Taste Your Words

School is out and summer is here! Many centers have marketed to attract families who know all too well that in a matter of no time, the kids will be bored and needing something to do. Many proprietors have summer kids programs or participate in Kids Bowl Free that generally brings kids to the centers that are not regular customers. Many participate ONLY because it’s FREE and often do nothing more than bowl their freebies and go home.

As that is not the ideal situation, there can still be value in the program. For example, most children don’t own their own shoes and will result in at least a shoe rental. However, I must admit, some clever parents figure out very quickly that it pays off to go to the local sporting goods store and pick up an inexpensive pair of bowling shoes, even though they know by the end of the summer, they will probably be too small…in the mean-time, it has saved them from having to pay shoe rental and has allowed them to let the kids bowl every single day for FREE.

The value can still be realized by the kids enjoying the program and developing a love for the sport. If each and every experience is pleasant and lots of fun, they will want to come more often and stay longer. This new found enthusiasm for bowling allows centers to experience financial perks for many years as a result of raising the children to become loyal customers. With social media, a great experience can spread in a matter of minutes to hundreds of potential customers. However, an unpleasant experience can do the same and unwanted, negative publicity to your center that will have negative financial results. Good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster!

Make sure to take a good look at who you have working during peak youth and family times. Make sure you have team members that enjoy their jobs and that it shows. It should be obvious the employee is having fun and not simply collecting a paycheck. Share with your staff the TOP TEN BODY LANGUAGE MISTAKES (June 4th, post) and remind them that customers pay their paychecks therefore, show respect and appreciation…and YES, this means to the kids too!

Nothing can ruffle a Mom’s feathers quicker than someone being rude to their child or calling them out in front of others. Just because the temperature is rising, doesn’t give employees permission to let their tempers rise! No rolling eyes, no loud sighs, no mean looks… believe me, even kids will pick up on negative body language and will end up costing the center BIG BUCKS as a result of bad advertisement!

Another point of contention for families is the appearance of staff members. Stress the importance of employees showing up for work in a clean, pressed uniform, clean shoes, hair groomed and overall appearance NOT requiring an explanation from a parent.

A smile should be a requirement! Encourage staff to get involved and be creative in coming up with ways to engage with the customers…to make the experience memorable. When an employee sees their idea implemented, it gives them a sense of pride or ownership. This is a great way to encourage positive attitudes. And remember, Happy Employees provide Happy Service!
Everyone on staff should make a conscious effort to welcome each guest and make them feel comfortable in the center. Presenting a family friendly welcome is important and easy to do by simply keeping a few tips in mind.

• Greet customers with a smile. A cliché, but true and does not cost anything! Remember to include adults AND kids!
• Provide a consistently clean facility. Moms are especially keyed into the cleanliness of the center and if it’s not up to their standards, they will often not stay and worse, share the news with all their friends.
• Make sure center is well maintained to include the operation of the machines. Kids are often limited on patience and when the machine is down for an extended period of time they tend to become uninterested and want to move on to something else.
• Have customer service minded staff willing to answer questions and offer assistance. Make sure they don’t have any negative body language.
• Build in flexibility – the ability to deal with unforeseen events or incidents.
• Make sure the center is inviting to families…easy access for strollers, changing tables provided, high chairs, etc.
• Be prepared to cope with an unexpected rush of customers. Large groups of families such as Mommies Groups, unannounced busloads of out of town guests, dramatic changes in the weather can all bring about high levels of anxiety, but a properly trained staff can adapt quickly without showing signs of frustration.

Another very valuable part of your summer youth program or Kids Bowl Free is the data captured. This data will allow you to communicate with the customers to make sure you are being considered for entertainment year round…keeping bowling top of mind! You have a target audience that loves bowling now you can attract them to other programs and promotions such as birthday parties and youth or youth/adult leagues. Email marketing is cost effective and results are profitable.

So, how about sending out the Family Fun email blast from the Family Fun Marketing kit? A few simple clicks and you’ve planted the seed…let’s go bowling! You can even include a coupon for a bucket of popcorn which is valid outside Kids Bowl Free program times encouraging a family fun outing with potential for big financial results.

Start planning for a successful summer. Evaluate your staff and make sure there are no attitude adjustments necessary to prepare for the influx of excited young customers who naturally want to run and scream when they get excited. Don’t wait until the angry Mom is knocking on your door and their 500 Facebook friends have already heard about the sarcastic, rude customer service desk employee at your center. Instead, make sure your employees are creating magical memories and setting the center up for positive publicity that will spread like wildfire…AND make your register ring!!

©2014 QubicaAMF Worldwide LLC

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