Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

T Myers Magic

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

If you are a balloon twister and spend time on facebook, you probably saw the balloon twister community panic after T Myers Magic magic announced they were closing. Well, it has been a few weeks, and now they announced they will reopen on Monday, May 19th, 2014.

I think that I only ordered from T Myers twice. Most of my balloons come from another dealer, but I do visit the T Myers website on the regular basis, just to see if anything is new. I also found they had a better selection of DVDs which was the main reason I had placed two orders with them. It will be interesting to see how they do with the comeback.

How to say, No.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Maybe a better title for this post would be, “How NOT to say, ‘No!'”. I have seen a lot of entertainers post to Facebook and other social media websites their frustration over customers who ask them to volunteer their services for an event or offer a discount from their normal prices. Usually, these posts are followed by various ways they could respond to the request. More often that not, I find the possible responses to be a poor choice. Although you may not want to accept their request, you should NOT use the contact as a way to slam the door in their face. People have a way of remembering the bad taste their contact with you left more than a simple, No. Show respect to your customers.

You may think you are being funny, but your potential customer may see it differently. It is NOT rude for someone to ask a business to donate a product or service to their event. Why should you be rude in your response? Many businesses are more than happy to donate to a good cause. It is a way to give back to the community and get some positive publicity. Local businesses will donate money to have their name listed at school events like a band performance or play. They will put their name on the back of a team jersey so the kids can have nice uniforms. They will donate food and water to marathons. They will donate prizes for auctions. But, heaven forbid they try to contact a balloon twister or face painter and invite them to the event. Entertainers with an attitude and who lack good judgement will often insult the caller for having the nerve to ask them to do an event for free or “exposure.”

Balloon Twister at a Festival

Balloon Twister at a Festival

Even if I have no intention of supporting the request, I feel the best response is a polite response. But, if the date is open in my calendar, I will see if there is a way to make the event work for me.

An important factor for me when considering offering a discount or donating my services is the location of the event. Is the event in an area close to my home and a place that I want to do more events? Most of the people at the event will likely be local to that area. They are the people I will reach and be giving my business card. If the event is 100 miles away, that means more people 100 miles away will call to see if I can come to their events. I would much rather do events close to home and it means getting more events close to home.

Another thing I try to find out is if they have hired other entertainers to be at their event. If they have hired a band, DJ, magician, etc. to attend their event, I know they have an entertainment budget. I don’t want to work for free when other entertainers are being paid, but if nobody is being paid, I am open to donating my services.

If they can’t pay me, it doesn’t always mean that I can’t get paid by someone… Festivals often have food vendors and other people selling stuff. If the organization doesn’t have the funds to pay for the face painter, maybe face painting can be offered for a fee. Can I put out a tip jar to help pay for my time and materials? If I am donating $500 worth of face painting time to their event, would they list me as an official event sponsor along side the other organizations they thank on their website, advertising, and t-shirts?

Whatever happens, at the end of the conversation, if I decide to do their event or not, I try my best to be polite during the entire conversation. I want to end on a positive note and leave the door open for their calling me again in the future. That is much better than finding out later they told all of their friends what a jerk I had been.

Overhead Costs

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Sometimes, I feel that other balloon twisters and face painters are too concerned about what the other entertainers are charging for their services. Some fear they will never become good enough to charge as much as the best entertainers while others complain that there are too many new entertainers giving away their services and lowering the amount of money their customers are willing to pay.

I have come to the conclusion that the only person that I really need to worry about is myself. Am I making enough money to cover my costs? Since I have a day job, I don’t need to earn as much as those who are trying to live off of their income as an entertainer. But, I think that both full time and part time entertainers should understand their costs.

When doing an event, there are two costs. There are the physical costs of the goods used during the event. For a balloon twister, that may be $10 worth of balloons that were used. There are also the overhead costs associated with running a business. These are more hidden and aren’t tied to any one event.

What are the overhead costs? Since I am running a business, I have a website, business cards, liability insurance, and attend conventions (training). I also have to have various supplies related to being able to setup at a variety of events. I have a tent, tables, chairs, banners, and other such items. Let’s assume that in a given year, I am spending $1000 on overhead items. Thoses expenses need to be covered by what I am paid for the events that I work.

If my overhead costs are $1000/year and I am doing only 50 events (about one per week) each year, that means that each event must contribute $20 towards paying off my overhead costs. Add in the $10 worth of balloons, it costs me $30 every time I do an event.

If I get busy and start doing 100 events per year (about two events per week) my overhead costs don’t increase, so I still only need to cover the same $1000/year in overhead or $10/event. Now, every time I go out, it only costs me $20. Following this trend, the more events I do, the less the overhead costs are per event. Sure, at some point, I may decide that I am going to enough events that I can justify going to a second convention or buying a more expensive tool.

Someone who is working full time as an entertainer and doing 4-5 parties on the weekend along with a few kids nights on weekeday evenings along with a few events at nursing homes, day care centers, farmer’s markets, or libraries during the work week, their overhead costs may be just a few dollars per event because they are spread out between more events. Being able to lower overhead costs from $20/event to just $5/event is like giving yourself a $15/event raise without having to adjust rates.

How Much to Charge?

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

I hear a lot of entertainers talking about prices. They complain that their customers are always asking for a discount or even a free event. They complain that someone new is doing events for free or not charging enough money. They complain that entertainers are able to be hired directly by their customers without needing an agent.

If one entertainer in the area wants to make $150 per event, does that mean that all other entertainers in that area need to start charging at least that much? Does one or two entertainers who charge significantly less than the rest drive down the rates that everyone can get? Will doing one event for free really open the door for all of your customers to ask for a free event?

I think it is perfectly acceptable for an entertainer to decide how much they want or need to charge without having to worry about what the other entertainers in the area think.

When I was first getting started, I wasn’t very good. There weren’t a lot of designs that I could make and those that I did make didn’t always look that great. I knew many entertainers in the area who were much better. I didn’t feel that it would be right to charge as much as they did. I even volunteered my services for free a few times just to get the experience and confidence. Doing the event for free took away the pressure. I knew that whatever I managed to create was more than they would have had if I wasn’t there.

It helped that I had a fulltime job that payed the bills and provided me with insurance. When I did an event, I really only had to cover the cost of my supplies. If I was doing one event every few weeks, it wasn’t a major investment of my time and I didn’t need to reorder supplies that often. Getting $10-15 in tips easily covered my costs.

But, as I got better and started getting busier with events, my time became more valuable. If I was going to work 40 hours during the week at my main job and then spend several hours on the weekend at festivals or birthday parties, I lost the time I once had to do laundry, groceries, and other chores around the house. At this point, I decided, I needed to find out what my time was really worth.

I knew the ballpark range of prices the other experienced entertainers in the area were charging. I had an idea of how much I was spending on supplies, business cards, website, and conferences. I also knew what I was making per hour at my day job. I decided that if I was going to continue working as an entertainer, I wanted to make as much, if not more, per hour as my day job.

When a client hires me to come to a birthday party for one hour, I know that I am spending more than just one hour of my time. I would estimate that I am spending 3-4 hours of my time for a one hour birthday party. It starts with the time discussing the event with the client, creating an invoice, making sure I have the directions to the party, and packing my supplies before the party. I have a goal of being in the neighborhood of the party at least 15 minutes early, which often means leaving home one hour before the party starts. I rarely manage to get out the door exactly at the end of one hour. I have to pack up, find the host, bring my supplies out to the car. I might get home one hour after the party ended. And even once I am home, I may need to restock or clean up before I can go to another party. Doing a bunch of 1 hour parties takes more time than doing one three hour event because for that event, I only need to travel to one place, setup my supplies once, and clean up once.

Let’s say that in my day job, I am paid $25/hour. To do a one hour birthday party, I am spending on average 4 hours of my time, so I want to make $100/hour. But, that is before I begin to figure out the cost of my supplies. Let’s assume that I use $10 worth of supplies at the party. So, now I need to charge a minimum of $110/hour to cover my costs and make the same amount of money per hour as my day job. If I want to attend conventions, buy better quality tools, have costumes, banners, tents, etc. I need to be able to pay for all of that as well, so that may raise my rates to $125/hour or more.

In reality, I should value my day job at more than $25/hour because it is a fixed, guaranteed income source. My employer provides benefits and insurance above my hourly rate. If I was to quit my day job, I would need to make more money too cover the loss of those benefits.

If I find out that the average entertainer in my area is only charging $80/hour, I either need to find ways to lower my costs or prove the value of hiring me over my competition. I can also decide to have a two hour minimum so I am getting paid for more hours while doing fewer events. If the after age entertainer in my area is charging $150 or more per hour, I can either raise my rates or hope to be busier because I am charging less.

The only thing that we can really control is how much we charge. People are sometimes forces out of business because their costs are too high compared with what the competition charges. With the right marketing pitch, you can get a person to pay a little more if they think it will be a better product or service. Look at the parking lot, not everyone is driving the cheapest, used car they can find.

I know how much I charge and can justify that amount based on my income goals and expenses. If someone wants to charge more or less than me, that is fine. I do sometimes wonder if they can explain how they came up with the number for the prices they charge or if it just “sounded good”.

World Clown Association – Membership and Insurance

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Just a friendly reminder…. If you get your entertainer insurance from the World Clown Association, it is time to renew your membership. Membership and Insurance Renewals are due on May 1st. Be sure to send in your renewal for so as to not miss out.

Registration forms are available to download at:

Remember, you have options for entertainer’s insurance besides getting it from the World Clown Association. Evaluate your current needs and the plans, then select the one that will serve you best. If I am not mistaken, the policy offered by WCA does not cover employees or animals used in a show other than dogs, doves, and rabbits.