Let’s face it…birthday parties can be a jumbled up mess. I’ve met as many owners who don’t want to deal with parties as those who make it a staple of their business. Often times, there’s a conversation that goes something like this. “Beth, parties are a big pain in the @!##. Moms want everything and they want it for free. There’s no profit in parties. They are a hassle.”
This is the kind of conversation where I have to measure my enthusiasm for the “what it could be” party business that the nay-say owner or manager is pushing against. The reason I say that is because a ton of change has to happen in order for that business to realize the possibilities. Change in attitude, sales, and execution must take place in order for all the statements above NOT to be true. Because the truth is, without change, I can wholeheartedly agree with the owner’s assessment of chaos, hassle, and low profit.
There’s no magic pill to take nor is it an overnight sensation when it comes to birthday parties. And unless there is an attitude and a belief that the change can happen, then you don’t really even need to read the rest of the article. Along with belief in the change there must be a willingness to execute at a high level in the following areas:
1. Develop and deliver a product that is profitable.
2. Be willing to invest in hiring and training ENOUGH staff to oversee this program at a high level.
3. Create a sales environment that takes transaction “telling” and turns it into event “selling.”
4. Execute parties in a controlled systematic way that allows you to duplicate a memorable experience one party after another.
5. Follow up with every party from every year with an outbound reach program that will grow your party business bigger than you could have imagined!
Let’s look at each one of these five goals.
1. Develop and deliver a product that is profitable. I know that you look around your market and try to create a product that you believe will sell. I agree that you want to be competitive in your market. But I encourage you not to get caught up in the price as a way to compete.
Look at your product. See what you have to offer. Take into consideration the retail cost for activities, food, host, supplies, time etc. and charge that! There are statistics that indicate only one third of the people are looking for the cheapest price. I’ll take my chances with the other two thirds and ask the question, are you looking for the cheapest price or the best value? Sell the value and experience of your parties and make that better than your competition rather than your price.
2. Hire and train enough staff to deliver a top notch program. I believe every party should have a host. I believe that you should use runners so that the host never leaves the party. I also know that you need a party coordinator to manage and direct that team. There are a number of tools and excellent resources to help you train that staff fully. Check out www.trainertainment.net.
3. Create a sales environment. Trade your transaction-based informational exchange with a guest for a real sales process. I know your phone is ringing. People are calling you to book their party. With a sales process, you lead that guest down the booking path rather than just giving out information. More parties book on Monday and Tuesday. Start there. Staff up and plan to turn the ring ring of your phone into cha ching!
4. Execute in a way that is consistently excellent. With great systems in place you and your team begin to excel. Parents brag to one another about your awesome experience. Your hosts become masters of the party experience and are able to deliver over and over again at the highest level.
5. Plan for success by continually reaching out to past parties. And don’t just call last year’s customers. My experience is that moms like to do different things from one year to the next. So, often time calling the prior year and even three years back can be more effective when it comes to re-book results.
The birthday party business is big business. It takes work, focus, and people to make it successful. It’s worth doing in my opinion.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Back in the day when I was onsite, we were doing 75-100 birthdays every week. We had built-in systems of sales and party execution that support that type of volume. We also had a very profitable weekday corporate party business, hosting approximately 40-70 company or group events per month.
I could never tell for sure if it was the grown-ups who attended birthday parties primarily on the weekends that saw what we could offer and got the vision to have their company party during the week or if it was the other way around. Nonetheless, the group and party business was BIG! It was a great way to work in an exciting and profitable business. I know that you’ll agree with me that you can do a lot in your business when you have some idea of what sales are going to be because that business is pre-booked.
You can take a chance on the build-it-and-they-will-come philosophy and hope that you fill the place with walk-in traffic. But for my money, I’m sold on leveraging that chaotic guess of walk-in traffic with the confidence of pre-booked group and party business.
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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