Scenario: Spring is practically over, and you're thrilled that your summer weekends are filling with bookings. When one of last year's corporate client contacts you for their summer company picnic, however, you realize in dismay that you've already booked the date and time they want. As you scramble to find a replacement for yourself so you don't lose the account, you wish you had thought to contact them in advance. Since you're relatively new as a face painter, you never thought about servicing your previous clients with emails or phone calls.
Solution: There is an easy solution for this problem, and of course it is to contact your corporate clients at the beginning of the year. The best way to keep you from forgetting them is to follow a few simple steps.
• Create a spreadsheet (or list) of annual customers in the order their events fall during the year. The spreadsheet should include all of the clients who use you regularly for their yearly events, whether they happen to be businesses, park districts, families, or 501c's. This list should contain their contact information (phone and email), regular event locations, which years they've hired you, and which time of year they normally choose for events.
• For corporate clients, always get a back-up contact (or two) within the company. While I contact my corporate clients regularly thanks to my spreadsheet, I unfortunately found out this year that at least three of my contacts were no longer with the companies. In two cases, I had alternate contacts and was able to book the events. For one, I had no other way of reaching anyone in the company. It was an unfortunate lesson learned, especially since I had worked for them for at least two or three years.
Keep in mind that while you may be working for a business, you always need at least two human contacts on the inside, because if you only have one and he or she moves on, your connection to the company can be severed.
• Even for annual corporate clients who book you a year in advance and sign a contract, confirm the date when you are still several months out. Never assume that your client will remember to tell you if they have made an event date change. They're in the business of business, and you are not their top priority on a daily basis. While those extraordinarily organized employees who let you know about the slightest event changes are wonderful, more likely than not, this information won't get back to you in a timely matter. Even if you have a contract in place to make sure you are paid if they reschedule, isn't it so much better to show them how you value them as a client by checking in periodically so that you accommodate event alterations, even when things don't go as originally planned?
Beth MacKinney is the owner of and primary face painter for Face Paint Pizzazz in Elgin, Illinois, and her artwork has appeared in The Colored Palette and SkinMarkz magazines. She services the western and northwestern Chicago suburbs, Chicago’s north side, and the eastern and southeastern suburbs of Rockford. Stop by Clownantics.com to enjoy more of Beth’s face painting tutorials.