Party Professor – May 2017

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What Are You?

Are You a “Reservationist” or a “Sales Person?”

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Beth Standlee

By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment

Someone must sell group events and birthday parties. What’s going on at your center? Are you content with picking up the phone when it rings and giving information with the hope that someone will give you a deposit and hold their party at your facility? Or are you proactively selling?

It may be time to evaluate what you want from the business and what it might take to get there. It may be enough for you to simply take orders as they come in. For my money though, I’d much rather have a “sales team” that is focused on market segments, has the ability to upsell, and can turn a call into a sales situation rather than an order taken.

You might have a “reservationist” system if you:

• Have NO outbound calling strategy

• Have NO dedicated sales champion for group or birthday events

• ALLOW the customer to lead the call

• Have NO idea how many calls are coming in and how many of those calls result in a closed sale (close ratio)

You have a “sales system” when you:

• Have dedicated sales professionals who have quarterly sales goals that they are reaching

• Have a sales process that turns an incoming call into a booked event that is more than it might have been if you had just “taken the order”

• Have a strategy for creating new business though an outbound sales effort

It’s tricky to understand how to make the investment in a true “sales person.” You don’t know up front if the people you hire for sales are going to get the job done. Of course, this is true with any new hire, it’s just easier to measure with sales people.

So what’s holding you back? Don’t you want to have more group events? Wouldn’t more birthday parties give you access to many new potential guests, which could result in many more group events and parties?

If you do decide to hire a group sales person, be clear with your expectations. If you don’t know what to expect, ask someone in the industry. Check with locations who have big sales programs. See what information the trade associations provide. Call me, I’ve always got lots of ideas!

Ideally for groups, we recommend spending time on adult/company party sales, youth groups, church groups, and fundraisers. If you have alcohol at your facility, we would recommend spending 40% of their new business development time on the adults, 30% of their time on kid groups, 20% of their time on church groups, and 10% of their time on developing fundraisers.

In addition to developing new business, we think that a strong “Past Party Reach” is essential to creating lasting relationships with prior parties and group events. You need a sales pro to make sure this effort is executed on a weekly basis. When you reach out consistently to past groups or parties, you are sure to grow your event base. Birthdays are year to year, but group events may come monthly or quarterly so learn about their habits of how often and how they choose where to have their events.

Listen, I’m not knocking a strong reservationist system. That may be enough for your center. I’ve certainly seen facilities that were so busy answering the phone and taking the order that it seemed like overkill to teach their people to sell. BUT, for me, I want to turn “would be” orders into full blown, maximum-dollar events. I think it takes the same amount of time to take the reservation as it does to sell the event. In the long run, it’s my opinion that there’s a big difference in the amount and growth of sales when you employ sales champions and a sales system. So it’s worth it in my mind to hire, train, and reward a sales team member to create new business, turn existing orders into big up-sell events, reach out to past events, and to stay focused on growing groups and/or parties.


Beth is the CEO of TrainerTainment LLC, a training company devoted to the family entertainment and  hospitality industries. Beth and her team are focused on helping the companies they serve make more money through sales, guest service, leadership and social media marketing training. Training products and services are delivered in person, through books and DVDs, and virtually with e-learning courses, webinar development and 24/7 online access. Visit her company’s website at www.trainertainment.com.

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