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Growing your Seeds!

The time has come to look in the mirror and ask yourself, "what are the plans for my business".  Questions as to how to increase margins, how to stock inventory effectively, how to take advantage of all of the trade show specials and oh did you join the many manufacture programs offered to capitalize on these specials to say the least comes to mind.

Wow, so much to think about and so little time before bowling season is here again.

If you planned well then you know that all these efforts are done with one thing in mind, having the bowlers to sell your goods and capitalize on bowler participation.  So was "how to increase bowler participation" a part of the business strategy?

In looking at the health of our sport there are some realities that we all must face.  These are:

  • Structured league bowling is on the decline
  • Certified league participation is also declining
  • USBC membership (adults) has declined down 9% to 1.69 million and youth to just under 3% or 185K members
  • Open Play has increased to 70 Million and is an untapped market for Shop retailers
The question is how? How do we grow the huge resource of untapped potential and make things better?

Education is the Key!  As a retailer have you thought about conducting a structured league for your youth and adult bowlers? Being able to provide a fun and enjoyable experience and being available for some lane help when asked can make a huge impact in your financial future.  Customers feel more welcome and obliged to buy from you and are more supportive in helping you prosper when they feel supported in them.

How about conducting a "learn to bowl" program? Many Pro Shop Operators today have lost the lustier in being called the head teaching Pro or Professional.  The time is now to be that center person of authority and provide education to grow the sport and your customer base.

Many open play customers are looking for a 2 min quick tip to get them through the basics of what to do out on the lanes, they are not there to take a full 30 min lesson but in that couple of minutes you have the weight of your business success in your hands and can influence someone into possibly taking a lesson or joining a fun league or just getting to know more about you by cross promoting your business with them.  That leads to sales!  "I for one can speak by experience as to what that could mean to a business".  "I gave a tip to a person that was in for a fun open play day with his family and my two minute tip, that led that customer into referring his Company to my center for a corporate party and they all ordered plastic balls for the big employee bonding and fun knight , engraved I might say.  80+plastic balls later, food and beverage, and linage for the center, turned into about 4 solid teams for a 6 weeks mini league.  Who would have quest it?

Today growing through coaching is easier than ever, programs like BPAA bowling 2.0 and Turbo Tech's Alley Oops can help bowlers develop and help you profit immensely.  The later Alley Oops helps to share in the profits 50/50 with proprietors and the training individual hopefully that's you.

Today the ideas of 30+ week leagues seem to be far long gone ideas.  Many new leagues are forming around 8-10 weeks with options of recycling these programs soon after one ends.  Certification programs like Level 1 and Bronze and Silver coaching offers the tools for us to teach to the masses.  Partner with your local association to help promote first year bowlers and help to training them and not let them be just be a statistic.

For those of us that struggle with teaching there are many new programs offered by manufacturers that offer coaching and clinic type of atmosphere, Storm U and Turbo/Turbo Tech's Extreme dealer Clinics which pays you for hosting a clinic comes to mind for helping a retailer grow his or her business.

Building the trust needed by mentoring an individual and or being available as the Key Professional will go a long way in providing the repeat business you are looking for.  If not you then your competition will, fact.  Our market is shrinking so go out and plant those seeds of growth and have a happy prosperous season in 2013-2014.

Louis Marquez
IBPSIA President
USBC Gold Coach