Yair Ariel • December-12-2016
Bowling alleys have been around for a very long time. Is there any way to improve the experience? The answer is yes, though not necessarily because of a new development or technology. Unfortunately, many operators have gotten comfortable in the regular business of bowling that they let their customer service skills slide at their bowling alley. Some focus too much on a single demographic. Others don’t keep their places clean and maintained. These are very serious problems.
People come to bowling alleys to have fun, but they get that fun through playing the game in an attractive and enjoyable location. How do you keep the fun of the game high and have them leave with a positive experience of your alley? Start with the basics. Here’s what you need to know.
Put a high priority on safety
There are a lot of dangerous pieces of equipment at a bowling alley. Most bowling alleys have age limitations for players without a parent to prevent the worst accidents, but a lack of maintenance can also provide a dangerous situation for adults. Here are some safety tips you’ll need to look out for.
First, spills. Any spill that happens out in the playing area must be cleaned up as soon as possible. Ask your customers to report any spills immediately. Why? Bowling shoes. Bowling shoes don’t have any traction for good reason. They allow the player to slide on the floor as they make a play. This same thing can also cause them to slip and fall very easily on a spill. And if they’re carrying a 12-pound ball at the time, ouch!
Carpeting is another concern. Over time, carpet can become loose and bunch up. This increases the risk of a slip or a trip. Inspect it for wear at least yearly. Your equipment must also be in safe condition. No dings in the floor or chips in the balls. Your ball return equipment must also be in good functioning order.
If there are people at the alley who aren’t following the rules and endangering other people, talk to them and explain why what they are doing is so dangerous. This can be easier said than done if you serve beer, but training your employees on how to handle customers that don’t listen is a must. You have to keep the game fair and safe for everyone.
Keep alternate entertainment in your back pocket
Most bowling alleys aren’t exclusively bowling establishments. There’s good reason for that. Not everyone is interested in bowling, but they might be forced to come along. A classic example is a league player that has to bring their child along. The child can’t participate in the league game but still need to be entertained. That’s why many bowling alleys keep arcade games or a play room on the side so kids have something to do.
For the adults, keep some comfortable seating away from the lanes in a lounge or restaurant. Most adults can entertain themselves if you give them a place to sit down. At the very least, they need a waiting area with some benches! If you do have a bar, lounge, or restaurant, consider using some of the tricks they use to bring in business. Have a karaoke night or a trivia night. Bring in a D.J. That could get someone reluctant to bowl to come through the door and still spend some money.
Cater to different groups
Most people don’t show up to a bowling alley alone. They come with a small group. Larger groups make the game last longer, but sometimes these groups don’t get along. For instance, league bowlers may expect a different etiquette at the lane than your average casual bowler. This can lead to friction, which is why many alleys have a specific league day.
Sometimes a group wants to hang around others like them. Teens want to hang around teens. Families like the company of other families. Perhaps you live near a college and there are a lot of single people around. Finding ways to draw in those crowds with an attractive promotion or game variation is crucial for maintaining a high number of people coming through the door. Keeping your alley busy is also a great way to draw new people. They’ll want to know what all the fuss is about!
Even if you get a “weird” group like Klingon bowlers (it happens), you can do something a little extra to make them feel welcome. Use your imagination or do some market research to figure out the next great event.
Keep your equipment in good order
One of the most important day-to-day things is keeping your equipment in good order at your bowling alley. If your pinsetter, scoring system, and ball return stop working, play ceases and no one gets to have fun. You need to make sure these are working at all times or clearly labeled as out of order. Keep up with your maintenance so you don’t have to refund a group that suddenly can’t play anymore.
This is especially important if you’re catering to leagues. If they feel like you’re running an unfair operation or have to fight the equipment, they won’t want to play with you. League players can be your most valuable players because they’re playing to win and want to train. Ask them to report any problems they see and get them resolved fast.
These may seem like common-sense suggestions, but you’d be surprised at the number of bowling alley operators that don’t follow them. Stay ahead of your competition by ensuring you’re providing the best possible bowling experience.
BEAM is an award-winning interactive projection game that encourages people to get up and get moving! Bring this virtual playground to your bowling alley to keep the kids entertained while you go in search of the perfect game. We offer both floor and tabletop games. Contact BEAM today to speak with a representative and find out how our system can enhance your customer experience.