The thought of running a birthday party might make you feel a bit queasy (never work with kids or animals, don’t they say?), but introducing birthday parties at your studio as an additional revenue stream is an absolute no-brainer if you have the resources and knowledge to set it up right.
If you’re like some studio owners, your business generally doesn’t operate on weekends and if it does, it’s usually Saturdays only. To fill this gap, birthday parties are a great source of additional income – not to mention a perfect opportunity for your ideal new students and their parents to be exposed to your space! True, it is more work, but it’s work you get paid for whether you run them yourself or you simply form a partnership with one or a few local party companies – in which they can hire the space from you, run the parties, clean up and leave. Your job? Take the fee and enjoy your weekend!
Alternatively, you can run the parties in house and have your teachers run the party. To help you run the perfect kids’ party at your studio, we have approached one of the best in the industry who has made it his business to guarantee the party-goers have the time of their lives and are always left wanting more.
Jonas Holt is a party entertainer by day, and professional stand-up comedian by night. His Sydney-based party business Superhero Central has taken social media by storm with his unique brand of entertainment for kids. Jonas was all too happy to share some of his hottest tips for creating an unforgettable party!
Think Outside The Box
When Mr and Mrs Clark book a party entertainer for Little Johnny’s 5th birthday, it’s fair to assume that for their money they are expecting a bit more than a game of pass-the-parcel and some musical statues. Known for his grand rooftop-appearances as his own characters ‘GreeNinja’ and “Fruitbat Man’, Jonas knows that being creative and committed to the role is paramount.
“You need to keep the kids wondering ‘what’s he (or she) going to do next?’ Before the party starts, I like to figure out the sneakiest entry point and hear the energy of the party so I can wow them with a unique entrance”.
And we agree 100% – nothing kills the magic quite like seeing your hired Fairy Princess drive up to the party in her Hyundai, quickly check Facebook on the iPhone and fix her makeup before strolling through the front doors and having a chat with mom and dad while curious kids watch on from the side. Instead, think of creative ‘wow-factor’ ways to make your entrance memorable!
Using a character as part of your party entertainment is a fantastic way to immediately connect with your crowd, but just make sure to check in on Trademark and Copyright laws for your region if you plan on dressing up as a Minion or character from Frozen. The last thing you want is to find out too late that you need to purchase a costly license, so creating your own character for party entertainment is a great option to also increase your brand-awareness. You can even have customised mascots and costumes created if you really want to take things to the next level.
Employ The Right Person For The Job
Dance teachers may think that hosting a children’s party is a piece of cake compared with taking on a group of preschool-ballerinas each week, but the truth is that it takes a special kind of patience and intuition to entertain a bunch of adrenaline-fuelled, mask-wearing, sugar-loaded children at the height of birthday party excitement. Like Jonas, your entertainer needs to LOVE what they do, adapt to change and follow their intuition from start to finish.
“You need to sense when the kids’ attention is waning in the slightest amount – that’s when you know it’s time to change things up. I’ve also developed a lot of easy gimmicks and one-liners for kids. And the most important thing is that once you’re in the party, you don’t stop entertaining until you’re back in the car”
Whether it’s one of your teachers or an external entertainer you have partnered with to perform at your studio’s parties, a passion for what they do is crucial. It’s not always the easy gig that many people expect, so personality, gratitude and attitude make all the difference when ensuring you have hired the right person for the job.
“It’s a job that brings laughter and happiness to people. A few months ago I came out of a tough party, returned to my car and had a big parking fine that was for twenty dollars more than I had just been paid. I saw the ranger up the road and I thought, “Well, at least I don’t have his job – we are occupational opposites!” I do love it. When the conditions are right it’s the perfect job.
As studio owners and teachers, you all know that the key to running a successful and memorable dance class is to keep your students engaged from start to finish. The same applies to children’s parties – just under more extreme (excitement, adrenaline and junk-food) conditions! It’s super important when planning your studio’s party program that your entertainer/s have plenty of tools to keep the party-goers engaged throughout. From his 20 years’ experience in
children’s entertainment, Jonas shares his top engagement secrets:
“Keep the entertainment setting simple for the kids – no props or equipment around to distract them. Also be sure to prepare more gimmicks than you need in your bag in case their attention span is limited. I like to play an activity in one corner of the space, and then move to the other end for the next activity – it’s like a game ‘reset’ button. Ask the kids silly questions throughout and try not to let them stand or sit behind you, because you can’t see what they’re doing. Remember that reverse psychology works a treat; “please don’t fall asleep on the dance-floor, everyone” – and watch them all pretend to fall asleep.”
Plan For Success
Having a plan in place for your space and entertainment will put you in the best possible position to ensure a great party. Here are some of Jonas’ top planning tips that many organisers overlook:
– Keep the food savoury at the start(chips, popcorn, cheese etc), and have the sweeter stuff later. “If I go into a party and kids are whacking me in the first minute, I just know candy is on the table”
– Soda isn’t a good idea – ever. If it fizzes, it WILL spill
– Try to avoid setting up in spaces that can be echoey and loud
– Set some capacity guidelines. “The best number for me is 15-20 kids. 15 five-year-olds in the larger space is a good dynamic, but 30 six-year-olds in a tiny room can be rough!”
– Host a 2 hour party with your entertainment in the middle hour – allow 30 mins for everyone to arrive. “Late-coming guests can be reluctant to participate if they haven’t seen your entrance; They’re thinking “uh oh, who’s this guy?”
– Make sure you do a safety check for trip-hazards, wall sockets, entries/exits etc. Nothing sucks the fun out of a party like a nasty injury
– Warm up your voice in the car like a singer, and avoid icy water
– Avoid eating too much and definitely don’t have a big night the night before!
Create A Raving Fan-Base
Whether you decide to use in an-house entertainer or partner with a party specialist for birthday parties in your studio, one tip is to ensure every child who attends the party receives some information about your studio along with an exclusive offer for attending the party. You may give them a magnet or flyer or keychain… think of something they and their parents can keep that encourages them to take action (say, make the offer valid for the next seven days only).
As Jonas can attest – there is no raving fan-base quite like the mothers of young children. If you can create a party that goes above and beyond their expectations you will be rewarded with referrals, rave reviews and a reputation as the ‘go-to’ studio for birthday parties. Remember that the more people you get through the doors of your business and leave satisfied, the more ideal students you will attract.
For more about the additional revenue streams available to studio owners and how to best implement the, join us at the Dance Studio Owners Association.
Make sure to also check out and ‘‘like’ Superhero Central if you’re interested in learning more about Super Jonas Holt and his wealth of experience in creating parties that truly knock it out of the park.