ways to approach customers

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Postby Guest » 02/07/06 10:13 AM

OK how do you approach new customers

ex. David Stone like to come to a table with a flame wallet claiming that he found it on the ground and he wants to return it.


Me: Looking at the face of my prospect and producing a 8 ball from my mouth.
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/07/06 04:23 PM

I think that the main consideration is to approach them in a way that makes you feel comfortable and that feels natural to the particular venue. You want people to feel welcome, relaxed, and ready to have a good time.

Personally, I catch the eye of a guest or two and smile at them, extending a hand to shake, and I greet/shake hands with everyone at the table -- getting their names and asking about the experience so far. When the moment is right, I directly transition into the show
We have a show before the show for you tonight [my regular gig is at a Dinner Theater]...a little more bang for your buck [or "an aesthetic aperitif if you will," depending on my read of the group]...
and then we're off to the races.


Best,

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Postby Guest » 02/10/06 04:06 PM

Nathan, please don't take this wrong, but, when I am waiting for a meal, the last thing I want to do is shake the hand of someone who has been shaking the hands of everybody in the restaurant...To me that is about as disgusting as somebody producing a mouth coil or a sponge ball from his/her mouth and trying to get me to take it...

With viral and other microscopic hazards floating around today, I think people are getting a little less interested in touching or being touched by others, especially strangers....

When I was living in a rural community in Germany, I was impressed with how workers would drop into a local Gasthaus and greet one another by knocking their knuckles on the table....Many were on their way home from farm chores...

For the original poster: Look around on this and other forums for threads which address the same question....There are several.....Look over a lot of them, and find one that fits you...and will not offend...

opie
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Postby Mark Collier » 02/10/06 04:27 PM

Nathan and Opie both hit on the head. Find what fits you. I also agree with Nathan's observation that you might not approach every group the same way.

Sometimes (for a boisterous group) I start by borrowing a dollar and let them have all their lame jokes. Other times I start with a coin production and go into coins across.

Sometimes I say, "I'm missing a card. Guess which one."

Occasionally, (usually not) I feel the need to justify my approach and let them know I work for the restaurant.

It not only depends on the group but on how I feel at the moment.

I suggest having several different approaches and you will find yourself not only doing what works but what works at that particular table at that particular time. This will hopefully help keep it fresh.

One of my pet peeves in magic is when lines sound rehearsed.
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Postby Guest » 02/10/06 04:51 PM

Peter...I just remembered this link; it has a lot of material on it....Good luck in your search....

http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~roy/magictalk-w ... magic.html

opie
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Postby Richard Evans » 02/10/06 05:27 PM

Originally posted by Opie R.:
With viral and other microscopic hazards floating around today, I think people are getting a little less interested in touching or being touched by others, especially strangers....
There really aren't any more microscopic hazards floating around today than there were yesterday. We just know about them.

I really don't think that most people would have any objection to greeting someone by shaking hand. Not many people spend the day up to their elbows in manure.

However, some people do find the production of items from the mouth distasteful. If you remove that spittle-coated eight-ball from your mouth and then proceed to handle items on their table (especially if you're touching their knives & forks), then that is far more likely to cause offence.
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Postby Guest » 02/10/06 06:03 PM

Thanks Doc....Perhaps I overstated my case, but I personally do not like to shake hands with anyone when I am getting ready to eat a meal...

As I was drafting my first response, I was thinking about the recent government urging that we all "wash our hands".....Took me back to elementary school.....Also, I worked in a hospital for 3 and 1/2 years and had more than enough CBR training in 26 years in the military to reinforce my impression that in these times we should not go about glad handing strangers, when they are eating....I don't think most would like it...

My approaches to tables has been relatively non-intrusive, with a couple of exceptions. I worked a long time to develop routines which do not use more than a very-small space on a patron's table....In fact, mostly I do routines that I could do standing in a movie line, but that is another topic...

opie
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/10/06 07:36 PM

I think the concern is legitimate, Opie, and worth thinking about. Currently, I am performing after the meal (there is a delay of up to an hour between when guests finish their meal and when the show starts -- I fill that gap), and so I think the concern attaches a touch more weakly to my regular work.

Were I to take a regular gig at a traditional restaurant, I would probably use the same approach. With all due respect, I think there is a very small number of people who consciously share your concerns about being touched before a meal. The connection/rapport/attention that comes from shaking hands with guests is, frankly, worth an occasionally awkward moment if someone is does not want to shake hands (and I have had such guests).

Best,

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Postby Guest » 02/10/06 09:02 PM

Where are you working, Nathan? I received my BS in Econ at the Unversity of Tampa....

opie
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/10/06 11:06 PM

I'm working at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre in Sarasota (I am living in Ruskin, halfway between Tampa and Sarasota, but grew up in Tampa and, as it is more well known, use it as my location here). Very cool place to have done the econ. degree, UT has one of my all time favorite campuses (I did junior high at a private school attached to UT, and so spent many hours there).

If you're ever back in the area, feel free to shoot me an email and i'd love to buy you a cup of coffee/drink.

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Postby Nathan Kranzo » 02/10/06 11:42 PM

Hi Nathan,

I wish I would have known! My wife and I love The Melting Pot in Sarasota. Now that we have one in Detroit it's not so far of a drive. : )

Later,

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Postby Guest » 02/10/06 11:55 PM

Nathan, when you come to town I'm hoping that I get to say howdy to you.
Steve V
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Postby Guest » 02/11/06 07:26 AM

Nathan: Thanks...Are you a student in Tampa?

Peter: Here are a couple of more links that I found on Google. I especially like the second one, which is the making of a paper rose as you approach the table and the presentation of it to introduce yourself:

http://www.online-visions.com/close-min ... 9andi.html

http://www.online-visions.com/other/0202rose.html

opie
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/11/06 01:40 PM

Nathan,

I have heard very good things about the melting pot in Sarasota -- will have to go. Would have enjoyed meeting you while you were down here -- I enjoy your work.

Steve,

Will do next time I'm in the area (San Fran?)

Opie,

Not a student for the time being, I got my BA in May from St. John\'s College in MD. Working as a magician for, at least, this year - then possibly law school (I'm in the process of applying to departments mostly in DC/VA as I love the area (Georgetown, GW, William and Mary, American)).

Best,

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Postby Guest » 02/11/06 03:51 PM

Nathan: Good luck with grad school....You are going to love grad school....

Peter: Here is still another list of ideas for a table approach:

http://members.aol.com/magicsecrt/restb ... chor298226

opie
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Postby David Alexander » 02/12/06 01:37 PM

In the late 1960s I worked for the Trader Vic Organization at their Century City operation. I was there for almost 3 years. It was one of the classier places in Southern California.

My approach to each table was uniform. I either worked just after the order had been taken (once the waiters knew I wasn't into stealing tips, they would often ask if the guests "would like to see the magician") or I would perform over desert/coffee.

If I worked before dinner I made the wait for food acceptable. If afterwards, I finished the dining experience for them. When I was finished, so were they and they left, freeing up the table.

I would introduce myself with my name and that I was the "Resident Magician." I would not shake hands. After I introduced myself I would say, "People have always thought if they could get close to a magician they could learn how he does his stuff. Well, tonight, I'll get close to you....this is compliments of Trader Vic..."

This immediately eliminated the idea that I was hustling them for a tip. They understood that I was part of the restaurant staff, and I went from there. Other than the Magic Castle, I think I was the only working close-up restaurant magician in the LA area at the time.

In those days, people smoked in restaurants so the cigarette pull I always had ready up my left sleeve made for a perfect opener. It always surprised me how many people knew about the thumb tip and scrutinized my thumbs. Vanishing a lit cigarette made for the perfect opener. I always had their attention after that.

Everything I did was modular in that I paid careful attention to everyone's level of interest. If it flagged, I stopped, thanked them for their attention, and left. While I rarely had to do that, it was important that I not overstay my welcome. My standard routine was about 8-10 minutes....maybe a bit less depending on what I did. I worked well for almost 3 years...a great gig.
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/12/06 04:12 PM

To be honest, I have seen quite a few people in magic fretting about what they are going to do when they approach a table. Far more important, in my experience (which is admittedly more limited than that of many others on the board), is the attitude with which you approach the table.

If you genuinely like the people you are performing for, and approach them in a way that is confident, friendly, and warm; the things you do to approach the table become almost irrelevant. Focus their attention, establish rapport, and then perform magic.

I have the sense that many magicians place tremendous importance on the approach because they are almost embarrassed to be performing magic unannounced. On some level, it is as if they expect to be an annoying intrusion on the meal. Asking for permission to perform is, in my view, a subconscious apology for performing (there are, of course, exceptions.)

It would have been very off-putting if the Rolling Stones had taken the stage at the Super Bowl and said "would it be too much of an inconvenience if we perform?" Was everyone in the stadium a Stones fan? Did they all want to hear them? No. But the Stones had been booked to perform and they were part of the expected experience.

While you must be extremely sensitive to the needs of the audience, you also -- in my view -- ought to have the attitude that close-up magic is part of the expected experience at your venue. The performer must be confident in his work and understand that he is offering something of value -- and that most of those who are going to receive it won't know that it is valuable until they have received it.

just my .02,

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Postby Bill Duncan » 02/12/06 06:56 PM

I keep thinking about two conflicting bits of information.

I recall someone writing about touching customers in a friendly way, say on the shoulder. And the customer who was so offended by that non-toxic sort of contact that he demanded to see the manager of the resturant and complained that it had ruined his evening.

I also recall Mike Skinner telling me that he would often hold out in his left hand when approaching a table so that if someone wanted to shake hands he wouldn't have to "unload". Of course, Skinner got lots of repeat customers so perhaps that increased his chances of that happening.

I guess it's best to err on the side of caution when working where folks are eating...
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Postby Guest » 02/12/06 09:05 PM

I think David A. summed it up the way it should be...Great post....great insight....

I started doing bar and walkaround in the late sixties, when people were either into hugging or not hugging....It was a strange time, but those of us who lived it learned when and when not to touch....The late seventies and early eighties brought about even more concerns about touching....

I can just imagine what would happen if I were doing walkaround in the White House and I dropped spitty sponge ball into the hand of the First Lady....I am not sure that Mrs Bush would appreciate it.....

Now Mrs. Clinton might have though it was cute, but I would never have done that, in fear that I might have to decline a private performance...hehe....(I do love that woman....Sorry Bill....

Hell, I can approach anybody....If the body language says no, I say, "Whoops! Wrong Table...(Drop a Card)....If you want to see some really neat magic effects, I will be over at that table."

There have been three times in my past 60 years of walking up to tables to do magic, when I was not wanted.. Only three times was I not wanted.....One was a pair of couples who had not seen each other for years and did not want distractions....One was a couple and the red neck husband thought I might try to hit on his wife.....The other time was a woman and her four or five year old son, who were shocked that I was doing "Magick".....I accepted the very short lecture, before I went to the next table where I made some kids feel great and that kid feel bad....I still hate the fact that I could not not have at least produced a piece of candy for that kid.....Failure to do so has not happened since, and I have never had a complaint to management aboug going ahead and doing a quick thing for the kid.....

Walkaround is a serious profession. You have to own that table, but you have to exude something they cannot defend against....

THE MAGIC IS NOT ME

i wait for...
the smile of the little boy
as he pulls at his ear lobe
after i pull a coin from it...

the reach of his hand
for the coin no longer there...
i wait for....

the second surprised expression
and his quizzical look at Mom...
then...

i pull his earlobe
as the coin returns there..
i wait for...

his hand to reach out again
and I drop into it...not a coin
but a piece of candy....

i wait for
and milk that last expression...
my reason for being...

opie houston

opie
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Postby Guest » 02/12/06 10:16 PM

I worked the latest gig for nine and a half years and used various approaches over that time but one that I used often made use of a flyer with my picture on it that was at each table. I would approach the table and point to the flyer and say "Have you seen our magician? Good lookin' guy isn't he? But don't you wish he had more hair - I know I do."
I always made sure that I was well dressed and was often mistaken for the owner or manager. People are generally more receptive if they think you're the owner. Perhaps they think they're going to get a free drink or a special discount.
Funny story - I was very rarely refused (I learned to read the body language of the guests and could tell most of the time if they did or didn't want to be entertained) but one time I was putting the flyers out when a little old lady sitting in the corner booth pushed the flyer off the table and said "I don't want this." Of course I thought she was telling me that she didn't want to see any magic so I turned the flyer over, put it back on the table and said "That's alright ma'm just leave this turned over and I'll make sure that you're not disturbed."
That's when she said "This is Satan's work!" Then she pointed at me and said "Get thee hence Satan!" as she threw the flyer on the floor. When I got back to the kitchen I asked the kitchen staff "Are my horns showing again?"
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Postby Guest » 02/13/06 08:40 AM

Terry, we just need to learn not to be putting the evil eye on people....lol....

It sounds like your exit comments were better than mine....As I recall, I did not know what to say, other than "Yes Ma'am", and backed away. I really did feel sorry for the kid and noticed that he watched me as I worked a nearby table...

opie
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/13/06 09:18 AM

A nice bit, most useful in conventions/conferences/sales meetings, but i've also gotten use out of it at the theatre when we get tour groups that have name tags.

Approaching someone wearing a name tag, with arm outstretched to shake hands:

"I'm Nathan, and I'm getting a psychic impression that your name is...'John.'"

It gets a nice laugh and gets us off on the right foot...sometimes you also get a paper-balls-over-the-head-esque moment as everyone else at the table knows what's going on, but the person being approached forgets, for a brief moment, that she's wearing the name tag -- and is legitimately surprised/astonished.

Best,

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Postby David Alexander » 02/13/06 10:10 AM

Opie, thanks for the kind words. It all came out of experience and paying attention to what I was hired to do: entertain paying customers and make friends for the restaurant. The first thing necessary was to put them at ease rather than put them off or on the defensive, as so many younger magicians seem to delight in doing.

They fail to understand that what we're doing is providing entertainment for customers, not therapy for themselves.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 02/13/06 11:04 AM

Originally posted by David Alexander:
The first thing necessary was to put them at ease rather than put them off or on the defensive, as so many younger magicians seem to delight in doing.
I do not think age is the issue. There are just as many older people performing magic as self-medication as there are youth. In fact, I would go so far as to say the reason so many young people perform the way they do is because they are modeling that which they see being done by older magicians at magic clubs, etc.

As to touching, I auditioned for a marketing promotion that took me to several hundred nightclubs in a year. I became very close with my managers who auditioned many magicians from all over the country. I asked why I got the nod, as my magic is not the visual style one would think of immediately for nightclub audiences.

Their answer: "Because I touched them and talked with them, not at them."

So I, for one, believe that the power of touch is strong, and used wisely - and this is the key, isn't it - can greatly enhance the magical, personal experience for an audience.

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Postby Guest » 02/13/06 12:20 PM

Wow I'm happy that this topic took on fire recently :)

1) Opie Thanks for the link I will surely llok at them right after this post:)

2) Me to I was testing the water when I start the topic So I didn't elaborate on my own presentation So allow me.

I Used to perform in France (Marseille) were Owner can't really afford to pay big salary to artist so I had to work with tips. Now My way is quite simple I need to attract the ppl attention and gather interests in my act. So this is when I Start the pool ball production. (Its quite simple just make eyes contact and 2 sec after produce Ball from mouth)

This way it would gather interests from there when the waiters was finished taking order I would come to the Table putting a 5 euro bill on the table while introducing myself.
Then I would say that the 5E was a gamble that if they werent amazed they could keep the 5E.

Now the reason of this simple In Marseille you have about 5 Hustlers per hour working the streets and trying to enter restaurants (flowers girl, beggars, etc) So by putting a bill it was a way to garantee the quality of my show (and nobody ever asked to keep it)

So yes for me presentation and a good introduction is quite important.

3)Touching in my opinion always depend on what kind of person you are. I may not be someone who shake hands at the start of act But if I sense that contact can add to the effect I will.

4) I like the defensive arguments and give a lot to pounder.

Well enough for now

Pete (sorry for spelling mistakes but english isn't my native tongue so)
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Postby David Alexander » 02/13/06 03:58 PM

I'm happy to accept Brad's observation of younger magicians modeling on older ones in magic clubs, one of the prime reasons I don't attend magic clubs.

Brad also brings up a good point: touching, but, of course, appropriate touching. There are people who are naturally gregarious and can touch others and give no offense. I'm one of them. Brad is another, but it should be remembered that for every person like us there are others who don't know how to touch or act appropriately. I've always advised that anyone wanting to go into magic should read books on manners and "How To Win Friends and Influence People."

I'm sure that more than just being able to touch people, Brad is both professional and appropriate, something recognized by the people who hired him.
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Postby Guest » 02/13/06 07:36 PM

Eugene Burger has written some excellent advice on the approach in "Intimate Secrets" and on touching in "Secrets and Mysteries for Close Up Entertainers".
From my own experience and using Eugene's advice as a guide I found my performance far more successful when touching people than when not. Often in the restaurant I would shake hands with people at the end of the set as I looked them in the eye, addressed them by name and thanked them for having fun with me. The prime objective of the close up entertainer at the restaurant is to encourage repeat business. And the process I have described above did more for repeat business than anything else because people felt that they knew me as a friend. It's always nice to go to a place "where everybody knows your name". (Thank you Cheers).
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Postby Dan Trommater » 02/14/06 09:18 AM

Required reading: Tommy Wonder's "Approaching the Table" in the Books of Wonder Volume 2 (page 52). You may not agree with everything, but it WILL make you think.
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