Thursday, July 31, 2014

Do People Even Know You Have Something To Sell?

Most of us will do the things we are good at, or at least think we are good at,  so it’s easy for us to do the books, stock the vending machines, fix a machine or two, check the inventory and schmooze with the customers; the latter being something we are really good at!

But we don’t do the hard things.  For one, we don’t sell. Forget about creating a marketing strategy and tactics and social media campaigns and program content and all those really hard things, I’m talking about plain old fashioned- get- out- the- door-selling.  When was the last time you got out into the community; yes you, not a hired hand, you?)

I have had more owner operators and managers tell me they don’t “like to sell”; that they are “not good at it” so they just don’t do it. Oh, they can talk to people inside the center or answer the phone and sell a birthday party like a champ, but get her outside of that comfort zone and, oh well; it often isn't a pretty site. 

Now I’m not saying that this malady afflicts ALL bowling center owner operator and managers, but I am saying that based upon the amount of outside selling I see, and I’m in a lot of centers in a lot of cities, the percentage of bowling center management teams that have a cogent selling plan is probably less than 15%.

And I always ask myself the same question, “Why are we the only industry where our individual retail establishments do NOT have a dedicated sales person on premise working our market?

WHY? The shoe store has a sales person. The clothing store has a sales person. The car dealer has a sales person. The hotel has a sales person.

What do we have? A “desk person/customer service/crew member/team member, etc.” who sprays shoes!

What don’t we understand that in order to make money, you, the owner must take responsibility for selling something?

Everybody has to sell something!!

Why do you think you are exempt from that fact? And when I ask you why you don’t hire someone to sell for you; you say you can’t afford it. You can no longer afford not to have someone to sell. Whether it’s you or someone else, you have to do it.

If you really don’t like selling or feel that you’re not good at it, do something about it. Take a course, read a book, hire a sales person, but don’t just sit back and tell me business “aint so good.”

Because in order to get something positive to happen to your revenue line, you will have to sell more product, It's just that simple. You need to sell more product and while the thought of outside selling leaves you feeling a bit queasy, the harsh reality is you no longer have a choice.

You can only pave over the hard things for so long before people forget you even have anything to sell.

Some folks in the industry, and wiser than I, might say that we are very close to or have approached that point already. I certainly hope not.

Because before you can work smarter, you have to work harder. It’s just the way the world works.


Friday, July 25, 2014

But I Don't Have Any New Ideas

Almost on a daily basis I get calls from proprietors asking me if I have any good ideas. And this time of the year, I get lots more inquiries.

I kind of laugh to myself and think, “C’mon you’re not asking me if I have any good ideas; you’re asking me if I have any new ideas that are so good that they are guaranteed to work.” 

 The reality is the caller wants something that wont fail because that would cost him money or erode his self esteem and that’s a bad thing, they think.

I think not. There is nothing wrong with failing. In fact I recommend you fail at least once a day so you have a BASIS from which to learn.

If you never fail, it means that you are never doing anything.

You see, pretty good ideas are easy to come up with. It's the really great idea that takes blood sweat and tears and that's what some of us are not willing to do; to stick it out; to refine; to test and make it work.

Yet its easier than ever to come up with that great idea. With so much information available in cyber land, all you have to do is start asking questions about how to solve your particular marketing problem and you’ll get clues or even cookie crumbs that will lead you to alternative solutions.

Years ago I took an advanced economics class with a dude named John Kenneth Galbraith who taught the Harvard case study method in how to solve problems and come up with new ideas/solutions. 

It sounds impressive, but was pretty simple. It went like this (in its much abbreviated version. of course).

Step 1. Define the problem so clearly that it is singularly focuses on just one element.

Step 2. Do enough research that you can come up with at least three idea solutions to solve that specific problem?

Step 3. Choose the solution you are most passionate about and present it to a group of No BS people in and out of the industry. Then prove why that particular is the best solution by comparing its advantages and disadvantages to the other two solutions.

See, you can develop new ideas.  But you'll have to break a sweat too

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"The Doctor Said I Had To Go To Rehab. I Said No, No , No."

You probably recognize the title of this blog as being the title of an Amy Winehouse song. Amy was a troubled, drug addicted, alcohol dependent singer with a beautiful voice who never did work the rehab successfully and eventually died by sabotaging her tortured mind and body, even in rehab, with even more drugs and alcohol.  

She just didn't want to get positive measurements that might have reinforced the process and motivated her to battle onward. So sad to see someone so self destructive.

Now As I go thru this rehabilitation process to build up my legs, a result of a hip replacement surgery, I realize that measurement of the “progress” of the process is more important than the process itself.  And it is the measurement and documentation of the process that motivates me to be better tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.

How many reps did you do today? What number of leg lifts (using 5 lb. weights) did you achieve vs. today’s goal, weekly goal, and program goal?  How fast did you walk? How far did you go? How much further can you go tomorrow?

During a normal course of my business day, I would never think about measuring how many steps I took, how far I walked or how fast I walked. (although I understand that that “Fitbit” a new fitness measurement gadget that you can synch to your computer will tell you all those measurements and more.  For those who want this data, it’s all there for you!)

But when we are injured or trying to recover or trying to bring a business back from death’s door, more often than not, we become obsessed with our progress. We just want to measure everything to see if we are getting better. 

Yet I have met many proprietors who only measure their total revenue, their bowling revenue, and their food and beverage revenue. Not revenue per lane, not food and beverage revenue per game or shoe rental revenue per game, just revenue and certainly not lineage measurements. (“I can’t take lineage to the bank,” they say).

And then there are other proprietors who measure almost everything. From shoe rental income per lane to price per game, to yield per lane to number of beers per lane to, well…you name it and they measure it.

The real question is, “what are you doing with your measurement data?Are you using it to set goals, strategies and tactics? 

For example, if you knew that your revenue per game was $5.12, you might want to compare that to revenue per game for the industry. If that number was much higher than your number, you might establish an objective”to increase revenue per game by 10%.”  

Your strategy would then be to offer more packaged food and beverage items with bowling on an hourly basis. Tactically, you could introduce a program like “Wing It N Fling It”, where you offer two hours of bowling, shoe rental and a 20 piece chicken wing platter for $54.95 for up to 5 people.  

If those people bowled 10 games, your revenue in this deal would be $5.49 per game. Add in two pitchers of beer at $8 each and your revenue per game goes to $7.10 per game.

So the real question is not so much what you are measuring, but rather are you measuring the right stuff that will give you actionable programs to meet your goals?

Think of it as your rehab work before the season starts!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

The 4th of July

Do you read self help books? Do you read books about marketing? Or management? Or motivation? Or innovation?

When I pose this question (and I do it frequently) to friends, business associates and people I meet on planes, trains and buses, I am very often amazed at how many people proudly admit that those types of books are a “bunch of BS and are nothing more than plain common sense” and they don’t need a self help book for that.

“Nope”, they say, “I don’t read these types of books.” Rather they state they are content in “being who they are” and “knowing themselves” well enough that they “don’t need any help.” 

Or the best excuse is, "I'm too busy to read and learn anything new."  Boy, wouldn't you hate for your heart surgeon to tell you that?

Is it the fear that holds them back from finding out that if they read these types of books and have to admit that they don’t know something they would get lost in the void?

Better to go on doing what they are doing and continue flailing round waiting for the “business to come back” then learn some new ideas, implement suggestions from experts, take some courses and get better at running their business? 

Maybe self help isn’t comfortable and maybe it is even a little painful, but don’t you owe it to yourself and the people that work with you and for you to get them to reach for a higher bar; to achieve more than they ever thought they could and be the best they can be?

Please, on this 4th of July, declare your independence from the status quo, from business as usual and head to a new landing spot, away from the stagnant waters in which you may very well be swimming.