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Halloween Frights

by Beth A. Block


As I was considering the impending wave of fall festivities, I decided to do some online research. (Many of you know that I’m a bit of a research nerd.) One of the first cases that jumped out at me involved a studio that had put together a Halloween festival in conjunction with several other local businesses.

This type of joint venture is an excellent way to find new prospects for your studio. Each of the businesses invited its own clients, and the event was promoted throughout the community. Talk about an opportunity to crank up your sales funnel! It’s important that we all continue the momentum of increased enrollments. For most of us, 2020 took a harsh toll on our student body, and we need to be creative in our approach to recruiting new people.

The festival I found during my research went off without a hitch — but I’ll play a bit of “what if” with you. After all, you know that I have true stories about bad situations in which your peers have found themselves. Based on these experiences, I easily can imagine what could go wrong in a scenario. That means this particular column is based on my imagination because none of my clients have organized a community Halloween party.

Imagine that your school and four local businesses — a pizza place, a hair salon, a tutoring service and a childcare center, all located in the same plaza — decide to join forces for a Halloween celebration. You agree that the event will be held in your parking lot because you have the most space. You reach out to your landlord for permission, and he requires you to get a certificate of insurance from your agent, which you do. Everything moves forward with the planning.

Wait a minute! Did you catch the fact that only you provided a certificate? None of the other businesses had to do that. This means that already the entire responsibility to the landlord is on your shoulders.

In the planning phase, you work with the childcare center, and the two of you decide it will be fun to bring an inflatable to the party. What kid doesn’t love an inflatable? Then you talk to the pizza place and ask the owner to print the fliers. Pizza places are always printing fliers, so this is the perfect task for the owner.

The hairdresser offers to provide face painting at the party, and the tutoring center will supervise a dunk tank. All the businesses agree to take turns putting an instructor or owner on the seat of the tank.

The day of the party arrives. All the business owners are excited, the clients are psyched and the community is looking forward to partying during the day and then trick-or-treating in the evening. What could go wrong?

Party Pooper Beth is about to give you a list. Remember that you’re the only one who has provided a certificate of insurance. We’ll pretend that the childcare center and the tutoring center have insurance; none of the other businesses does.

The inflatable blows away in a stiff wind because it wasn’t properly anchored to the ground. Or maybe it was anchored properly but it wasn’t supervised. In any case, two kids crack their heads, and they end up in the emergency room with concussions. Guess what? Neither your insurance policy nor the childcare provider’s policy has coverage for the inflatable. That is a specific exclusion on all insurance policies.

Now imagine that the pizza guy used a picture of Freddy Krueger in the flier. That picture is copyrighted by the company that made A Nightmare on Elm Street. They really object to the use of their image and come in, suing everybody. The pizza guy isn’t insured. That advertising-injury claim is coming to you and the other local businesses.

There’s one more potential horror story, this one involving the face-painting hairdresser. She purchased a basic paint set from the local Halloween store. A little girl is allergic to the paint and ends up in anaphylactic shock. An ambulance is called, and she’s taken to the emergency room. Her medical bills total $16,500. Guess what? The hairdresser didn’t have insurance. Again, you, along with the childcare center and tutoring center, will be the ones sued.

Is this convergence of worst-case scenarios likely? No. But when you consider that even one of these things happening would put a significant damper on your event — and your bottom line — I’m sure you’ll agree that a little extra effort is worth it.

If you decide to work with other businesses, make sure you get their certificates of insurance up front. Boo, and happy Halloween.


To contact Beth A. Block, send an email to [email protected] or call (800) 225-0863.

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