As I look back on 2011 I realize that it was a much different year than any year I experienced in the bowling industry and that spans over 35 years; 16 of which as the head of The Kaploe Marketing Group, having proudly served hundreds and hundreds of proprietors over the years domestically and internationally.
It was a much tougher year. Much tougher. Open play was off allot and leagues were at best down slightly Again!
So I thought I would make a list of things I learned this past year and perhaps some of them will resonate with you as well and give you “pause” to think about how to improve your businesss.
1. Bowling is NOT recession proof any more and in order to get new people into the center and get people to return more frequently, it takes a sustained effort of specific offers to KEY segments vs. a blanket offer to everyone.
2. If you have a blog for your center, you will get 88% more traffic per month than those those who do not (Source: Hubspot Research June 2011). By the way, if you need help in writing blogs, just contact me (516 359 4874) because we are introducing a new service for your center in mid January that will create professional blogs for you…really inexpensively too!!
3. Content is king. Many proprietors are still using emails and Facebook for one thing and one thing only: to deliver an offer and sell, sell sell. STOP! You need to build a relationship with your customer and provide them with valuable information that THEY want as a first step to get them to trust you. Once trust is established you can then offer coupons and special deals that are relevant to specific segment. There’s a reason they call it SOCIAL media, right?
4. Customer service is no longer just a buzz word. It is expected and when not delivered, you and your center will soon find that you are on Facebook and Yelp in a very unflattering way. Hire the best athlete and train him or her to carry out your tactics. Just because someone has had experience in “front desk operations” doesn’t mean they understand the 21st century customers needs. In fact it may hurt more than help. Meeting, greeting, saying thank you and fixing customer issues immediately are essential. How often do you retrain your staff or get a mystery shopper to tell you how you are doing?
5. Build your cosmic bowling back up by creating an interactive entertainment experience. Go to a college and hire someone who is studying hospitality or communications for Friday and or Saturday night to be your MC to run dance contest, trivia contests, give out funny prizes (red noses, rubber ducks, t shirts, free games, pizza, etc). Use theme nights; get a band once a month or so and strive to be as entertaining as possible. This product is viewed as entertainment. It “aint” just bowling anymore The 21 year old who has stopped coming to your cosmic show has stopped because it hasn’t changed since he was 16 years old. Boring doesn’t sell!
6. Get better toilet paper. Women judge a bowling center’s cleanliness by the quality of the toilet paper. Don’t ask me how I know this…its a very long story. 🙂
7. Make sure your website is updated at least once per week and that you post on Facebook every day. Yeah, I know you’re busy, but to communicate effectively someone on your staff (or you) needs to devote at least one hour per day to 21st century marketing communications.
8.Try to build a short season league program every month (6 to 10 weeks). That’s what NEW customers want. That’s what they expect and if you don’t offer them this choice, they just won’t join anything. Period.
9. Outside selling is still very important. If no one in the center is getting outside of the center to speak to chamber of commerce members, non profit groups, community organizations, companies and local retailers at least once a month on a “blitz” program, you will be very disappointed in your lineage results.
10. Company parties, team building events and fund raisers are a vital source of revenue and should be done every month, not just during the holiday season.
What did YOU learn this year? Please let me know.