Friday, March 28, 2014



In my last blog, "Helplessly Hoping," I offered seven (7) of my loyal readers the opportunity to use my marketing audit services for FREE.

If selected, I would provide each center a customized strategic marketing review as well as some detailed tactics to get them going on a more proactive marketing path.

The response was overwhelming.

After just two (2) days,  over 50 centers have asked to be part of this program.

If you still have not sent your name to me, you still have a chance since I have not yet selected the 7 centers yet.

Over the weekend, I will be selecting the seven centers and begin calling those selected starting on Monday.

Thank you, thank you all for your interest, readership and loyal support.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Helplessly Hoping

Marie and I are in sunny Florida for a few days visiting my “almost” 101 yr old mother in law. A spry woman she was, drove a car until she was 96 and lived unassisted until 99 years old.

The last several years, however;  have plunged her into a ditch of dementia where her vast knowledge base remains hidden to all of us.

We muse about how sad it is, what a terrible disease this is and we feel totally helpless to assist her, other than to provide her with 24 hour care, daily phone calls and visits from my wife on a monthly basis.

This got me to thinking about bowling and how sometimes I can see the look of helplessness on the faces of some proprietors as they scramble around looking for THE solution to declining lineage.

The only solution, I think, is to learn how to be the best 21st century marketer you can be. I am not talking about advertising or promotions or direct mail or even Face book or any of the tools we have at our disposal. At least not yet.

But I am talking about learning:  Who buys your various products; why they buy it; how to motivate them to make additional visits and how to generate new customers as well.

The 21st century marketer must also have a deep understanding of how to create relevant “content” (or at least know where to get it) for the digital age; developing plans for executing your tactics and how to hold people accountable in a non threatening manner.  

If you are willing to learn, I am prepared to assist you on your journey and provide the "foundation" to build more lineage, revenue and profits.

So here’s what I am offering.  

Almost 1500 of you get my “Fredquarters Marketing Blog”. If you’re willing to complete the marketing audit I will send you, I will reply and provide you with a detailed marketing strategy statement, and recommended tactics to achieve your goals; whether it is for this summer or for the fall; your choice.

But here’s the catch.

These strategy statements and tactics are all customized for your particular center and usually take me about 5 to 6 hours to complete. I’ll probably spend another hour or so speaking with you via phone as well.

I value my time at about $150 per hour (hell, you pay your lawyer and accountant more than that and they TAKE money from you).  I, at least, will provide you with a road map that you can use immediately!

I am willing to do it for FREE for SEVEN (7) centers.

I wish I could do more, but I guess donating about $8,000 in professional, battle tested marketing services is just another contribution I am willing to make to the industry I love and has loved me back.

If you want in on it, you’ll have to be one of the first seven.

But please hurry.
I don’t want to feel helpless two times today!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

What Does "Too Expensive" Mean?

More often than not, proprietors will lower their prices to attract customers. Of course, what follows is, other proprietors will do the same following each other down the ladder of “price absurdity.

In fact I have seen whole cities that, traditionally, offer league bowlers a lower price in the summer than in the winter?  Great, now tell me why I am paying more in the fall??

But rarely does too expensive mean “I can’t afford it”.  What it really means is: “it is not worth it or “I see no value for the money I am giving you.”

It is hard for me to justify why I should pay a proprietor who has not invested in his business and has a bowling center that was new in 1980, but looks like my Father's Oldsmobile today!

Why should I pay you $14.95 (for 2 hours of bowling) for your old cosmic show when Happy Lanes about 3 miles away has an upgraded center, modern equipment, great food and stellar service at just $3 bucks more?

Sure you say, more people will save the $3 and go to the old center. Maybe so, but the folks who go to the old center aren’t the new center’s customers anyway.

You see the problem with cutting prices is you get the wrong customers. You get the PITA customer (the Pain In The Ass customer) who abuses your staff, makes a mess of your center and expects everything for free or next to nothing. If you really want that customer, then have at it.  But don’t expect that customer to keep you in business.  In fact, that customer is the reason you cannot reinvest in your business, stay competitive and do the things necessary , in the 21st century, to grow your customer base and bring back exisiting customers.

What you really want is the customer that says, “I’m paying more because it’s worth it.”  The real issue here is to get past the mindset that “everyone is your customer” when in reality the customer you want is the one who values your product and sees your price as a good value and “worth it.”

You don’t need everyone to buy from you. You really don’t.

Unless your center still looks and feels like my Father’s Oldsmobile.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Guest Blog

One of my subscribers, Lew Sims, owner of Dynasty Lanes in Ohio was kind enough to respond to one of my blogs with his own take on building a management team and getting them to all pull in the same direction,

His blog is below:

"Hi Fred,

Loved your seminar in Columbus last week. I like sitting in the front row, but I wish I could have seen some of the facial expressions in the room. You made some really great points and I hope that more than a few will take them to heart. The dollars spend on marketing/advertising is a big deal. If we at a 12 lane center can spend well over $5,000 why can't they?

Maybe they got burnt with ineffective newspaper ad's one time too many times and feel other forms of media, social or not is just not worth it when we both know they are. It just might be some just don't get it. 

An example, Governor Kasich's declaration of June being Kids Bowl Free All Summer Kick-Off Month in Ohio. With all the hard work that went into such a thing, all the positive light it puts on bowling and the awareness it will create among families, communities and the media, I was surprised when I discovered that one my fellow proprietors emailed the BCAO office that we should contact the Governor and ask him why June isn't No Tax Month.

Sometimes when you can lead a horse to water, but instead of drinking it, he ends up drowning in it.

In any case, I always enjoy your blog and one of your recent blogs made some very good points.

Proprietors, managers and employees might be experiencing "burnout" towards the end of March and then they hear from the one time bread and butter bowlers known as traditional length league bowlers over and over when is the season going to be over or I can't wait to be done. This adds to their own decline in enthusiasm.

 We just had a pep talk meeting with our employees. Started it by praising the job they have done so far this season and especially during the month of February (up 21% from last year). The “I don't want to be at this meeting, I'm tired and would rather be sleeping looks” started to disappear as the meeting continued.

 I pointed out what areas they each seemed to be good at. Asked what we could do to make their job easier. Asked for suggestions in new menu items and specials. I acted upon each request within a few days. It was nothing earth shattering just things like adding breaded cauliflower, pizza fries, honey mustard dressing, an extra broom for clean-up , larger font food menus in the snack bar, etc.

I had a league menu for the spring in mind before the meeting started based somewhat upon suggestions they had made during the meeting a few weeks before and some ideas I came up with on my own. We went over them together covering the pluses and minuses of both. We went with total of 4 in which I already planned on doing and another I had 3 or 4 different ideas on concerning Sundays at 8 p.m.. They now had ownership of these league, knew how they worked and knew the best ways of offering them to the customers. Best of all that "burnout" look disappeared.

AS you said, the employees, especially the new ones don't know people aren’t supposed to bowl in the summer either. They listen to the proprietors and the mangers just like we listen to that full season league bowler. We need those employees on board too to add to the league base, we can't do everything ourselves or just rely on flyers. Luckily we haven't had too many "When is the season going to be over" league bowlers at Dynasty Lanes in the last few years.

We have tried to make our league experience more fun with Shammy Wammy's we call Screwey/Lewey's and other league bowler only fun things to do. Our short season leagues have many full season league bowlers in them adding a 2nd, 3rd or 4th league to what they already bowl because they like the fun twist and turns short season formats can provide.

Goals can also help employees. We had some extra expenses this year in order to make our center better, all the employees knew about that at our September meeting. Our goal was adding $50,000 (hard to do for just a 12 laner) compared to last year in sales between September 1st 2013 and September 1st 2014.

At every meeting, either they asked first or we told them just in how we are doing in order to reach this goal. The good thing is that we might just make it! They even asked for management to raise some prices in the bar (wow). Guess what? They told the customers on their own why the increases were needed to improve things.

Communication can be a wonderful thing."


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meet Your "Super Consumer'?

Old marketing think defined “heavy users” as those consumers who consumed a greater quantity of a product than the “average consumer.

Today, New marketing talks about  “Super Consumers” who we define by both economics and attitudes; they combine big spending with high engagement and deeper interest in new uses for our product.

The super consumer looks for occasions to use the product. An example could be hot dogs. The heavy users’ buy a greater amount of hot dogs and sees them primarily as a backyard barbecue food. The Super Consumer, on the other hand, not only buys a greater quantity of product, but sees their hot dog purchase in other ways; as an after school snack or an ideal fast meal or a late night snack. In other words they look for new uses for the “old product”

Now let’s think about our league bowlers.

Conventional wisdom would indicate that the few bowlers who bowl in two leagues should not be asked to do anything else; should not be asked to buy any more of our “product”, because one more purchase, we think, might cause them to quit altogether,, thus causing us to lose two or even three bowlers and perhaps influence a few teams to leave, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

But aren’t these the same bowlers who bowl in house tournaments, who bowl in national and regional tournaments and who bowl in other centers as well?  Doesn’t that tell us that OUR Super Consumers are looking for new ways to use our product?

Yet we have failed to consistently offer them new uses such as:
- Short season competitive programs
- Baker formats in new leagues
- Once a month team or individual tournaments resulting in a world series or bowling championship
- Challenge leagues where teams bowl against PBA teams of the week
- 40 frame games
- Spare Challenges bowl against spares where teams would have to bowl against a series of consecutively
   more difficult spares on two pairs of lanes

No doubt you can add some new ideas to this list that fit your center and your bowler. 

I believe your Super Consumer is just waiting for new ways to use your product.

Jus this one initiative can result in a mutually beneficial circle:  You can do well by showing more love to the customers who love you the the most.

And just by being a little creative you could score some big revenue returns and harvest valuable input for future programs…even in the summer!

Monday, March 10, 2014

What a Difference a Few Years Make?

My love of demographics and changes in the marketplace led me to a recent book which I just finished reading entitled: “The Next America” Boomers, Millennial and the Looming Generational Showdown” Paul Taylor and The Pew Research Center. 

While there are many great bits of information, I have pulled out just a few important ones because, I believe, by understanding the implications of this data, it may help is to find new solutions to these changes which will help us to improve the revenue line in our business.

Challenges that we simply need to understand:

-         Nearly half of all children under the age of 12 are nonwhite. So are 4 in 10 members of the Millennium Generation or Generation Y (those born between 1980 to 2000). The oldest being 34 yrs of age and the youngest being 14…just about our cosmic bowling age. No wonder “Rap” music has such a large appeal to this group.  By 2060, our entire population will be 40% white as compared to 1960 when it was 85% white.  If your business is located in areas where these demographic changes are happening (and whose business isn’t?) you need to learn how to market to different ethnic groups from learning about their celebrations, their family’s idea of entertainment, their food choices and how they perceive bowling

-         However just 1 in 5 of the “Greatest Generation” (those over 70 yrs of age now) and 1 in 4 of the Baby Boomers (those between the age of 50 and 68 now) are non white.

-         In 1960, 6 in 10 “twenty somethings” were married. Today just 20% are married. And in 1960, just 5% of children were born to an unmarried mother. Today that number is 41%. If you’re still defining families as “two parents and two children”, you’re right only about 60% of the time.  Maybe its time to have an every other week adult child program so Moms and Dads don’t have to adhere to such a rigid schedule. Or maybe even a Mom’s night out where YOU offer babysitting services…like we once did.

-         4 out of 10 children have a mother who is the sole or primary bread winner, up from 11% in 1960

-         Women are now nearly half of the labor force, even though 3 out of 4 women work either part time or full time. And our colleges show enrollment tipped toward 60% female and 40% male in just the last few years. How do you talk to this woman, preoccupied with her children, stressed by her job and pulled in a frantic race against the clock every day? Offer her, or rather be THE choice for family time quality time and have your communications messages being delivered by a real live woman…just like them.

-         In 1984, the average net worth of all households was $67,354.  In 2011, it was only $68.828…an increase of just 2%.  The only income group whose net worth actually increased were those over 65 ($124,259 in ’84 to $170,516 in ’11).  ALL OTHER age groups net worth decreased!!

-         As nuclear families change and people live longer, economic leverage will be given to those who provide the necessary “entertainment” to help people escape, even if it is ever so briefly, from their care giving of younger children and older parents; from the pressures of time; and from the need to make more money than last year while protecting whatever nest egg they have. 

Now, how can you adapt to these changing demographics and get these new customers to give an “older and friendlier game” another chance to be new again? Talk to this emerging demographic. Find out, from a bowling experience, what are their expectations?

You just might be surprised.

Friday, March 7, 2014

They Don't Know They Are Not Supposed To Bowl In The Summer.

Yesterday I presented my thoughts on summer league bowling to a group of proprietors in the cold northeast tundra, I heard a lot about weather, cold and closings. Some centers were closed 4 to 5 days since the beginning of the year and that included a Saturday here and there.

I suspect that this summer, with the predictions of an El Nino, will be a more difficult challenge due to the fact that people have been cooped up all winter and want to be outside even more. Eventually the El Nino weather will bring them inside for some “cool” summer fun.

And that’s why it will be more important than ever to have league programs, available as short season (8 sessions or less) offerings in June and July. Just because you put your first wave of league bowlers on the floor doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try for a 2nd and 3rd wave that appeals more to open play bowlers, beginners and adult child leagues.

If you time it right these leagues would end just before the fall season starts and you would have a better chance of “rolling’ them into a fall program.

It’s a little thing to remember, but if you get some equipment into these newbies’ hands, your odds increase dramatically of getting them to bowl in the fall.

Remember, there are a lot of people out there, about 250 million to be exact who didn’t bowl last year PLUS about 65 million open play bowlers who “don’t know they are not supposed to bowl in the summer.”

How many can you corral?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Billy Joel Knows Bowling

You have been doing all the right things, but new people aren’t buying from you. It’s not your price. It’s not your service (because new people haven’t haven’t seen it before). It’s not even the reliability of your lanes or machines.  Nor is it the taste of your pizza, burger or fries. 

Nope it’s not any of those things.

They just don’t know you or your business or how your existing customers feel about your business. They don’t know how active you are in the community; what charities you support or even what civic activities you are passionate about.

So it comes down to what Billy Joel sings about: “It’s Always Been A Matter Of Trust.”

Because if they don’t know you, how can they trust you?

Here's some examples of how you can start earning NEW customers' trust:

-  Sending press releases out to relevant websites (;, school teachers, etc) about your fund raising activities along with a testimonial or two.

- Getting involved in a local civic activity and get interviewed by the local radio station or newspaper.

- Working with the local schools on a project that is near and dear to theirheart and telling people what you are doing or have achieved on behalf of  “this cause.”

Visiting the Rotary Club, Knights Of Columbus, Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations  and  telling them you would be happy to host their next meeting, business card exchange or get involved in “their cause.”

- If you host high school bowling at your center, shouldn't the community know about it; know how       bowling centers get involved with scholarships (see Gran Prix).

By aligning yourself with local issues that affect your village, town, or city, you let people know that you care and that care translates to trust…and that translates to new customers making your cash register ring.