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Magician's Restaurant Workers Secrets - Top 35 Tips

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Working restaurants can be an excellent way for magicians and balloon artists to generate extra cash and build their own performance skills and reputation.  Here are some ideas, tips, and suggestions for the restaurant performer:


Getting the Gig

  1. Define your value proposition. For the restaurant performer, this will typically be to bring in customers on slower nights. Most good restaurants already are plenty busy on Friday and Saturday nights.  You may wish to target a kid's night where kid's eat free already or eat at a discount or simply offer it as a kid's entertainment night. The value that you will be providing to the restaurant is to bring in paying customers. Other value propositions include:
    • Minimize the impact of waiting (either for food or a table.)
    • Customers will return and bring in new guests with them
    • Customers stay longer and order more
  2. Do your research. Have a meal at restaurants around town. Note which nights are slower and maybe cater to the audience you are planning to appeal to.  Look at advertisements, coupons, and flyers to get information about how they are promoting their business.
  3. Find the right type of restaurant.  Fast-food is not optimal due to a need for high table turn-over.  Fine dining restaurants with a quiet atmosphere and known for their exquisite menus may also not be the best fit and people come their primarily for the food.  Casual dining restaurants are often the best fit where the guests can relax and enjoy a leisurely meal but without the stuffy waiters and dining experience.
  4. Make a list of possible restaurants.  These should ones where you feel have the right atmosphere based on your research.  Restaurant should be large enough where you can have enough tables so you are always busy rather then waiting for new tables to come in.
  5. Mock of some sample coupons and promotional pieces. Look at the typical coupons you get in the mail or see in the newspaper. The coupon will include a discounted or free item on the particular night you are performing. It should also include brief information about you and your times you will be there.  Have a promotional package ready which includes your bio, photo, the value proposition to the restaurant, and of course your contact information and web site address.
  6. Determine your Pricing. You need to get paid an hourly rate for performing.  Tips are a bonus but aren't not likely to pay the bills unless you are just trying to get your foot in the door. More to follow on this point.  If your normal show is $125 and it takes around an hour including set-up and pack-up that is a good hourly number to strive for. You may need to work up to that number as you can demonstrate your value. $40-$50 might be a good starting amount if you are just getting started in the restaurant business.
  7. Offer a price break on your rate for a contract term of 6-months or longer.  You get some job security and they get a better rate.
  8. Figure out who the owner is.  All businesses must file a DBA (or Doing Business As) which can be looked up in public records. It is possible that a corporation may be the owner, in which case, you can find the officers by also exploring public records. Business License records are also another public record you can search for this type of information.  You may also call the restaurant and ask to speak to the owner and get their name.
  9. Contact the chamber of commerce or participate in some of their meetings and mixers. This is a great way to get aquainted with some of the heavy hitters in the business community. It is always easier to get a meeting with someone you know (even casually).  The chamber may also help you get in touch with the owners of the restaurant or put you in the right direction.
  10. Make contact with the owner to give your pitch. The manager may not have any authority to make such a decision.  If the owner is not a hands-on owner, the manager is best place to start.
  11. Be prepared to demonstrate some of your best tricks when you arrive.  If you can win them over with your magic, that is half the battle.
  12. Stay away from restaurants that already have a magician or performer. They are probably happy with their current performer and no need to poach business from another hard-working performer. Start with a place that doesn't have anyone.
  13. Make it a no-lose situation for the owner.  The owner will want to go for any deal that will make them money but have may have fear that you won't bring in the business. Offer to work 1 night for tips only. This is a great way to get started if you don't have a track record in restaurant work.  Make the appropriate promotion plan is put into place such as the coupon mentioned above. Make sure you agree on the wage that will be paid after the promotional period is over.
  14. Get it in writing. It is always best to have a simple contact than none. Be sure to outline your rates, hours and days that you work, and the cancellation terms even if either party may cancel at any time.
  15. Think about getting part of your fee in gift certificates. If this is the type of place you like to come to eat and would enjoy treating your family, friends, and business associates to, then bring up this a possibility. The owners will love this as it will cost them less. Of course, alway tip well when using gift certificates and make sure your servers are taken care of.


Working the Restaurant and Your Performance

  1. Any tricks should not require the use of a table or the customers table. Tables are crowded and dirty and it is best not to invade the customer's space.
  2. Needs to have an easy reset. You don't want to be fumbling for your next trick. When you put it back in your pocket, it should be ready to go again.
  3. Be the life of the party. You goal is to entertain and make fun and memories.  Think about how you can generate laughs, noise, and excitement.
  4. Giveaways for the kids. Balloon animals are a natural giveaway but Fortune Telling Fish and other inexpensive items can work well also.  This could even be a simple trick you show the kids and then quickly teach them how to do it.
  5. Don't require customers to handle objects or cards. The Hindu shuffle can work well for a card force as it only requires then to say stop and you can flash the card to everyone.
  6. Have some memorable tricks. Make sure you have the right and well-rehearsed repertoire of tricks.
  7. Establish a good rapport with the servers in the restaurant. Try to stay out of their way and they will hopefully keep clear of you when you are performing.
  8. Dress the Part. Look professional and appropriate for the venue, this may mean a jacket and tie but does depend on the restaurant. Make sure you don't look the servers so you won't be asked for more napkins.
  9. Be helpful.  You are part of the restaurant's staff and should realize this important fact. If a customer has a problem with their service or food or whatever, offer to get their server or a manager to help straighten out the problem.
  10. Remember your Angles. While the table you are performing for may have only a head on angle, others for neighboring tables with also take a look at what you are doing. Best to use angle proof tricks for this venue.
  11. Vary your Act. Be sure to be able to add effect to your act so repeat customers can always get a something new and fresh.
  12. Timing is Everything. The best time to perform is right after the customer's order is taken. Best to stay away before ordering and right after the food has arrived. If the food arrives during your set, wrap up quickly and get off to the next table.
  13. Keep Organized. You need to know where in your pockets everything is and it needs to go back in the right spot and be reset and ready to go.  Your should know exactly where everything is, which pocket has which trick.
  14. Starting your Set. Introduce yourself to the people at the table by name and explain that you are part of the entertainment for the restaurant and ASK if they would like to see some magic. Don't force yourself on anyone as some may prefer to be catching up with old friends or family and do not want the interruption.  Don't be offended if they don't want to see anything, you should just politely leave and you may tell them that if they would like to see you later just to ask their server.
  15. Always give a table the opportunity to say "No."
  16. Length of Time at Table.  5-8 minutes may be a good amount of time to spend. If you find the table is enjoying it and responding well, you can always do an extra trick or 2.  Always better to leave them wanting more than wishing you would ended sooner.
  17. Remember your customers.  Make sure you make a mental note of who you have asked if they would like to see some magic.  You will typically remember who you have performed for but it is easier to forget someone you have had a shorter interaction time with such as someone who was not interested.
  18. When approaching a table, remember the customer's name and use it.  Train yourself to listen to the name and use it immediately. For example, "Bob? It's nice to meet you Bob." and "For my next trick, I am going to need Bob's help."
  19. Thank the customer for coming to restaurant at the end of your set. Remember, you are part of the staff even though you are really independent of the restaurant and remind them you are glad you came they came out. They really do pay your bills. No customers = No Restaurant Magician.
  20. Acknowledge repeat customers.  Sometimes if you work regularly you will see repeat customers and they may have seen everything you have.  You should still stop in and say "Hi" and you can tell them that you won't bother them again since they have seen everything already, but it is a good way to acknowledge them and make them feel appreciated.


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Our valuable member Sam Sultan has been with us since Tuesday, 03 June 2008.


0 #2 Robin Pedranti 2010-03-22 20:40
Very good tips. Thanks for the article.
0 #1 Jose Ruiz 2010-01-30 10:21
Great tips. I have many DVD's and this is what I learned from them. I should have read this before spending all that cash on DVD's. Thanks for the Article.
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