Bowling is a sport enjoyed by millions worldwide. Like many businesses in past few years bowling alleys have been hurt by our nation’s economic downturn. It is imperative for small town bowling alley owners and managers to properly market themselves and update their amenities in order to stay profitable. It is not enough for a bowling alley to solely offer bowling. Instead they need to start thinking of themselves as family fun centers if they want to remain current and increase profits. In this article I will offer a few suggestions on what small town bowling alleys can do to attract customers and maintain positive customer relationships. None of the individual recommendations are going to drastically increase a bowling alley’s revenue. However, a blend of all of these should generate significant growth, when operating at optimum level.
1. Selling your lanes
If a center has 15 lanes then there needs to be 15 advertisements from local businesses hanging over the lanes (preferably at the end of the lane). You would be surprised at how many businesses are willing to do this on a yearly basis for a small investment. Here is how this is achieved: Call the institution with which you bank, your accountant, real estate agent, food distributor, and any other business that the bowling alley works with on a routine basis. Tell them that you will give them a year of advertising for a set price of $1000. Out of that $1000 dollars you purchase the signage and net the rest. The reason why the signage is purchased out of that fee is so that the owner can decide the dimensions of the sign. If all 15 lanes have a sign over them, then a center will gross $15,000 before you purchase the signage. All this for doing nothing more than providing people you work with on a daily basis with a place to advertise.
You can also do something on a smaller scale with the ball sweeper. Ball sweepers are located at the end of each lane and they sweep the pins following each roll.
2. Arcades and prizes
In an effort to make the bowling alley more of a family fun center, arcades, redeemable prizes and kid’s birthday party packages are necessary. Kids can burn through tokens very quickly, so including tokens for video games in the package is money for the center. If a bowling alley does not have video games or redeemable prize machines in their center, they need to get them, and quickly. The more you can pack into the center, the more cash the bowling alley will receive. But where can a center go to get video games to put in their center? Video game distributors can provide games, redeemable prize machines, jukeboxes and even ATMs to bowling centers for practically no cost and maintenance free. Once a week, a representative for the distributor counts the money in the machines, token distributor and/or ATMs. Once the money is counted they split the money in half with the bowling alley! For little cost and almost no hassle, the business can attract a lot of people with video games for kids to play either after bowling or during a party. Additionally, games and machines are switched out every few months to add excitement and entice potential players. As a result, the bowling alley takes in a substantial amount of cash with little effort.
3. Night life and adult birthday parties
Alcoholic beverages and bowling go hand and hand. It is rare to see league bowlers not have a beer or two while they are rolling. Yet, why can’t the bowling alley offer a night life to adults? This is especially relevant in small towns where there might be a lack of fun after dark. If space is available, bring in a DJ and clear a spot for a small dance floor and the crowds will come. Offer to do adult birthday parties at night and give the party goers drink specials. Also, adults like to play video games, especially if they are with their friends and having a good time. To make sure responsible drinking is being adhered to the owner and manager may need to provide security to ensure safety and the ability to properly handle a rowdy situation. If this measure is in place, the center will draw the right crowd night after night.
Doing these three things is relatively inexpensive, requires little work, and is ultimately very profitable. Incorporating one of these things into a bowling alley that is not currently doing any of the three will increase revenue. If a center can fold all them of them together then there is huge potential for greater profits.