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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Turn Key Parties? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

muzicman
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LaCenter, Wa
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This is where the magician supplies everything for a magic themed party. Plates, napkins, balloons, paper table cloth, plastic top hats filled for the munchies, ect.
Buy in bulk, sell for retail. Compete with the local party store.


I think some busy parents would welcome a turn key party where all they supply is the cake and the food and drink. Work out a deal with Dominos or Pizza Hut and you could even profit on that for a true "turn key party". As a parent, I would pay extra to have it all done for me. I wonder how many 2 income families feel the same way?
Spellbinder
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The Holy City of East Orange, NJ
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Been there; done that. Rather than compete with the local party store, I worked hand-in-hand with them so I didn't have to stock large quantities of anything, but bought my supplies from them at 10% above wholesale. I also advertised at the party shop with posters, and many other party shops in other areas would let me advertise in their shops even though I wasn't getting my supplies from them, because I offered them a kick-back from each show they sent me. Party magic is a business. Learn the party business; you already know the magic.
Professor Spellbinder

Professor Emeritus at the Turkey Buzzard Academy of Magik, Witchcraft and Wizardry

http://www.magicnook.com

Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
Skip Way
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Eddie Wade specializes in this type of marketing and has some great "Party in a Box" ideas. Sadly, I don't have his contact information handy. Donald? Dennis? You guys out there?

Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Dennis Michael
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I tried that, and to do that means increased pricing. That becomes a turn off. It's kind of like buying a car. There is the base price and when you're done with the additions you paid more than what a turn-key car would have cost.

There are a lot of variables here. My advice is to try it. It is the only way to find out if it works in your area.

I had a turn key Magic Party, and girls wanted princess parties, boys wanted Star Wars, Sponge Bob, Incrediables, Scooby-Do parties. So eventually I dropped the turn-key magic party and just gave them the magic show, for the party type of their choice.
Dennis Michael
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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An artist must draw the line somewhere if he wants to be respected, and selling napkins says you are a retailer, and not a performance artist.
Al
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
muzicman
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LaCenter, Wa
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Thanks for all your feedback. It is something I have been thinking about and I believe it would increase bookings as well as income. Being an artist is only half the job juggleral. You must also be a businessman. If you are good at one but not the other, you will not have the success rate you seek. Anyone that's a parent that has put together a birthday party from scratch knows there are many details if you want a successful party. With todays busy families, it just may be the easiest way to increase bookings as well as profits. I would even supply the invitations that fit in with the theme. I don't think I would do multiple themes like Power Rangers or Princess parties...just magic!
jimgerrish
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East Orange, NJ
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Doing business one way doesn't mean you have to stop doing business the other way. These are NOT contradictory terms. You are simply offering a different choice. You can have your regular party price: Let's say for argument's sake it is $200. That's what you get for showing up at the door as a magician, doing your magic show, picking up your check and leaving. Why should that stop you from OFFERING, as a customer SERVICE, a complete party package for (say) $350? They either want it, or they don't. It's their choice, but the magician who gives them such choices is a business person simply because that magician knows what "added value" and "Customer service" and "Customer Satisfaction" are all about.

I also worked shows the way Spellbinder describes, and it didn't matter to me if they wanted a "Mickey Mouse theme" or a "Cinderella Theme" (I'm dating us, Spellbinder!), because we got all of our party stuff from the party store where they had every kind of theme in stock. We got our discount from them, not from being a big wholesaler, but from treating the party store as a middleman supplier for our magic businesses. Since we were both cozy with the party shop, we often advertised it on our brochures, just as they advertised us as party magicians. We didn't make as much on the party stuff, but the customer paid full retail and still got a "deal" paying less than they would have if they put the whole package together themselves from scratch, as both Spellbinder and I pointed out on our respective brochures. Business is business, and magic parties is a business. If you are too much of an artist to study the business, you'll be a starving artist in no time.
Skip Way
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Jim has it right. In order to make it in this business you can't rely on a single stream of income; i.e.: Performing. You need multiple streams of income feeding into one river of cash. Providing a Turn Key party package may not be right for every one, but properly managed, it can provide a sizable profit...and very grateful parents.

One excellent way to handle this, IF you're consistent in following through with things in a timely manner and have up-front capital set aside, is through a service like http://www.birthdayexpress.com. They provide a wide variety of complete party packages with guaranteed delivery. Build a catalog of their products...take the parents' order...tack on a reasonable percentage for your profit...collect payment for the materials in advance...and order. Upside...you're providing a valued service. Downside...BirthdayExpress ain't cheap (and they won't wholesale or discount) - so neither are you. But...there are other, less complete, options out there. Look around.

Just don't give up on a decent idea because a few purists are against it. Examine your ideas from all angles and see which option works best for you.

Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Starrpower
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Parents don't care if you are an "artist." They just want their child to have a great time at their party! If you can work it, a "turnkey" party can work.

The problem I've encountered is the expense of a room. There is a woman in my area who runs a party store. She is also a dance instructor, and has a beautiful room with full-wall mirrors in back of her store. She offers parties for $125 complete, which includes dress-up costumes, music and games, and the parents supply the cake and food. This woman also does the clean-up, of course. But then she sells you -- or at least makes available, and convenient -- all the balloons, decorations, invitations, pinata, plates, cups, etc. so it works or her. I had my daughter's party there, and she hired me for her son's b-day. But we can't sell my program in addition to what she needs to get as a "package deal" and still keep the price realistic for buyers.

So the overhead of a room rental is what kills the idea for me.
Skip Way
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Interesting that you should mention that, Starr. We once ran our own storefront with party facilities in the back. We had a stage, game arcade and a party room. We provided invitations, paper goods, ice, helium balloons, decorations, party bags, game tokens & prizes, thank you cards, hostess, live entertainment and clean up. They provided the kids, cake and beverage. We charged $250.00 for a 2-hour party slot...and never heard anything short of raves and compliments. Within a year we moved from our 1000sf storefront to a 2800 sf space and were able to book up to three parties at the same time. THe business is still going strong...I moved away. To cover the slow, weekday periods we sold and delivered balloon bouquets and gifts from the front. Multiple Streams!!!

Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Starrpower
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I think it's a great concept if you already rent the facility for the storefront business.

But if I have to rent a room from someone for my show, it's probably a 3-4 hour ordeal. There's set-up, arrival, show, extras (games, etc.) shoo 'em out, and clean up. I don't think I could do it for less than $400-$500. And who's gonna pay that for a birthday? And even if they did, such a large chunk of change goes to things other than ME that it wouldn't be worth the extra work. I'd be better off booking 2-3 regular in-home parties.
Spellbinder
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Neither Jim nor I ever rented a room. All our party packages were held at the site of the customer's choosing, whether in their own home or in a separate place that they had rented out. These days, they might even have the party at a McDonalds restaurant, and that's something you could arrange with a local food establishment that has the space... you will bring them business in return for a special discount price on the location. Of course, they will make their money back easily in the food and drinks.

Now, changing the subject ever so slightly, look at this: http://tinyurl.com/9ltc2

Does that give anyone ideas about how the old brick & mortar magic store might be evolving into something new and different?
Professor Spellbinder

Professor Emeritus at the Turkey Buzzard Academy of Magik, Witchcraft and Wizardry

http://www.magicnook.com

Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
muzicman
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LaCenter, Wa
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Reminds of a place I went to at Universal Studios in Hollywood. They had a place called Wizards that I hear is now out of business. They had a theater and a dinner show. Multiple acts entertained in the theater and afterwards in their bar, they had closeup magicians that would perform at your table. I enjoyed the experience and wished their was something closer to my neck of the woods.

Back on subject...LOL. I have seen parents hand over their credit cards at Chuck E Cheese that was well over $300. But parents do fill that place up. Why not have an alternative that focuses on a family experience. You could even use your digital video camera you practice with to film the event and edit it into an existing DVD that they could keep with their child as the star. What would that be worth? The editing would be simple and could be done on the spot with software like THIS

The entire DVD does not even have to have just that single party, just the scenes where you have participation with the audience members and of course the birthday child. Edit and Burn on the spot, place a digital picture printed out on your photo quality printer of you levitating the birthday child for the DVD cover. Of course, you have printed all over it your website and contact information. The family ends up with a keepsake they will treasure and share FOREVER. How many chances do you have to relive that special day in the years to come? They may want extra copies as well. At less than 50 cents for a blank DVD, it more than covers the cost they are willing to pay which is $25 for each copy. Add another 75 cents to print out a label and DVD case picture and your total cost per DVD is just over a buck. The cost of all the equipment is paid for in no time, and the cost is tax deductable as a business expense which lowers your tax liabilty. Is it work? You betcha! Would it increase sales? As long as it's quality. Would it make you more money? I believe you could do less shows, for more money. I think offering a full turnkey party would allow you to streamline a lot of the processes of putting a party together. It's a value added service that has the potential in some communities to make ALOT more than the average standard birthday performer. Kids that went to Chuck E Cheese last year will want to come to your place next year and star in their own DVD. Anyone interested in a franchise? What would you name such a place?
Starrpower
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I don't like performing private parties in restaurants and other venues that are open to the public. The few times I have agreed to this have been less than stellar. I got kids from other groups wandering over, and families with parents even seemed to encourage their kids to watch the magic show. I may have control over MY party, but there's not a thing I can do to control other patrons of the establishment. How am I to know if a kid is supposed to be there or not? It would be highly embarassing, not to mention unfair to the b-day child and family, if I mistakenly had a kid help in the show who was not an invited guest! (I know, I know -- use only the b-day kid, or use name tags, etc. I just don't want the headache.)

It was also a problem trying to keep the noise levels down; my shows are EXCITING and FUN and kids yell and laugh, which disturbs other guests. Unless there's a private party room, I would NOT agree to do a party in a public venue. I have even been asked to entertain at parties in restaurants where I am the house magician, but I refuse -- just too awkward.
muzicman
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LaCenter, Wa
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I am considering leasing the space for my own establishment. It would save me ALOT of time by not having to tear down, set up, transport. I could book multiple parties in 1 day and clear a lot more profit and have more control over my shows. I have everything I need to perform these shows, except the space. I even have the Sony Vegas 6 software ,digital video recorder, PA system and DMX lights and all the Wacky Wolf props and gimmicks I need. I just need the space. I am going to make it a turn key party to compete with Chuck E Cheese and the local party stores. I think the DVD of the event is key to filling up my schedule. There are many childs entertainers, but none that offer what I offer. I have blue screen technology for the video/DVD as well so the first part of the event would be activites that are recorded for blue screen edits to be included in the final DVD.
I am going to start looking for the perfect building in my area. There are about 400,000 people living within a 50 mile radius of me, and birthdays happening everyday.
Starrpower
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Good luck. I hope this works for you.
Skip Way
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Muzicman's post sparked a thought that has been wallowing in the back of my mind for ages. I've waffled in and out of offering differing party levels because of the extra work and inventory investment required...and the waffle is turning back towards examining the idea from a fresh angle.

We've discussed offering different levels of party sevices at differing prices. A Basic Party package is the entertainer walks in, does his or her thing, and leaves with check in hand...at my basic rate.

A Deluxe Party might include Muzicman's Deluxe-Party-In-A-Box with themed invitations, plates, napkins, tableware, cups, hats, blowouts, and party bags added to the entertainment...with an appropriate profit margin.

The Ultimate Party might include everything in the Deluxe & Basic Packages along with an inflatable birthday display in the front yard, pull-string pinata filled with treats, arranging delivery of a themed cake (this way we don't have to be licensed for food handling), candles, Thank You cards, special themed gift bag for the birthday child, a couple of themed party games, party craft, party video, set-up and clean-up by a party host/hostess...again with an appropriate profit & labor margin.

The only reason I'm re-exploring these options is that my daughter has recently expressed an interest in becoming more active in my business. She could easily handle the organizing and hostessing. I provide the initial financial support and entertainment.

Our median annual income in this area is around $75,000...Homes in the $250,000 & up range abound...so, clients for all levels of parties would not be an issue. The fact that this is a major computer & medical technology hub and is one of the reasons I moved here years ago.

I'd be interested in hearing your further thoughts.

Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Mr.Wizard
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I think it all hangs on how you speak to people. If it sounds like you are "upselling", then it gets tacky kinds quickly. However...

"Mrs. Jones, I am sure I do more parties in a year than you do, is there anything I can do to make this day easier for you?"

Let them answer.

"Well, if you'd like I can provide the cake, stuff, etc...." then off you go.

The idea is to REALLY be trying to make the party better and help the people, NOT pad your check (even though you are getting more money for this).

As to public places, when I did it, I didn't care. Its a showcase for all the others who are watching too. The kids get your birthday club cards, and it is another name for your mailing.

But the core concept is to really come off as someone trying to help, not sell a used car.....
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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When I perform in restaurants I take over the room, I include other customers, waitresses, and anyone who is paying attention to me, and as far as noise is concerned when I start my show everyone else stops talking. I love to showcase my talent especially for a pay check, when other customers ask for my business card I know it's working, and I love to catch everyone by surprise. What I have is a gift from above that I need to do for my own personal satisfaction, weather it is for money or for free. Some people feel you must pay to play I will do a trick for anyone, any where, and any time. Is entertainment a job or a calling?
you decide
Al
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
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