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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Thank you or NO thank you? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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SoCalPro
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Southern California
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Wow, I really screwed up today. Let me explain.


I had 4 gigs back to back to back to back today. 12-12:30, 1:30-2:15, 3-3:30 and 5-5:45. Almost too close but I am a workaholic and I took the challenge. All gigs were really local but the last one. THAT was the problem. My 3rd gig was my 30 minute close up show (easy in, easy out) and my last gig was a family show at 5 PM….. about an hour and 15 minutes away (in minimal traffic). I was worried about the last gig right when I booked it but I thought “Hey, I can do this”. I was wrong!!! Everything that could go wrong did. I started my 3Pm gig 10 minutes late and when it ended I boogied out the door and on the busy Saturday Californian freeway I sped. EVERY freeway I took had bad traffic. I could tell from the get go that I was gonna have problems. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to get 20 miles from my gig. I got of the freeway and the main road was reduced to just one lane for about a mile. I get past the traffic at about 5:15 (was supposed to be there at 5PM). I then call the client and tell her I am running late, she says no problem; they are getting a late start. Very cool I think….I THINK!!! I get closer to the clients house and because of the area, the street signs on the poles have BLOWN OFF, I don’t know where to turn. I call the client, she turns me over to her MOM, who tells me the directions AGAIN but doesn’t seem to understand that I can’t see street signs. I call her 2 times after I get off the freeway and inquire about what street to turn on since I can’t see the signs and every time I call, she get’s more upset. “Hurry up” and “the guests are leaving so I don’t know what you want to do”, then following by hanging up on me each time. I get there and am shown where to perform in the backyard. She has carnival rides, a bounce house, a train, this is a big party. I start setting up my show, and it’s starting to get dark. I’m screwed, I didn’t buy a spot light yet (it’s on my list). I do about 30 minutes of my 40 minute show and when I am done, its pitch dark. The little bit of light the mad mom (clients mom) brought out didn’t do too much. As I am packing up, I realize that I screwed up and I know I wasn’t gonna get my full fee of $275.00. When I was done, my client came up to me and said, “What do I owe you?” I told her that I was late and I wouldn’t feel right charging her the full price so after a bit of negotiation, we agreed on $200.00. I thought this to be fair, after all, this was my fault.

So my question is this. I usually TRY to send out a “thank you card” (thank you Skip) after each show. Should I in this case? If so, what should I say? She didn’t appear too mad but I could defiantly understand her not wanting to pay full price.


One thing I DID learn from this is not to pack my schedule too tight. The next time I get a call from that area, I’ll take it if I don’t have a full schedule. If I do, I have a friend that lives 10 minutes away that I could have easily booked. All said and done, I put 175 miles on my van today. I made good money but I think I spent $40.00 just in gas. Also, I have NEVER in my 15 year professional career been an hour late so I consider this to have been a bad day.


What do you guys think??

On a side note:

***I COULD have just said, “Hey guys, I was an hour late to a gig due to unexpected traffic, got paid less. Do I thank her or not?”, but I wanted you guys to hear the story, the whole story and nothing but the story.***


Thanks in advanced for your suggestions.

Jim
Donald Dunphy
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Victoria, BC, Canada
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I would still do a thank you note. Do your best to look like a pro, with what is left of the steps in relationship building with that customer. (Salvage what you can.)

However, asking for a testimonial might be a different thing. I wouldn't do that.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
rossmacrae
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Arlington, Virginia
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I've been in the exact same pickle, and I have been unable to bring myself to do what I am advising you to do ... send a thank-you card enclosing a check for the $200.
tparrett62
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New York
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Jim-

I go with Ross. I'd send back the check- don't take offense, but this was your fault plain and simple. We've all made the mistake of booking too tight, and sooner or later it catches up with you. The traffic obviously wasn't your fault, but the client doesn't really care - in her eyes, you were late, so it's your fault.

If you don't want to return the check , then consider comping her a freebie for the future. She may never cash it in, but it's the right thing to do. Remember Joe Girard's rule of 250- would you rather have her telling 250 people about the guy who showed up an hour late and still took his check, or the guy who gave her a free show because he was a good guy and wanted to make things right?

Terry Parrett
Gerry Walkowski
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The other thing, and I realize this is slightly off the topic to a degree, I would make a point of not booking my shows too close together. I actually allow about 90-minutes to 2 hours in between shows, especially if there is a distance between shows.

Maybe it's just me but I seem to think traffic just gets worse all the time. Even if it's a nice sunny day, I'm betting there will be an accident somewhere or road construction. No matter what you try to do you just can't get around these darn things.

Gerry
Ken Northridge
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Atlantic City, NJ
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There is even more of a need for you to send her a thank you card in this case. Thank her for being understanding and emphasizing that you take being on time and customer satisfaction very seriously and this does not happen often.

Just my opinion, I don't see the need to send the check back. I think you made a fair deal that you were both happy with. After all, it wasn't ALL your fault--you didn't take the street signs down.

Jim, I know how you feel. Four shows in a day is sweet. It is hard to turn down.

One final thought. My wife bought me a GPS for Christmas. I love it and wouldn't go to a show without it now. That would have solved your street sign problem. Some of them actually have real time traffic updates too.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
www.KenNorthridge.com
Donald Dunphy
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Victoria, BC, Canada
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Hi Jim -

Before the day of the show, did you warn your 4th customer you might be cutting it close?

The reason I ask, is that if you prepare them for the possibility you might be running late because of prior commitments, they might have more flexibility. It's the last minute surprises that people don't like, because their expectations are different at that point in time.

I'm not encouraging the habit of being late. I'm just encouraging open communication earlier on.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Skip Way
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Jim, a handwritten and personal thank you note repeating your apologies for the difficulties encountered and your appreciation for their understanding and patience is definitely in order. I also agree with Ken - you reached a mutually beneficial arrangement so keep the check, HOWEVER...I say, HOWEVER...I would personally purchase a $50.00 gift certificate to a nice restaurant or a movie theatre somewhere near the family and send it along with the note. Log it as a business expense. Here's my reasoning:

Mom may have agreed to the $200 fee out of pressure. She may have looked and sounded okay with it, but after you left, "buyer's remorse" may have set in. "Mom" may have said that she wouldn't have paid you a dime. Hubby may have questioned whether $100 wouldn't have been sufficient. When your client talks about the party - and she will - you'll come off as a villain. Then, she receives a handwritten thank and apology along with a $50.00 gift certificate. Wasn't that nice of him! He didn't have to do that!! "Well, yeah, the poor guy was late due to traffic and all but listen to what he did for us. What a nice guy! Well, of course, I'd give him another chance!"

I once missed a child's 1st birthday party - a VERY big deal to the family - due to a scheduling error that was entirely my fault. At the time, I charged $150 for a party. Naturally, they didn't pay me a cent. I went out and bought a $150.00 gift certificate to a local baby store out of pocket and included it with the written apology and explanation. This family has been a very strong reference & repeat client for the past four years. That gift certificate has brought in thousands of dollars for me over the years. Best $150 I ever invested.

My opinion. Smile Now...NEVER do this again - allow ample time for traffic & errors between shows! Smile
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Donald Dunphy
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Victoria, BC, Canada
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Another great post from Skip!

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
TheDean
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Reno, Nevada
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Skip ROCKS!
Dean Hankey, *M.D. - The Dean of Success Solutions!
Serving & Supporting YOU and Your Success!
"Book More Shows... Make More Money... SERVE MORE PEOPLE! - Not Necessarily In That Order…"

(*Marketing Doctor) Smile
jay leslie
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Southern California
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Send the thank you and use the 200 to buy a GPS.
MAGICBYTIM
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Louisiana
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I second the GPS. I bought one after almost being late to a show.
MagicalArtist
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Hobart, Indiana
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GPS is great, even if you think you have an unerring sense of direction (which I don't). Not only will you never have to worry about unmarked streets, but also you will never need worry about missing house numbers (sometimes you pass your address and you're on the kind of street where it's not easy to turn around). Just don't trust their arrival estimates, or those of the online map services, which I have found to be woefully overoptimistic. In fact, in planning your itinerary, it's not a bad idea to mentally double their estimated driving time (or maybe even more than that).
bhappie
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B. Happie Entertainment, LLC
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Given that the check has already been received I would go with Skips idea.... however, GO CASH THE CHECK FIRST! It would be a shame if they cancel the check and have dinner on you!
bhappie
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B. Happie Entertainment, LLC
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BTW thnank you Jim for your bravery in sharing all of the story. We all can learn much more from the truth than we can from the abbreviated version.
cheesewrestler
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Chicago
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The wisest way for you to spend that $200 is on damage control - i.e., send it back. With a polite note saying that you've never let down a client before, and that you hope she'll give you a call in the future so you can show her what your act is REALLY like.
JaY-JaY Pickpocket
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Interesting Story.

I have also learn the hard way from these shows. Even the gps is sometimes not the best option. Learn to make sure you know the general location towards the show just as a general rule.

Something I have learnt is that I always allow things to go wrong. (Hope for the best but plan for the worst) If I have a in and out show schedule I always tell the client that I will need to start on time and finish exactly on time. Just inform them that you have others show you do need to go to. I also have a towell, water bottle, hand wipes, deoderant & snacks in the car just incase if I stink, get hungry etc etc.

Even if you get to a gig early, bring a book.

The golden rule. It is always better to be early than late.

JaY-JaY
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leapinglizards
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I am with Ross and a few others. If the check hasn't been cashed, send it back with a thank you, BRIEF (Much Briefer than here) explanation of what happened and ask for future referrals and business. If it has been cashed, send her a refund and nice thank you note, etc.

But however you approach it, you learned.
Leaping Lizards!!! Who knew it was possible.
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<BR>www.LeapingLizardsMagic.com
Skip Way
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Quote:
On 2008-03-10 03:34, cheesewrestler wrote:
The wisest way for you to spend that $200 is on damage control - i.e., send it back. With a polite note saying that you've never let down a client before, and that you hope she'll give you a call in the future so you can show her what your act is REALLY like.


From another perspective, Cheese, I wouldn't suggest this tack. Jim provided the entertainment - late and not under the best of conditions - but, he did the job. He's entitled to something for that effort. Only the most bitter and stingy of clients would argue that point. Sending it all back is a surrender. It would be the same as admitting that he deserved nothing for the effort put forward. To my way of thinking, the client would get the check and think, "Whew! I was right and he was wrong! Dodged THAT Bullet! I'll never call HIM again!" Not a message I'd want to send.

Now on the other hand, sending SOMETHING back in the form of a gift for the family says, "I goofed up. I earned the fee you paid, but let me give a little back to set things right." It's an apology without total surrender. The client is more likely to think, "That was really nice of him. I guess I could give him another chance." If not...well, the gesture soothes his conscience and leaves $150.00 bucks in his pocket. I could live with that.
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
magicofCurtis
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Los Angeles
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I was once an hour late because I took a nap prior to my 5pm show, but for some strange reason I was thinking I could leave my house at 5pm ugh. So I decided to take a nap from a long week... Well I woke up at 5pm and thinking the show was at 6.
So I ended up being at the event at 6ish.... I phoned the lady and told her the truth and she stated I spoke to you at 3 pm and you even confirmed the show time. I just told her that I just had one of those bad brian moments....

So I performed my show and I told the lady to pay me what ever see thinks in fair.... She paid me the full fee and gave me a generous tip and phoned the agency and said I did a great job and did not even mention me being late.

I don't think giving the money back is a smart move. If you do, you worked for free and you HAVE NO value. Free= no value in a persons mind.

Just send her a thank you note and I would not even mentioned the lateness at all. Send her a video or a 8 by 10. If she was pleased with your show she will forget/overlook the tardiness.

Also, I have a clause in my contract saying I am not responsible for misguide directions, travel delays and unforeseen controllable events...
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