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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Theater Manager Do's and Dont's

   
Author Topic: Theater Manager Do's and Dont's
Bijhan Clarke
Film Handler

Posts: 7
From: Ridgefield, Connecticut/United States of America
Registered: May 2014


 - posted 12-08-2014 08:24 PM      Profile for Bijhan Clarke   Author's Homepage   Email Bijhan Clarke   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey Guys our theater manager just bailed on us without notice and now I'm tasked with filling the role. Any advice or things that I should look out for would be a great help. Were a 4 screen start up theater in CT. Thanks.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6492
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-08-2014 08:50 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
M.B.W.A. (Management by Walking Around)

Let your assistant managers do their jobs. You should take care of your job... Making sure the bills get paid and that the paychecks come on time.

When you are not doing something related to that, you do what the headline says: Walk around.

You go to each department. Concession, box, ushers, booth, coffee shop, etc. You talk to the people. You find out what's going on, what people need and how you can help those people do their jobs better.

On a busy Saturday night, you find a place where help is needed, you roll up your sleeves and you pitch in. Dish out popcorn, sell tickets, sweep floors or do crowd control.

As a general manager, you will have a lot of balls in the air. Paperwork, phone calls, accounting, personnel or God Knows what. Keeping the doors open is first priority.

But a manager who spends all day, every day, in his office will quickly be regarded as an "empty suit."

We all know a manager like that. Don't be that manager.

Beyond that... Enjoy the ride! [Big Grin]

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Jarod Reddig
Master Film Handler

Posts: 467
From: Hays, Ks
Registered: Jun 2011


 - posted 12-08-2014 09:30 PM      Profile for Jarod Reddig   Email Jarod Reddig   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well put Randy.

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 882
From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010


 - posted 12-08-2014 09:31 PM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Randy speaks nothing but truth. Do all those things and you'll be great. I'd ESPECIALLY like to stress "Let your asst's do their jobs". If you don't back them up, support them, trust them, their morale will go to shit real quick and they'll feel(and act) like regular floor staff.

I'd also like to add... be as detail oriented as you can. Praise good behavior. If you see an employee do something good/well/you like, make sure they know you notice and are appreciative!! Don't be the Manager that is all "No", "That's wrong", etc. Naturally you will need to correct behaviors, but do so positively, and explain your reasoning. It builds trust. It lets them know you actually know what you're doing and care about it, rather than just being an "asshole".

I'm envious!

Best of luck!

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6492
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-08-2014 11:17 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One of the few textbooks I saved from college is a book on management. The last chapter is called "The Seven Jackass Managers."

It classifies different types of bad managers like "The Fireman" who spends his time running around "fixing" problems like a fireman putting out fires or "The Lifeguard" who is always "protecting" his subordinates from making mistakes.

The description of each "Jackass Manager" has a little cartoon to illustrate.

If I can find that book, maybe I'll scan the cartoons and post them for you. [Smile]

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Manny Montes
Master Film Handler

Posts: 270
From: United States
Registered: Feb 2010


 - posted 12-09-2014 12:57 AM      Profile for Manny Montes   Email Manny Montes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Don't pretend to know everything, part of management is knowing when to hire people who are better than you at something (or knowing when to defer to their judgment). Now don't take this advice to mean that someone who has been around a long time is an expert, there are plenty of people who have been around who should have been fired a long time ago...

Don't be afraid to ask for help, when you try and act like a know it all and you don't actually know what you're doing the staff and managers know, it decreases their trust in you as a leader. You're going to learn as you go.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2226
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 12-09-2014 02:06 AM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One thing I find helpful is to make a checklist of the most critical things that need to be done each week related to keeping the doors open and the show on the screen - work schedule, show schedule, managing content/keys, ordering supplies, bank runs, etc. When you're in charge of the whole operation, it's very easy to have details slip through the cracks if you don't have some method of keeping track of everything that needs to be done.

Reach out to vendors and studio contacts to let them know you are running the show. Develop that personal contact and make sure they have your contact information. This includes everything from your concession vendors to alarm companies to maintenance/service techs.

If your theatre uses an outside film booker, this is probably the single most important contact to reach out to. This is who you're going to go through each week to find out what you're playing. If you have a booking issue with Deluxe or Technicolor, you're going to go through your booker in most cases.

Be sure you understand all the people you need to distribute show schedules to - the newspaper, Cinema Source & Tribune Media, radio and/or TV, web site, email list, fax blast, etc.

Make sure you have a contact list for critical contacts. This includes who to call if you don't receive content/keys, who to call if various pieces of equipment go down, and so forth.

Try to meet with your assistants to assess their overall knowledge of the operation and don't be afraid to delegate specific tasks. And hold them accountable to be sure things are done.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1081
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Dec 2012


 - posted 12-09-2014 02:15 AM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Pretty much everything what above has said. I would add that I would hire or make sure your current projectionist/programmer understands things like proper masking, appropriate volume levels and overall presentation showmanship.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4439
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 12-09-2014 08:50 AM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Make a list of all the stupid things a manager has done to you; make it a point not to be that guy.

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Mark Hajducki
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 500
From: Edinburgh, UK
Registered: May 2003


 - posted 12-09-2014 07:16 PM      Profile for Mark Hajducki   Email Mark Hajducki   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Whenever you enter the building think about what a customer would see/think. What in the foyer/screen/seats/staff/food stall/toilets detracts from their experience?

When you are out in public view make sure you look like a manager (be identifiable to your customers)- don't hide in plain clothes.

Find out what you need to do to keep your theatre legal and safe- ensure this happens!

Speak to your staff and customers.

Set targets that are realistic, set promotions that make sense to your customers.

You seem to be in the fortunate position of not being governed by a distant head office, use this to tailor your business towards your local audience.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4439
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 12-11-2014 06:04 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Building upon what Mark says:

Every day, walk in the entrance that the customer uses and look at the facility and people from the stand point of the customer. Many managers use the back entrance and don't even notice the bird nest (and excrement) right above and in the main door or the tracking across the carpet.

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Bijhan Clarke
Film Handler

Posts: 7
From: Ridgefield, Connecticut/United States of America
Registered: May 2014


 - posted 12-15-2014 10:51 AM      Profile for Bijhan Clarke   Author's Homepage   Email Bijhan Clarke   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Guys, the wise words made me real happy because I'm already doing a lot of them. Could anyone tell me where I can compare our Concessions per cap on a national scale?

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6492
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-15-2014 12:42 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think per cap is something that fluctuates by market.

In my theater, a per cap of $1.00 is really good. At the Cinemark, down the road, a dollar is fair to middling.

I like to consider that per cap, CPC and margin are indicators of customers getting more of the things they want instead of thinking of things strictly by the numbers.

If you think strictly by the numbers, you aren't giving people things they want. You are only just counting the money.

If you offer things that people want to buy, you will have happier customers and the numbers will follow.

Happy customers bring higher profits but higher profits don't necessarily mean happier customers.

Use your MBWA to carry that message to your employees and they will be happier, too.

Happier employees bring happier customers and happy customers bring more protist and that completes a cycle.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12674
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 12-15-2014 02:41 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Randy Stankey
In my theater, a per cap of $1.00 is really good. At the Cinemark, down the road, a dollar is fair to middling.
Maybe you define "per cap" differently than I do....? It's the amount spent at the concession per ticket sold, to me at least. In my theatre a dollar per-cap would be a complete disaster. We shoot for at least $3.75 to $4.50 depending on the movie.

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