Thursday, May 8, 2008

Is Your Pro Shop Indispensable?

From the May Pro Shop Operator Magazine

The amount of value you provide (if you’re in a center) is directly connected to what money you generate (or save) for the landlord. My stores have not paid rent for almost 6 years because forward thinking proprietors recognized that a pro shop partner is extremely valuable. Are you a minor revenue stream to the people running the bigger business around you? Or better, are you an integral part of the league structure, organized open play, and competitive structure of the center?

Are you in the building because an owner or manager thinks it is a good idea (because a lot of centers have stores)? Or do you work closely with the management, including ownership to promote leagues, open play programs and competitive programs (sweepers, tournaments).

Is your store perceived by your landlord as good will to your centers bowlers? If so, you are not a big enough part of the centers activities, to be invaluable to the center, to be a center partner. If you help do some of the aforementioned, you create an indispensable partnership that contributes strongly to the bottom line.

Indispensable is stronger than a lease, leases have been broken. Indispensable is stronger than tradition or history. Stores get affected every day by a change in management, or change in ownership. Indispensable is the partner you need to maximize success, provide the most benefits to customers and contribute to the bowling center culture that others centers wish they had.

Of course, you get paid for most services to the league/casual bowler. Do you run profitable Learn to Bowl Classes, or new bowler/bad bowler instruction? Are those customers funneled into the league structure (with concern for their ability level)? When the center looks to your business for additional business, you are the partner you want to position yourself to be.

Suppose, the center felt retaining league customers was a good idea. Suppose, offering a team that was in last place, FREE bowling instructions, to retain them, was a good idea. And if the bowlers improved and the team(s) got better, had more fun and signed up again (many leagues lose their last place team, sometimes, several of the bottom TEAMS), the center would value that service. You do, or could provide that service.

Provide the center with new customers? The new customer question is the biggie. You encourage someone at the grocery store to stop over and bowl, you make the center $1.50, $2.50, $5.00/game, whatever.

But what if you provide the center with a league bowler? Current value (in total revenue) is in the neighborhood of $500 - $700 a year says most bowling center research. A team of 4 is worth $2,000.00+, a team of 5 - $2,500 to $3,500 dollars. So, if you just provided the bowling center with a team and the center is about to make, conservatively, $2,000 to $3,000, you might expect a thank you. You might expect a THANK YOU.

What if you provided more than a few sign ups? What if you can identify 20 bowlers that now bowl in the center? 20 bowlers should generate around $10,000 to $14,000 dollars, conservatively. How big a thank you would you expect?

In the hectic sign up period at the beginning of the season, or beginning of the summer, your twenty bowlers (that includes you, any staff, any buddies, your wife and family, friend and relatives –start counting) mean a sizable chunk of revenue.

Some centers all ready recognize your contribution. Many give you free bowling, even free league participation, but if you contribute more than a few casual players you are contributing to the revenue stream without it costing the center much (if anything).

Richard Shockley, a top coach, former pro shop operator, International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association Vice President and Member of the Board of Directors shared the example of two pro bowlers in Texas, that generated over 100 bowlers to the league programs of their center in a year. The Pro bowlers are Del Ballard and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard. The Ballard’s league bowlers provided (conservatively) $60,000.00 to that center.

If you could identify your contribution to the bowling center’s revenues was roughly $60,000.00 or more, how big a thank you would you expect. How much rent would you expect to pay?

You are not as well known as the Ballards. Your impact as coach, mentor, pro shop guy (or gal) will surprise you, when you ask a customer where they bowl, and have they ever considered bowling in “your” center.

Be indispensable, track your contributions. Then sit down and have a talk about rent and your perks.

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