Get Started Now for Fall

Most of us have leagues starting in the fall, and now that we are already halfway through July, we should be in “full fall league” mode!

A lot of centers have the traditional 32-36 week leagues. Although it seems like the bowlers just finished their league from last season – and they told you how long the season was – they are more likely to be your most loyal customers, and they will be ready to come back. Those same bowlers can be your best salesmen when you communicate to them and involve them as VIB (Very Important Bowlers).

If you have not yet started to prepare for the autumn schedule, it’s time to kick into high-gear! Here are a few tips to get started:

If you still use league secretaries, you should have, by now, placed a call to make sure all meeting dates are set and the expectations are aligned. (Many of us, however, have taken over the leagues and no longer rely on an outside secretary; we have become the league secretaries.)

At this point, the league secretary and officers should be able to provide you with an accurate team count. If you have not yet received that, it’s time to request one. And be sure that phone calls to all captains at a minimum have been made this year.   Personally, I like to call every bowler myself and inform each person of the upcoming meeting dates and league start dates. That type of personal touch pays off in major ways.

All communication from your bowling center at this point should also mention that you have spots available for individuals and teams. Let the bowlers help you fill these spots. Unless you know with 100% certainty the league is full, you should take the initiative to do this extra marketing.

Also, take a look at your center’s calendar and set aside special times for the “League Bowlers’ Appreciation Days” with discounted open bowling to practice and get ready for the upcoming season. If you make a great offer, they will fill the lanes during what is normally a slower time of the year, and you will also have bowlers interested in league bowling. Be ready for them – have flyers out and make sure your employees are informed. Also, be sure to make time to get out there yourself and sell league bowling.

As you speak with these bowlers, make yourself available, and catch up with the league bowlers. These conversations are a great opportunity to promote your open league spots for the upcoming leagues.  Remember: Your loyal league bowlers can become your best salespeople. It’s difficult to find people more loyal than your league bowlers who are making a commitment for 36 weeks, for example.

Develop a social media campaign to promote your fall leagues. Make this campaign attractive for everyone – and be sure to showcase the diversity of your center’s offerings, from open bowling to birthday parties to cosmic bowling to the fall leagues.

When establishing your social media campaign, be sure to use high-resolution videos and images. If you use this piece correctly, you will be able to reach thousands of potential customers, but you need to have a plan, and you need to focus on catching their eye!

I will be sending out an email in the next day or so to show you some examples of images and video that can be customized for your center quickly to get your social media advertising started quickly.

It’s mid-July, so you still have time to create a postcard or mailer for bulk mail. The Post Office will be able to mail to specific areas, you are guaranteed to hit likely new customers. Include names from your updated database and print labels to mail. Include a fantastic offering, and make sure your mail piece promotes other things besides just the fall leagues. If you do postcards, print out selected areas for your updated database for direct mail pieces.

You will also want to make sure you have a social media plan, and the message on social media should complement and reinforce the message of your postcard. With social media, promote your fall leagues, but also be sure to mention open bowling, birthday parties, cosmic bowling, and so forth.

You can also do a digital coupon or offer, but make sure you’re offering something of real value. Also, make the offers “limited time” so your customer base is more motivated to act quickly. The coupon should provide real value. Examples include:  two free games, one free hour, buy-one-get-one-free deals, a free appetizer with a lunch or dinner, and so forth. You want to make sure your coupons are truly valuable.

Done properly, you should see an instant spike in revenue from the coupons.

As far as staffing, be sure your entire staff is prepared for when new customers come in. Plan a staff meeting to lay out your expectations for everyone. You will want to prepare memo books for information in advance, so your employees know the information, understand what you expect and sell!!

Be prepared before your campaigns so you have all the league information out and available for everyone to see. Be sure you have updated information on the flyer racks and all signs. So many centers have old and outdated information on their printed materials and signs at the center. You want to make sure your information is consistent, clear, and always updated. Be prepared to sell to new customers – not only fall leagues, but all of your offerings. Don’t forget: Your center is the fun spot!

The bottom line? If you have not started yet for fall leagues, this week is the perfect week to get started. Securing your 24-to-36-week league bowlers is vital for setting the stage for a successful year for your center.

Watch for my email coming this week – it will include some great social media videos and social media digital images that you can use to help build your business immediately!!   May the pins fall your way!!

Yours for Better Bowling,