A Step by Step Guide to Pitching a Restaurant

Walk inside to the bar. Start twisting. Make a simple but impressive balloon.

Let's make some money

When someone asks you what is happening, ask if the General Manager is in.

If so, twist until they arrive.

If not, ask for a card and see if a shift manager is available. Pitch to Shift Manager and ask when GM will be available to talk with.

Hello. I’m Jonathan Fudge, an internationally award-winning balloon artist and entertainer who specializes in restaurant entertainment. I’ve not only been trained in restaurant customer retention, client satisfaction, and problem intervention – I wrote the book.

Keep twisting. Make another shape if you need to.

The reason I’m here is to offer to entertain at your restaurant when you could be here to watch the reactions of the customers so that you can see what I do and how things work.

You have nothing to lose.

If you like it, we can talk about starting up a program for your restaurant.

If you don’t like it, we part as friends.

When done, get all the restaurant’s contact information. Make sure to get the following information:

  • Store Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Name of GM
  • Name of Contact
  • Date and Time of Tryout

Also, be sure to write down whatever was quoted to the contact so that you can stick with it, and be sure to write down the time of the tryout on two identical business cards so that both parties remember.

  • When you first walk into the restaurant, the goal is to get a tryout.
  • The goal of the tryout is to let the management see how awesome you are.
  • Set aside 5 minutes to talk after the tryout or call them later to discuss prices.
  • Sales Funnel works as follows:
  • Gather all names, numbers, and GM names from all the restaurants in the area.
    Go to all the Restaurants and do a pitch for a tryout.
    Work the tryout and sit down to speak with the manager AT the tryout.
  • Set up at minimum once a week for entertainment.
  • Every three months (or weekly) have a follow up phone call to see if they still like your services and if they’d like to upgrade or improve in any way.

For the tryout, I offer to entertain with only coupons. If they like what they see, we regularly trade coupons or gift certificates for cash until I finally accept just cash. This allows for a low-risk investment in the restaurant and makes selling much easier later.

It has also been helpful for me to mention my 100% money-back guarantee. If they are unsatisfied with my services, I do not charge them for the night.

8 thoughts on “A Step by Step Guide to Pitching a Restaurant”

  1. I like your ideas but would quibble with your idea of working for gift certificates at first. I give away a free trial night but after that I expect to get paid for my professional services. I would find it hard to convince a restaurant to pay me a fair rate after they have gotten used to paying in coupons or gift certificates. But that’s just one guy’s opinion .. I’d rather hunt for one great restaurant than waste any time with 10 that won’t work out in the long term.

  2. Here’s another question – how do you compare pitching to corporate / chain restaurants as opposed to privately owned (aka Mom n’ Pop) restaurants? I find that in many cases I’m frustrated trying to get anywhere in the corporate chain side with managers / GMs not willing to go up against “corporate” to bring in entertainers even if they want to. Any chains in particular that are particularly friendly to entertainers? I heard somewhere that Rainforest Cafe even tried to get entertainers to pay them to work there!

  3. Smarty Pants-
    I think you are absolutely correct. I used to give only free tryouts when I started pitching restaurants, but it was pointed out to me that by charging “something,” I was promoting the restaurant to pay later on.

    And as far as the gift cards go, they actually cost the restaurant more money in the long run if they are not used at that specific location. So, switching to cash is ussually not an issue.

    As far as corporate vs. privately owned, you have to realise that they are completely different animals. For you specifically, I would suggest the following when approaching a chain restaurant:

    -Meet with each of the GMs individually and see who’s interested.
    -Find out the contact name and number of the District Manager or Regional Director
    -Pitch him on the idea of you entertaining at each of his restaurants in rotation.

    (You can make more this way as each restaurant pays you a little at a time and the District Manager is really only paying at “one” location as far as budgeting is concerned.)

    Add that with a solid marketing campaign and you’re set with that company for life.

    As far as Rainforest Cafe is concerned, I don’t doubt the claim; however, any restaurant worth its salt would pay top dollar for top of the line entertainment.

    Then again… If I had the option to work at Rainforest Cafe, I would definately consider giving them a discount.

  4. Well I was able to find it again and working…seems when I click the link, it comes out askew, but when I go to it from within the site it works.

    I am still working on getting my chutzpah together for this, but I’ve made some practice runs at a movie theater etc….and dealt with unfriendliness. I also made an attempt via email at a restaurant that initially I was just asking information about to eat there.

    I want to try Papa Ginos since they are very kid friendly and I like their food, but I somehow remember seeing a no solicitation sign on the door. Does that mean anything for us, or is that to keep the girl scout cookies out?

    Oh also, since I am doing this with face painting, I don’t think I will sit there and paint my face lol, but maybe go in with my face painted, and a book of some things I do or something.

    I really do want to get into this though…..and I am happy to work for GCs to the restaurant. I am just wondering–is it recommended to get much less than your normal rate in GCs or your normal rate since they are not having to pay you cash?

    I think that’s it for now, I’m thrilled I was able to get back to this page finally 🙂

  5. I’m back—the minute the school year started, I’ve been kept quite busy, as are the ways of graduate school—but as the spring draws near, I want to start thinking about my plans once I’m back home for the summer, and wanting to get into restaurants. So I scoured until I found this again and am SO relieved to be back…I’m still scared a bit–I mean I’ve already spoken to restaurants, and once I’m in there it’s not that bad, I’d just like to have a better plan of exactly what I will be saying–and it WOULD be wonderful to be able to go in introducing myself with my accomplishments, so I definitely have a few things to tweak…but I am inspired once again by this article, thank you so much and I won’t be surprised if I am back again to comment some time in the future.

  6. It has been a while and things have changed a bit in the balloon business since 2009, but the direct approach still seems to be most successful for us.

    We have heard of some companies doing well with calling and using a call center type approach to get tryouts and I find that would be a great way to hit many restaurants rather quickly.

    Right now, it seems corporate is MUCH harder to get into in 2021, but privately owned businesses and restaurants are looking for anything to help push them over the top in sales to make up for any previous losses with being closed.

    Balloon twisting is great as artists can use hand sanitizer between tables and can use a pump instead of mouth inflating. We have also seen some face painting kits that work in restaurants, though we have moved away from craft stations for the time being.

    Regular balloon decor is also a piece of the market that we can go after with balloons as well.

  7. Stopping by for another update.

    I have seen more and more restaurants that are willing to pay full price for an entertainer, multiple times a month. It seems the ones I’m running into like this do not want to have people collecting tips and prefer to pay in full.

    This is a great thing for those doing restaurant work, but also means that you have to be ready to be a little flexible in negotiations and to make sure you are ready to pivot when the conversation changes.

    There are still people out there doing restaurants, but the big companies that used to run the whole nation are smaller and broken into little groups rather than a big chain. So, that means it is a little easier to approach at whatever price you would like as there is not a single company quoting lower prices everywhere.

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