Many party entertainers have been waiting for the seasonally quiet January period to be over and the ‘back to school’ craziness to settle in order for you to get back to business!
Now you might be feeling like this whole year is going to be a write off! It’s a really challenging time at the moment for the kids party entertainment industry but there can be some opportunities to continue to grow your business and continue parties virtually.
So what can you do?
Check Your Insurance
Some policies may include what’s is called business interruption insurance and this can cover notifiable diseases. Every policy is different and you will need to check the wording on your particular policy.
It is also a good time to think about what insurance your business will need going forward and talk to an insurance broker.
Communicate with your parent commnunity via your preferred method of communication i.e email, newsletter, text message that you are aware of the situation and the concerns that they might have and that you are monitoring the situation closely and following government guidelines.
You might like to educate your parents on your cancellation policy and refund policy and also let them know that you are continuing to take bookings for May through to December. Be clear on your refund policy. Deposits paid now for a party in the future might be able to help with some cash flow now.
Maybe you offer private visits as an entertainer at their family home?
They might have had to cancel the birthday party but would love you to come and perform for the family or share in singing happy birthday and cutting of the cake?
Review Your Cleaning & Hygiene Processes
Have hand sanitiser readily available and visual at your parties or face painting stations.
Face Painters – This is possibly the most at risk business to be experiencing a pause at the moment. Contact with children’s faces, especially around the eyes, nose and mouth is going to be perceived at a greater risk by parents and ethically you will need to make a decision on whether you want to continue. Modifications if you do continue can include painting on hands and arms instead or develop another skill such as balloon twisting or maybe you paint their face onto a keepsake of some type.
Protect Yourself and Your Team
Ask staff and your team to not perform if they are unwell.
Loren Downing from Sync or Swim said she has been inundated with questions by business owners unsure how to manage staff, in particular employees. Loren suggests contacting Fair Work on 13 13 94 if you have questions. Loren provides more specific links and details on her website regarding Fair Work, found here.
For more government related advice and information on the precautions you should be taking from a legal point of view, visit www.ablawyers.com.au.
Start to Investigate Online Video Streaming Options
Consider if you could run your parties online and have your families/children view the class through live video? There are online platforms that you can use to run your classes such as Skype and Zoom.
It will take some time to prepare the resources, music, equipment lists in advance but is a good investment for your business to use now and potentially in the future.
Remember to check music license arrangements and if your insurance covers live streaming classes. There may be some requirements such as having families sign a disclaimer in case of injury in the home environment.
Ideas for live streaming & pre-recorded video include:
- Offering a personalised video birthday message customised to the child (only need to be up to 5 minutes long) e.g have a live chat with “Elsa”.
- Stream a 20 min block of entertainment for a party that is still going ahead. Remember this could be for families usually out of your geographical zone.
- Run the birthday party online and have your families/children view the class through live video. You create the link and it gets emailed to everyone for a set day and time. It can be recorded and given to the birthday child as a momento.
Review your Terms & Conditions
Now is the time to review the instances of when you would give a refund. It is a million-dollar question at the moment as there is no precedent for something like this. Maybe you offer credit instead of a refund? Or maybe you refund no questions asked.You need to continue to follow the T&C’s you gave the parent when booking, they can’t be adjusted now.
Review your severe weather clauses, what do you do in those situations? Do you have a force Majeure clause including but not restricted to severe weather warnings, terrorism, or government-imposed restricted movement or people or school closures.
Each business and situation will be so individual and ideally, there will need to be a bit of give and take from both sides.
This might be a big wake up call for you on how important Terms & Conditions are and to reflect on the ones you have in place. Contracts you develop need to have terms and conditions (booking fee/deposit etc.) and a cancellation policy. It’s best to get legal advice on this.
It’s important to note that this will pass. Try to stay positive, optimistic and just rely on reputable sources for your information rather than sensationalized TV. Things will return to normal eventually and who knows maybe this is a chance for you to develop a whole new service offering.
The Moral Debate
A question you have been probably asking yourself is if it is morally right to still be entertaining at parties while the world is in lock down mode? This is personal decision for you to make but you need to keep in mind how the public might perceive your business still entertaining groups of children when social distancing is been encouraged. Or the risk to you been infected.
Maybe the parent will appreciate the decision been taken out off their hands? They will have been debating what to do for sure. No parent wants to cancel their child’s birthday. There are options where you can offer the party virtually (how fun would an online disco party be!); retain the deposit and instead do a personalised video message, or you just vitist the birthday chil, may be a better alternative given the situation.
Take a Business Sabbatical
Luckily working with children has probably made you creative, adaptable and flexible. These will all be valuable skills to have in coming months. You could use this opportunity to work on some other parts of the business, which lets face it we never have time to do!
- Update your website
- Start a blog
- Can you create a online course or video for parents on what you do? Simple face painting? How to make puppets? How to host a stress free party?
- Create video content in character on how to do hand washing “How to wash your hands with Cinderella”. Children will be naturally quite concerned at the moment so even some reassuring content telling them it will be okay would be well received by parents.
- Can you sell party packs?
- Clear out storage units, deep clean costumes, do a early stock take, do repairs
- Ever thought about writing a children’s book? Now is your chance!
- Always wanted to create more promotional materials for social media? Canva is great for this and you can set up templates with your branding and duplicate them. We even have a recording for purchase from a Canva for Activity Providers Masterclass which we did recently. More details here.
- Learn a new skill. Not utilising Instagram as well as you should be? Haven’t checked out TikTok yet? Now is your chance to spend some time learning about it.
- Plan for the future – think about events and seasonal occasions in the second half of the year and how you can start working on them now, such as Halloween.
Looking for more support? Join our private Facebook group for business owners in the kids activity & party industry.
Elise is the founder & consultant for award winning brands What’s On 4 Kids AU & What’s On 4 Travel and a mum of three busy kids who love sport, art & music. She’s also a paediatric Occupational Therapist, coffee lover and an eternal & unapologetic optimist.