The most recent change in how Bass Pro Shops handle their Christmas seasonal business has once again inspired people to grab a handy soap box and pontificate upon how "They" would prefer the Bass Pro Shop Corporation to do business the way "They" would prefer since the "Bone head Greedy new guys in charge" obviously do not know what they are doing. Besides it affected "My" pocket book! "This will come back to hurt their business!" and often seen "It is all the fault of (someone that has absolutely no fault or power in the business decision currently happening) and that person should be eliminated!" (That last is one of my personal favorites! I spend many a happy hour trying to figure out how anyone outside of the top corporate structure has any power to sway managed to effect such a change.) But then I am easily amused. The path to success is not to bemoan the loss of the past opportunities. It is in looking and examining the present and all it entails to find a situation that might help you achieve that success once again in a different way.
To all that this event and others that have happened in the past and for those who will be affected adversely in the near future when other changes in the way the people that hire us to portray the role of "Santa Claus" go into effect, You have my heartfelt condolences. That and $12 will buy you a large coffee at Starbucks. Maybe. The point is the ONLY constant in any field of business is CHANGE. Change is constant and comes in many small and occasionally large ways every day. There is one aspect to this process that every individual has a great deal of power and control over this situation and that is in how you deal with it. That lesson can be used in every part of your life! I certainly used that attitude in my recent battle with Cancer and also in how I operate my personal business which is the "Santa and the Business of being Santa" school.
Faced with no fewer than 30 new Schools, Symposiums, Round Tables, Colleges, Conservatories and Universities (opened since Feb.2014 when my school popped into existence) chose to call a Spade a Spade when describing my educational effort. It is a technical School for people that wish to learn the basic issues, a lot of the intermediate concepts and a few of the advanced ideas involved in this business of being a professional Independent Contractor Entertainer from one that has been exactly that for 39 years as of 2017. That has proven to be a good way to advertise what I actually have to offer but a poor example to "sell" my school as a lot of people prefer to be made "Amazing", "Outstanding", "Extraordinary" or any of the other "buzzword" claims you usually hear on "Ronco" television ads for "Turnip Twaddlers". The reason for this is simple. No one can do this except the person that is taking the class. It does not matter where or from who you get your information from as long as it is factual and up to date, the only person that can make you any of those titles is (look in the mirror) You!. Since I refuse to go down the same path as all my competitors in the "Santa/Christmas Entertainer/Mrs. Claus/Seasonal Worker/Independent Contractor Entertainer" educational field of technical school education, I looked for other ways to stand out (sometimes in the rain) from the crowd as something different in how it operates and what it teaches.
This is how I have broken new ground in the area of "Santa Schools". I decided to write a book that would cover the spectrum of what we would run up against when starting out in this field of work that covers the first 3 years rather well. Actually I wanted to do an updated "Big Book of Santa" like Victor Nevada did up in Canada which he finished shortly before his death. I very nearly joined him by the time I finished the third volume of the Textbooks used in the school. (I think it may have something to do with writing a book over 575 pages or a set of same at 600 pages.) Well with the updated and expanded editions of the three volume set now out, (and available through Amazon and quality book vendors near you on the internet) I have brought that to the community while managing to avoid the dying part for now.
The second way I have gone and done something very different is I took steps to make sure my school would last beyond my (then best medical advice and estimate) expiration date. That date is currently back in the "Unknown" box but the steps were taken and remain in place.
Basically I franchised my school to others in vastly different areas across the US and Canada. No other school has tried this experiment and this is the first year of the franchise being offered. In simple terms I made an offer that the very qualified individuals I offered it to they simply could not refuse on financial terms. First year free! Yup the franchise in 2017 for those that take it get the ability to kick the tires and run the shop for free this year. After that, if they decide to continue the agreement, they then will have to make a franchise royalty payment on December 30 of each following year they decide to run the school again. They get the printing at cost for the textbooks used in their classes, and they have a proven curriculum they can follow. Oh, if you are interested in the details, I am currently looking for instructors in the UK, Australia, Europe and anywhere else that imports or uses the Character "Santa Claus". Sorry this is not a school on how to be "Father Christmas" or any other permutation of St. Nicholas. He is a distinctly different kind of portrayal and the focus of this school is on being "Santa" in the country of the origin of the character and those countries that currently import him.
The concept of a Technical school teaching to a focused industry bringing information to the students from Professionals experienced in the field of study is nothing new. Nor is that concept restricted to the realm of performers. It is an interesting exercise in learning just how much experience on the part of the instructor teaching the class is involved. In several cases this issue is side stepped by the use of hiring or otherwise gaining the services of someone that does hold the required level of experience applicable to the study of the subject involved. That too has been going on for quite some time back in the southeast portion of the US and now on Video instruction. In Either case, as long as the students receive fair value and actually benefit from the information passed along, it is a good way to learn.
The concept of a "Traveling" school is also nothing new. Consider the movie "The Music Man" and you see both the benefits and the possible pitfalls. Tim Connaghan's IUSC was avery innovative and surprising method of bringing a quality and quantity of information and education to our community Besides his and my own offering there are or were at least 4 other such schools that were in operation and or continue. Look for Susen Mesco to bring her teachings on the road in 2018. The single one thing that truly set SatBobS apart from all other school up until this year was the policy over the previous 4 years of operation no class booked was ever cancelled due to lack of attendance being the ONLY school that would teach classes of One (1). Sadly due to the shift of operation with the franchised Instructors, that particular part of the class operation has been removed for the current year.
When starting the school I looked hard at what was currently offered back in 2014. One day workshops were to limiting in duration to cover the amount of material I wished to present and so I chose to bring out a 2 day class which eventually grew to include 16 hours of interactive lecture. The textbooks were a work in progress during this time and so the price of the class reflected that as well. LAst year I capped the price of the school at $250 per full student There is also a "Sponsored" student option where the sponsored student shares the textbook of the Sponsoring student. This has been popular with Married couples. Unless or until another Textbook becomes published that is where the price of the SatBobS School will remain for the foreseeable future.
January of 2018 it is my (hopeful) intention to have each announce their schedule of classes and starting in February we would begin teaching classes at the rate of 1 class a month if there is a response from the market. Each instructor will be traveling in his or her territory so that will maintain the classification of "traveling" school but the volume of classes will increase from 9 a year when I was the only instructor to a maximum of 45 classes happening some where near your area during the February through October school season. As I said there are three textbooks included in the full tuition price.
The first book, Santa And The Business Of Being Santa, focuses on the business end of things, covering things like what separates a hobbyist from a professional Santa, being a performer and a Santa, negotiating contracts, pricing your services, ethics, taxes, and a lot more. The second book in the series, The Nuts And Bolts Of Being Santa, talks about things like Santa schools, companies that hire Santas, costumes, beards and wigs, and the people and services that support us in doing this job . Book 3, Santa And The Performing Santa, is filled with great information including the lyrics to Christmas songs, magic tricks, props, Santa’s elves, story telling and a lot more. Over 85 different chapters that are included covering the industry we work in.
So included in the tuition are the three textbooks, 16 hours of interactive lecture, a diploma, and 12 months of question answering "mentoring" for the one price. There are several other benefits attached to the school but suffice to say for the price, you will be hard pressed to find an offering equal to this school. Yes there are some schools that offer more at a higher price. There are also schools that offer less at a comperable price. You pays your money and takes your chances.
May your Season be Joyous!
Santa Gordon Bailey