This pandemic has forced a lot of changes on our lives and the lives of our customers. People are changing the way they shop, how they consume media, what they do in their spare time, where and how they spend their money. Experts say that it takes about 21 days to create a new habit. As we enter our ninth month under this pandemic, that makes for a lot of new habits.
What this suggests to us, is that many of these behavioural changes that we are seeing are not going to just disappear when this is over. Many of us will have developed long-term, and in some cases permanent, habits. That means we need to adapt to these new behaviours not just to survive the pandemic, but to serve our customers well into the future.
Let’s explore some of these behavioural changes and what they mean for the bowling industry.
There are two growing trends that our industry needs to pay attention to: health & safety and the move to a touchless experience/online consumerism. These trends can be seen forming throughout all the generational cohorts and should be your top focus as you plan for 2021.
Health & safety trends see people thinking about the cleanliness of a business, about the size, space and number of other people they’ll be exposed to. These are concerns that will be with us for a long time and that means businesses will have to rethink business models based on densely packed buildings.
The pandemic has also dramatically sped up the move to online shopping. Combine this with the health and safety concerns over “stranger danger” and you have a shift to consumers looking for touchless experiences.
Let’s have a look at how these trends may impact bowling customers.
- Mom’s & families are looking for experiences instead of tangible goods
- According to National Retail Federation, families are increasing their spending on experiences, especially within the millennial parent cohort. Of course, health and safety work together with this trend. They want to spend their time and money in safe places that they perceive minimize any risk.
- Boomers are adapting to online purchases.
- Boomers make up a large portion of our league bowlers, they are also grandparents who may be bringing grand kids bowling, and may be some of our more loyal and long-term customers. But they are getting used to online interactions being the norm and will look for that from all businesses.
“Pre-COVID, boomers typically made less than half of their purchases online, but two-thirds now say accelerated adoption of technology like buy online, pick up in-store and curbside pickup has improved their shopping experience”—Katie Jorden, Research Manager, NRF.
- Millennials and Gen Z are moving towards cashless experiences.
- Outside of credit and debit cards, Millennials are creating a rise in payment apps such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. In fact, in 2020, about 23% of Millennials are using these payments methods, as opposed to 18% in 2015.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE BOWLING INDUSTRY?
With more consumers moving online, centres also needs to consider their online presence and services. Optimize your online presence to let customers know they are in good hands when visiting you and create a more touchless experience for them.
Pro Tips for Your Online Presence:
- Create a social media plan for 2021.
- Are you on social platforms? Facebook and Instagram should be your top focus. With 79% and 53%, respectively, of Canadians using these platforms daily, these are the best places to connect with your audience.
- Show how you’re adhering to provincial and federal guidelines.
- Use pictures and videos to show the steps you are taking, your directional signage, and all your staff “masked-up”.
- Promote safe kid birthday parties and family outings.
- Using social media, you can show just how safe it is for parents looking for alternatives to their kids’ birthdays in the coming year.
- Ask for Facebook & Google Reviews.
- Facebook reviews are an easy and free way to have social proof of the added level of care you deliver. It’s one thing for you to say you’re doing a great job, it’s entirely different when a customer says it. Provide table talkers and signage asking for a review on how well your Centre has done to keep everyone safe. You can even create QR codes that link directly to your review sites to make it easy.
- 72% of consumers say they trust local businesses more when they find positive reviews on Google. So, if you have not already claimed your business on Google, it is time to do that now. It is another free solution to increase your online presence and to gain more trust from guests.
Pro Tips for A Touchless Experience:
- Add an online reservation software to your budget.
- If you don’t already have an online reservation software, like Meriq, this should be your top priority moving into 2021. Not only are you helping to foster the touchless experience, but it also allows you to have more capacity control, depending on your provincial guidelines.
- If you already have this in place, try positioning online reservations as a “touchless option” in your marketing. Collect shoe sizes and have shoes and balls waiting for them on the lane so all a guest has to do is check-in and head straight to their lane with minimal contact.
- Do away with printed menus
- Instead of creating menus that have to be printed, try creating a digital version and providing a QR code guests can scan to view the menu online. This eliminates needless touching and cleaning of menus, reducing your costs, and signals to your guests that you take their safety seriously.
We’ve also seen some centres that have Brunswick Sync testing the latest upgrade that allows for touchless lane-side ordering right on the Sync tablet, minimizing contact.
Online Ordering is also offered through Sync for takeout orders, which have been a staple to keep some businesses during shutdowns.
A NEW BUSINESS MODEL
One of the biggest challenges we may have to face as an industry is the potential shift away from crowds. Until we have a vaccine that has been proven to be effective – not in tests, but in real life – many people are going to avoid crowds, and some will do so for years to come.
For many industries, ours included, this means figuring out a new business model that doesn’t rely on packing the house to generate a profit. How we do it is difficult, but it bears consideration. Some things we may need to look at include:
- Loyalty programs
- Membership sales
- Pricing structure
- New partnerships
- More ancillary offerings
Not an easy task to be sure, but a great opportunity if we can figure it out.
Although this year has been challenging for all of us, we have the opportunity to redefine our industry together. And, at Striker Bowling Solutions, we’re here to support you as you plan and adapt.
As you begin to plan for 2021, be sure to contact us. We are here to help you in any way we can.
THE BRUNSWICK CLOUD MAKES IT EASY TO PREPARE A 12-MONTH MARKETING PLAN
(reprinted from the December Brunswick Newsletter)
All business owners need a financial plan for the future. That’s why you and your team sit down each year to reflect on the past year’s budget and make plans, goals, and adjustments for the upcoming year. In much the same way, your team should be planning for the next marketing year as well. The process is similar: review the previous year, plan for the next year, and pivot and adjust along the way.
Having a 12-month plan allows your team to create measurable goals, stay on the same page, and be proactive instead of reactive. Once this year’s plan is developed, it will be easier year over year to implement similar marketing efforts. As we head into the new year, now is the perfect time to put together your 12-month marketing plan.
Start by reviewing your objectives and thinking about your main business goals for 2020. It’s also crucial to know your budget for marketing and where you’re going to focus your spending to maximize your ROI. Then you can appropriately lay out a strategy to help those areas grow.
Are you hoping to attract more league bowlers? Increase birthday party revenue? Drive food and beverage sales for guests already in the center? Some goals might be seasonal, such as league building or holiday-driven special events. Others might require attention throughout the year. Once you finalize your goals, write them down and assign each goal to a quarter or multiple quarters. The table below provides an example of objectives assigned to dates throughout the year.
Now that goals have been identified, it’s time to reverse-engineer to determine when the appropriate marketing efforts should begin. A marketing campaign for winter leagues will require a 4-to 6- week lead time for marketing. Planning ahead promotes being proactive instead of reactive. We know the holidays that are coming up, we know the leagues that are about start, and we know the events that lie ahead. Our customers should too.
If you want to increase your birthday party sales during the highest-volume months, marketing efforts need to begin in the summer. Promotion of company holiday parties can begin as early as summertime. (Many businesses book their company parties that far out.)
Knowing when to start a given marketing strategy is imperative. It allows enough time for your campaign to gain momentum and enough traffic to bring awareness to what you’re promoting. Most centers don’t allow enough time for a campaign to pick up steam and end up with a lower turnout than hoped for a promoted event.
All of this means your marketing materials and concepts should be finalized one or two quarters in advance of the start of your campaign. One of the most powerful features of the Brunswick Cloud is the ability to plan ahead and let the Cloud go to work for you.
Creating your 12-month marketing plan is easier than you might think when you use Brunswick Cloud. Case in point: use Brunswick Cloud’s Custom Campaign Manager to create monthly emails for the entire year. Brunswick Cloud lets you tailor colors, imagery, and links to support your center’s brand. Take full advantage of the 50+ pre-built campaigns provided in Brunswick Cloud to promote holidays, upcoming events, and promotions on birthday parties, food & beverage, happy hour and more. Once you establish your goals and calendar, you can schedule each campaign digitally in Brunswick Cloud, allowing campaigns to turn on and turn off according to your schedule.
With a 12-month marketing plan, you’ll be strategic, planned, and prepared with campaigns to support your fiscal goals. Let Brunswick Cloud help you start 2020 knowing you’re ready to make it a great year!
Once again, Brunswick was displaying some impressive innovations to the attendees of Bowl Expo last month. Here are just some of the highlights from the show:
Spark is Brunswick’s new interactive scoring experience. Just what is an interactive scoring experience? Well, in the case of Spark, it’s an immersive experience for the casual bowler like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
It begins with when the guest approaches the Sync tablet and bowlers are presented with new games and 15 animation themes that carry right onto the lanes themselves! Throughout the game, the experience is carried from the scoring tablet to the lanes where Spark brings their favourite Sync games to life. Imagine your guests being able to project their own images onto the lanes, and score points by hitting targets right on the lane! They can do it all, creating Instagram worthy photo ops they’ll share with all their friends and family.
Brunswick has partnered with TouchMagix™ to introduce technology that revolutionizes the on-lane projection experience. Spark’s hardware automation simplifies ongoing management, and advanced laser projection technology lowers total cost of ownership.
Spark’s dynamic content keeps the experience fresh frame after frame. The ever-expanding library of interactive Sync games keeps guest engagement high, increases revenue per visit, and pulls through incremental F&B sales thanks to increased lineage
You can get a taste of what Spark brings to the bowler experience in this video.
To learn more about this amazing innovation from Brunswick, call your Striker Bowling rep at 1.800.232.2369.
Bowl Expo attendees got a close-up look at the new Invicta release of Sync. The largest update since the launch of Sync, this new update takes the experience to a whole new level!
The Vision™ User Interface is modelled after leading digital streaming and eCommerce sites like Netflix and facilitates the discovery of new games based on past playing behaviour. It clearly explains game rules and playing time, leading to less staff intervention and a more positive guest experience.
Open Lane®, a mobile app that increases customer loyalty by making it easier for customers to connect with their favourite bowling centre. Users can sign onto waitlists for bowling, restaurants or other attractions, track and share scoring achievements, earn reward points based on spend and activity and access exclusive specials and coupons.
Rival Rumble™, a team competition, is designed to encourage participation and engagement across all skill levels. Rival Rumble uses high-resolution, engaging content to allow lanes of bowlers to compete as teams against one another.
To create the ultimate team-building experience, the game automatically presents bowlers with fun and creative individual and team awards at the end of the game – saving the centre from having to manually offer awards.
LeaguePals custom software lets users create leagues, manage rosters, make online payments and automate accounting. Bowling Centres have reported upwards of a 20% increase in bar and concession sales due to bowlers having more “cash” in their pockets from paying online.
To learn more, contact your Striker Bowling rep at 1.800.232.2369.
Buying the right equipment is only half the battle. In this article, we’ll explain the importance of quality installation, how we ensure quality on every job, and provide 6 questions you should ask to make sure your equipment is installed correctly.
When it comes to modernizing a bowling centre, or building a new one, one of the most important considerations is the quality of the team installing your lanes. Whether you’re installing new lanes, pinsetters, overlays, or scoring systems, quality installation can mean the difference between decades of worry-free performance and nightmares like voided warranties, early breakage, higher maintenance costs, and poor bowler experience.
One of the most critical parts of the installation process is the preparation; what you do before you screw down a single lane panel can mean the difference between decades of trouble-free experience and replacing damages lanes a couple of years down the road, dealing with increasing maintenance costs, and coping with poor bowler experience.
On the extreme side, we’ve seen lane installations that were put down over old foundations without proper preparation and the impact of the balls eventually caved the lanes to point of breaking. Less severe, but equally problematic are shifting lanes, uneven surfaces, and poor bowler experience.
At Striker Bowling, our professional installers will spend up to two days on preparation. This time ensures that your lanes go down on a solid foundation, levelled to a 20,000 tolerance, and meet the requirements of the industries ruling bodies.
When equipment isn’t installed correctly, you’re bound to see issues popping up years down the road. Issues that are going to erode you investment.
We have five foremen across Canada, all certified and thoroughly trained by Brunswick. All of whom have run their own bowling centres. That means they know the business from your side. They know the importance of proper installation, and they take care to always do an exceptional job.
The Striker Installation Difference
- Our installers do everything: lanes, pinsetters, overlays, scoring systems, monitors. That means they know how to make sure it all works together like it should.
- We utilize Brunswick Engineers to ensure everything is done right.
- We meticulously follow Brunswick’s detailed installation guides and Pre-Installation Checklists to guarantee a perfect installation.
- Our 5 experienced foremen across Canada are all current or former bowling centre owners. They’re supported by a team of 20 experienced installers, keymen, and field engineers.
- We communicate efficiently and effectively to meet or exceed all installation schedules set for your centre.
- We’ve completed over 250 installations over the past 10 years and continue complete nearly 30 each year
6 Questions That Will Help You Ensure You Get Quality Installation
You’re putting a lot of trust in the people installing your equipment, but how can you be sure the installation team you’re getting knows their stuff? Here are six questions you can ask that help ensure you make a smart choice, and signal to the company that you know what to look for and keep them on their toes:
- How long with the installation take? (Beware of short timelines, it could be a sign corners are being cut)
- How many years of experience do the installers who will work on my jobhave?
- Does the same team install everything or just part of the job?
- What does your pre-installation checklist look like? (Request a copy)
- Do your installers work on a project or hourly basis (sometimes installers working on a project basis will cut corners to finish sooner and save their costs)
- Ask for references from past job those specific installers have been on
In March we launched a new “Pay-as-you-Play” financing program to make it easier for proprietors to introduce Brunswick’s industry-leading Sync scoring and management system into their centres.
Our flexible financing program is based on your usage of the system as measured through the Brunswick Cloud (one of the many awesome tools you get as part of Sync). When your traffic slows down and your revenue drops, your payments can drop, too! We can also offer a variety of payment schedules including seasonal, quarterly, and semi-annual. We’ll do a complete financial review with you to put the parameters of the program in place.
A 24 lane centre would have to raise game prices by only $0.38 per game* to cover costs. A 16 lane centre, just $0.41 per game*! We recommend raising that per game price an additional 30 percent beyond what covers your cost to add to your bottom line. The great thing is, the improved bowler experience means your customers won’t mind paying a little more for all the benefits they get!
The bottom line is that you can get Sync into your centre for pennies a game! Plus create a payment schedule that works for your business! If you have other capital items needing financing, call us to create a program that works for your business.
Call us today for more details or to book a free Sync demo. 1.800.232.2369. ext. 230.
Summer is winding down and it’s time to begin preparing for the upcoming fall season. Now is a good time for some lane and lane machine maintenance.
Most lane machine manufacturers have tune-up kits for lane machines. These kits include wear items such as buffer brushes, squeegee blades, wipers, spray nozzles, etc., which come in handy during a thorough cleaning.
Dust and oil can migrate inside the lane machine and can build up over the course of one year. The deeper cleaning helps the machine last longer and perform more consistently and gives you an opportunity to look more closely at other items on the lane machine that might require replacing.
Nothing makes a bowler happier than consistent lanes.
Once the machine is cleaned and all the necessary components are replaced and properly adjusted, you should be able to get an accurate evaluation of a new lane conditioner. lane conditioner technology is quickly changing with products like Defy and Defy v30 providing more durability and more consistency than any other oil on the market.
Testing a new conditioner can take some time so it is best to do it sooner rather than later. You want to be able to hit the floor running when the fall season begins.
For more information on conditioners, cleaners, and clothes, check out Brunswick’s Know Your 3Cs brochure.
if you haven’t already, take a look at all your kickback plates and flat gutters. These items take a beating and it is not unusual for screws to break or become loose in the flat gutters which will affect how well your pins move.
The kickbacks and plates can get damaged so a little urethane coating on both can help protect them from the years of abuse. it is also good to inspect the lane panels if you have synthetic lanes. make sure all the plugs are in the panels, replace any broken screws and seal any panel seams to prevent moisture from gaining access to the underlayment and causing damage.
Addressing these items now will ultimately make your bowlers happier and help avoid some potential headaches once leagues get rolling!
Reprinted, in part, from the Brunswick Newsletter
Brunswick Sync® scoring and management system allows bowling centre professionals to leverage technology, data, and marketing automation to better build their databases and better target and reach the marketplace. With Sync, you can create marketing campaigns that are more targeted and effective than ever before.
Leveraging Data for Targeted Campaigns
Eastway Bowl, a 32-lane centre in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, uses Sync’s database to create marketing campaigns that are more targeted than what was possible just a few years ago. Eastway maintains an email database within Sync CRM; when customers sign up, they indicate their interests, allowing the centre to segment the database for targeted campaigns. “Digital information on customers is like gold,” says Josh Thomas, owner/operator of Eastway Bowl. “Being able to market directly to them with things like Facebook and email marketing campaigns is huge. We can really focus our marketing efforts in that way.” Eastway Bowl takes advantage of its database to promote birthday parties. Using Sync, the centre can send interested customers a personalized email and special offers before their birthday.
Real-Life Successful Campaigns Built in Sync.
Royal Pin Leisure Centers, which operates four centres with 270 lanes in Indianapolis, used their Sync database to promote their May the Fourth Be with You event (held on May 4, of course). Emails, in-game ads, overhead ads, transactional emails, and printed receipts were all created using Sync. The event was such a success that Royal Pin filled all four centres, two of which had to go to waitlists. Royal Pin also used Sync to capitalize on the frenzy surrounding the release of the smash hit smartphone game, Pokémon Go. The centres sent emails to their children’s birthday database and their adult bowlers, inviting them to the centre to bowl a free game. Youth bowlers brought friends and adult bowlers brought their children. More young people were exposed to bowling, and Royal Pin was able to expand its database. Further south in Georgetown, Texas, Mel’s Lone Star Lanes, a 40-lane centre, created a Women Bowling with Wine campaign. The event spanned four Fridays in August and invited women to bring their friends and enjoy bowling, wine, and appetizers. Sync was used to create overhead ads, in-game ads, and posts for Facebook and Instagram.
“Sync has been really successful in enabling us to push out a campaign immediately to all people we already have in the building, as well as on social media,” says Rocky Bush, events and marketing director for Mel’s. “The minute the women in the centre saw the overhead with the pink background and a cute woman drinking a glass of wine, they came straight to the front counter and wanted information. And we filled the place with less than two weeks advance notice.”
Each year, Mel’s hosts a Bowler to Veterans Link (BVL) fundraiser. Last year, the centre came up with a great idea for increasing total funds raised. Mel’s gave a few select local businesses the chance to sponsor lanes or teams. The sponsors shared all of the centre’s in-game tablet and in-game overhead ad space for the entire weekend. “It was a really huge success,” says Bush. “We raised over $10,000, and our sponsors got great exposure and great value for their sponsorship dollar.”
Another successful campaign involved leveraging the provided campaigns within Sync to introduce Angry Birds Bowling birthday parties. Mel’s debuted the Sync-exclusive game by offering two hours of free bowling and shoe rentals. The event was promoted in-centre and on social media advertising, with emails sent directly to their Sync database (including Mel’s Kids Club members).
Prizes were given away at the end of the event, and while guests bowled and waited for the prize announcements, they ordered pizza and drinks and played in the arcade. Arcade sales doubled compared to an average Friday, as guests awaited the prize announcements. Overall sales were higher in that two-hour timeframe, even though bowling and shoe rentals were given away.
“We packed the place, filling all 28 lanes twice,” says Bush. “It was a super fun event for families to come out and experience what the game was about and to see bowling in a different light. We’re going to keep doing community outreach events like that. That way, people will think of us for more than just bowling and think of us for family fun entertainment.”
Successful Campaigns are a Snap With Sync
Sync makes database development easy and automates your marketing. Using the Sync database, you can target and reach an audience that’s receptive to your message and most likely to act. Creating your own successful campaigns is a snap with Sync! In fact, using one of Sync’s stock campaigns, you can go from zero to wow in just five clicks.
- Within Sync, select “What do you want to do?”
- Select a start or end date
- Select your images/graphics
- Select your text/copy for your ads
- Click “start campaign”
It’s That Simple!
Sync elevates marketing automation to a whole new level of ease and effectiveness.
With Sync, you can set up a targeted email blast in 60 seconds or program an entire
year’s worth of campaigns in just 30 minutes.
Click here to learn more or to schedule your free, personalized Sync demonstration.
Reprinted from the June 2018 Brunswick Bowling Newsletter
The hot, summer months are upon us and while traffic may be slowing, the need for bowling alley maintenance remains. Here is a checklist of centre maintenance activities you should be keeping an eye on at this time of year.
- Clean out A/C ventilation systems.
- Keep an eye on humidity during the summer.
- Change filters.
- Dust out electronic enclosures including POS systems.
- Allow for ample ventilation.
- Check old electronic spare parts board.
- Replace old batteries.
- Thoroughly clean floors from winter salt. Stripping and waxing might be needed.
- Thoroughly clean approaches from winter salt and dry thoroughly from summer humidity.
- If time allows, strip and wax floors where applicable.
- Painting and touching up walls/equipment.
- Carpet Cleaning to remove any winter salt and dirt.
- Outside maintenance to remove winter issues now that snow is melted.
- Clean off roofing drains.
Bowling Shoes and Bowling balls:
- Thoroughly check and clean shoes.
- Replace any worn or damaged shoes as they could cause safety hazards
- Thoroughly inspect bowling balls for damages and sharp edges.
- Replace damaged bowling balls for equipment and customer safety.
- Cleaning bowling balls with lane cleaner will help prevent dirt from reaching pins and pinsetters.
- Checking and cleaning bowling pins will help prevent jams or stops.
- Cleaning dirt and debris from pinsetters will make a huge difference to the start of the winter leagues.
- Replace any broken or worn parts.
- Check on status of pins and clean. Visible wood is a sign of pins needing to be changed out.
- Summer is an optimal training time for mechanics to prepare for the busy winter season.
- Have your lanes inspected for changes in tilting and warping?
- This is a perfect time to change or test out new oil or lane conditioner to improve bowler experience.
Investing in the future of your bowling centre costs money. Financing and refinancing capital purchases are critical steps to your overall business success. More often than not, that means approaching banks and other lenders to make your case for why loaning you that money is a safe investment.
Despite the strong, stable revenue a modern bowling centre can generate, banks and other lenders will often express concern because of the highly specialized usage of the real estate involved.
“Many local banks struggle to understand the bowling center business model, in part because those banks do not have very many of the operators in their client portfolio, and because they are unfamiliar with the financial statements that bowling center operators put together,” said Kurt Harz, the former vice president of sales at Brunswick in an article that appeared in the Commercial Observer.
At Striker Bowling Solutions, we have helped proprietors position themselves with banks and lenders in various forms. including Business Plans, Financial Analysis, Objective Planning and much more. Our experience can be leveraged to help you get approved for the loans you need to move into the future.
For those looking for smaller purchases, we have relationships with lease companies that can make the transaction happen fast and for the betterment of your company.
If you want to discuss how we can help you create a plan to invest in your centre’s future, give us a call.