When It All Goes Wrong
It will happen to you and if it hasn’t yet, its just a matter of time. The messed-up design, the forgotten party, the upset parent. Mostly things run smoothly but sometimes things do go wrong and, believe it or not, it’s okay, the child will be happy, the host can be recompensed, the parent placated. We learn from our mistakes and should actually be grateful for them because they make us better business people and facepainters. Read on..
Scenario 1 – the messed-up design.
We’ve all been there haven’t we? Got a bit over-excited and bitten off more than we can chew at a busy party. ‘Darth Vader, yeah no problem, take a seat!’ Ten minutes later you’re sweating and wondering how you got here, this isn’t how its supposed to look, you start to panic a bit as you become very aware of the parents standing behind you, their arms folded, smiling and watching expectantly. The kid looks like he’s wearing a charcoal mud pack, his face is totally black except for two alarmed eyes and he can’t speak because three layers of paint have tightened his face so much he can’t move his lips. You can’t wipe this off, it’s gone too far for that, and you can’t chuck glitter on because Star Wars don’t do disco. Here’s what to do – get that child out your chair as quickly as possible, act amazed at how wonderful they look, smile, smile, smile and give them the briefest glance in the mirror then send them on their way. Nine times out of ten the kid will like it and the parent will take a photo.
Now what can we learn from this toe-curling experience? DON’T GET YOURSELF IN THIS SITUATION IN THE FIRST PLACE! A busy party is not the place to try out new designs unless we are pretty sure we can pull it off. If the parent is insistent then you can use the Time and Stain responses. ‘I’d love to do Darth Vader but it takes a lot of time and I wouldn’t want you to miss the fun.’ If that doesn’t work I guarantee success with this one ‘Darth Vader? Hmmmmm that uses a LOT of black and (looking at parent) I’m not going to lie, it’ll take a while to wash off’
N.B If your messed-up design is on anything other than a Star Wars character chuck some glitter on top. Seriously. The chunkier the better.
Scenario 2 – The forgotten booking.
This is one of the worst feelings – you’re at home with the kids or maybe in the pub and your phone flashes a message ‘Are you still coming? We’re waiting for you..’ and your stomach clenches as you realise you’ve forgotten all about the wedding/party/hen do and there’s no way you can make it. So, what do you do? Contact the organisers straight away. Call, text, dm, whatever, just let them know you’ve made an error and apologise, even if it was their mistake. They may be upset, they may not, I was certain the bride would be fuming that I had forgotten to turn up for her big day but she was fine, ‘Everyone was having such a good time’, she said, ‘we didn’t even realise you weren’t there.’ Parents are more likely to be upset when it’s their child who is let down, so for the forgotten birthday party try and make it, even for the last half hour, and if that’s impossible offer a reduced price for a future booking as way of apology.
Lesson we can learn: once a week go through all your enquiries and bookings and cross reference, bookings can slip through the net, especially at busy times in our lives. Always admit your mistake, people just like to feel listened to.
Scenario 3 – The upset parent or care-giver
This all depends on the reason for the upset. If there’s a legitimate reason then stay calm and listen as it helps diffuse any anger. If the upset is unreasonable like a demand for a face paint when the line is closed (hands up who this HASN’T happened to) then stand your ground. Always stay calm. If the parent has been drinking it’s even worse and you are totally within your right to completely ignore them, close your kit and walk away.
Lesson learned? Listen, stay professional, accept blame if it is justified. Rudeness is never ok, either from you or towards you.
Do you have any top tips for when it all goes wrong? What do you do in tricky situations? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear what you have to say.
(Next week: The 2 minute rainbow unicorn)
Face Painting by Joni