Marketing and "upsizing your fries" by Gary Cole

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In this day and age everyone is quite familiar with the concept "upsize". In family entertainment all of us should consider adding to our skills base. It does not mean you have to be a face painter, clown, one man band and mural painter. It just means that you are crazy if you do not consider looking at options you can add to upsize your events. Think carefully and think of those things that only make sense for you and your business. One common question we are asked is "what else do you do"? In the early years of our entertainment company we wanted to be open minded to adding logical skills to provide more opportunity. Since we do a lot of corporate work it also meant instead of sending out just two face painters we could also send out two ballooners, one temporary tattoo artist and more.

We have now operated Party Faces Inc. in the Dallas Fort Worth are for close to twelve years so we have been through much of the learning curve. We do a lot of work for the fifty plus McDonalds in the area. At first we were hired by them to do face painting at new stores, renovations and the like. We loved doing these events because they typically were in new areas where we currently were not doing a lot of promotions. They provided the perfect opportunity on a Saturday to get in front of many families and they allowed us to set out our business cards on the table. It was a paying gig, we met new faces and we passed out loads of cards that ended up in private birthday parties in that area. It was a real win/win with that popular family restaurant.

One time I was there doing face painting and the marketing contact asked me if I knew of a good ballooner. She said her normal ballooner was moving out of state and she needed someone new. I told her that we had considered adding that to our skills. She said the next ballooning event was in two weeks and asked if I could be ready by then. I simply said yes. I got on-line orders a couple of videos, bought a pump and some balloons and learned real quick. I basically learned the top twenty or so one to three balloon figures and showed up to work next to our other face painter. The marketing person was so impressed. She said I was better than the previous person and asked how long I had been doing ballooning. I was honest and said only one week. Well since that time, I've learned more ballooning skills, have taught those skills to other workers and we have a great addition to our skills base. We admit that we are not twisting the four foot tall tweety-bird balloons but what McDonald's and other companies really want is someone that can churn our a variety of quick balloon items.

Now when the mom calls up for the birthday party for a face painter we tell them we can paint the typical 12 to 14 child party in a one hour period and give them our rate. We then add, for fifty percent more we can also make a balloon figure for each child and more times than not, we get to "upsize" the party. Now ballooning is about 30% of our annual revenue. Also sometimes they are only looking for a ballooner so now we do not lose those events at all. Again, it was a great addition.

In the twelve years we have added a number of other skills that we later dropped. An example is magic. We had two people that were trained and it was just logistically too difficult to keep it managed. Invariably on the day of the event the trained magician could not be at the event. Make sure you can handle the breath of skills you offer on any given day. We manage about twenty workers and at times they are all booked all at the same time. It becomes a real juggling act and the more skills you offer the more challenging it can become. We do try to cross train and offer incentives. For example we offer our workers one rate for learning one of the skills. Once they learn both face painting and ballooning then they get an extra five dollars per hour no matter what skill they perform on that day. It simply make it more flexible on how we use them.

We continue to explore other items to add. At this point and for the last several years we have offered temporary tattoos, spin art, hair painting and henna. Those seem to work for our group. You should add those things that you think you can master and logistically handle. Many of the activities like the temporary tattoos and spin art we can literally grab extra people at the last minute give then a five minute demonstration and send them out to work. Use those with the greater skills for the face painting and ballooning and the new folks on the easier tasks.

Upsizing is definitely worth some consideration and has been a big win for us. You should try it strategically and it will add to your profit base.


Gary Cole

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