The 4 Ps of a Successful Birthday Program – Part Two
By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment
Last month, we talked about building an irresistible birthday party product. My hope is you took a good look at your market, product and price and made some bold new moves with your birthday product.
This month, we look at the second “P” of a great birthday program: PROCESS. Every good system in your organization has a repeatable process that allows everyone in your business to attract, convert, deliver and collect for your services. Author Mike Michalowicz, the author of Clockwork, refers to this idea as the “ACDC of business.”
For our purposes, I want to focus on the “convert” or sales process for birthdays. In today’s environment, many reports show us that up to 70% of birthday parties are booked online. Personally, as the author of the book People Buy from People, How to Personally Connect in an Impersonal World, I believe the best locations do the best job of managing guest expectations when they follow up with a confirmation and a pre-party call for the online booking. The objectives for connecting with the parent, grandparent, sibling or whoever booked the online party event is to:
1. Thank the guest for booking and trusting their event with you.
2. Give the party planner complete confidence you have the order and that the party is important to you.
3. Let the caller ask follow-up questions.
4. Upsell fun add-ons for the partygoers or additional food or attractions for other adults or siblings who may attend the party.
Then, 72 hours before the party, it is always a good idea to make a final phone call to see if the number of attendees has changed. This call also gives you the opportunity to upsell.
The In-Person Booking
I have always believed inbound sales have a specific process that works better than simply taking someone’s order. It may be that you have someone on your team who responds in a friendly way to guests who call in, or even show up, and ask questions that sound something like this: “How much are your birthday parties?” “Can you tell me about your birthday options?” “Do you have an opening for a birthday on Saturday at 2 p.m.?”
The statistics show that for every 10 encounters, a team member who only answers those questions, rather than follows a sales process, may convert only two to four of those inquiries into booked birthday parties. Wouldn’t it be great to close six to eight of those 10 inquiries?
Implementing a strong sales process makes all the difference. Follow these four steps and watch your party program grow!
1. Connect – When the buyer calls or walks in, the most impactful thing your team can to is to first connect with the guest. It might go a little like this…
Team member: “Thank you for calling ABC Fun Center. This is Beth, how may I serve you?”
Guest: “I’m interested in booking a birthday party.”
Team member: “I’m glad you called us! We have the best birthday parties in town.” It’s easy for a guest to get connected to the idea they’ve called the right place and that someone confident and competent is about to take care of them.
Team member: “Please tell me about the birthday person. Are you planning for a child or an adult?” While we know most of the inquiries are for children, it is a perfect time to plant the seed that your center also provides fun for the adult who is booking the party now. Future business is the easiest and least expensive to acquire from current customers.
Guest: “The party is for my daughter, who’s turning 8.” If the parent doesn’t include the age and gender, you will notice those questions are on the Birthday Sales Qualification form. (Email Beth Standlee at [email protected] to get a free download of this form.) Please note, you may need to use gender-neutral terms during the call. The parent will let you know.
Team member: “Wonderful, our parties are great for 8-year-olds! What is your daughter’s name?” Take note of the child’s name and use their name two or three times during the call. The parent will appreciate your personalized approach.
2. Qualify – Qualification is the second stage of the sales process. Some of the questions you’ve asked during the connection phase help qualify which party seems most appropriate for this buyer. Qualification often deepens the connection, saves time and makes it easy for you to focus on the guest. After all, it is the guest as the birthday king or queen that matters most.
Other qualification questions: “How many guests are you planning to invite to the party?” “How many of those guests are children/adults?” Some people like to ask if they’ve been to the center in the past, or if the child knows what attraction they love the most.
3. Propose – Now you get to sell the best package options by telling them about your parties. The three key components are: 1) Mention all like items only once. For example, “All our packages are for up to 10 children and include…” 2) Highlight the differences between packages and position the most expensive package first. “Our most popular package gives your child the run of the house. Leslie and her friends will enjoy unlimited food and fun…” 3) Mention price last. No matter the cost/value of your parties, if you mention price first, it will always be too much!
4. Close – Ask for the order. “Of these three options, which do you think Leslie and her friends will enjoy the most?” There are final closing questions to cover the day of week, the time of day and the credit card they want to use for their deposit.
This may sound like a lot. However, with thousands of recorded secret shopper calls, we’ve learned a call that follows the Connect, Qualify, Propose and Close process takes an average of six minutes. You can view a great example of a bad call and then, a good call at this link: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=t4w46RPukbc&t=10s. In less than five and a half minutes you can train your team to implement the best sales process for booking a birthday party in person or on the phone.
I hope this month’s column provides great insight that promises to grow your birthday party program. The next column features the third P of birthdays: PEOPLE! Until next time, party on!
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 to 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.