“I stuck around. It’s hard to leave!”
To be the CSA Manager at ScareHouse means to be the “Customer Service Associate Manager.” But for Ann Kelly, it may as well stand for “Committed ScareHouse Associate Manager,” as she has been with the company for 13 years.
“I had friends that worked here as we were all in college and they said, ‘Come work with us!’ I stuck around. It’s hard to leave. Everyone here is so wonderful. The spooky stuff is enjoyable.”
Kelly started out as an actor, performing at ScareHouse for nearly 7 years before she decided to move into something less intense. . .like customer service?
“Customer service is just a different level of intensity. You’re running around talking to customers, dealing with people.”
Some of Kelly’s duties include de-escalating situations, like when customers experience confusion in line.
“People don’t expect the lines to be as long as they are, especially on Saturday nights. Or they don’t expect to wait in line at all. It’s explaining to people that you have this time window. There might be prop breaks or hazards in the haunt that we have to deal with, so that pauses the line and you have to wait longer. Some people are also slower and just want to take everything in. The sets are just as elaborate as in our previous location, so some customers just want to be able to take everything in and they go slow. I’m also one of those customers, so I can’t blame them, but that can slow things down.”
However, if you want to really take your time with touring ScareHouse, you should take a behind-the-scenes tour with the creative directors and show managers.
“Then, you get the whole history of ScareHouse, which is super interesting.”
A typical day for Kelly involves chores, managing schedules, and getting everything set up before showtime. Thankfully, most of the ScareHouse team has been around a while, which makes her job run smoothly.
“I have to give them minimal instruction and they just know what to do. They make setting everything up really easy.”
Then people start showing up, and she helps with the screening process.
“We have to make sure they don’t have any weapons on them, no open containers, no beverages. Anything that can be hazardous in the haunt. We have a policeman on detail.”
Safety is always something that ScareHouse takes seriously, with an extensive training program for all employees that differentiates ScareHouse staff from a lot of other haunts.
“We train our actors. ‘Keep your distance. You want to scare them and get close, but read people.’ There are all sorts of things you learn over the years.”
In between the groups of customers, she and the ScareHouse sanitize the props.
“We have everyone sanitize their hands before they go into the haunt. We have sanitizers at the end of the haunt and in the middle of the haunt, and then we have sanitizers all throughout. We have one at the ticket booth, so customers can sanitize as much as they want.”
You can even buy your own Creepo or Dave the Clown mask at the ScareHouse store to keep you safe. . .and maybe to keep people away. Kelly has noticed that since everyone has started wearing masks, an unwanted annual ScareHouse tradition has ceased to exist.
“Because you’re in such close quarters, every previous year we’ve always had what we call the ‘ScareHouse Plague’—a cold that goes around. Last year we didn’t have that. And we haven’t had one yet this year. Masking has definitely helped prevent the spread of germs.”
Like most ScareHouse team members, Kelly has a 9-to-5 job in addition to her role at the haunt; she works as a graphic designer for GymTV. But she also gets to apply her 9-to-5 skills into creating a positive work environment for ScareHouse.
“This year, I’m working on the 2021 cast and crew T-shirt with another lady. Just something fun to do.”