Before I started my own business 5 years ago, I worked as an office manager at the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma. I gained a lot of knowledge on customer service in my office years. Answering phone calls, calling strangers for things we needed, and getting things done through email and phone communication has been immensely helpful to our business. I know that one of the reasons we have been successful is because I am prompt with customer service. I respond to messages, phone calls, and emails almost immediately. Yes, this means I ALWAYS have my phone with me, and sometimes respond to gig leads at dinner. But, we make enough money to survive, so It’s worth it! I don’t have to work in an office 40 hours a week, so being on-call all the time is a pain I prefer.
When clients finally work up the courage to book the performer for their company’s holiday party, it may be 7pm on a Thursday. People are busy. They know how to do their jobs, but they have never hired a circus performer before. They likely acted on a in impulse to ‘get it done’ after having a beer or two. When they are ready to do this, help them out! Be ready with pricing. Know how to explain to a muggle what you are going to do, and what value it brings to them. Demonstrate professionalism.
One of the main frustrations I feel when trying to book other performers is that I have so much trouble getting them to even respond. I have a very limited time to build a quote for a client, and if you don’t respond, you likely won’t get booked. I’m trying to hire you! I’m trying to pay you MONEY to do what you LOVE. Please, at least text me back and say, “Hey, I can’t talk right now, but I’ll call you later.” And then please follow up. When you don’t, it tells me that you 1) Don’t care and 2) Don’t want to work with me. Which is fine, but those are the two messages I’m getting.
I can’t stand to work with unreliable people who don’t respond when I am trying to get them well-paying work.. This is business. This is my whole life, my livelihood, and my passion. I need to get stuff done! If you want to be a professional performer, you should start acting like you are one TODAY. Fake it till you feel it. (That’s what we did!) I know this is scary, but you need to face your fears if you want to be taken seriously.
My clients are honestly surprised when I return their call so quickly and sound so professional. This means that we haven’t done a good enough job as a community representing ourselves with public-facing professionalism, keeping our art out of the mainstream. People don’t want to work with unreliable people who don’t respond to phone calls or take too long to get back with them.
Phone calls > text and email. I know our generation hates talking on the phone, because (literally) every single one of us has social anxiety. I can’t tell you how much proof it is that you are a professional human being if you call your client. It’s also SO much faster to get information to them than to text or email about it. It’s cuts to the chase. It takes practice, but it definitely gets easier. I’ve had phone calls that I stuttered through and completely messed up… it happens. Still better than them wondering if the girl they are hiring for the party on Saturday is a three-eyed mute. (At least they know you aren’t mute!)
Think about what your clients wants. Give them a good user experience. It’s business 101.
Calling all professional performers who are serious about making a living (or part of a living) performing. Is anybody out there?!
It’s tough love, but somebody had to say it.