As an FEC owner or operator, some would label you as a party hosting and planning expert, right? And as such, minor slip-ups or mistakes may seem easily fixable and not considered an emergency, but for the birthday family, certain mishaps have the potential to ruin the event for them.
Imagine the food not arriving on time, or misspelling of the child’s name on their birthday cake, or lack of expected guest attendance. Have you had to overcome any of these? Making sure your facility is prepared for events like these can make or break the guest experience.
Most of you have all heard the adage, “Plan for the best, prepare for the worst.” Is this the process your FEC has for weekly booked events? If not—or if your process could use some improvement—here are five party emergency tips to keep in mind, so both your facility and staff are prepared to avoid potential emergencies or have the means to handle and overcome them if they do occur.
It’s important to make sure your facility is properly staffed--and staffed with well-trained employees--to accommodate party host duties. If you’re understaffed or your team members aren’t sure of how to perform particular duties that are critical to having the event go smoothly, your parties will suffer.
Parents of the guest of honor will be put at ease when they see your staff has everything under control. To help your employees exemplify this, it’s helpful to make them aware of any and all scheduled events both at the beginning of the day and at the start of each shift. The more the employees know what to expect—and what’s expected of them—the better.
Consider also doing a one-minute energizer at each shift change as well. Have your employees to 10 jumping jacks while singing a song that makes them laugh! This will help to put your team in a good mood and ready to give your guests a great day.
Preparation is key to a smooth event. What special items have your party guests chosen for their specific events? Run reports to tell you what time items are to be delivered, and tell your staff to group those items together according to what party they’re meant for as soon as they arrive, so there’s no chance of items getting lost.
Properly completing opening and closing duties helps prepare your facility for events as well. Make sure the party rooms are properly stocked with the needed decor such as plates, cups, napkins, etc., immediately after the last party has left. Whether someone has booked the first party of the day or the last, both should receive the same treatment in terms of how much effort has gone into preparing and setting up for their arrival.
It’s important that your team has made sure all common areas—especially the restrooms—have been cleaned and disinfected.
Having a checklist of all responsibilities for each party and shift (that’s monitored by managerial staff) will ensure there’s no scrambling or confusion when a guest is present. The attention should be on the guest of honor, not the need for more paper towels in the bathroom!
Just trying to get all of the children into the car can be trying for some families. Getting all the needed items for an event can feel like a mile-long checklist. Help them as much as you can by knowing their needs before they get there!
Are they proving the goodie bags? The sheet to track gifts? Socks for each guest when they enter your FEC? Anything! If they aren't, or if they arrive at your your facility and have forgotten something, have these available as add-on option when they book the party originally or for purchase in your online store after the fact. Maybe they didn't know they needed these items, but seeing them as an option sparked their interest in purchasing. Instant increased party revenue using minimal effort!
Don't just go with the obvious items, either. What are small, commonly forgotten items, yet could make a big impact on the party atmosphere?
What if the party parent remembered the cake....but forget candles?! Candles are an amazing item to have in your online store. Consider having unique options to choose from, too, such as colored flame candles. With an opportunity to WOW your guests at such a low cost to you (and them), why not have them at the ready, just in case?
A successful birthday party is all about the guests’ perception of how special the birthday child feels! Fixing party emergencies in what seems like such a grand way may even cause your guests to forget that an issue even occurred in the first place!
If a party emergency occurs relating to food, always let the guest know you are working to remedy the situation immediately after your staff becomes aware of the issue. Frantic questions and panic from your customers will subside if they know someone is handling the problem for them and will fix it as soon as possible.
Incorrect pizza made? Communicate to the guest that you’re making the correct one right now. Get another fired and offer the “mistake pizza” to the parents of the guests. They’ll see it as an act of kindness and an apology for the inconvenience.
While they’re waiting, have one of your party hosts make up a fun game about the guest of honor. What about an eye-spy game or a visit from your mascot? Games like these will provide a distraction to cover the time gap while the new food is being made.
Was the wrong name written on the cake that was brought in for the party? No problem. Take the cake away from the panicking mother and tell her everything is going to be OK! Have the kitchen staff or manager on duty use a knife to gently scrape away the misspelled name and write the correct one with your back up frosting pen. (Extra Tip! These can be purchased from your local grocery store in the baking aisle. They’re inexpensive and can last in your cooler for up to 3 months!)
Correcting mistakes that weren’t yours to fix in the first place is something that your guests will remember for years to come, and will recommend you to all their friends and family for events because of how you saved the day.
Uncooperative guests can derail a party faster than any other mishap.
What if the guest of honor has a friend that is trying to steal the spotlight? What if a few party guests aren't following the rules of the facility or being a team-player? One of the biggest party emergencies is an uncooperative guest trying to take away from the birthday child’s special day, right?!
When all hope seems lost, it's up to you and your designated party host(s) to save the day.
If the parent's of the particular child aren't present at the party, ask one of the adults in your party group to talk to the misbehaving child privately with you about the rules of the facility. This might be all that's needed to remind them to act properly. It's important to do this separately from everyone else trying to enjoy the event. Not only do you want to keep all the positive attention on the guest of honor, you don't want to make the situation worse by drawing negative attention to the child you're trying to get to cooperate.
If this doesn't work, you may have to access your digital waivers to obtain contact information for the child's parent. Depending on the severity of their bad behavior, you can decide to have their parent talk to them on the phone first, come in to your facility to assist with the actions of their child, or to take them home altogether.
Quick timing is key to successfully overcoming this kind of party emergency. This is the guest of honor's special day, and you don't want anything to take away from that! Consider having an additional member of your staff on duty switch their current role and work as an extra party host. Specifically give them the assignment to direct the attention to the special event and
guest of honor with birthday presents or the cake presentation.
The five tips shared in this article are just a few pieces of advice to help you overcome party emergencies as well as how to potentially prevent them from occurring in the first place!
If you're looking for more insight on how you can make sure your facility is prepared for other types of FEC Emergencies, download your copy of our complimentary resource, IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: An Emergency Preparedness Guide to Help Your FEC Overcome the Unexpected.