The Apprentice: the party’s over for David Stevenson

The candidates were schooled in how not to throw a children's birthday party on episode eight of The Apprentice

The Apprentice: the party's over for David Stevenson

Photo credit: Boundless

Over £2bn per year is spent by parents holding birthday parties for their children and, on this week’s episode of The Apprentice, the candidates were handed the task of tapping into this market. The teams faced the challenge of making enough profit whilst still delivering a high-quality event for their clients. Here’s where the teams tanked and triumphed this time around. 

Know your audience

Both teams started the task by meeting with their clients. While Versatile, led by Gary, did a great job of listening to the children and their parents, rival project manager Selina took a much pushier approach and made her own suggestions before giving her client the chance to speak. In business, listening is key, especially when it comes to delivering a service that the client will enjoy and appreciate. Let the client speak and actively listen to what they have to say – it’s the only way to deliver something that fully meets their needs.

Get the basics right

I’d like to think that no one reading this would leave a client meeting without taking their contact details, something that Selina’s did to their detriment. They missed out on an upsell opportunity and lost money as a result.

Gary’s team made a fatal error when they were unable to tell their client if the cake contained nuts or not, leading them to lose faith in the whole team and putting a downer on their day. This no doubt led to them losing the task and would have been easily avoided had they simply got their facts straight from the start.

Upsell with added value

Part of this week’s task was to upsell to make more money from each client. Gary’s team elected to put together a gift bag containing cheap party products. David rightly pointed out that the quality of the products was low and, not surprisingly, Gary struggled to justify the price to the client. Gary’s idea for personalised t-shirts wasn’t bad but the quality had to be spot on considering the total price was £175. Sadly, it wasn’t – not helped by David’s poor work with an iron – and they failed to sell.

Consumers are savvy and you won’t get away with substandard products. Upselling is much more successful when the product or service in question offers added value. Trying to pass off items the client could easily source for themselves at a cheaper price was never going to work.

Customer satisfaction is key

This task was all about customer satisfaction and there were two customers: the birthday girl / boy and the parent. The teams needed to impress both. This is where Gary’s team really struggled. As Karren Brady pointed out, the whole point of party planning is to take away the stress from the parent and, when the parents lost faith in the team, their day was ruined.

Winning someone’s custom is only the first step. You must deliver to the client’s expectations and beyond if you’re going to succeed in business – something the candidates, especially David, learned the hard way this week. 

Alastair Campbell
Alastair Campbell

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