We are in the midst of a new generation of bowler. Less concerned with competition and more interested in having a good time with friends and family, the business of bowling is evolving to meet the interests of this type of bowler. Food and beverage are now a major revenue item for bowling alleys, but the entire business still hinges on delivering a great bowling experience.
Despite this new, diversified revenue model that is taking hold among bowling proprietors and bowling business owners, any business that offers bowling needs to have fast, reliable and easily maintained equipment. Without that, the process of getting customers to come back becomes difficult. After all, if the bowling equipment slows down the gameplay or brings it to a complete stop, your customer might not come back…ever.
After working with thousands of bowling businesses around the world, here is what we believe to be the three most important aspects of your bowling equipment.
Smartphones and the Internet have elevated our expectations of speed. When we can access the world’s information in seconds, we expect a similar efficiency from all technologies. Bowling equipment is no exception which is why bowling businesses need to invest in the equipment that offers speed while maintaining safety. From pinsetters that reset efficiently, to ball returns that are optimized for quick and safe returns, speed is a key component of any bowling experience.
When equipment malfunctions the speed of the game slows and not only hurts the experience for your customer but decreases your games per hour as well. This means you’re not only hurting your bottom line, but you might also lose out on a return customer if the experience is slow and unreliable. While bowling equipment costs might be a major consideration, close behind that needs to be reliability. Bowling business owners need to work with a bowling equipment manufacturer that has a track record for reliable pinsetters, ball returns and other equipment.
Ease of Maintenance & Repairs
Maintenance and repairs can drive up your operating expenses significantly and can be the largest expense of any bowling business. When assessing your pinsetters and ball returns, make it a point to learn the level of skill and expertise needed to maintain and repair common problems with the machines. Find equipment that is designed to be easily maintained. It not only saves on maintenance costs but allows for quicker resolution of issues that might come up.
When comparing maintenance for string pinsetters and free-fall pinsetters, free-fall maintenance and repairs can be complicated and at times dangerous if you aren’t familiar with the equipment. This is why many bowling centers with primarily free-fall pinsetters require one or more on-site mechanics to keep the lanes up and running, while string pinsetters can be maintained by bar staff.
The problem is that there is a shortage of experienced bowling equipment mechanics across the United States which can drive the cost of hiring one way up. In some scenarios and markets where mechanics are hard to come by, a full-time mechanic can earn $90,000 a year. This is why your ability to manage and maintain your equipment in-house is a huge cost savings.
If you’re starting a bowling business or looking to update and upgrade your equipment, keep these three areas in mind. While cost might be your biggest consideration, think long-term about the type of bowling experience you are building. Speedy, reliable and easily maintained equipment will offer you stronger, long-term performance and a better overall experience for your bowlers.