Part 3 of the 4 Ps of a Great Birthday Party Program
By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment
Having great Products and an excellent sales Process are the first two steps to creating a successful birthday business. Step 3 involves your Party People. No matter what you call them – a Party Pro, Party Host/ess, or Party Champ – the enthusiasm, organization and commitment of this valuable team member can make or break your program.
I believe the Party Pro position in your center should be an earned spot. Ideally each Party Pro has served as a Party Runner as they learn the hosting position. A party runner should be able to serve two to four parties at a time and helps the host organize, set up, clean up and “run” food and drink.
The Party Pro is the team member who engages with, entertains, plays and serves the birthday party. I understand this is a very simplistic view of two very important jobs in your center, but I hope it serves as a good overview.
There is great debate about hosted and un-hosted parties. I am emphatic when it comes to service and don’t believe the “very important” birthday celebration is a “DIY” event. Endorsement of a hosted party program comes with costs. Those costs should be passed along to the retail price of the party. Remember when we talked about products and even the process of selling the party? The buyer is MOST interested in value. One of the primary reasons a parent decided to come to your center to have their child’s birthday party is because they did not want to mess with it at their home. What makes you think they want to be responsible for anything in your center?
Now if I’ve convinced you hosted parties are superior to un-hosted events, read on.
Candidates for great party hosts are all around. Drama students, cheerleaders, kids in the band and choir all make good party host candidates. Applicants who love children and have a healthy sense of play will be some of your best hosts.
Our company has worked with thousands of party hosts over the last 18 years and when we ask them what makes them a great host, these qualities are repeated over and over again. They say you must be:
• Wild about playing with children
It’s a tall order to find this kind of team member but worth it. This top performer who has these qualities is going to grow your party program and their own personal brand. You know you’ve got a great host when that person is requested. We share with party teams that their goal should be that the party coordinator is simply their “booking agent” because any child who attends a party wants to be sure their host is the one who hosted their friend’s event.
One great way to get a host to “perform” better is to allow them to create their own personal brand. I would want to be the host of the “princess” parties. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I always love having an excuse to wear a tiara! I’ve personally witnessed – and on more than one occasion – a host who obviously had a late Friday night transform into an energetic party hero when they put their cape and mask on and got themselves ready to make little Billy’s 8th birthday the BEST one of his life.
Helping a host understand the responsibility they have to make this day great is paramount to good training. A long time ago, I heard Frank Price of Birthday University say, “A child only gets to turn 7 one time so it’s the host’s job to make it special.” I’ll never forgot his explanation. I actually think it’s as true for a 7-year-old as it is for a 70-year-old!
A well-trained, competent party host will have the confidence to treat each party guest of honor as if it was their own little brother or sister. With experience, they will become adept at helping the parents, grandparents, or anyone else who has trusted your center and your people with their child’s special day. It’s important to place your best hosts in the position to train incoming hosts.
The training standard that I believe works best is to first tell. This is whether you have written material, video, online learning or lecture, it is important to first “tell” the host what is expected from the job. Second, you must show. Have the new host shadow your best for a shift (hopefully, three parties). Third, do have the trainer be the primary host for the next shift with the training host as the shadow. Finally, review. Each party offers an opportunity for review. There could be four to six opportunities for learning and competence-growing to begin to build the new host’s confidence.
I hope you’ll invest the time, energy, and money in your people. They are your competitive advantage. If you want to truly have the “best parties in town,” you’ll make sure the best people are hosting those parties.
I look forward to seeing you next month when we talk about how to make the Party, our fourth “P,” an exciting experience to remember! Until then, 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.