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July 2021 | VOL 29.7
By David Garber, Natalie Davis, and Stephanie Davis
Tapping Knowledge How your beverage rep can help build bar sales By Robert Sax
Food and Beverage
9 Expert Tips for Food Cost Control
Xtravaganza is Back!
Keeping your food service profitable
A look at the return of the largest fundraiser for the IBMHF
By Gary Ciniello
By David Garber
34 P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 email@example.com www.BowlingIndustry.com
Feature The New Frontier (Lanes) Proprietor Ernie Simmons takes the shut-down opportunity to upgrade his center By Mark Miller
MEMBER AND/OR SUPPORTER OF:
1971 AMF Voit By Patty Heath
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager firstname.lastname@example.org
DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Stephanie Davis Stephanie@bowlingindustry.com
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber email@example.com
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTORS Gary Ciniello Natalie Davis Stephanie Davis David Garber Patty Heath Fred Kaplowitz Mark Miller Robert Sax
MARKETING MANAGER AND SALES Natalie Davis Natalie@bowlingindustry.com
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher email@example.com
ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks www.dzynwrx.com (818) 735-9424
FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)
Rainmaker On A Sunny Day Turn around a slow summer day By Fred Kaplowitz 4
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
BUSINESS AT LARGE 8 AL-HOKAIR GROUP RETAINS PINNACLE Pinnacle Entertainment Group has entered into an exclusive, multi-year agreement with Saudi Arabia-based Al Hokair Group to connect location-based and family entertainment center brands with the company. “We are honored to work with the team at Al Hokair,” said George McAuliffe, Pinnacle’s president. Pinnacle partner Howard McAuliffe added: “I spend a lot of time in the Middle East region and quickly discovered that the Al Hokair Group is the leading hospitality company with locations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. They are great operators and well respected.”
FRIENDLY WITH ATTITUDE The Corner Bar in St. Charles, MO, is chock full of history. First and foremost, it is 154 years old! The current owner, Jason Bibb, says, “It’s a word-of-mouth place, and we keep it that way.” Well, that’s friendly…with attitude! In the 1860s, the building was constructed as a military school. By the 1870s, post Civil War, a saloon had taken its place. In 1875, two bowling lanes were constructed in the basement, and the rest is history. Under the trap door, in the basement, the lanes have been in use continuously. The game of choice was cocked hat bowling, using three pins
in 1 – 7 – 10 formation and a candlepin ball. The name was derived from the players tipping their derbies to the side of their heads when playing. Today, the game is still not automated and retrieval of the balls is handled by pinsetters who catch the balls and roll them back via a chute. Some of the men’s leagues at the Corner Bar have been around for 50 years. Bibb adds that “They’re like old women at the Bridge table. They get real snooty with the bowling. They take it way too seriously.” The longevity alone makes the game and the place pretty special. A bucket list destination? 6
LIST YOUR OPEN POSITIONS AT COOLFUNJOBS.COM The American Amusement Machine Association (AMAA), along with the Trampoline Association, the Roller Skating Association, and the Waterpark Association, have launched CoolFunJobs.com with the goal of helping entertainment centers, including bowling, to address the need for employees across FEC industries.
CoolFunJobs.com idea was cultivated from TrainerTainment’s weekly Peer Talk zoom call. The weekly calls began when the pandemic shuttered everyone’s business in 2020. The call allowed owners, operators, manufacturers, suppliers, and trade associations to exchange ideas, share best practices, and support each other through open communication. Any centers interested in being a part of CoolFunJobs.com can register for free. In addition, the service and listing are at no cost.
You wouldn’t ignore a customer complaint at your front desk, so make sure you don’t overlook those reviews on social media.
BOWLERO FILES SUIT FOR HOST A MEETUP... GAIN COVID-19 RELATED LOSSES NEW CUSTOMERS! Bowling Center giant Bowlero Corp filed suit again AIG Specialty Lines Insurance Co. and others for losses at its centers. The losses exceed hundreds of millions of dollars. Bowlero claims that the coronavirus caused a “direct physical loss, damage or destruction” to its properties. Bowlero argues the coronavirus itself caused an imminent loss covered by the insurers. AIG and numerous other insurance companies are taking a corporatewide stance to refuse coverage for pandemic-related losses. Bowlero Corp v. AIG Specialty Lines Insurance Co. was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM INSTACART?
MeetUp is a website that helps people connect with others in their area who have similar interests. These people usually fall into one of these categories: singles, new to the area, people that want more friends, and people that want to try new activities. All of these people are potential customers for your center! Hosting a MeetUp is free and easy to do. After you create an account, all you have to do is enter your event information and post it. Once you do that, people in your area that use MeetUp will be exposed to your event. Your center could host a singles night one day of the week and a networking night another day. It is very easy to target different groups of people using MeetUp. The people you attract might be familiar with your center or they might be brand new customers. Head to www.meetup.com to get your center started!
n By Stephanie Davis Behaviors developed during COVID have had a lasting impact on consumers around the globe. Many experts believe that these trends will continue beyond post-pandemic life. While online grocery shopping wasn’t all the rage before COVID, it certainly picked up popularity over the last year and a half. As concerns over the virus grew, I found myself clicking through the Instacart site ordering groceries for our family of six. It took a while as I ventured through the website the first time. Then you know what happened? The more I used the site, the more I liked it! The main reason is — drumroll here — Instacart made it EASY for me to spend money with them. I order what I want online, my credit card is saved securely online, so I don’t have to dig through my purse each time I want to place an order, and they keep in touch with me via an easy-to-use app. Once my order is delivered, they follow up immediately to see how my experience was. I’m given options to tip and write a positive review or share a complaint. They send me coupons, allow me to add to my order right up until the last minute, and they remember what I ordered the last time, which makes my next visit extremely simple. To top it off, their staffers are pleasant and eager to please. When I choose curbside pickup instead of delivery, I have the option to share my location with them, and they’ll bring my bags out to the car as I pull into the parking lot. It’s a quality experience all around! I feel safe, catered to, and enjoy the convenience and time savings Instacart offers. As the world begins to reopen and consumers return to a more normal life, consider looking around to other types of businesses and see what you can learn from them. Consumers have changed, change with them. 8
HIRING IN PROGRESS... USE YOUR TOOLS OF SOCIAL MEDIA High five to Stars and Strikes on their fun-loving video to find new staffers! Employees seem to be harder to entice into businesses than customers these days. While this video is professionally done, a grassroots, good-time video can be created all on your own and still be effective. Gathering a few of your smiling staff, firing up the video on your smartphone, and creating a welcoming message is a great way to start. Videos are engaging, entertaining, and a must-have as part of your marketing mix – whether you’re targeting customers or elusive employees. Instagram, Facebook, and in-center are ideal places to go fishing for new employees. Top video-making tips: make it fun, showcase your staff, highlight the personality of your center, and spell out the benefits of joining your team. If you create your own grassroots production, please send it to IBI at firstname.lastname@example.org; we’d love to see it and share it with other readers. Thank you to Stars and Strikes for sharing their recipe for finding future employees.
Presented by Gus Falgien Bowling centers spend a lot of time and money to enhance the experience in areas like redemption and arcade, restaurant, and bar. What about the bowling part of your customer’s experience? We tend to take this for granted, because the game of bowling and knocking pins down has not really changed. However, this is the main activity for people coming into your bowling centers. These additional products no doubt have an important impact to the overall business and are vital to the success of your entertainment facilities. But how can we enhance the bowling part for your customers? Fresh bowling shoes would be a good place to start the experience enhancement. Many bowling centers have invested in new shoes and new shoe spray. Some smaller, boutique centers have even had “luxury” bowling shoes crafted to further enhance the center’s brand. Most patrons are aware that they will need to wear regular, heavily used bowling rental shoes when they come into your center; it can have the “Ick Factor.” And, the process can be inconvenient for your customers and time consuming for your staff. There is an innovative way to keep the “Ick Factor” from keeping customers from bowling: Bowling Buddies. Bowling Buddies are shoe covers that are placed right over customers’ own street shoes. Easy peasy! Bowling Buddies can streamline the rental shoe process. And imagine your customer’s reaction when you tell them they can use their own shoes to bowl in. When your customers are comfortable and enjoy themselves while bowling, they will be more likely to become returning patrons. Think of the benefits of them sharing their experience about how cool it was to bowl with their own shoes. Let’s hope that goes TikTok viral.
Bryan O’Keefe, a 10-year-plus veteran of coaching in the Team USA program, has been selected as the head coach for Team USA. He will replace longtime Team USA coach Rod Ross, who retired in December 2020 after nearly two decades with the program. 46-year-old O’Keefe, presently the director of bowling for McKendree University, will continue in that role while also leading Team USA. O’Keefe earned USBC Gold status from USBC Coaching Certification and Development in 2014. Gold is the highest certification level a bowling coach can achieve. He most recently helped Junior Team USA to the top of the podium at the 2019 International Bowling Federation World Junior Championships in France and the 2019 PANAM Bowling Youth Championships in the Dominican Republic. O’Keefe will remain based in Shiloh, IL, where he lives with his wife, PWBA and Team USA member Shannon O’Keefe. He will recuse himself from involvement in all subjective selection processes related to the Team USA women’s program while Shannon O’Keefe is part of the program. His responsibilities will begin with the process of hiring a new Junior Team USA head coach.
Paul Lane (left) eceives his Service Award from Don MacBrayne
Don MacBrayne (right) Director at Large of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, presents the UK Tenpin Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award for 2021 to Paul Lane on behalf of the UK Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association who sponsored the award.
Trifecta Management Group (TMG), the premier entertainment and restaurant concept development and management firm, has announced the promotion of Rebecca Metzner to director of sales and marketing. Metzner has quickly become a vital part of the corporate sales and marketing team for Trifecta Management Group. Rebecca has proven herself to be creative, highly organized, and an effective communicator in all aspects of the business, including brand development, promotional planning, training, Rebecca Metzner and event implementation. In addition, she has been instrumental in the growth of Trifecta Marketing Services (TMS), a division of TMG, which was launched in 2019 to serve small and medium-sized businesses with affordable marketing and sales services in a variety of industries, including entertainment, retail, film, healthcare, restaurants, upscale groceries, and non-profits.
WATCH BOWLING: READY FOR PRIME Bowling might be getting a new lease on life in episodic TV with the CBS pick-up of “Smallwood,” starring comedian Pete Holmes as a once-bowling phenom who has lost his job at a General Motors factory and decides now is the time to follow his pro bowling dream. It might remind fans of the 2000-2004 series, “Ted,” which spotlighted bowling with Tom Cavanagh as a lawyer putting up his shield in a bowling center. The tone is definitely on the upswing. Dark is now endearing and warm. The sleeper series Comedian Pete Holmes “Ted Lasso,” which grew quickly in popularity, showed that the viewing public likes warm-hearted shows loaded with laughs. Maybe bowling is ready for a television comeback?
an Old English exclamation of surprise, shock, frustration, exasperation, anger, alarm, or annoyance UK-based Roxy Leisure recently added a duckpin attraction in two of their Roxy Ball Room hospitality centers - Roxy Ball Rooms in Nottingham, and the Merrion Center in Leeds. These are the first duckpin lanes in the UK. Nick Keppe, president of Bowltech UK, who supplied and installed the equipment said, “The duckpin machines and lanes at both venues were custom designed packages by Bowltech UK, including Bowltech’s Ross Gibson’s design details for the masking scoreboards. The lanes are variable [in] length
Consumers are excited to return to recreational activities that focus on experiences. Humdrum is out; exciting is it. What are you doing to spice things up to enhance your customer’s experience? We tripped across some info from ATMOSPHERE TV and think it’s worthy of passing along to our readers. ATMOSPHERE TV is a leading streaming TV service for businesses that offer original, audio-optional, and family-friendly TV channels. Traditional live TV programming doesn’t cut the mustard with many of today’s consumers, especially the millennial and younger crowd. Consumers have grown used to being entertained no matter what they’re doing. What kind of experience is your center delivering? Find out some honest answers - consider asking your employees, family, and friends, especially the younger set. Data from ATMOSPHERE TV confirms that businesses using their streaming service have a 14% increase in new business, a 16% increase in dwell time, and a 19% increase in repeat guests. Worthy of a few clicks to find out more at www.atmosphere.tv. 12
and require no special shoes as there are no approaches. However, the lanes are full-width — the same as tenpin — but more flexible for installation in pubs and entertainment centers. They are a variation on a theme, a cross between mini-bowling with narrower lanes and a short tenpin lane,” added Keppe. Joel Mitchell, the brand development manager for the Roxy Leisure chain said, “The reasoning for duckpins was to diversify our gaming options even further. We like to be innovative and to bring new games to our customers whenever and wherever we can.”
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
RECE IVIN G Ensur
Tips for Food Cost Control Keeping your food service profitable By Gary Ciniello
e is che that a resp cking in the onsible staf f mem order. Ask yo ber or a man genera ur distribut ager or lly slo w hou to deliver r y s our fo ß The od ord er dur have o delivery sho ing uld ma rdered quality tch ex . You should , a c a t n l d y bags o pricing with w be ch f that h flour or ric . Do not ac ecking bran hat you c d as see e n bett e, discolored pt dented s, quantity, c e an r b eef, o days. ß If an r fres s, ripped h fish accept y items are a when ble proced rejected, m ur agreein a g to a e for credit ke sure the re contra – ct wit this shoul is an d h a dis tribut be done or.
n the food business, profit margins are razorthin. There isn’t a lot of room between making it and going belly up. To keep in line with your budget, be aware of the nine essential areas of food cost control.
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FOOD AND BEVERAGE ...continued from page 14
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Gary Ciniello has 35+ years of experience in the food and beverage industry. He has been invited to speak at Bowl Expo several times because of his extensive knowledge in the bowling and FEC business. He is a master at menu design and layout to create profitable food and beverages in your center. If you have questions for Gary email him at email@example.com.
TAPPING KNOWLEDGE By Robert Sax
How your beverage rep can help build bar sales 22
merican restaurants and bars account for billions of dollars in sales of alcoholic beverages annually. But as astonishing as that number is, bowling operators who sell beer, wine and liquor know that the products don’t sell themselves. Building your alcohol sales isn’t as simple as stocking the best-known brands and pricing them right. Operators need to consider who their customers are, what they like, and their buying habits. And while there are certainly plenty of statistics and marketing advice to be found in trade publications and industry groups, savvy operators use every available resource. So why do many operators overlook one of the best and most accessible resources available, the sales reps who provide their alcoholic beverages? A good rep is interested in more than just pushing product, says Rebecca Metzner, director of sales and marketing for FEC and restaurant consultants Trifecta Marketing. “You know, the more that your FEC sells, the more you have
COVER STORY to order from them. So it’s a mutual relationship there. They do better when you’re doing better. And I feel like a lot of times people feel like the reps are just trying to sell them stuff.” Your beverage rep can be a deep source of information about trends and new products and what is selling for other operators. “[Reps] just have a better idea of the market and what sells. We know our weekly customers, we know our league bowlers, but we don’t know the casual customer, as well as the reps, do,” says Chrissie Kent, co-owner of Rose Bowl Lanes in Newark, New York. “They know what’s selling in the little convenience stores, what’s selling in the grocery stores, and of course, they know what sells well in the bars.” The casual segment is a desirable one for Kent. Rose Bowl Lanes’ First Glass Wine Bar is separate from the bowling area, and she markets it to all adults seeking a fun place to drink, eat and hear live music. “I think the rep’s knowledge of hot items at the time is really useful to us to bring in more casual customers.” Knowledgeable reps can help you keep your beverage menu appealing by suggesting new brands or products, says Scott Kennedy, senior operations manager of Fast Lane Entertainment in Lowell, Arkansas. “A lot of FECs and bowling centers make a mistake in not treating the bar the same way they do their attractions
Doug and Chrissie Kent
in the arcade. You have to always keep it fresh,” says Kennedy. A rep who is up on trends can also save an operator from wasting time and money trying too many new products. “Hard seltzers are extremely popular; it seems like every other day, a new vendor is coming in with some sort of new seltzer,” says Kennedy. “You can only have so many seltzers on your bar. Trying to find the ones that are going to sell, which ones the customers are looking for — that’s a huge thing.”
Seller Beware: Liquor laws are often Byzantine and can vary widely from state to state and even city to city. What’s legal in some locations, like swag giveaways or offering samples on the lanes, may be prohibited in others. Some of the promotions described in this story may not be available to you, so be sure to check the laws in your area. A good rep will have experience navigating the liquor laws in their territory, which is another good reason to seek their advice.
Signs, Swigs, and Swag There are several ways in which a rep can help you market their products in your bar. Many will provide marketing materials or help you pay for making your own. These can include menus, table toppers, and signs and banners behind the bar or the lane areas. “Nowadays Scott Kennedy IBI
COVER STORY printing is really expensive, right? So it gets very costly if you are updating those menus on a fairly regular basis,” says Metzner. “That can make a huge difference just in your bottom line.” Reps can also provide “swag” or promotional items like glassware, T-shirts, and keychains that you can give away to your customers. “Everyone likes free things, and those breweries
"A lot of FECs and bowling centers make a mistake in not treating the bar the same way they do their attractions in the arcade. You have to always keep it fresh," says Kennedy. and those vendors have a lot of that promotional product in order to propel their brand,” says Metzner. “So, if you promote ‘Hey, stop by on such and such day for our tap takeover and receive a free pint glass or a free beer mug with that brand, not only are people going to come for that... they’ll take it home, and they’ll have a constant reminder of that brand.” If you can arrange for your name or logo to be on the giveaway as well, the crosspromotional benefits can be powerful. Holding beverage tastings at your center is an opportunity for your regular customers to try something new, and Kent suggests holding them on a league night. “I’ve had [league] guys in there for 20 years, and they’ve had Bud Light every night,” she says. “You may get somebody to try something else. You never know.” It’s also a way to see if your customers like a new product before committing to a large order. Reps can also help promote tasting events through their
Don't forget that it's a two-way street. Kennedy strongly advises taking the time to build a mutual relationship with your reps. 26
networks, says Metzner, and can bring in fans of their brand who are potential new customers for you. “Additional people are going to be driven into your venue that you might not have seen before,” she says. “A lot of the smaller craft breweries, for instance, have an events page on their website and also Rebecca Metzner social media, and they’ll specifically list your venue with information on what’s happening and just the cross-promotion element I think is huge.” It’s primarily your bartenders who will have to sell the product, and a rep can help there because they know their product best. “I always recommend having a tasting with the rep and [your bartenders] so that there is a little bit of a training session,” says Metzner. “It’s not ‘if you build it, they will come,’ you’ve got to sell it to [your customers.] So [your bartenders] need to be as aware of all of the different elements of it as possible.” With all that a rep can do to help build beverage sales, why don’t more people take advantage of their expertise? “I think sometimes we get in our own way,” says Kent of her fellow operators. “We’re not sure if it’s going to work or not. And I would say to that, just give [events] a chance because it’s a free
COVER STORY opportunity. The reps are going to bring the product; it doesn’t cost you anything to do it.” Don’t forget that it’s a two-way street. Kennedy strongly advises taking the time to build a mutual relationship with your reps instead of having a ‘you work for me’ attitude. Sometimes that means ordering a product they are being pressured to sell by their boss, even if it’s not that high on your wish list. “They remember you down the line when it’s a Friday night, you’re down to your last Bud Light keg, and you need an [emergency delivery]. They will do that for you once you develop those relationships.”
"Everyone likes free things, and those breweries and those vendors have a lot of that promotional product in order to propel their brand," says Metzner.
BIG TREND TO SMALL BOTTLES A recent industry trend that Scott Kennedy likes is wine in 187ml “single serving” bottles, which hold approximately one 6ounce glass of wine. This allows him to offer decent wines to customers who want them while cutting waste. “We’re not a wine bar by any means. What ends up happening a lot with red wines is you’re not getting through that bottle [and] you’re having a lot of waste. Are the [small bottles] 20, 30 cents more? Yes. But I am making that back up by [not] throwing half a bottle away.”
Others may simply be shy about asking their rep for some quid pro quo, says Metzner. “It’s like if I bring this product on, what can you help me with? How can you help me promote it? And I think that’s really what it comes down to is owners and operators need to feel comfortable asking those questions,” she says. “Yes, I’ll bring on this particular line of bourbon. However, what can you help me create either marketing-wise for collateral or what sort of giveaways can you provide for me?” So don’t overlook your alcoholic beverage rep. From products to promotional events, consulting them can present fresh opportunities for you and your customers. It certainly won’t hurt to ask. ❖
First Glass Wine Bar at Rose Bowl Lanes
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
Fast Lane Bar 28
By David Garber
XTRAVAGANZA IS BACK! Jackie Brown and Daroll Frewing
A look at the return of the largest fundraiser for the IBMHF
R Randy Gulley and Mike Aulby Lori and Jeff Maraz
ed Rock Casino, Hotel, and Bowling Center just finished hosting the 10th annual Xtravaganza. Each year bowlers and industry leaders come together to bowl and raise money for the museum and hall of fame.
CENTER STAGE Pat and Lisa Ciniello and Bob Hart
This year just over 90 doubles teams competed, with husband and wife Julie and Jim Pratt winning the top prize of $3,000. The event raised over $71,000 for the museum and hall of fame. Thank you to everyone that supported this fantastic event! Here are some of the great bowlers and people that put this event on. The event created by Pat Ciniello, Joan Romeo, and David Garber ten years ago has become the biggest fundraiser each year for the IBMHF. ❖
Julie and Jim Pratt
Jimmy Land and Bob Hart
Scott Devers and Simon Shearer
Bill Chrisman and Daroll Frewing
Steve Cook and Pat Ciniello 32
THE NEW FRONTIER (LANES) Proprietor Ernie Simmons takes the shut-down opportunity to upgrade his center
By Mark Miller
ell before the pandemic took a toll on the bowling industry, Ernie Simmons knew what upgrades the center he had managed for nearly three decades needed. Once he and his wife Wanda became owners of Frontier Lanes in Stillwater, OK, in the fall of 2018, they were able to begin putting their plan into action. “Our lighting was getting bad,” said Simmons, who bought the 16-lane center about a mile north of Oklahoma State University from the family of James Cummins, whose father’s construction company built the facility in 1962. “The ballasts were hard to find. They were expensive. So, we decided we could save money on electricity. We had some money at the end of the year we needed to spend.” They met with Steve Szabina, the vice president of sales for Zot ColorSplash, at the end of 2019 to discuss and purchase a new LEDbased lighting system which was delivered just before the pandemic hit. But with his center forced to close for two months, instead of paying an electrician to do all the work, he and his mechanic/stepson
FEATURE features four sets of eight color LED light units strategically placed from the scorers down the lanes. Each unit can produce hundreds of combinations of lights that are primarily used during open play. “It’s great for facilities that need to update and cut their costs and also add in another layer of revenue because it allows you to do more things with organizations and schools and groups,” Szabina said. “It’s just a matter of how you
Dennis Anderson ended up doing most of the installation themselves the week before they re-opened in May. “Lighting is two-fold. LEDs are low maintenance, low cost, and have more output,” said Szabina, now the International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association executive director. “Entertainment-wise, you can have more things because they open up a lot more opportunities and avenues for recreational bowling, which was big prior to the pandemic. It kind of took a back seat to the sport and leagues. Whoever thought that would happen again.” The new system, operated through a computer program,
“It’s great for facilities that need to update and cut their costs and also add in another layer of revenue because it allows you to do more things with organizations and schools and groups,” Szabina said.
set up to get the best return.” Systems like Zot Colorsplash offer an endless array of color options, including different shades and multiple effects. “You could be there for days, and it would never repeat,” Szabina said. “You can do something different every minute, every hour, put it on a loop. It all depends on how you program it.” This was the second major upgrade for Simmons, who started
Proprietors Ernie and Wanda Simmons
working part-time in Frontier’s pro shop and front desk in 1986, about two years before Cummins got the center back in a bankruptcy case. He immediately became assistant manager and by 1993 was promoted to manager. “My first experience as the manager was when we first upgraded [to] electronic scoring and new synthetic lanes. That was quite an ordeal,” Simmons remembered. Installing the new lighting system was just one way Simmons refreshed his center during the shutdown phase at the start of the pandemic. He put about seven to eight staff to work thoroughly cleaning the center, including the carpets, food hoods, and trays, painting virtually every possible area, and polishing the lanes. He learned how to sanitize the entire center, including bowling balls, from several online seminars and webinars. Before the pandemic, Frontier Lanes employed 12 to 16 staff, and thanks to qualifying for the federal PPP loan, a $25,000 state grant, and a $5,000 local grant, Simmons was able to retain nearly all his staff. The only two who didn’t come back did so on their own. He also qualified for a Small Business Administration loan but hasn’t had to use it. “Naturally, we cut back on hours, but we didn’t let anybody go,” he said. The money helped Frontier Lanes tread through the year until December, when it finally turned a profit, with January and February 2021 remaining strong. “Most of the vendors were really good about working with us,” Simmons said. “They didn’t want us to [close] and [then] lose a contract altogether.” When the center re-opened, recreational bowlers skipped a lane between groups, and within a month, all patrons were required to wear masks. Ironically, Simmons said he lost more bowlers to mask mandates than to anti-smoking rules. “We’re trying to do everything we can to operate the business and try to make money but not cause any problems,” he said. The informal Thursday afternoon seniors group began returning in 38
November and grew in the ensuing months after members started getting vaccines and feeling more comfortable returning to the lanes. Youth league bowlers have stayed pretty steady since the pandemic. Adult league numbers dropped from about 300 in 2020 to 200 in 2021, though leagues have not been forced to skip lanes. “With having to skip lanes between groups in open play, we’re still not back to what it was before but definitely better than it was,” Simmons said. “It definitely gives you a little hope.” Like so many other centers, Frontier Lanes converted its dining area to take out to bring in a little income during the shutdown. Simmons said his food and beverage revenue dropped nearly 40% each month from the beginning of the bowling season through the end of the year. But since the
To welcome customers back, Simmons advertised his center on Facebook and on local high school football television broadcasts. That led to an appearance on a local morning TV show to talk about bowling and how he and his staff maintained a clean and safe environment.
start of 2021, the numbers have dropped to just under 30% from the same period last year. “At least it is moving in the right direction now,” Simmons said. “Food and beverage numbers have pretty much mirrored what the bowling numbers have done.” To welcome customers back, Simmons advertised his center on Facebook and on local high school football television broadcasts. That led to an appearance on a local morning TV show to talk about bowling and how he and his staff maintained a clean and safe environment. That includes asking bowlers using house balls to put them on a special rack where they are cleaned and returned to their regular racks. Rental shoes are sprayed both inside and out. Simmons hopes to extend the Color Splash lighting to the pin decks and settee area when he has the money. “The best thing we have come up with during [the pandemic] is to continue to get our name out in front of people, so they will remember we are here when they feel comfortable to come to visit us again,” he said. ❖
Mark Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and public relations specialist from Flower Mound, TX. He's the author of Bowling: America's Greatest Indoor Pastime available at Amazon.com.
By Fred Kaplowitz few weeks ago, I decided it had been far too long since I took myself out on a photographic safari. I set my clock for 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday, determined to wake up with the sun and get out there to shoot some sunrise shots. I had it all planned, right down to the lenses, the UV filters, the lens caps, the tripod. I was ready to rock and laid it all out the night before. I would shoot shots off of glass buildings, background sun on people exercising in the park creating a different kind of effect, the sun coming up over a river trail with people running alongside the water glistening with the sunlight bouncing off. Backlit leaves with the sun highlighting the veins of the leaves and other weird ways I look at the world. After all, photography is about controlling light to create an image that you find pleasing. Of course, with today’s PhotoShop products, you can lighten, darken, colorize, crop, filter and do about anything you want to enhance your photo. But I’m more about composing and lighting the shot right rather than techno propping it up. I went to sleep that night with thoughts of sugarplum photos in my head. But when I awoke, I looked out the window and saw, to my utter chagrin, rain and lots of it. I checked the forecast. It had completely changed from the previous evening and rain was predicted all day. “Bummer,” I thought at first, but I decided I was going out anyway, and I got some great rain shots; drops on flowers and slowmotion shots of rain on a frog. It was a great photo day. And I was happy that I could turn a lemon of a day into lemonade On my way home, I was happy not only because of the shots I took
Rainmaker On A Sunny Day Turn around a slow summer day
MARKETING but because I knew it would be a good day to go bowling and as a proprietor, I sure was happy over that, and as my colleagues would say, “the best summer promotion we have in the summer is rain.” But because I’m a Fred, I asked myself, “Why did we have to count on rain as our BEST summer promotion? Weren’t we smart enough or creative enough as a group to deal with sunny summer days to generate traffic, revenue, and profits?” As I began to think about this, I realized we could do lots more than just a price special. We could attract seniors for summer proms, dancing, music, and bowling. Of course, those seniors would now be listening to the Rolling Stones and not Frank Sinatra, but that would be OK. Today’s seniors were younger anyway. Or maybe I could do a Celebrate XYZ weekend. Fundraisers didn’t have any season. Why not a BVL fundraiser around the 4th of July? Indeed, some of my league bowlers and open play bowlers were Vets, and if I could get a “platoon of them” to help me organize it, I could help BVL support our vets and make a little money, maybe bring in new people for future bowling experiences. Maybe I would hire a couple of comedians and turn the center into a comedy club for a couple of hours and offer bowling/food packages all for one low price?
How about a free 90 minutes of Saturday bowling providing the customers on the lane bought a pizza and a soft drink? Maybe they would buy more bowling or more food? If I didn’t expect to have any business on a sunny Saturday, what would I be giving away anyway? Nada! Or how about a Doggie Bowl where I would raise money for shelter pets and enlist the help of some pet stores like Pet Smart and even local shelters. Perhaps Pet Smart would give away a branded travel water bowl to every doggie entry? Maybe even conduct a local pet show in the parking lot or a dog tricks contest? Now I know these ideas may not be for everybody. Nothing seldom is, but I hope you get the idea because you have the creativity to decide on a FUN event to bring people into your center. After all, there is no reason to let a little rain stop you! ❖ Marketing is in Fred Kaplowitz’s DNA. He loves to solve problems, and he meets challenges head-on. He has successfully produced results for hundreds of clients. He is a husband, father, consultant, coach, teacher, motivator, copywriter, and a speaker. He has been a friend and contributor to IBI for the past 25 years. Website: www.kaploegroup.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cell phone: 516 359 4874
SHOWCASE SEMNOX’S ONLINE CASHLESS PAYMENT SYSTEMS
Integration of Semnox’s cashless payment system enables businesses to conveniently book online parties and reservations, card sales, recharge used cards, combo product sales, and more. This platform has seen a rise in its customer base due to its user-friendly and intuitive features. The system’s ability to flexibly integrate with safe and secure payment gateways makes it even more important for businesses looking for contactless solutions. www.semnox.com.
Steltronic has unveiled a new food and beverage self-order kiosk. Food and soft drink orders will be printed in the kitchen, while alcoholic drinks will be printed in the bar. You will be able to customize the system in the way that best fits your center. For example, the system allows alcohol orders to be age-verified before preparation or excluded from ordering all together. You can easily add or remove items to customize any food order, while using the full color touch screen with images of the food and beverage items you sell from your bar, snack bar, or restaurant. It’s compatible with Steltronic’s Focus-NEX front desk or back office computers. Stay tuned for further announcements on the availability of this new food and beverage kiosk.
It’s “Game on!” at BMI MERCHANDISE. Gaming is hotter than ever, and BMI is riding that trend with the launch of a new gaming collection. Offering high-quality gaming accessories at great prices like the Gaming Sound System, 3-In-1 Gaming set, Pro Noise Reducing Headset with Mic, and much more. From the most-trending products to retail-ready, on-site set-ups, BMI can help you increase your guest experience and your profits! For more information, contact us @ 800-272-6375 or go to www.bmimerchandise.com
GET MORE DONE WITH WALKING
Are you a head mechanic doing it all? Do you spend time running your lanes, going over the checklist of tasks you have to do when you are finished? A walking lane machine can help you maximize your time. Kegel offers two lane machines with this unique capability. The FLEX Walker is the top-of-the-line walking machine from Kegel while the IKON Walker offers a simpler user experience. Both machines are eligible for Kegel’s Bonus Warranty and receive Kegel’s 24/7 Tech Support. Learn more about how you can wrench on your pinsetters and run your lanes at the same time at www.kegel.net.
PRODUCTS THAT PERFORM
Redemption Plus has been serving the bowling entertainment industry for 25 years and is a proud Smart Buy Vendor for the BPAA. We provide end-toend redemption products and services, including custom design of redemption rooms and esports arenas, merchandising plans and installations, online and in-person redemption training, auto-replenishment technology, and a curated line of prizes that perform nationally. Website: Redemptionplus.com Phone: 888-564-7587 Email: Smile@redemptionplus.com.
CLASSIFIEDS SUBSCRIPTION RATES: One copy of International Bowling Industry is sent free to every bowling center, independently owned pro shop and collegiate bowling center in the U.S., and every military bowling center and pro shop worldwide. Publisher reserves the right to provide free subscriptions to those individuals who meet publication qualifications. Additional subscriptions may be purchased for delivery in the U.S. for $60 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2021, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
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AMF and some BRUNSWICK PC board repair/exchange. 6-month warranty, fast turnaround. Call or write: WB8YJF Service 5586 Babbitt Road, New Albany, Ohio 43054 Toll Free: 888-902-BOWL (2695) Ph./Fax: (614) 855-3022 (Jon) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit us on the WEB! http://home.earthlink.net/~wb8yjf/
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CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT FOR SALE Highway 66. 2 lanes. Excellent condition. Lightly used only 2 years. $25,000 obo 616-322-3119. INFECTED with the REMODEL BUG as you FALL into League Season? ENTERTAINING the idea of a face-lift? Got you covered: A2s, parts, lanes, scoring, seating, and, of course, masks. firstname.lastname@example.org. FOR SALE: 10 pin drilling machine with vacuum system, measuring ball, scale, etc. Call Vic at (780) 454-1110. NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com. REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.
CENTERS FOR SALE ILLINOIS: 24-lane, recently remodeled center w/ new parking lot. 40,000 s/f on 1.67 acres. Qubica scoring and POS system. Strong leagues w/ 900+ bowlers, also pool leagues. Sports bar & grill, pro shop, video gaming, & banquet hall w/ lots of room to convert. Owner retiring. Call (847) 613-5020 for price & info. NEBRASKA: 32-lane center, land & building. Features Brunswick A2 pinsetters, Brunswick Pro Anvilane lanes, Brunswick 2000 ball returns. Also, large lounge seating to 250; party room seating up to 80; game room, café with established catering service. Center caters in-house and to other locations year-round. For more information, call Don Mehring, Action Holdings Real Estate, office (308) 384-3777 or cell (308) 380-0444.
HEAD MECHANIC WANTED Head Mechanic Wanted for two busy 32 and 36 lane state of the art family entertainment centers in the Treasure Coast of Florida. One is a Brunswick center and the other is AMF. Great opportunity for a qualified individual. Salary compensable with experience. Email resume to email@example.com. Call 772-286-9700 or 772-299-7467 ask for Tammy.
EQUIPMENT WANTED LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.
EDUCATION & TRAINING PRO SHOP TRAINING. Classes always forming. Jayhawk Bowling Supply (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
SERVICES AVAILABLE Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
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AMF • BRUNSWICK EQUIPMENT COMPLETE PACKAGES WORLDʼS LARGEST NEW – USED SPARE PARTS INVENTORY ALL AMF BUMPER PARTS, XS Q-BUMP, DURABOWL AND GEN II IN STOCK
Danny & Daryl Tucker Tucker Bowling Equipment Co. 609 N.E. 3rd St. Tulia, Texas 79088 Call (806) 995-4018 Fax (806) 995-4767
Bowling Parts, Inc. P.O. Box 801 Tulia, Texas 79088 Call (806) 995-3635 Email - email@example.com
he Fourth of July’s quintessential Americana includes flags, bunting, family picnics, and fireworks. Following right behind is bowling. Since the discovery and founding of our nation, enjoying all variations of bowling have been American past times, right up there with baseball. IN 1971, AMF VOIT, INC. knew how to market bowling balls, shoes, and bags in its Americans line. In this print ad, the red, white, and blue strikes the imagination and explodes on the lanes. In 2021, it’s time to revisit the excitement. We all need it. It’s time to go bowling! ❖ - Patty Heath
The world's best trade magazine for the bowling industry, including bowling centers, bowling alleys, family entertainment centers, and FECs.
Published on Jul 5, 2021
The world's best trade magazine for the bowling industry, including bowling centers, bowling alleys, family entertainment centers, and FECs.