Stealing that little line from one of my favorite shows, Better Call Saul with Bon Odenkirk, the prequel to the phenomenal Breaking Bad series, Jimmy, the funny, quirky, but smart lawyer who doesn’t follow the rules perfectly, doesn’t want to be a stuffy trial lawyer like his brother. Jimmy felt there was a market to represent the common man.
He decides to change his name because he doesn’t want to be known as Chuck’s little brother anymore since he felt he would live in his shadow forever. So, he comes up with a name that people will remember. It’s like George Costanza on Seinfeld when he dates a girl and hums a commercial jingle that once it gets in your head, it’s tough to forget. So, Jimmy changed his name to Saul Goodman, “It’s all good, man.” Not a bad marketing ploy, although his character ends up being slimy in the end (sorry, spoiler alert!). So how does this work with bowling? Well, with all the distractions our world has today and all the competition our bowling centers and FECs face, we must look for that competitive marketing advantage or unique selling position.
What can we do to keep our customers thinking of our center when it’s time for entertainment?
I had a consulting client who did something unique once — which I immediately copied. After the fall season was done around mid-June, the center hosted several special events for their past league bowlers and their current summer league bowlers. “You spent eight months bowling with us, and we want to thank you for your patronage.” This proprietor hosted a picnic-style party, consisting of barbeque, a beer garden, a dunk tank where the hotshot bowlers, the proprietor, the association president, and others were dunked, with the proceeds going to the junior and high school programs. They even had a live band play in the parking lot. It was a huge party to say thanks to all the customers for the past year. It was free for all league bowlers and included a plus one. There was a cash bar along with prizes the beer distributors donated to them. It was a blast! In the same vein, one year I hosted a similar thing inside since the weather was questionable. We did pretty much the same thing, but we included a ton of awards during the event. It was like a giant bowling banquet for all my leagues. We presented league awards and gag awards — best form, worst form, etc. It was a big, fun party. Sure, it cost a few hundred bucks on food and sundries, but talk about a blast and putting us at top-of-mind for customers! People received a snail mail invitation from us, enjoyed the party, had a blast, and came back in the fall. We have to be unique. We must be talked about in a good way and known for something. Easiest lane conditions, best nachos, cheapest prices, etc., are all good, but those are not enough to cut it; customers will remember a fun party for a party’s sake. Try something different than your normal. You will be glad you did, and so will your customers. Keep ‘em rolling!
Bowl Co Marketing and Management
Here are some ideas for league retention:
PAID USBC FEES
FREE LOCKER RENTAL
BOWL-OLYMPICS COMPETITION (ask me about that one)
FREE LESSONS (Who’d a thunk!)
SPECIAL EARLY BIRD LEAGUE BOWLER FOOD MENU
CHASE THE CASH (after league is done nightly)
TERRIBLE TURKEY TOSS (throw a frozen turkey or ham down the lane: strike and you win the meat and money)