Over the years, at least since 1980 when 10 million league bowlers existed, I think that half the population over the age of 18 has tried league bowling in one form or the other. If 3% leave every year, or thereabouts than over 34 years that’s 102% who have tried league bowling. Obviously a flawed number.
I’ll just cut that in half and assume that half the dropouts were the same person who dropped out of multiple leagues down to one league. I may be right here or I may be wrong.
That’s not the point.
The point is we have a whole bunch of people who have tried league bowling and for one reason or another decided to ‘drop out” and not bowl with us anymore.
Oh, we know why. There are two sets of reasons.
One set is called “the uncontrollable reasons.” We don’t control them, right?
- · Some moved,
- · Hurt their back,
- · Got pregnant
- · Changed jobs, shifts, got second job
- · My friends quit so I quit too
- · Decided I wanted to spend more time on other activities and had to drop something. So I dropped bowling L
- · Just found it INCONVENIENT to bowl
Then there are the controllable reasons. “We can control these, right?
- · Didn’t like my team mates
- · 34 weeks was more of a commitment than i can make
- · Wasn’t any good at it and wasn’t getting any better
- · Too expensive every week (between bowling, food and beer it cost me $30 each week.)
- · Every week, it was 3 to 4 hours; just don’t have that kind of time anymore
- · Management at center wasn’t very helpful and service was slow and slower
- · Bowling ball got mashed at the center and center did not respond in the way I wanted
- · And of course lane conditions were “inconsistent” and I bowled badly there than there are league bowlers
WHY DIDN'T WE? Answer that question for yourself and your center and you wil be able to get some insights into why you lose bowlers
But back to marketing to dropouts
So again, let’s assume that there are 10 times as many people who once bowled in a league than there are league bowlers. Do you have a plan to bring them back into the fold?
Retail stores constantly target those people who haven’t shopped with them in the past 30 days, 60 days or 90 days. I would venture to say, that in general, bowling proprietors don’t speak to these people more than once a year, during August…if that.
We all know that it cost umpteen times more to get a new customer than to retain an old customer, yet so few centers have a consolidated dropout plan; other than as an afterthought…”Oh yeah, send the flier to dropouts too! OKAY!!
Here are the six ways to market to league bowlers
First, start speaking to your dropouts more frequently, invite feedback and create a special newsletter just for them. Incidentally, if you don’t know who your dropouts are, got to BPAA website and then visit “Customer Connect.” You will find all your dropouts there, although I cannot say how far back you can go; perhaps two years.
Second, the content should contain special seasonal offers to open play bowl as well as telling and selling a short season bowling program.
Third, if you can segment your dropout data base, you can then start sending gender and age specific offers (I.e. 25 to 44 yr. old female; send an adult child offer as well as a ladies game day offer and a mixed couples offer).
Fourth, ask questions. Do surveys. Ask what it would take to get them to bowl again.
Fifth, do something daring. Offer them a FREE 8 week program which could morph into a paid 12 week have a ball program. For the 1st part of this program, you’ll get some food and beverage income and maybe some people willing to recruit their friends because they are having so much fun.
Sixth, make sure your website has information about “USTABEE Bowlers.” Give them a brand and find someone (representing different demographic age groups) to be a brand ambassador and feature that person(s) in the newsletters and the emails you send, using testimonials and photos or you tube videos. Make them feel like a rock star. Cater to them.
And bring ‘em back alive.