Many face painters run one-artist businesses, which means that they have a vested interest in making their business successful. To make a business stand out, service should be spectacular and clients happy, so when problems crop up, it’s best to handle issues efficiently and professionally. This series is designed to help face painters avert potential disasters by creating a plan of action beforehand.
Problem: You simply can’t do “just one more”
You’ve been face painting at your event for six hours, and it’s time to close up so you can get to the next event on time. You take a glance at the line of hot, sweaty parents and kids who have been waiting a long time to be face painted and your heart sinks.
You’ve found that in your experience, when you try to shut down the line, people are not understanding, and it’s the one thing about your job you hate the most. Some get angry and shout at you. Some cajole over and over for you to paint “just one more.” But your reputation is on the line. You have to be on time for the next event. If you have no other event to go to, you’re exhausted and need to eat, go to the bathroom, or go home. What can you do to fix this continual problem?
Although it requires a little extra work and planning on your part, if you take several precautions, you’ll have a more successful line shut down. First, always keep an eye on your line. If you have a one hour wait, shut it down one hour before your time is up and provide tickets or disposable wrist bracelets or mark the hands of everyone who remains in the line. Do not allow a parent to hold a place in line for five children. She has to have five tickets or five bracelets if she’s holding a space for five kids. Each ticket or bracelet represents two to five minutes, so it’s part of your estimation of who you will be able to finish in the time you have.
Put a sash or sign on the last person in line which says that he or she is the last person. People sometimes try to cut the line, or some folks will allow someone to enter in front of them, but if you use tickets or bracelets as well to mark who is able to be painted, this won’t be a problem for you.
Display a sign that clearly states what time face painting is finished, and that you cannot do “just one more” because of other scheduled events. Many people ignore signs, but for those who don’t, this is a clear warning that you’re only available until a specific time.
It’s is easier to close the line if you have a good line manager, so if you know you will have a high volume event and will need to get out on time, it will be worth the money to invest in someone who can run your line and shut it down on time. When you’re bidding a job, consider adding an amount to cover your line manager or ask for a volunteer who will be able to help you close the line. (If you get a volunteer, watch out, because some are better than others, and a poor line manager who lets extra people in can do more damage than good. If you also use tickets or wrist bracelets, it will help even if you have a weak line manager.)
Have business cards ready as you’re packing up. If someone approaches you and requests that you paint just one more child, even though you’re through, hand them a business card with a smile and tell them you’d love to face paint for them at their next event, but that for today you have to leave so you can be on time for the next client. Before they can complain, explain that you will take arriving on time just as seriously for their party as you do for the next one you’re packing up for.
Use your supplies strategically. Ending the line quickly is what those split cakes are for. You can fly through a greater number of kids if you do some suggestive selling of quicker designs which utilize split cakes. Take advantage of your split cakes and make your line fly past.
Finally, remember that while you’ve been working at top speed for several hours, people who haven’t run a face painting business won’t necessarily be understanding that you’re tired, your kit needs to be cleaned, you’d like to find a restroom, and you’re stomach is growling in hopes of getting a quick bite to eat before you arrive at your next party. They feel that “just one more” face painting won’t make that much difference, even though you know that those minutes are precious and your time is budgeted for the day.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon to encounter parents who become angry, loudly blaming you rather than gently explaining to their child that it’s too late to be face painted for the day. They’ve had a long day too, but if you remain kind and professional, you can go away with a clear conscience that, while it isn’t fun to deal with a parent who is not understanding, you are not responsible for him or her choosing to not be a good sport when face painting time is up.
For other tips on closing the line, check out these online articles by professional face painter Lenore Koppelman, the Cheeky Chipmunk, and Face Painting Tips.