Monday, December 29, 2014

What's So Good About Being Average?

Sometimes you get pushed, maybe even a bit intimidated to fit in;  to look like everyone else, to "dress for success, so to speak, even if its really not who you think you are.  Maybe you even get pushed to use the same tools, the same format, the same analytic mindset as your peers, but hey, what if there is another way?

They are the high school English teacher in love with his one dimensional interpretation of "Huckleberry Finn;"  it's  his way, as told to him by his teachers and his peers  Maybe its the book editor who has to subscribe to the strict rules of grammar without realizing the beauty in "other conversational grammar."

Or maybe it was your first or second job when you questioned something only to be told, "Hey bud, that's the way we do things around here and if you don't like it, find another job."

It didn't matter that you might have had a better way to get the job done that would have either saved the company money or even made them money.

They're all part of the "We know best school of management". From the productivity guru who looks to make everyone faster, not necessarily better;  to the social media guru who is driving your project with what worked in the past and is not willing to tell you his new secret formula for fear that you might fire him rather than embrace his new strategy.

After all, haven't I heard you say, "Where have you done that before? Did it work? Let me call the center?"

Maybe its a new idea and you're the first?  How does that fit?  "Nope, you say, "I don't want to be a pioneer. Pioneers get an arrow in the back and die. I want proof."  Sure you do, but when are you going to step up and do something different that just might give you a bigger reward.

The safest thing you can do is keep doing what you have been doing, to fit in. "Hey I'm just doing what everybody else does, right?"

The problem is everybody else is just average and we have an abundance of average.

Don't be different just to be different. Be different to be better

And have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Giving Belief

I try not to get into politics in this blog or issues where emotions may tend to elevate to levels where this forum then  becomes a place for people to espouse their own biases and prejudices, but I am going to go out on a limb here.

Recent events in Ferguson, MO and in NYC where two African American men died, where two policemen were shot; where protests are a daily occurrence and where both sides chant slogans such as: "I cant breathe" to "What do we want? Dead cops!" clearly depict the negative polarized nature of certain aspects of our society.

So here's what I am suggesting you do in your community. Become a part of the dialogue.

Not by taking any one side, (because there is always validity in both sides) but by being a venue to raise money for a community project that benefits everyone.

Whether it be a new recreation facility, senior center or some other worthwhile cause, be the one who helps spearhead the project and make it known that your motivation is to bring the community together to achieve a common goal.

It is the goal that is important. It is the goal that you must feel passionate about so you can communicate that to the Mayor, City Councilman, Police chief, Village Elders or whomever is in a position of power to get your project off the ground.

Why would you listen to this advice without thinking that "I have enough to worry about, why get involved in this stuff?"

First, its always good advice to be involved in your community and become part of its fabric. Fact: people like doing business with people who give back to the community.

Second, caring is marketing. When you get involved with a contemporary issue that reaches every part of society, you tell your customers that you are modern, up to date, involved and also very much concerned about them as people and not just concerned about the pursuit of profit at all costs.

Third, you cannot be wrong if you work for a mutual goal that benefits both sides or better yet has the potential to benefit everyone.

And finally you will get a lot of media coverage if you TRULY believe in what you are doing. A word of caution though, DO NOT DO THIS FOR PR REASONS.  People are not stupid and will see through the "fakery."

Do this ONLY if you believe it; if you believe it will help the community and that you seek no economic reward for this effort.  In fact, you MUST want nothing more than a successful and beneficial project that you believe will demonstrate how people can work together for the common good.

Do it because you want people to be less angry and more giving and you want that spirit of giving to start at your center

Merry Christmas to All

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

There will no doubt be all kinds of marketing trends, ideas and suggested hints on how to capitalize on the changing environment for 2015. Among them will be social media trends, emerging technologies about mobile content as well as how to design the new Facebook ad for your prospects.

No doubt, I will blog about one or all of these topics and perhaps a few others as well, but for today I wanted to ask you a question?

What are you going to do the next two weeks other than working in the business to improve your business next year?

if you're probably saying, "Hey Fred, I expect to be so busy that I wont have a chance to pick my head up", then you're probably with the majority of small business owners this time of the year.  And I wouldn't blame you. No doubt our people in our bowling centers are saying the same thing...I hope.

And that's simply the reason why I am asking you to answer the question over the next two weeks or so. When you will have more customers; when you will be able to measure your delivery system under pressure; how your product works and, more importantly, what people like or don't like and even what they might like in the future, then you can really get deeper into the business when you are coasting, simply because you really have to focus.  And focus intensely.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

But what if you (and any member of your staff) came up with one topic, one idea or one new suggestion, every day, for the next 15 days, you would have 15 opportunities to examine, 10 to consider, 5 to really think hard about and one or two that you could work on that would eventually mean more $$$ for your business. Wouldn't that be cool?

I know you might find it difficult to do, but its like going for a walk. The best time to do it is when you don't want to.

Try it, it's just for two weeks...and, after-all, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's Beginning to Feel A lot Like Christmas

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas for a lot of folks and that means more time with families and friends, more travel, more sleepovers, preparing dinners, going to dinners, more football games and TV watching, going to the movies and even going…bowling. YAY!

I know I have talked about this in the past, but it is during the next 4 weeks, that your business should see a lot of traffic.  

However, recent research has shown that these upcoming Fridays and Saturday days and nights are not as good as they once were simply because, for those people who are not celebrating at your bowling center, more people are having holiday parties at home or at other venues like restaurants, hotels and country clubs.

Your challenge is how to bring these people in either after their weekend party or during the week.

Here are two ideas to think about.

Become the “After Party” Place.  

Whole industries have grown out of this phenomenon. After the Sweet 16, the Bar Mitzvah, the Graduation Party, the Quintecera  party (hope I got that right) a whole other informal party takes place.

Here's a sample headline:  "After The Party, the Real Party Happens at Happy Lanes" 

So why not develop an after party package that includes light food snacks, beverages and of course great cosmic bowling, music, lights and your choice of your favorite music. 
Send this information to your 15 to 35 year olds.  

Price it between $9.95 and $19.95 – depending on what types and quantity of food you offer, demographics of the market and any competitive pressures. 

You will have to stay open later, even though your alcohol service goes down at 2am or so. Communicate it on your website, via Facebook and cross promo fliers in other noncompetitive retail outlets like, hair salons, nail salons, clothing stores, shoe stores and hardware stores. 

Offer a $X off admission to the after party, complements of your promotional partner.  If you live in an inexpensive radio, look at that as a medium to reach the 15 to 34 yr. old market…but do it quickly.

Become the “Family and Friends End of The Year Party Place”. 

Encourage families and friends to go bowling weekdays, weekend days any time from now thru the end of the year, but especially during the week between Christmas and January 4th (schools go back in session January 5th).  

Here's a sample headline: "Holiday Family and Friend Memories You Will Never Forget Start at Happy Lanes."

You can also turn this into a fund raiser and give $X back to the school as a way to raise money for their cause.

Create a simple 9 pin no tap bowling program, offer various food packages (maybe the same ones you have been offering for your company parties) or scale it back to just pizza, wings, hamburgers/ sliders etc. 

Price it on a per lane basis for two hours of bowling and shoe rental. Then offer the food as optional packages.  Every team gets a photo of their group that you frame in a semi-gloss cardboard frame suitable for autographing.  

Email promotions go to your KBF Moms or if you have a good relationship with schools, distribute your flier in schools. Local businesses – work places- YMCA’s, Libraries would also be good places to distribute information.

I know it’s a little late to get this going, but I know that if anyone can do it, my subscriber centers can get this together faster than anyone…by Friday at noon.  What do you think?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What I Learned from A Black Friday Weekend

If you or anyone you know has been brave enough to do some shopping this past ‘Black Friday Weekend”, then you might be able to provide some feedback on the level of customer service you received. 

Was it good? Was it more than you expected?  Or was it a bunch of untrained, temporary people who said “I don’t know” allot and then walked off to find someone to help you and you’re still waiting for them to return, right?

I sure hope that didn't happen at your center; that your staff was geared up and ready to service the heck out of your once or twice a year customer. 

But then again if you didn't, I hope you uttered what is probably the hardest sentence for any organization to say to its customers, “You’re right, we were wrong.” 

Ouch. It should hurt us to say that, but that one sentence doesn't say that you’re ALWAYS a bad company or that you broke the law or that you did something unethical.

It just says that in that ONE particular instance, you guys got it wrong. Or stated another way, it says that you made a promise and didn't deliver on that promise.

Owning that and saying it out loud does a couple of things.

First, it respects the customer and secondly, it allows you to make more promises down the road.

Second, by YOU saying it in front of your employees, to a customer, you remind your employees that it’s OK to admit that they are wrong, but more importantly you tell them that they can make more promises in the future…and NEED to live up to them better than they did today.  

And that’s a lesson you will be able to take to the bank.

A subscriber Speaks Out

In response to my thanksgiving planning blog, Lew Sims from Ohio sent me this response and I thought you would want to read it.

I sit here with a waiting list for lanes on Thanksgiving at 10 p.m., the bar is starting to fill up and believe it or not we have sold so much food my kitchen staff is complaining a little, but still my staff is as happy as I am when we are busy.

We do Thirsty Thursdays every week and use Thanksgiving every year to give it a big boost. You are right about shopping in the evening but using what we "normally" do keeps us an attractive option to joining the heard.

In order to fuel the fire for the holiday and for the weekend business to follow we sent out several emails and Facebook posts starting early in the month and, this past Monday, a small mailing to people we felt might enjoy the fun.

Of course outdoor signage, monitor ad's and the ever popular flyers have been in place for weeks. We also ran a Thanksgiving Eve Marathon starting at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday night that creates buzz around the center.

The extra cars in the parking lot didn't hurt sales in the bar last night either with us doing over $2400 in bar sales (most after 10 p.m.).

Not everything you plan turns out to be a winner but without a plan you are not even in the game.  
                                                                                                                                           Fred, Thank you for the blog it was spot on.