I immediately try and stay in control of the conversation. You have to deliver this in a very professional manner. Once he says the date I thank him for the food and his time and that' that.

During the follow-up the next week, I DO NOT call and confirm. The reason why is because I don't want to give them a chance to turn the meeting down. Usually if you wait too long the interest dies down. So if I come in and he's ready to talk, great! If I come in and he's not ready to talk, I usually will mention that I wished he would've called or emailed me since he had my card. I know this sounds a bit harsh but it's an entire game of reverse psychology. I WANT him to feel bad that he cannot talk to me. Some of you are shaking your head at this point but I'm not here to be someone's friend, I'm here to make money and do business. If I come back because this guy said Tuesday worked better for him and he's not ready, I look like a more planned business person. If he declines the meeting I'll either say, after looking at my watch, "I tell you what...I'll go grab something to eat...take care of what you need to do and if you have a few minutes, come over to the table and we'll chat for a minute. I have some information right here but I'll wait until we can talk and I'll go over them."

(I'm going to stop this post right here before I get too deep). If anyone else is interested PM me and I'll discuss some more techniques. But just DO NOT compromise your talents or your time!!! If you're ready to perform and make money you'll know. If you have to ask yourself if you're ready then you're probably not.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 29, 2012 08:24PM)
NICE. NOT calling to confirm.... nice nice nice. Did I mention nice? Very subtle touch and a darn fine one sir. NEVER OCCURED TO ME!!!! Should have but didn't.

Yep eat there be a good customer and such. All great advice.

I have made a career of having ideas and making people think that they were the ones who came up with them. Why you might ask? Because once that happens they take OWNERSHIP of the idea. They back it and you don't have to sell it! As a matter of fact they are selling you. Now you have to admit this approach takes far longer to enact, but the rewards are much better relationships in my view.
Message: Posted by: eatonmagic (Dec 29, 2012 08:35PM)
Exactly right! Nothing like convincing the owner/manager that they had the idea the entire time hahaha.

But seriously...sometimes I would come in for 6 months and just say hi to the manager and build a relationship as a customer Danny. I remember booking a gig once that took a year and 16 visits. Only because I never tried to ask for the sale. When he would ask how I was doing I was usually working on my laptop either sending out invoices or scheduling other meetings. Once he saw that I was a serious business person and not just another guy who did "card tricks", HE was the one that suggested we try it out. Sometimes you just have to be patient. Of course I had other ways of approaching different places but the ones that were really nice I would create the desire and make them want to try it.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 29, 2012 08:39PM)
You have just described the past 20 years of my life LOL!!!

Patient hunters are the most successful.

You said the key words. He took you serious as a professional. Hard to get that when you ambush guys or trick them into meetings or never know when to put away the cards.

In general I think most magicians read too much sales crap and ask for the sale too much.
Message: Posted by: Zombie Magic (Dec 29, 2012 08:46PM)
Michael just blew me away with that post. It should be a sticky.
Message: Posted by: eatonmagic (Dec 29, 2012 08:58PM)
Haha...you know, a LOT of this is staright out of "The Game" by Neil Strauss. He uses it in the context on how to approach and pick up women but the same rules apply in everyday life and especially business. The "take away" is a very deadly strategy when used correctly ; ) I could go into other examples of how magic and flirting go hand and hand. For instance when approaching a set (two girls or in this case patrons). Little subtle psychological points such as always addressing the man first before the lady. Eases the conversation. In dealing with women you would approach the "not so prettier" as the obvious choice to invoke some jealousy. For some reason they always hang out in either two's or three's and there's generally, what I like to call, the "10" scenario. I'll let you think about that one ; )
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Dec 29, 2012 09:01PM)
There you go. It's not about the magic, it's not about the marketing, but it's how you operate as a business and a professional. Very well said. This is exactly what I mean when I say it's about the business of being an entertainer. So many miss this or do not have a clue about this.
Message: Posted by: M Sini (Dec 29, 2012 09:12PM)
There's been some great information in this thread but in case you haven't seen Christopher Lyle's sticky in the Table Hopper's section, here it is.


http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=388209&forum=5&65
Message: Posted by: eatonmagic (Dec 29, 2012 09:20PM)
Yes. Christopher has some terrific ideas.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Dec 29, 2012 09:39PM)
About a great many things.