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Why are we different?

Discussion in 'The Business of Clowning' started by StuartPid, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. StuartPid

    StuartPid Administrator/Pickles' Lady in Waiting

    I was reading Pickles thread about a slow paying client and it stirred in me some repressed anguish I have been experiencing lately. Willace posed the question of why do people think they can get away with treating us unprofessionally. Why are we different from dentists, doctors, mechanics or any other service provider?? Here is the situation I have been finding myself in lately... what would you do??

    I do very little advertising and the majority of my shows are booked via word of mouth. When i first moved to Little Rock I did a one year birthday for an Indian family and from that have booked several other events... I have had issues with this same problem at nearly every one...

    The father informed me they would like me to start at 7pm. I told him my part of the party would last one hour (7-8), magic show followed by balloons and face painting (my fiance paints while I twist) In further texts with address and confirmation of date and time he said "See you at 6:30!" He was a bit high strung so I thought perhaps they had someone before who had shown up late so he wanted me there early just in case. No big deal I was planning on being there at 6:50, whats 20 minutes if it put him at ease.
    When we arrived at a few minutes before 6:30 we found the father and the grandfather decorating for the party. We set up and waited... and waited... At 7 it was still just us and the 2 gentlemen. So we waited... SLOWLY guests started to arrive and there were finally enough kids to actually start the show at about 7:40. I did the show and started into the face painting and balloon portion of my time (which had now come and gone) We had to shut down the lines for the cake cutting and a few other events. They had more kids than we had discussed and it was 9:30 before we were done. My one hour had grown to three. We finished, they thanked us for doing a great job, no thanks for all the extra time and the delayed start... and NO tip... THIS BLEW MY MIND! They had me there for 2 hours longer than we discussed and NOT EVEN A THANK YOU let alone a tip.
    It is not my problem if your guests are late, or if you are just running behind yourself. My time is my time and it was supposed to start at 7 and last for 1 hour per our agreement. But how do you say that to a client? Do you walk out with half done balloons and say sorry tough luck? The children wouldn't understand.
    Do you go to the mechanic and pay them for one hour of labor but expect them to drop and rebuild your engine?
    How do you walk the line of customer service and understanding with out being abused and taken advantage of?
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  2. Ronny Ronito

    Ronny Ronito New Member

    I cannot understand why you think they should tip you?
    They pay the rate you quoted for the party and that should be it.
    I do understand that you went WAY beyond the time you should have stayed, but EXPECTING a tip seems a little odd.
    The 'mechanic' would have contacted you and explained the engine needs to come out and it's going to cost more. Perhaps you should explain to the client that an hour is 60 minutes, if they want you to stay longer they will have to pay more.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
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  3. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Sean, my question is why you would leave without saying something. My quotes always say that I charge an extra $$$ for every 30 minutes required. So, when it comes time to be paid, if I see I have been at the party for two extra hours, I give the new total.

    Also, before I stay that extra time, I try to seek out the person who hired me to let them know that if they want me to finish all of the kids, I will need more time and that will cost more money. If I saw that I was getting started 45 minutes later than scheduled, I would ask before starting how they wanted to handle the situation. Cut out the magic show, skip the balloons, stay overtime, etc. Give them the options so they aren't surprised at the end when you hand them the bill.
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  4. StuartPid

    StuartPid Administrator/Pickles' Lady in Waiting

    This has been my experience in the past with decent clients who understand that my time is valuable and that I went above and beyond to service them, they tip as a thanks and to show appreciation. When someone goes above and beyond in their services you tip them. If your waitress does a great job of taking care of you, you tip them. If you keep someone 2 hours longer than your agreed time and they don't demand extra pay... you ought to at least tip them. Had I EXPECTED to be tipped I would have simply told the man he owed me more money. I am more bothered by the fact that the idea hadn't even crossed his mind and he had no problem with the fact that he was way over his time and had no intention of doing anything about it, not even a thank you. The point of this thread is not "Oh poor me I didnt get tipped waaa waaaa.." It is why do people think that we should be treated different and that our times and our rates are not flexible and how do we get that point across in a friendly non confrontational way.

    Do you ever have issues with people not wanting to pay for the extra time Toony? Try to say that you should just be faster and that you are going too slow and trying to over charge them?
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  5. Snoetje

    Snoetje Well-Known Member

    I guess people just don't think about it, they have other things in their head.
    In the drawing world it's far worse, there people constantly ask to work for free or supercheap.
  6. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    I have a party coming up in two weeks where the customer has said they want 2 hours and no more. They said they would have between 20 and 30 kids and wanted both face painting and balloons. I said that if 30 kids show up and they all want their faces painted there wouldn't be time for balloons.
  7. Pookie

    Pookie Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Ronny!!

    I am also of a mind that if you think that you should get a tip of a certain amount, why not just charge that extra amount? Some may answer "Maybe the customer would not hire me then." If that is the case, it is possible that we may need to rethink how much our time/service is worth.
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  8. Fitzwilly

    Fitzwilly COAI Secretary

    I think this thread is starting to diverge into two separate topics. The original focus is why is the value we place on our time not seen the same way by clients? The second is more about the tipping process; do you as an entertainer not think about perhaps getting a tip, hope you get a tip or expect to get a tip.

    In Sean's posts he clarifies that he doesn't expect tips at every party, nor that he is complaining that he didn't get such and such for a tip. His two posts really seem to be saying that in his experience the cultural norm was that when you felt someone when above and beyond the call of duty it was a common gesture to give them a little extra. The went for him as a receiver of services (say at a restaurant, where he would tip an extra attentive wait-person) and for him as a service provider.

    I will not bring up the little fact that Sean moved from Iowa to Hillbilly Haven, Oh I mean Arkansas.

    Having entertained at parties hosted by a wide variety of ethnicities from a number of different cultures I see part of Sean's trouble coming from two different cultures interacting without knowing/realizing there were different viewpoints on how to throw a proper party.

    When I discuss arrangements I have added a note to remind me to ask when the guests are expected to arrive. Then I discuss/suggest having Fitzwilly arrive about 30 minutes AFTER the guests so that as they arrive the birthday child is the focus of attention and if any of the children are running late they won't miss the magic show, or whatever activity I plan to start with. I find this more important to discuss with some cultures than others. This isn't because they don't respect me or what I do, it is because they are used to time being less of an issue when celebrating. I neglected to bring up this point when I was hired by a co-worker a few weeks ago. I ended up with a situation something like Sean's. I knew I wasn''t going to get a tip, I wasn't expecting one. But the thought in the back of my head was that I would have felt the entertainer deserved a little something for what they did. And that is really the crux isn't it. Because of our personal history we see things one way, and it is not always the same way our clients see things. So we try to clarify as much as possible ahead of time. But there is bound to be something from time to time that trips us up.
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  9. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    I have noted (in speaking with a wider range of entertainers, also) that those who come from certain cultures also feel a need to be getting the better end of the bargain or something more out of a deal and negotiation. I even know some who begin their discussions by quoting a higher fee for services, knowing that the potential client calling will likely not be willing to accept their initial proposal; and, therefore, feel they must do so to get back to their regular rate as an agreeable cost for booking. This may, simply, be something which has to be factored in sometimes in negotiations, unfortunately.
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  10. StuartPid

    StuartPid Administrator/Pickles' Lady in Waiting

    But how do you draw the fine line between, I am here to have fun and create amazing memories for your child and, hey buddy your friends are late and the meter is running...

    So lets say your time is up but not everyone is done so you ask if they would like to pay you to stay longer and they say no. Do you just pack it up and leave too bad for those who were left out? Those children and their parent have no idea what your agreement was with the client and now you look like a dick who left without finishing the job.
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  11. Fitzwilly

    Fitzwilly COAI Secretary

    A couple of the things I do that help, not solve but help, are to make something fancier for the birthday child and then simplify creations for the other children so I am not that much overtime. This is a balancing act that can be a pain in the neck sometimes. It does encourage me to practice. The other thing, and this works better at corporate events is to mention that my time is almost up/already up and that I will finish everyone but I am only making XXX.
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  12. StuartPid

    StuartPid Administrator/Pickles' Lady in Waiting

    See I am just worried parents would walk away going "this guy sucks all he can make is dogs"
  13. Cardboard

    Cardboard New Member

    Great topic. From the little I know of Indian culture its a no no to give or receive anything extra like tips, interest in checking/savings accounts, etc. But then those same clients will try to get you to lower your fee, which is kind of like getting something for nothing isn't it? I make it clear in agreement letters that late arriving/more than agreed upon guests will be accommodated only as my schedule permits and that there will be a higher fee. Some hosts are mindful of that and will either pay us for the extra time or thank us for coming and send us on our way. Some hosts are not mindful and expect us to work longer for the same fee. They wouldn't appreciate it if we were late to their event because we stayed longer at a previous one but they want us to do it for them. Fitz was right, doing that balancing act is a pain in the neck!
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  14. Cool Fool

    Cool Fool Clown

    “I said 7, NOT 6:30, sir."

    This is indeed a great topic. I have had clients that have not been ready for me when the previously agreed time to perform had arrived. I have had clients, booked through a third party that stated they had paid for me to remain for the entire party, knowing full well that I was not being hired for that, but a finite time period.

    I always quote a particular amount of time, and number of guests that I can handle for that time. Any variations on that require further compensation. I always make sure that the client is aware of these limits and consequences. More children, extra travel, not ready (making me wait for guests, etc.); all result in more remuneration. I treat all clients the same regardless of culture, or anything (hue, creed, planet of origin, number opposable phalanges, etc.) else. If they are not amenable to pay for the extras, I do not agree to work for them.

    I called a client, whose house I drove up to, noticing that her guests had not yet arrived to the outdoor party tent, and told her I would be back in a half hour. I explained that the show would start then, regardless, and that the fee would remain the same unless she wished for me to delay or extend my previously agreed length of show. She was grateful, and agreed to the half hour delay, but no more. I neither asked for, expected, or received any extra remuneration. I have also been tipped an extra $25 for absolutely nothing other than the client was very pleased with my show. I know this thread isn’t about tips. It is about boundaries and expectations, of both performer and clients.

    “I said 7, NOT 6:30, sir. If you cannot provide me with an audience, perhaps you need to engage another entertainer.” would be one way. There are many different ways to approach these tribulations. I hope you find one or some that work for you, Stu.

    I know how I would have handled Stu’s situation. And Stu’s mileage differs from mine.

    How should you handle similar future situations? The stream can be diverted to where the horses are and they still might not drink. Communication is key. Standing firm with your rates, limits and consequences are important. What you will bear will vary, just as what the market does, as well. Bon chance, good luck, bump that nose. Keep clam and carry out.:seltzer:
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  15. Cool Fool

    Cool Fool Clown

    The real answer to the original question is: Because most people imagine that we sit around dressed up in slap and clown clothes just waiting for the phone to ring. And that clowning for their group is really just a load of fun and games, not really work, requiring no special experience, training or qualifications. So there.
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  16. Fitzwilly

    Fitzwilly COAI Secretary

    I thought you only made dogs to begin with?

    You combat that by making something really cool for the birthday child first thing, then you taper off to mid level twisting and then when you are ready to leave, its dogs and swords guys.

    I sure wish the laugh button still worked. Great post CoolFool!
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
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  17. Cool Fool

    Cool Fool Clown

    Your kind words go not unappreciated, Fitzwilly. I prefer to keep it simple for the guests and then present the birthday honoree with the fancy twist at the end. I have found that starting with fancy, everyone wants that and that can lead to way more time than the client or I bargained for. I attended a corporate event in Finland once, a character costume of the company's trademark big yellow cat was twisting for the children. He simply asked "Kissa tai koira?" (Cat or dog?). That was it. No unhappy children, either. Beaming little Finns everywhere. Finns to the left, Finns to the right and I's the only...

    And as the laugh button goes, can we pass the hat to fund research that may illuminate the cause and possibly the cure?
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  18. Special K'z

    Special K'z Well-Known Member

    How ironic is it that yours was the first copy or a contract that I ever used. Unless this was last minute I guess my big question is why didn't you ask him to sign one? Cool Fool's communication - A contract is the first step to insuring that all that communication is all spelled out. No more questions. I will be the first to admit I haven't used them a whole lot at private parties but of course I still live in good old Iowa.;)
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  19. Simply Knute

    Simply Knute Well-Known Member

    Definitely a cultural thing. I live in Columbus, IN home of Cummins Engine Company. They make diesel engines for semis, busses, and trains. I would say 10% of our population are foreign engineers, and a good portion of those are Indian. The Indian culture is very bargain focused. Even in retail stores they try to talk prices down. When I was serving at a local restaurant, you were lucky to get a 5% tip out of them. They definitely want the better end of the deal every time. This culture, in my experience, usually has an attitude that everyone owes them something as well.

    As for the tip conversation, I'd hate to be a server at the restaurants that ronny and pookie frequent.. I can see it now. "I paid $15 for this steak why should I give the server money for doing their job?" What a lot of people don't realize is that for servers, the minimum wage in most states is $2.13 an hour. That money usually goes to cover taxes on their tips, Most servers bring home paychecks that say $0.00 on them.

    That being said, I don't expect tips when I'm performing, but the time or two that I have received them, I've been very grateful! I don't think it's wrong of Sean, after working an extra 2 hours above the quoted time for no extra fees, to be a little honked off that the client didn't even thank him. Although, I'm not sure that I would bend over backwards for clients who I know probably don't understand how customer service works.

    I may be scarce these days, but I'm not gone! :)
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  20. CorinePerez

    CorinePerez New Member

    Birthdays are pretty complex especially when you have a whole party planned. Dressing up as clown for kids is tiresome but when they laugh, all that becomes totally worth it.

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