If I were to write a prescription or a plan so that you could have more party and group events than you’ve ever had it would look something like this:
1. Evaluate your products. Do you have competitive products for your market? Do you have too many or too few packages? Are your packages all about price or have you put a focus on value? Remember, it’s value that people buy-not price! Are your products easy to understand? Often times we bump into very complicated packaging. My general rule of thumb is that if I can’t explain my product to someone who doesn’t speak my native language then it is probably too complicated.
2. Start tracking. Decide now that you are going to create and focus on party and group events. If you don’t know what percentage of your overall business is generated by parties and by group events then you need to begin tracking today. You can’t set goals about where you want to go if you don’t know where you are today.
3. Establish your goal. As you track, use these numbers as a basis with this disclaimer. If you are an inflatable location or a Chuck E Cheese’s, these numbers are way too low for birthday parties. Your business is primarily a birthday party business and so your percentages should be much higher in the birthday category. For all other family entertainment businesses the following information is based on actual numbers.
Baseline: 10% of total sales should come from children’s birthday parties and 10% of total sales should come from group sales which would include companies, schools, youth groups, church groups, fundraisers, etc.
Healthy: When 15% of total sales in both categories, which is representative of 30% total in group and party business, then you have a healthy prescription for your business. We define it as healthy because enough new people are coming to your facility because they attended an event.
Superstar: 20% of total sales in birthday parties and 20% in group sales would be a terrific scenario for your business. Anytime a business can predict 40% of their total sales great things can happen. It’s that old adage that says the “rich get richer.” All of us know that when you have enough income to get creative you can take bigger risks and make bolder decisions about your business.
4. Put someone in charge of party and group sales. It amazes me that there are so many locations that assume the general manager is going to book all the events. Really? First of all your GM should be excellent at operations and many times the skill set for running an excellent operation is very different than the skill set required for excellent sales. Whatever you focus on is the thing that will get results. Allow operations to run your facility at the highest level and recruit sales people to grow your sales. It’s a great prescription for success. If you are concerned about your efforts to recruit that sales person, call me. We are helping locations all over North America place and train sales people.
5. Establish measurable results and track them on a weekly basis. In order to create “business on purpose”, you need to establish a number of outbound calls for groups and birthdays. Those outbound calls can come from prior year’s events, current data gathering, and a strategic plan to reach out to adult, youth, church, and fundraiser groups on a consistent weekly basis.
6. Implement an “effective” sales strategy. So many people confuse marketing or want marketing to stand in for their sales effort. Marketing can support the sales effort. But I want to be completely clear: Sales involves talking to others directly about buying your stuff. You have a combination of “accidental sales” that happen because people are calling in to your center or stopping by to book events. Many centers are good at gaining this business. However, if you want to really grow, you will implement an inside and an outside sales strategy that includes an intentional sales process. Our experience is that most people are “information givers” or tellers, rather than sellers. I’ve heard some owners refer to it as “order taking.” Listen, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking orders, but I do think that with the right sales training and strategy you can turn those “tellers” into “sellers.”
7. Read Gino Wickman’s books Get a Grip and Traction. I can’t emphasize how important it is to start running your business rather than letting it run you. If you aren’t convinced by my Six Step prescription for increasing your group and party business then maybe Gino can help you with your overall business.
Have a great summer and know that I’m hoping you “party” your way to the top!
Beth Standlee is the CSO and founder of Trainertainment, a sales training company dedicated to great guest service, party development, and ultimately bringing more money to your bottom line. Beth can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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