- What got me my long lasting job was sending out promo stuff
with a letter to those places that I thought could use me. I look
for family places, places that have a line during busy times of
people waiting for a table, places that aren't 100% buffet, and when
possible, locally owned. I hate dealing with the chain places, too
much red tape. Next, place a phone call to set up an appointment.
The best times seem to be during the week, after lunch.
Once you get there, tell them what you do, and what you can do for them.
- Occupy the folks waiting so they don't think about going somewhere else
- Act as the restaurant's "ambassador,"
- Help to smooth over problem tables,
- Be a kind of "thank you" from management to the folks that have
chosen to eat there,
- Make their experience even more different, unusual and pleasant
as compared to other restaurants,
- Help the wait staff when necessary,
- And generally make their establishment more of a fun place to be.
I almost always offer to work the first night for free, for two
reasons. I want them to see what I can do, and I want to see how I
fit in there, and how the wait staff reacts to me. If both are
positive, then we can talk money. I don't want to work just for
tips, I can do that anywhere, when I want and where I want. I don't
need the restaurant for that.
- A professional does not approach a prospective customer in
street clothes. Call first, ask for time to see the general manager
(NOT the assistant manager) and then come nicely dressed and present
your portfolio. Act professional and be professional. Going to a
meeting in street clothes makes you look AMATEUR. If you are a
clown, you should go in full clown make-up, but remember that show
BUSINESS is a BUSINESS. Business meetings should be approached as
all business meetings are approached whether it's for show business
or advertising or burger pushing.
I also disagree with twisting in a restaurant while you are having
lunch to show off your talents. I follow these guidelines for new
places to work:
- Send or drop off a brochure.
- Call and ask for 10 minutes of the manager's time to introduce
yourself and show what you have to offer.
- Go to the meeting professional looking and bring along a sample
(already made) and watch the reaction of the people in the restaurant
as you walk in. Discuss your business and go home.
- Send a note as soon as you get home with another brochure
thanking him for the time.
- Call 3 days later (if they haven't already called) and ask if
there are any other questions they had about you.
- Clinch the Job!
It's worked for me in restaurants, radio, TV, cruises.
- If you have never worked restaurants, then try it!!! Take a
few balloons and call on the manager. Within a few twists you
will be talking price.
- Trying to talk someone into hiring me if they have never seen
me work is difficult. Creating a promotional piece describing the
twisting situation is very difficult. There is no promotion like
setting up the situation as a demonstration into which the manager
- I've started out by making a balloon for the waitress/waiter,
and placing their tip in it. When other folks have noticed I've made
more for them as time permits, and of course I carry business cards to
put in its paws. Most sculptures with paws can hold a bill, or a card
- A _professional_ entertainer (whether you're a magician or a
balloon sculptor) who is interested in restaurant work will have a
suitable press kit, a well-designed business card and, most
importantly, an appointment with the manager.
- Try to book yourself on the same night for a few weeks in a
row, so that people will come to expect you being there.
This is easy if you sell the manager on you being there
during his slowest night in an attempt to build that night up.
- I want to share how I got a gig to work this past Valentine's
Day. I was approaching restaurants in general but most didin't want to
pay for entertainment, and I am not interested in working for tips.
Nothing booked for Valentine's Day, but I was hopeful. I met a friend
at a restaurant on Monday, Feb 9 and brought her a Cupid balloon on a
stand so she could display it on her desk at work. I saw the photo of a
cupid at Balloon HQ and modified it with different hair and fatter body
and more detailed face.
While I was waiting for my friend, several staff members and the
manager came over to see the balloon. I explained that I was a balloon
artist and this is only one of my many incredible creations. I gave the
manager my card.
When my friend and I were seated, I placed the Cupid near the outside
edge of the table so everyone could see. Before we left, my friend
graciously gave up her balloon to the manager who gave it to the
owner who then hired me to work on Valentines Day making incredible
balloons for all the customers. I made a special trip to deliver a
Cupid balloon to my friend. She was a very good sport.
The restaurant is now interested in using me for future events. I made
Cupids with black hair, red hair and yellow hair. I also made lots
of stuff with the silver BSAs and they were very special.
Give it a try - the low key approach sometimes works best.
- How do you get steady work in restaurants, malls, etc.?
How do you introduce yourself?
What you say, how you set your price?
I haven't had to do it in awhile, but what I did to get
started works fine. I put together a letter, outlining benefits and
philosophy, made a really cool sculpture, placed the letter and a
couple of business cards in the paws of the sculpture, and delivered
it to the owner of the restaurant. Once we got the job, we worked
the first night for free: a) to show them what we could do, b) to
see how we'd like it, c) to see what kind of customer base they
had, and d) how the customers responded to us.
- The approach is up to each person, but what I've done is mail
out a letter that details who I am, what I do, and most importantly
what this can help do for the business. I try to follow this up
with a phone call asking for a few minutes in the afternoon with the
owner or manager. Once I've gotten that far, I'll bring some fancy
sculptures as examples (better than pictures, I think), and even
offer to make a couple while I'm there (since part of the
experience is in the making) (and it's helps prove that I made
these, not someone else). I try to expand on my way of working and
thoughts on tipping and such, then I try to get one night as a trial
night (gives me a chance to see if I fit in, and lets them see how
customers react to me). Then we can talk after that.
- I was twisting for only three months when I ordered my first
set of business cards. I came out of the store with them and across
the street was a "Ground Round" (major kiddie restaurant in these
parts). So I walked in the door, asked for the manager, and
proceeded to let him know what a valuable asset I could be to his
establishment. How allowing me to work there to bring in a great
deal more repeat business, and get the word out to those who
haven't frequented them yet, that they should. Start talking about
the dollars that will roll in and you can just picture the way that
manager's eyes roll back in their sockets and how s/he will be
salivating at the thought. Let that manager know that "the going
rate for restaurant entertainment is _____, but I'm only going to
charge you half of that" or something to that extent. Negotiate how
you like, but be sure that manager knows you are DISCOUNTING your
rate for HIM! :o) They like to hear that. Restaurants are a great
way to advertise yourself, so keep that in mind when giving him a
price. In my case, with Ground Round, I told them I'd work for free
with the stipulation that I be allowed to hand out business cards.
Perhaps you may want to take that approach, but follow it up with
"but I'm sure you'd agree that I should be on the payroll to some
extent, due to safety reasons. Personally I LOVE and LIVE for the
tactics of restaurant negotiations. The best part, and the part
that few really consider, is that movement within and between
different restaurants is frequent. So start at one restaurant and
soon the employees or managers who have moved on to other
restaurants will be spreading YOUR name as they go along. Restaurants
may even come knocking on YOUR door! It happened in my case.
- These managers seem to think that the only thing that can be
done with balloons are doggies and rabbits and giraffes! How do I
get them to realize I can do so much more? How do I convince them
that my talent and skills can benefit them? how do I get it across
to them that BALLOONS actually have the CAPACITY to put more BUTTS
A very good question. I hear this
often from many twisters. There IS a solution. May I first say
that what works for some, may not work for all. You may need your
own approach. Bring your portfolio when you meet with them. Maybe
you need to just go into the restaurant and DO IT one night. Here's
my approach. The first thing I try to do is be empathetic; put
yourself in the shoes of that manager. Look at thing the way he
sees it. MONEY!!!! That's it people. They're a business too, and
they are looking to make money. So I approach them, speak with the
manager, and proceed to let them know my various accomplishments.
When I'm done, I let them know that all of that means SQUAT!!!!!!
NOTHING!!!!!! (I'm a little more polite when I say it to them),
because all my accomplishments up to this point have not put a
single penny in their pocket and so why should they even care. It's
easy to say what you can do, but offer doing it, and do
it - once - for FREE!!! (ever look at a manager's eyes when
they hear that word? Forget their eyes, look at their mouths, they
I offer what I call a trial appearance, I come
maybe for an hour or hour and a half for free and do my thing one
night. Be prepared for rejection. They might just plain say no,
but for me most say yes. Hell, the last place had the nerve to even
ADVERTISE IT!!! Now THAT'S a restaurant using every edge they can.
ANYTHING to PULL the people IN. AGAIN, managers are looking to put
more tushies in chairs people. If you're any good, that free trial
will put you over. OK. That's it.
My last little tidbit for awhile. So all of you who are good but
don't know how to start? Now you do. those of you who are only
pretty good? Believe me-what's pretty good to you is GOLD in the
eyes of a manager who sees it's financial potential. Those of you
who are beginners? HEY, PRACTICE! What else can I say to you?
I only knew 21 different things when I approached my first
restaurant. I was just touching intermediate level. But I THOUGHT
I was God's gift to restaurants, walked in, spoke to both top
managers, and after 10 minutes had them scrambling to make a
position for me.
- Realize the potential that our gift offers to the restaurant
industry in terms of financial value. And take advantage of this
opportunity. Don't know about you folks, but here on Long Island
you can't throw a quarter without hitting a 1)laundramat 2) 7-11 or
convenience store and 3)that's right - a restaurant. People need to
eat. People need to be amused. Be prepared for some rejection folks,
but enjoy knowing that each rejection brings you one step closer to
the restauarant that says "YES!"
- After spelling out for the manager exactly how you are going to
help him increase his business (or, as you put it, put more butts
into his empty chairs), what do you do to keep him from taking your
idea, implementing it, but then calling in someone else to do the
work who charges half what you do? (Let's not get into whether or
not the cheaper person can provide the same level of quality.) The
point is the managers THINK they can, and see it as a way to cut the
restaurant's cost even further.) When it fails, then they think it
was the IDEA that was bad, not the method they chose to implement
I had this happen with two different pizzeria's, which is why
I'm asking. (The managers at BOTH places didn't much appreciate it
when I told them why it didn't work out.) Since then, I've pretty
much avoided restaurant work.
- A good question. I guess the true answer is this. Keep in
mind that some things are within your control and some things
aren't. I had this very situation happen to me 2 days ago. I was
forced to leave a restauarnt because whereas I was hired by the
owner of the company, the general manager litereally gave no credit
to the talent I possessed, and believed his hostesses could do the
job if taught a few things. This man had the nerve to make faces at
me when the two of us spoke in an open lobby area (anyone could hear
the conversation) and I TOLD him he was paying for my talent. He
said my salary should come down since the cost of the balloons was
so low. He wasn't paying for balloons, I was. He paid for talent.
His response? YOUR salary is cutting into my personal BONUS! After
hearing him say that, I knew it was a matter of time because he was
going to start making my life miserable. I regret having lost that
restaurant, but I also sit back and ask myself, is this a situation
within my control? Simple answer. NO. I can quit now or be forced
to be miserable (which by the way you CAN'T be in our line of work!)
until he realizes he has to fire me and does it. Stop thinking you
have control or can have control over things. Some things... you
- How to make managers keep from firing you and hiring a lesser
quality person at a cheaper price? Think about it. You can't MAKE
that manager do ANYTHING. It would be nice believe me, but it
doesn't work. The best thing I can recommend, is to come up with
something that encourages the managers of that restaurant to take a
closer examination of you and the talent you bring them. Something
that makes them realize, "ya know, we could get someone cheaper, but
look at the quality of the stuff this guy DOES!" I bring more than
table-to-table balloons. I'm a comedian as well. With me I give a
full blown show, of a professional caliber. I know my performance
refined and good. I have also broken the rules of business
and stayed later sometimes than I should. I'm notorious for
slipping in an extra half hour for free. I don't realize it because
I'm not a clock watcher and I'm just plain having FUN! Also, it
gives me more time to hand out more business cards. The managers
see it and loves it. They see the expressions on their customers'
faces as they go, and they know those customers are coming back
again to see me again. THAT makes the managers happy. REPEAT
BUSINESS! GEEZ!!!! I can really get carried away with this stuff!
Anyway, as far as the prices go, know your going rate for restaurant
entertainment when you enter the restaurant to talk to the manager.
I tell them the going rate for private parties (a 3 figure rate),
then I tell them the going rate for restaurant entertainment
(usually about half of the private party price), then I tell them
how I'm the best twister in my location and looking to work in their
restaurant for about HALF what the going rate is - I explain about
a tip pin I wear, and how the tips I get from the customers will
bring me up in what I make each night.
- The easiest part is to just go in and ask for the manager at a
slow time. Ask if they have had a chance to see a good balloon
twister. Tell them the benefits to having entertainment in their
store and how you can help them. Bring some of your cool stuff in or
ask if you could make them some right on the spot and best of all
you'd be happy to come in this Friday, say 5:30ish, and show them
your stuff. Don't beg for money (ever). Simply tell them you work
- I always offer a free week or two for both of us to see if it
is going to benefit us. Most times if you make clients happy
they'll work with you. The key is being totally polite and
promoting the restaurant. The happier the customers, the more the
restaurant thinks they need you. After the free week or two I ask
for meals and tell them that in six months I'd like to review our
- If your market is bare w/o a lot of competition, tell them
you'll give them a trial run. At that point you can figure out which
restaurants dish out the best tips and have the steadiest business.
At that point pick the ones you want to stay with and let they other
ones know that at this point you'll be unable to entertain at their
restaurant but perhaps in the next 6 months you'll be able to help
them with that. I always like to leave an open door- at that point
they may even offer to pay you- be ready to evaluate if you're ready
to totally commit to the nights they want you there.
- I would go to the restaurant with samples of what I do. I
wouldn't take much time, just drop them off with the receptionist or
cashier along with a business card. Then if I didn't hear from them
within a week, I would call back. It is much easier for someone to
not call back than to say no to someone. Your chances increase when
you are talking to them that they will give it a try, especially if
your samples were good.
- I find that if when I approach the Manager to make a sale of my
services that if I make a demonstration at that time with some of
his customers, it is usually not necessary to offer the free night.
- I agree with everyone's advice about selling to the manager/owner
about what you can do for THEM! Not necessarily the customers, but
the restaurant owners.
- Have you offered to work there just for tips to practice on a
live audience? If so, it doesn't matter that you don't get tips.
Personally I wouldn't ever work for just tips. Things are probably
different in the USA but UK audiences are not big tippers. But if
that is the case, it doesn't matter how little you get, you are
being given a venue, an audience and the prestige of association
with the venue that money cannot buy. The work you should be picking
up for private parties and corporate events by direct contact with
customers from all walks of life is advertising that you cannot buy.
- All this assumes that it is a suitable venue with potential for
growth and the demographics of the clientele suggest likely
rebookings. Apart from the practice, there is no sense working free
at a low grade establishment where diners are unlikely to tip or of
a lifestyle that means they are worthless contacts for further
work. A more 'up scale' restaurant will have wealthier diners, from
a professional background and, even if the restaurant isn't paying
much (or at all), the tips and resulting bookings will eventually
- My 15 years old daughter works for tips only, 1-5 times per
month, at a family, all-you-can-eat, Mexican restaurant.
Getting a restaurant proved to be easy for her. Of, course I
can't guarantee this will work for you, but here is every
step we took to land a restaurant:
- Bought insurance to cover ballooning.
- Practiced at a nursing home (We wanted to be sure that her
arrangement for holding balloons, pump, cutter, pens, and sticks was
practical.) Working the nursing home was a lot of fun. At first the
residents were concerned that they didn't have money to tip, but
finally someone got up the courage to ask for the price. I assured
her a very big tip was required -- one big smile. The word spread
around the room like wildfire and soon nearly everyone wanted
- Made business cards.
- Made a few fairly simple examples (rose, teddy bear
with heart, etc.) and put them on sticks.
- At about 4:00 we went to the first restaurant -- the manager
was not there -- we left an example and cards. We never heard back
- We went to the 2nd restaurant. The manager saw us
and said, "That would be good for my customers." He hired her on the
spot for the next weekend -- it was Valentine's weekend. Asking to
work a holiday weekend was probably a good thing. I think it
made him more responsive.
- She now works this restaurant or another in the chain for
tips 1 - 2 weekends per month. (She is not on their payroll. It is
simpler at age 14-15 not to be on a payroll.) They provide a free
meal for the two of us.
Before she got to working a lot more at "her" restaurant we took
pre-made balloons into a a few other places. Many places said it was
their corporate policy not to have people working for tips in their
restaurant, or they did not want to hire a balloonist at this time.
(However, some of the restaurants that said it was corporate policy
not-to-hire, have balloonists on this list working for others in the
chain. So, it may be just a quick answer to get you to leave.)
McDonalds would have hired her at an hourly wage. But when they
found out she was only 14 they said, "Come back when you are 16."
Half the places said she could not work for corporate policy
reasons. Many didn't reply to the balloons and business cards we
left (You really need to talk to the person making the decisions!),
one gave a, "I'll call you if I need you," response. One said, "no."
The remainder said yes. Of the restaurants where we were able to
talk to the manager and they didn't have a corporate policy against
it, more than half wanted her. We found it amazingly easy to get a
- Make sure that you meet with the person who makes hiring
decisions. I've had a number of meetings with "managers" who told me
they would have to talk to the "regional manager" to make a
decision. That's a waste of time.
- I am not yet sure how you can go into a resturant and convice a
manager that you can bring them so many extra customers. Does
anyone have any figures from a resturant manager that shows an
increase in business because there is an entertainer there? This
would be a great tool for selling entertaiment to a resturant. I
would love to get my hands on such figures.
- I put together a flier made up from quotes from restaurant
managers who employ twisters. I simply called them up, told them I
was from the local paper and said I was working on a story about
restaurants that bring in entertainment for children. They were
more than happy to provide me with lots of information on how
bringing in a twister/magician has improved guest satisfaction, X
percentage of business increase, improved word of mouth, and a host
of other information. They, of course, thought they were going to
be quoted in the paper. Of course you shouldn't mention any
personal names in your flyer (that might bring legal trouble), but I
did use the names of the restaurants.
- I go into the entire sales approach in my tape, but basically
you want to sell the additional benefits to having entertainment at
the store. If you sell an increase in business, and the increase
isn't readily demonstrated, you'll likely get the bum's rush in
short order. What benefits can be immediately promised? How about
providing a unique environment available nowhere else, help to keep
guests occupied during long waits for food (particularly during
mistakes in the kitchen), and keeping guests from leaving when they
are cooling their heels in the waiting area.
- I have found that the best time to approach management re:
twisting is when they are not at their busiest (2pm - 4pm).
They will enjoy being entertained.
I think it's okay to do it when you are a customer, too.
I usually find that I have to visit a place more than once
for a manager to commit, especially if they have
never had entertainment in the restaurant.
The best thing to do is to feel it out.
- Six months ago I stopped at a restaurant and the manager
told me he wasn't interested. I stopped again last week,
and he wouldn't even come out from the back to say hello.
I took a hint. Even if I don't get a routine job, I try to
stop by when they're not busy so they know me. That might
make them hire me for a promotion or they may recommend me
for their neighbor's birthday party.
- Do your homework and check out restaurants that could use your
talent. Make sure it's a restaurant that could really use you.
Think about WHY they need you.
- Being a busy place is not the only criteria.
See if there is room for you.
Are the tables really tight together?
Are you going to get in the way of the servers?
- When you find a place, call first and ask for the General
Manager NOT ANY OTHER MANAGER. It's the General Manager who makes
- These are VERY BUSY PEOPLE. Don't pass in 35 pages of long
local articles about you. Develop a simple brochure that says in a
concise way that you are a professional that works hard and
enhances any place where you appear.
- I did the first night for free, the owner was more than willing
to pay, but I did it for 2 reasons: so that _I_ knew I'd like it
there, and so they could see what I can do in action.
- I approach management, let them know the going rate for
restaurant entertainment, and then tell them I'm willing to work for
a largely discounted rate. I explain that I have a cute little
comical tip pin I wear. This puts the idea of tips into the
customer's head and what they tip me makes the difference. The
management DOES NOT HAVE TO KNOW what you make per night in tips,
and the customers do not have to know what the restaurant pays you.
Everyone is happy this way: you get the going rate when tips and
salary are combined (sometimes more!), management gets a huge
discount on the price. The customers get some great balloons and are
willing to put a few dollars in your pocket for it. EVERYONE IS
- Some of us get our jobs by simply walking into a restaurant and
starting to twist. Yes, I've received good work from doing this,
however; I've never done it with the intent of getting a job. I've
been sitting around experimenting with friends and family and, not
knowing what else to do with all the critters, given them to the
wait staff, or to a table with a few kids near by (after asking the
parents if it would be OK for their kids to adopt a few critters).
I'm very careful in these situations to make it clear that I'm just
having fun and NOT working. If it would appear that I'm upsetting
the management, the balloons head south. However; more often than
not, the manager will come over and strike up a conversation. NOW is
not the time to start dealing for a job. What you've done is
cracked that door open and made a contact. Explain what it is you do
and how it can be a benefit, but you ARE out for dinner and would
love to make an appointment to come back and talk in greater detail.
- Anyone who walks into a restaurant and starts _WORKING_
*is* asking for trouble and likely to find it. As a manager, I
would find someone coming into my restaurant and working tables
offensive and worthy of immediate ejection. Also, it's annoying
when the twisting or popping balloons disturbs other patrons, or if
the twisters leave a bulky mess of balloons around, or if someone
came in and started doing this just before a rush time when I wanted
to be turning the tables over.
- I get restaurant work by scoping out the place first to see if
it is appropriate. If it is, then I eat there, and make a few
balloons for the wait staff. (Actually, wherever I eat, I make
balloons for the wait staff. You get better service that way.) I
talk to the staff to find out if they have had entertainment in the
past, or have it now. I will not take another entertainers job that
way, and have turned down a few ritzy jobs for this reason. If they
seek me out, themselves, I have no problem with it, but I don't
poach. I ask the wait staff lots of questions, like who the
appropriate manager is, when is the best time to approach the
manager, etc. Usually a member of management drops by the table any
how. I make an appointment to see the appropriate people, and bring
my promo material. I usually bring a nice creation with me and
leave it at the restaurant at the time of the interview. It
doesn't always work, but I have four restaurants right now. I never
work just for tips. I always clear it with the management so that I
can accept tips, and hand out business cards. Customers ask if my
balloons cost money, I say no, not to you, the management of the
restaurant has hired me to make sure that you get one, (or some
similar line of propaganda). If they like what I do, I ask them to
thank the manager. If they don't like what I do, I tell them my
name is Brad (it's not :-).
- As for getting hired by the establishment itself, yes, it's
happened to me. I don't expect it, but if an employee really gets
into what I'm playing with, it's not unusual for them to point it
out to the manager. I then let the manager know who I am, and offer
to send my promotional stuff. If the manager asks more questions on
the spot, I'm ready to sell myself. In most cases I figure it's
just better for them to know who I am when I send material to them,
and I try to talk to them later.
- Your approach with the management depends on what level of
twister you are. For example; when you do romantic balloons, do
you get the 'Ahhh' reaction? (when people see them, they say
"Ahhh"). Now assuming you do, this is how I go about
it and about 80 percent of the time, and it works:
For restaurants, ask to be seated in a waiters section (you can
kinda flirt with him, very low key, obviously just for fun [I always
ask for a waitress]). Before you order anything more than just a
drink, ask him if he's got a spouse/ significant other, and if so
you... have a present for him (if he says he doesn't, tell you'll
give him something to attract him one). Make him something romantic
from your 'SAY AHHH Collection' and make him a gift of it. I've
found that if I tell them I normally sell that balloon for 5
C-shells or so it will get the idea across that they can be bought.
Then wait for others to ask you what you can make and how much. A
slow to moderately busy restaurant with lots of wait staff works
best with this ploy, you generally get responses right away. If the
manager starts to grumble, if it's not something like 'Get out!'
(very rare), then offer to make them a balloon. Tell them you will
not go around to sell them, but ask if it's okay if you sell them to
those who come to you.
In Bares, it is a lot easier to get permission from the management.
Just go in before they get busy with some of your romantic and
risque pieces in hand and ask if you can sell them. Tell the manager
the balloons go for 1 to 20 C-shells, with the average around 5
C-shells. Dress nice like the rose sellers -- clowns don't work as
well in bars. Be very business-like, bars are there just to bring
in the buck. Once you're in, teddy bears, motorcycles, hearts,
flowers and x-rated balloons will sell fast.
- When I'm out eating on my own, I almost never pay for dinner
out of my pocket and I usually have $20.00-$100.00 more than I
- The range of pay for restaurant workers is enormous. I've
heard numbers everywhere from 0 (working for tips only) to 150
C-shells/hour. The area you live in and the type of restaurant you
work for will affect the amount you make.
- Charge for your work. Even if it is a nominal fee
10-20 C-shells an hour. People associate price with value.
If you offer to do it for 'free' all the time it seems to me
you don't value your time very much. I know you can make tips,
but the one thing I found in restaurants people are getting
hit from every angle for tips. If you can get the money from
the establishment and inform the people your services are 'on
the house' it takes away the tension. People still tip but
you don't have to hustle them. It is a win-win situation.
You have a place to showcase your skills, the restaurant has
something extra to give the customer. In this day and age,
the more someone can get for their buck, the happier they are.
- I charge 25 C-shells an hour
plus my balloon expenses. I know that this is not a large amount.
In fact, this is by far the least I make hourly for any
entertainment I do. But it is exposure to more of the family
public, and business people. The second night I was at this
restaurant, I entertained at a table with a man who asked for
my card. The next week he called and interviewed me for the
largest paper in our area. He did quite a large article on my
company plus a picture of me with some balloon creations. You
cannot put a price on that type of free publicity.
- I do some restaurant work and I do not work for tips. I
discussed this with the manager and we both agreed that it
was not the way to go in this situation. I do not want the
people to feel obligated to pay me tips, because I don't like
that feeling when it is reversed. I also do not want to
begin to try to 'milk' the customer out of money. I am not
saying that every performer does this, but perhaps I happen
to know my own personality enough to stay clear of this
- When people ask me how much balloons are, I tell them that
they are 'compliments of the restaurant.' They usually still
tip me. I never say that I work for tips because it puts the
- IMHO, if you have been working two months and have a
proven track record (customers returning on a regular basis), talk
to the management and see what type of deal you can work out. If you
can get money up front from the restaurant it frees you up to perform.
- Customers are sometimes
uncomfortable when they know you're working for tips... they feel
obligated and put on the spot. (And that is so true!!) How my heart
sinks when I got waved away from tables full of sad children because
the parents weren't willing -or- in a position to pay. You have the
choice: stand there and make free balloons (and set an example for
other customers...) while at the same time, people are waving dollar
bills at you from across the (packed) room.
- I would only feel comfortable doing a restaurant gig if they
paid me separately. I would always get paid the same (hourly) and
if it was slow, I could visit with the regulars. If it is busy I
would make sure to visit EACH and EVERY table, and at least say hi,
and give the kids balloons.
- Being paid by the restaurant is an advantage, IMHO
a major advantage. I act as a diplomat and representative of the
restaurant, and to have to do so on a tips-only basis would be a
handicap to me.
- I approach every table and offer complimentary balloon
creations. If they ask how much (and they do) I tell them that the
restuarant has hired me to entertain all their dinner customers on
Saturday nights. I make some one-balloon creations but mostly fast
two or three balloon designs (mostly 160s). Most people ask for my
card. They like my entertainment and since the restaurant has hired
me, they are more interested in also hiring me.
- I have a
simple contract for paying restaurants - if they'll pay it is good
to have some sort of agreement in writing as to how and when they
will pay you.
- At the present time, I have two restaurants. An upscale
restaurant where I do Sunday Brunch time - 11 to 1. I get
paid a base and I can accept tips but not wear any sign.
My other restaurant is a Hardees. I get a base fee and I do
not accept tips. I am hardly ever offered any, but that's
okay, it's a light-hearted gig. I have lots of fun and I
book lots of birthday parties from it. I also use it as a
place for prospective clients to come and see me 'in action.'
- While working at McD's, being paid by the hour... A McD
employee and a manager were standing off to the side when a kid
walked up to me and asked how much the balloons were. The french fry
pusher next to me yelled "They're free!" I immediately replied,
"They are VERY expensive, but McDonald's is paying for them so you
can have them." The manager looked at me and smiled then turned to
the employee and said, "That is the right way to say it." The little
boy took his balloon and carefully carried it to his mother. Free is
not worth anything. Put a value on it and people treat things
- I also claim there is a charge for my balloons (when I am
already being paid by the host), The charge is that you have to say
please and thank you (*pause*) and you have to be nice to your
brothers and sisters (*pause*) and you have to make your bed and
clean your room everyday (*pause*) and on and on. Every now and
again I'll take it all the way to the kid having to do the yardwork,
laundry and all household chores. Once in a while some kid will
decide that the fee is too excessive and leave the line! Ha ! The
parents love it because they have heard the kid promise to do these
things and they will get into the act by ribbing the kid about all
the stuff they now have to do.
- If I am hired by a restaurant (or anyone) - I make darn sure
that to the best of my ability every kid in the place that wants a
ballon gets a balloon. I do make the establishment pay well for
that since it will probably be "no-holds-barred everyone gets what
they want" for the time I am there. I will refuse tips unless there
are just very insistant - and a lot of people are insistant. I
pulled in an extra hundred bucks one Mother's day at a fancy
restaurant and I that came from people who would be offended if I
did not take their money. Go figure.
- The tips are just the frosting on the cake. I am paid a very
nice wage for the two hour personal marketing effort. And I get lots
of attention and applause every Saturday. And most importantly, I get
lots and lots of bookings from restaurant customers.
- In general, too many restaurant workers are trying to come up
with blatant ways to beg for tips. The answer may be to simply ask
the management for more money! People go to a restaurant to eat, not
to see us. We are a pleasant addition, and often create regular
customers, but WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL OBLIGATED TO
TIP! To do so makes us look cheap, and then we complain when nobody
wants to hire us at a decent rate for other gigs. Wearing money on
our sleeve? Buttons? Tip "suggestions"?! How crass. Hinting at tips
is great if you are making the money solely by "busking." But those
of us who are experienced at this venue should not be advising
beginning and intermediate restaurant workers to hustle people who
are trying to enjoy drinks and dinner. I've been working
restaurants for years and never rely on tips. Oh, sure, I take 'em
at times, but more often than not I leave them for the wait staff.
- Because I am on the restaurant's "payroll" while I am there, I
do not quote any prices when asked how much (frequently) but tell
them to call me. If people offer me a tip, I first say it is not
necessary but do accept tips if they insist. I don't hang around the
table waiting. Often people find me and hand me a tip and that is a
nice signal for the new table to also tip.
- "If the resturant is paying the entertainer, then you are
paying higher prices for the food." Yes, this is true... but at
least you will not be put into a pressured situation at the time of
your dinner, and if you decide to tip their entertainment it would
be because you wanted to, not because you felt you had to.
Psychologically it is a much better situation to have the cost of
the entertainment built into the menu, then to have to have extras
taken out here and there from the customers pocket.
- "If the resturant is paying the entertainer, then you are
paying higher prices for the food." For the most part I disagree
with that statement. Most, or I should say All of my restaurants
that I am booked in are chain restaurants. If the chain restaurant
pays a balloon twister it does not allways mean that the food
prices will rise. It is just like hiring an extra dishwasher or a
bus boy. Plus that restaurant is one in a chain of restaurants so
hiring one twister will hardly make an impact in there finances
that they would have to raise food prices.
- If a restaurant hires a twister today, the prices probably
won't go up tomorrow. But I am sure that at the end of the month
there is a balance drawn between cost and income. These figures are
all that the upper managment look at. Unless the entertainer brings
in so many extra customers that it works out, some day the upper
managment will say "our costs have increased, our profit has
decreased. Either we raise our prices or fire some people."
- Dad used to own a restaurant.
The twisters fee is usually deducted from advertising. Some chain
restaurants have a small discretionary fund built in, and this is
used to pay the fee. The cost of food is usually less than one
third the cost of running the place.
- They have an advertising and entertaining budget. I know of at
least one restaurant chain that pays. They write it off against
profits, and pay less taxes. Besides, it's great advertising for
- When we go out, I know how much money I've "budgeted" for this,
especially if it's a place that we've been before. It's
semi-finite (especially since I'm not independently wealthy yet :)
Putting myself in the customers shoes, I've always figured that
having to tip the entertainer is an extra expense. In these cost
conscious days when everyone seems to be looking for a deal, it
could be a factor. I'm afraid that potential repeat customers will
say "hey.. let's go out to eat!" "remember that great place with the
magic guy that does balloons? let's go there" "ok, let's see it was
$X for the meal, %15 of $X to tip the server, then $Y to tip the
entertainer... hmmmm that's a lot, let's go somewhere else." Does
this happen? I'm not sure, but I could see the potential for it.
- This won't be a popular opinion, but I don't blame the people.
They came to the restuarant to enjoy food, drinks, and the company
of their friends, family, etc. The balloons are generally a pleasant
surprise and create a unique environment, but should not be an added
expense for the guest.
Is it customary to tip? Certainly. But they should not be expected
to pay. That is why I will only work if the store pays me.
I understand that you will build a following of people who have seen
you before and understand that a tip is in order. That's not the
point. If you work for tips, some people will feel neglected, others
will feel pressured, either by you or their kids. And that won't
make 'em happy. If you DON'T get tipped after doing some nice work,
you'll feel bad, and it will show in your work.
- I completely agree with this line of thought, not only as a
full time professional entertainer but as a Mom of 4. It is very
uncomfortable to go out to a family restaraunt for an economical
and enjoyable meal to have the cost go up unexpectedly... or to
have to quit patronizing a restaurant because I now know the
entertainment there expects tips which I simply can't afford with
four kids in tow.
Part of the point of having entertainment in a restaurant is to
attract more customers... if that is what the restaruants want
then they should have to pay for that as they would any
advertisement or promotion that would result in more clients, not
force the customer to pay for it. I have heard many complaints
from people recently, as a mom and as a clown, about some of the
local restaurants that have twisters working for tips. They feel,
as I do, very pressured when going to this restaurant and have
discontinued patronizing it. That is a shame as it has a negative
effect on the restaraunts business and on balloon twisters in
general. It is much more enjoyable to be able to give a tip
because you WANT to, then because you HAVE to.