The Early Bird Books the Gig

birdThe key to making more money may be as simple as getting better at answering your phone. 

Have you ever missed a call from a client and returned their call later on only to hear “Sorry… We already booked someone else for our event”? Just by missing their initial call you missed out on a booking! Hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars lost… vanished.

It’s something that has happened to all of us. But, how can we try and prevent this from happening?

Be The Early Bird and Reply Faster

The first step is to think about what’s going on inside the minds of the client. Once we understand what they’re thinking and feeling we can implement a strategy to try and capture these leads.

We would like to think that customers are trying to book us because they specifically want us for their event. But the reality is they may just be contacting you because you were the first search result in Google or you were the first guy to answer their phone. This may sound like a bad thing, but if you’re able to be that first guy listed on Google, and you’re good at answering the phone, that’s actually good news!

Do you always answer your phone when it rings? The best way to prevent these lost bookings is by always answering your phone. Do whatever it is you need to do to make sure you’re answering your phone. Get in the habit of having your phone near you, having the ringer on, and whatever else you need to have prepared in order to take the booking.

Depending on your personality and schedule, replying to messages promptly might actually be quite difficult. If you find it especially dreadful or time consuming to reply to show inquires, it’s probably because your system for booking shows is too cumbersome. Create a booking process for your business that’s easier so it isn’t as much work to followup. I’ve found that the best way to keep me motivated to respond to show inquiries is by being accountable to my clients. I do that by promising my customers that I’ll return their inquiry within 24 hours. 

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11 Tips To Get Kids to Stay Seated During Your Show

Birthday ShowFor any children’s performer one of the biggest problems is getting the kids to sit for the entire show. It isn’t because they’re bored or restless that they squirm, instead it’s because they’re so excited and they want to be involved! But, standing children causes lots of problems… 

The reason standing children are such a problem is because it’s distracting for everyone in the audience, it blocks the view of others in the audience, a child is more likely to come up on stage even if they aren’t asked to, and they end up getting closer and closer to the stage making it more difficult to perform.

However, by using a few simple audience control techniques you can create an environment that will result in a better show. I’ve compiled a list of 11 Tips to Get Kids to Stay Seated:

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Lessons Learned from Poor Customer Service

This article is inspired by a recent negative customer experience I had.

For Christmas my sister wanted an item that’s sold by a home based business. I was able to contact the seller through Facebook. I placed my order and was told she didn’t have the item in stock anymore and needed a couple of weeks to get another. She also informed me that she was too busy to keep track of orders so I would have to send her a reminder in a couple weeks.

A couple weeks later I messaged her again and she still didn’t have it in stock. One week later I messaged her again, this time she had the item. Great! I tried to arrange a time to meet with her but we couldn’t seem to find a time that worked. I found out that she lives close to my home so I thought it wouldn’t be an issue to pick up my order. Unfortunately, I ended up getting sick and wasn’t able to contact her for a week. When I did message her, she told me that she sold my item and had no more in inventory… Now, here’s the kicker – that item is no longer manufactured!

So, my sister selected another item from her store. Once again we struggled to coordinate pick up. Since she doesn’t live far away I suggested she drop it off to my home at her convenience, to which she replied ” I don’t offer home deliveries.” What?!?!… I am literally her neighbour.

After that I gave up. In the end I didn’t get the product, my sister doesn’t get the gift she wanted and the owner didn’t make a sale. Truly a lose-lose-lose situation.

Hidden within this story of poor customer service are a few valuable business lessons:  

  1. As a business owner it’s your responsibility to keep track of and follow up with potential customers. There is no such thing as being “too busy” when it comes to keeping track of your customers. If you’re too busy to run your business properly you’re going to fail. Instead there should be a system in place to make the job easier or hire help.
  2. It’s the job of the business to deliver on the promises that you make. She decided to sell an item that I thought was on hold for me. Whatever you promise to your customer,  it’s your job to deliver that without excuses. If you promise to email the client show photo’s, make sure you do it. If you promise to email that contact from the network event, do it. If you promise to include some close-up magic, do it. Doing this makes you a man of your word – which is a good personality trait to develop regardless of your occupation.
  3. Be clear in your communication. It turns out that the item wasn’t actually on hold for me like I had thought. This could have easily been resolved by her simply communicating that. In our business that translates to communicating the important details to the client. What type of show you’ll be doing, what your requirements are, what time you’ll be arriving to setup, etc. All of these things are so important that they should be repeated to your clients multiple times throughout the booking process.
  4. Make small concessions and deliver service that is above and beyond. Making an exception to deliver the item would have been a minimal amount of work and would have dramatically changed the course of the customer experience. They call it “work” for reason. That mean’s sometimes you’re going to have to do things that you don’t want to do. I wrote another article on this topic called: That’s Not a Problem – Dealing with Problems at Shows.

It’s easy to get caught up in our own work and forget what customer is experiencing. But as business owners, you should always be thinking “How can I create a positive customer experience?” If you perform at 300 events in a year, you’ll have 300 opportunities to create raving fans. In our business the best way to market our services is by creating happy customers.

Trick Review: Stand Up Monte by Garrett Thomas

For the first time on this blog I’m going to do a trick review. Based on feedback I may write more reviews if people are interested. I’ll only review products that I’ve actually used in performance.

This is a review for Garrett Thomas’ Stand Up Monte. Here’s the promotional text for the product:

In The Hands Wildcard Effect that makes sense to real-world audiences. Garrett Thomas’ Stand Up Monte includes eight or more transpositions or transformations.

Draw them in with an intriguing story about games, gambling, scams, hustlers and cons.Then add the strength of magic that happens in the spectators hands, combined with the visual power of the classic Wildcard effect. This easy to do routine happens All In The Hands, yours and the spectators, No Table Required. Best of all, it automatically resets.Truly Audience Tested. This routine has been used professionally by Garrett for the last 15 years with over 15,000 performances! This effect has been an underground favorite with many of the top working magicians today. All necessary tools provided.

Here’s a clip of me performing the effect:

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Why Most Magicians Don’t Work and What to Do About It

emythWhen I first decided that I wanted to be a full time magician I knew almost nothing about business. I certainly didn’t have any idea what was going to be involved in operating my own business as a solo entrepreneur. I just knew that I wanted to study and perform magic all day long every single day. But what else did I need to know? How do you turn a passion into a real business? That’s when I began reading and studying everything I could online about business.

Time and time again I came across recommendations for a book called The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. This book was my first introduction into the realities of turning my passion for magic into something that could pay the bills.

Being a full time magician means more than just being technically skilled at magic or being a strong performer. You must also be good at managing your time, that you’re reliable, that you follow up with clients, that you’re good at setting marketing goals and achieving them, and you have a positive mindset and attitude at EVERY show.

Just because you enjoy performing magic doesn’t mean that you’re also going to like performing it as a job. There’s plenty of people who lose their passion once they turn their hobby into a job. It isn’t because they actually lose their passion though – it’s because they end up spending so much time dealing with other tasks that aren’t their passion.

Rather than working on new magic tricks you’ll be spending your time managing your money, scheduling shows, creating marketing strategies, and designing postcards. Spending your days replying to emails is a quick way turn “Living the dream” into “A living nightmare” for many. That shift and that’s exactly what the E-Myth is all about.

Are you prepared to deal with the realities of running your own business? Do you know what you don’t know? Do you know how to get help? Can you push past your own mental barriers to grow your business? Are you prepared to work ON your business rather than just IN it? The book describes not only the common pitfalls for small businesses but also strategies to avoid common mistakes.

If you’re thinking of starting any type of small business I’d suggest you pick up a copy of the E-Myth from Amazon. It’s a quick easy read and it’s less than $20. For me it was one of the greatest books on business I’ve ever read.

If you’ve already read the book or if you are are going to pick it up, let us know in the comments below. As always, don’t forget to ‘like’ and share this article with others!

Dave Attwood Podcast with Leif David

attwoodLast week I was interviewed by Dave Attwood on his podcast radioshow. You can listen to the podcast directly or by visiting Attwood Magic Studio’s website and listening to episode 77.

Here’s a description of the episode:

“This week we were joined by Kelowna magician Leif David. Leif told us about his early start in magic and his mother’s influence in getting his career off the ground. Dave and Angel take a moment to discuss Remembrance Day and taking the time to remember those that served and sacrificed for our country. Thank you all for supporting the show by spreading the word.”

If you enjoyed the show you can keep in touch with future episodes by liking the Dave Attwood facebook page or by downloading the iTunes podcast app and looking up Attwood Magic.

Professionals Take Care of Their Props

Pathetic looking silk

Pathetic looking silk

I remember in my first few years of business I didn’t have to do any maintenance or repair on my props. However after several years of business and a few hundred shows later everything begins to show its age!

No matter how well you take care of your props they’re going to show wear and tear over time. As performers we use use items that aren’t designed to survive the abuse we put them though. Thin pieces of cardboard and paper, envelopes, cards, and rope, all need to be replaced.

Once in a while look over the props that you use with a critical eye. Does it need to be touched up with a few minor repairs? Does it need to be repainted? Or does it need to be repaired? Even if it doesn’t need to be replaced it may just need some TLC. Iron those silks, give your misers dream bucket a wash, and polish those coins to restore their shine.

Awesome brand new silk

Awesome brand new silk

It’s really hard to see our own things as other see them for the first time. I find that pulling them out of their normal context helps to look at it with fresh eyes.

Even if the audience only see’s the prop for a brief moment it should still look its best. Take a moment to replace those pathetic old sponge balls, use fresh playing cards when you’re hired to perform, and replace old silks once they need it.

If you use anything mechanical make it a habit to check it before every show. Things like hand choppers, finger choppers, and anything with remotes or electronics should be checked frequently. Make it part of your setup and pre-show routine to check these items to make sure they’re in working order.

These small details contribute to the overall professionalism and quality of your show. Plus, by working with better equipment it will make you feel more comfortable and confident on stage.

If you enjoyed this article, please hit the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons below. Thanks!

See into the Future By Creating A Marketing Calendar

SmallCalendarStockA marketing calendar is basically a series of goals for completing a marketing task by a certain date. Having one allows you to stay on top of your marketing efforts throughout the year. There’s nothing worse than discovering it’s already December and you forgot to do any marketing for your Christmas party shows!

It may be a pain to think about these things in advance, but it will save you stress in the long run. If you just finished a busy summer, the last thing you probably want to think about is that you need to design your Christmas postcard and get them printed so that you can have them sent out before October.

Example marketing plan for Christmas shows:

  • Send out Christmas Party Postcard to past clients by October 14th.
  • That means that you’ll want to have all the postcards addressed before October 10th assuming it will take a few days to address them all by hand.
  • Which means you’ll want to have the postcards ordered from the printer before October 1st assuming it will take a week to get them in the mail.
  • Which means you’ll want to hire someone to design your postcards before September 15th assuming it will take them a couple weeks to complete the project.

As you can see in this example, something as simple as sending a postcard to past clients means that you need to be thinking about that project at least a month in advance. You don’t need to necessarily use specific dates like I had in my example, often in our business you’ll just want to have a task completed before a certain week or month.

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DIY Rasmus Performance Case & Table

Barry Mitchell and his friend Rasmus from Denmark built an awesome performance case and table. Similar to Evan’s DIY Table in my previous article he was looking for a performance table / case that could fit into his small car. In this article I’ll show exactly how they built and constructed their performance case and table.

First they tracked down some ideal storage containers.They stacked, had lids, and even came in various sizes.

RasmusTable1

 

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DIY Performance Table by Evan Reynolds

The following article was written by fellow magician Evan Reynolds. This article was also featured in Vanish Magazine for magicians.

Performing Table Design

I do a lot of birthday party shows. I normally use a suitcase style table, and it’s wonderful. It has been a workhorse. But now I have a smaller car. It’s nice but my suitcase table no longer fits unless I laid it down its back. And furthermore, the suitcase table is heavy – it’s 45 pounds when empty, and once my show is loaded, it’s quite difficult to carry around. And when I get to a birthday party and have to climb stairs – that was getting ugly.

So I had two problems. My table was too big, and too heavy. But I loved having a table that carried all my stuff AND served as a performing table with lots of storage.

So I decided to design and build my own table. I’ve gone through three iterations so far. All of them have their advantages – and all of them are really easy to build. One involves nothing more than sticking on Velcro and using an iron. The other two involve a drill and a screwdriver, but if you plan carefully that’s about the only tools you’ll need. And the next plus? The last two tables have a built in sound system. It’s cheap, easy to operate, and there’s nothing to plug in. It’s not a big system – but it’s perfect for a birthday party.

I’ll point out the advantages and disadvantages as I go as well as the things I’d do differently next time. But the key to all this is to think about what you want out of the tables and then modify them. Make the tables bigger or smaller, add shelves, add compartments, and make it what you want. And then go to JoAnne’s and get some nice boxes/art storage bins. They go in the table beautifully and store your smaller magic props wonderfully while looking great.

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