One of my financial buddies sent me an article about AMF’s recent bankruptcy.
The article, really a blog by Randy Hutchinson, CEO of White Hutchinson Leisure and Learning Grouptalks about the implications of AMF’s bankruptcy and its causes.
While the article made mention of AMF’s financial troubles, it specifically alluded to AMF’s problems with league bowling. In effect the article stated that AMF’s problems were the result of “league bowling dying; the result of an old product that once catered to “the bored blue collar and factory worker with amusement” in the evening.
Sure the demographics have changed, the economy has changed and sure there are less blue collar factory workers out there, but does that automatically mean that bowling has less appeal because people work in cubicles, rather than work “on the line?”
I don’t think so.
To paraphrase, the article further continued to say …”and since the demographics of America have drastically changed, the league bowling aspect of the business is no longer viable. Bowling centers that have not modernized to appeal to the new open play customer will also eventually die.”
Further, efforts to bring in people to “bowl in shorter league seasons have also met with resistance and, yes, the league product is dead or if not dead yet, will soon be.”
Like Mark Twain who heard of his death, said, “The report of my demise is much too premature.”
And so is league bowling.
If Randy White’s analysis is right, then why do we replace about 20% of our league bowlers every year with NEW people, but somehow still manage to lose $23% to 25% of our existing customers?
Why we are able to interest people in 8 week have a ball programs and have thousands of new people across the country join these programs? Why indeed?
And finally, why do we see, regardless of what Randy White may say, more growth in short season leagues than in the past?
And why, as Randy White says upfront, do 71 million people still go bowling; about 1 out of 4 people age 5 and older? What other pay for play activity has that kind of following?
Maybe we are getting smarter in learning how to utilize social media. Maybe our skills at inside and outside selling are getting sharper. Maybe our centers are getting better looking. Maybe we are hiring better people. Maybe because league bowling, like many products, is an evolving product?
Maybe because we have no choice but to get better.