Properly Positioning Post Pandemic Pricing
Restrictions are loosening as more of the population becomes fully vaccinated. Centers are evaluating their policies on physical distancing, mask requirements, vaccine mandates, hiring and recruiting.
However, one of the biggest concerns (and perhaps opportunity) that has emerged from the pandemic is the rising cost of doing business. Higher prices are everywhere you turn!
It’s all over the news. It started with toilet paper shortages, now it is lumber shortages, fuel shortages, chicken shortages, car shortages, appliance shortages, staffing shortages, all resulting in supply and demand price increases. AND, Consumers are faced with the same challenges on a personal basis therefore, they are anticipating that businesses will need to adjust pricing accordingly.
So, what about your center? Have you evaluated your current pricing strategy and taken into account the rising labor costs, higher inventory costs, higher operating costs, higher EVERYTHING? There is no better time to take a deep dive into the budget and make corrections where necessary before it’s too late. Every center needs to be rethinking their long-term strategy.
Some centers have opted to absorb the rising costs to avoid what they perceive will be push back from customers. However, this can’t be a long term solution with the anticipated continuance of rising prices and shortages. If your costs are increasing and your prices aren’t, then it is actually like you are implementing a price cut.
Positioning a price increase properly is crucial to consumer acceptance. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when increasing prices:
Emphasize the FUN and value instead of the cost/fees.
Price becomes secondary if the experience meets or exceeds expectations. Utilize system games and features to kick the fun up a notch and increase the perceived value of the experience. See idea below.
Show genuine appreciation and gratitude.
Feeling appreciated nurtures loyalty.
Candidly share the impact of rising costs to the overall experience.
Promote exceptional service that goes the extra mile
Make sure to deliver exceptional service to every single customer, every single visit. Weave this into your DNA.
Focus on convenience.
Customers expect it to be easy to do business with the center and don’t mind paying for it. If it is difficult to do business with the center, they will simply stop doing so.
Promote quality over quantity.
Spotlight the quality of your restaurant and bar items and talk less about size and quantity, especially if these have decreased.
When price increases are determined and it’s time to put them into effect, another key factor is share with the team the key elements that need to be focused on for the most successful acceptance of the new pricing.
Another area to look at when evaluating pricing is what is being given away for free…coupons, specials, deals and freebies. Are they still necessary? Have you tried to get rid of these things in the past but got push back? Now might be the perfect time to reduce what you give away and put more money in the register.
When evaluating pricing, you should also take a deep dive into lane utilization and make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table. Are you offering bowling by time? Offering time based experiences provides a better guest experience, as very clear expectations are set. If the center is running a waiting list and lanes are in game option, the undetermined lane turnover time can be a huge disappointment for guests waiting to bowl. Plus, if 5 people on 1 lane take 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours to bowl a game, you are missing out on ¼ – ½ hour per lane of revenue if sold by time rather than game. Why should you lose revenue when customers choose to stop bowling so they can take a 10 minute call for work or go take their child to play a video game? The pandemic has made it easy to introduce time based experiences and is an easier way to control the circumstances and offer more efficient and more relaxed experiences while providing the best way to maximize your dollars per lane.
Keep delivering exceptional experiences and adjust pricing when necessary so you can continue serving your customers for years to come. Bowling is back and is here to stay!
IDEA: Want to add a little more fun for customers? Try routinely running Lucky Train during peak times. This graphically appealing feature is engaging for all ages and is a great way to get a little user generated advertising. It’s simple, Go Live, Get Lucky! If a customer gets chosen as a Lucky Train winner while streaming live, they get an additional prize or larger prize.