International Bowling Industry Magazine

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October 2021 | VOL 29.10





By Patty Heath and David Garber

A Shared Love for Bowling IBI’s new owners are old friends By Robert Sax

12 Customer Experience How to Wow Your Holiday Guests By Beth Standless

55 Tech Desk: Website Series 8 Biggest Website Mistakes and How To Fix Them In this issue: the first two mistakes to avoid


By Darin Spindler and Zach Boulanger

Marketing Monthly Tips and tricks to get customers into your center


By Bruce Davis

57 Classifieds

28 Cover Story Scary Good Profits

PUBLISHER & EDITOR Stephanie Davis

Maximize your square footage to boost revenue By Ryan Vasko

61 Showcase

1850 San Marco Rd Marco Island, FL 34145 (239) 366-2230 Fax (239) 970-0538


62 By Patty Heath

October 2021





Remember When



Contributors Box: Zach Boulanger Bruce Davis Natalie Davis Stephanie Davis Mike Fernandez David Garber Patty Heath Fred Kaplowitz Cameron Linder Robert Sax Darin Spindler Beth Standlee Ryan Vasko


ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks (818) 735-9424

FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)


CHANGE, GROWTH, AND NEW OPPORTUNITIES s my first editorial column as the new publisher and editor of International Bowling Industry, I’d like to take a moment and share with you the journey getting here. My predecessor Scott Frager and his wife Jackie have been longtime business associates and more importantly friends of my husband and I for many years. We share the love of the bowling industry and the people in it. We also have a commonality in that the four of us are parents of children with extra challenges which bonds us even more. We have laughed and sometimes cried over the rollercoaster ride of raising these children, conducting business in challenging times, and reveled in the joy of success when life was going our way. Over the last 15 months, Scott and I spent many hours strategizing and contemplating how the industry, its people, and businesses could survive this invader called COVID. Time moved on, businesses opened, some closed permanently, and suppliers were hurting in ways we had never seen before. Scott found that his new career in law enforcement was a driving force that energized him, and the publishing bug hit me hard. So here we are, on to new and exciting paths. Developing new business and connecting people is in my DNA. I was raised in the printing industry by entrepreneurial parents who expected all of us to pull together for the betterment of the business and the family. I see a parallel with families in bowling. Over the next few months, you can expect varied content as you flip through the pages of the magazine or when visiting our new website which is launching at the end of the year. We are finding innovative ways to help suppliers connect with proprietors so their important goods and services can be utilized in centers around the globe. As for our new team, I can happily report that Jackie is still a part of the IBI team, as are longtime team members David Garber and Patty Heath. Adding to our mix is our own Davis Productions team of Natalie Davis, Andy and Marsha Vasko, Roxanne Damask, and, of course, my husband Bruce. In a short time, the two teams have become one, and the synergy between old and new is extraordinary. I can honestly say we’re all having fun with this evolving publication and hope you like the makeover of IBI. Growth, change, and new opportunities. It’s the ‘name of the game in the business of bowling today. – STEPHANIE DAVIS, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR



Celebrations King Pin Lanes in Rome, NY, is celebrating 65 years of serving the Mohawk Valley and helping families enjoy their leisure time. The center hosted a “65 Year Bowling Bonanza,” with a jumbo bounce house, a dunk tank, and a pie throwing contest. There was also a donation box with the proceeds dedicated to the King Pin’s youth program. Joe Clarke, general manager, shared with Rome’s Daily Sentinel, “We wanted to throw [the bonanza] because it’s been 65 years, and it’s after the pandemic, and we’re still here.” He added, “There are a lot of businesses that are independently owned and they did not make it. So, we’re very thankful for it, and we just wanted to throw something to give back to the community for helping us make it.” Craig Vogel has owned the center for 25 years and looks forward to expanding the arcade, making the bar a sports bar, and offering some outdoor activities. Vogel shared, “If it were not for the community, we would not be here at all.” Happy 65th Anniversary! 6


October 2021

Craig Vogel, owner of King Pin Lanes, and Joe Clarke, general manager, pose with the Chamber of Commerce certificate acknowledging the 65th anniversary.





After 8 years without a bowling center, Warrington, PA, has approved an 18-lane Stars & Strikes. The plan is for a January 2022 opening. Besides long-sought-after bowling, there will be a 9-hole miniature golf course, an arcade, a snack bar, and a bowling pro shop. King Hill Lanes in St. Joseph, MO, has new owners and a new name. Bryan Menini and his wife Jackie are the new owners of Revolution Lanes. The center sports new pinsetters and a new scoring system. Menini previously owned a center in Brookfield, MO. His business philosophy is, “I tell all the staff, when people come in here to have a good time, our job is to not screw it up. All we have to do is not mess up their good time.” For Menini, everybody bowls: his mother bowled until she was 88! Maple Lanes in Waterloo, IA, is reopening after nearly a year and a half of construction. The center was the victim of arson in February 2020. Owner Rich Eighme said, “We’re trying to make a little bit more and take an opportunity to put back something that will maybe stand another fifty years.” Maple Lanes was 62 years old, but the newly renamed center, Kingpin Social, is here to stay. There is cosmic bowling and a second floor with dart boards, pool tables, and an area for socializing. A bar and kitchen are the last pieces to finalize Kingpin Social’s new birth. SpareMe is a bowling center, arcade, restaurant and bar, billing itself as an all-inclusive entertainment experience in downtown Iowa City. The two-level space features 12 bowling lanes, including space for private parties upstairs with billiards. Families are the focus. There once was Madison Bowl in Madison, TN. Reincarnations failed, but the spirit kept the thought alive, becoming Eastside Bowl in Nashville and opening August 2022. Micah Larcher, investor, feels Eastside Bowl is something Nashville needs. “A lot of bowling alleys have closed, and people just want somewhere they can get together and be together.” The new center will have 16 bowling lanes, plus the choice of QubicaAMF’s HyperBowling, which will be a great enticement as it is the only center offering it within 300 miles. There will be a 24-hour 125-seat outdoor patio and a 5,000- square-foot music venue with two stages. Well, it is Nashville, after all!


October 2021

IN REMEMBRANCE Harry Smith Harry Smith of Akron, OH, member of the USBC Hall of Fame, recently passed away at the age of 91. Smith’s career bloomed during the heyday of team bowling, aka the beer team era. He was a charter member of PBA. Smith was elected to the charter class of the PBA Hall of Fame in 1975 and then the USBC Hall of Fame in 1978 in the Superior Performance category. Smith, nicknamed “Tiger” for his fierce competitive spirit, earned four titles at the USBC Open Championships from 1958-1967. He added a coveted USBC Masters title in 1963 and logged five additional top-eight finishes at the Masters. His success as a competitor also earned him the No. 28 spot on the list of the 50 greatest players in PBA history published in 2009. After his competitive days were past, he remained with the PBA as the assistant tournament director, working under longtime tournament director Harry Golden. While his roots were in Ohio, his heart was in the bowling community.

Joyce Deitch A sad note. Joyce Deitch of Boulder City, NV, a member of the USBC Hall of Fame, died Sept 13. She was 90. She was inducted for meritorious service in 2003 after nearly 30 years of service for the Women’s International Bowling Congress. During her service, Deitch held a variety of positions. However, her legacy to the sport of bowling will be tied to her push to bring the multiple membership organizations within bowling together to create a single organization. The United States Bowling Congress officially launched Jan. 1, 2005, resulting from the merger of the American Bowling Congress, WIBC, YABA, and USA Bowling. Deitch’s contributions to the sport earned her the distinction of having one of the USBC’s National Recognition Awards named after her. The USBC Joyce Deitch Unity Award, previously WIBC Joyce Deitch Trailblazer Award, recognizes organizations and individuals, who have made important contributions to the overall sport of bowling by being motivators, visionaries, leaders, or innovators. On the lanes, Deitch was a 46-time participant at the USBC Women’s Championships. She started her career on the championship lanes at the 1956 event in Miami, and she competed every year from 1968 until her final tournament appearance in 2005. Funeral services are pending.



Qubica AMF Worldwide and Kegel have entered into a new licensing and manufacturing agreement. Kegel will become the exclusive manufacturer and supplier for all QubicaAMF lane care and supplies products. Kegel will be responsible for product development for the QubicaAMF chemical line further investing in and innovating the line. The agreement covers the VisFlo, Reactor, Utopica, Formula ACC, Formula 388, SureSlide, and PinKeeper Brands in addition to the Duster and Cleaning Cloth.

8 HYBRID AMUSEMENT 360 EVENT WELL RECEIVED BY ATTENDEES Creative Works held its first-ever hybrid format of Amusement 360. The company’s popular event stepped up to the changing landscape of post COVID. This year, attendees were offered in-person and/or virtual ticket options to accommodate those who were able to travel and those who could not. More than 60 entertainment operators gathered in Indianapolis for the in-person event, while hundreds tuned in virtually. The three-day event was split into two tracks; existing businesses and new startups. The dualtrack format allowed Creative Works to bring in more guest speakers. The next 360 Event is scheduled for February 8-10, 2022 in Indianapolis, IN.

BLIND BOWLERS HELP OTHERS LEARN THE SPORT The Asheville Smokies is a bowling team whose home base has been Sky Lanes in Asheville, NC, for five years. All the bowlers are blind or visually impaired. However, the iconic sounds of the hum of balls rolling down the lanes and music accompanying the sound of crashing pins keeps the experience of bowling very similar to that of a sighted bowler, maybe even better. “Hearing those pins rattle, it’s just that feeling inside like ‘Yes, I’m doing it,’” shared Mary Sedgwick. She added, “Nothing’s holding me back.” Bottom line is the need to prove that despite the difference, there are more similarities between sighted and visually impaired bowlers. To encourage others to participate, the Asheville Smokies offer lessons to anyone who wants to participate in blind bowling, including volunteers who want to assist as spotters. Striking down limitations is a good thing.



October 2021

BOWLING BOOK CORNER If you’re not first you’re last Sometimes there’s a time to read for enjoyment, but, sometimes, you have to get down and get serious. That is the crux of Grant Carbone’s If You’re Not First, You’re Last. Carbone’s description of the book is, “Sales strategies to dominate your market and beat your competition.” The pandemic has been a challenge in selling products and services. With centers reopening as other businesses, this book could be a good primer for steering business in a positive direction. The best take-away: coming out of a bad period, you have to be very visible to your customers. You have to let them know you’re still there. Some reviews point out that if you want to be successful, you must work unreasonably hard. That is obvious, but a needed reminder for many. The book is not so much about selling tactics as it is setting up a sales plan. This is not Carbone’s first foray into self-help books: he also wrote Sell or Be Sold, The 10X Rule, and Be Obsessed or Be Average. Homework?




efore we dive into the tactics of having a great holiday season, it might be wise to look at a few strategic questions first. Arguably we are coming through the most challenging times of our lives. People are ready to celebrate and enjoy anything that feels normal. Holidays are synonymous with parties. From a strategic point of view, have you looked at what’s possible? Break each area of your center into party zones. Consider your current schedule and how you want to fill in times with parties and group events. Most importantly, do you have the staff who can help you deliver excellence? With these questions and strategies in mind, let’s look at five ways to wow your holiday guests.



October 2021

5 ways to make sure this holiday season is the best it can be!


The holiday season is no time to skimp. Prime locations and times like Friday and Saturday nights need to come with a premium price. Many locations up their food game and offer carving stations and upgraded food options during the holidays. If you have systems in place that allow you to deliver that type of experience at a high level, go for it. If not, upgrade what you know how to well. Now is the time to purchase or rent linens or step up to more sophisticated plating. It is amazing how much the value of a barbecue buffet jumps in price when the food is served on a real plate! Private space has a giant premium. Full rentals must be two to three times the amount of money you would receive if the location was fully occupied. When it comes to packaging for the holidays, don’t skimp! Reserve the most premium times for your largest groups when possible. Remember smaller groups may be the order of the day as people may still be weary of gathering in large numbers.






Think of the holiday season as mid-November through the end of January. Hospitality and retail won’t be able to celebrate the holidays during December; but January offers a great opportunity for your center and those that worked their tails off during the holidays. It is important to reach out and book retail and hospitality parties before black Friday. Consider each day and day part as opportunity for “event waves.” As an example, there are nine Fridays from Nov 12th-Jan 28th, excluding black Friday, Christmas Eve, and New Years Eve. You may want to consider an afternoon wave. 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; an early evening wave. 6 p.m.-9 p.m.; and a late night wave. 9 p.m.-close. On Saturdays, it may make sense to add a morning wave. 9 a.m.-Noon. Getting strategic about how you want to think about the business allows you and your team to predict and work toward a certain number of events which as a result creates great new revenue!

This fourth way of making sure you have the best holiday season assumes you have the right people in the right seat doing the right things at the right time. Hospitality driven people understand they are in service to others. Look at the team you have right now and ask them to grade themselves on a scale of 1-5 as they measure their own ability to deliver BEST GUEST Service. Ask them what they think BEST GUEST Service means. Be prepared to give your definition of BEST GUEST Service and how you see their ability as you give each team member your 1-5 rating of their performance. Gather the top scores together and create a plan of success for this designated event team.


Look at the last five years (if possible) and rank all the holiday parties from the past based on the following criteria. Sort the events from largest to smallest with a priority given to repeat clients. Reach out to every client in the sorted order so you can call or call on each group. Check to see if the same person is still planning holiday events and, if not, who is. Obviously, one of the big questions in the sales process will be to find out what the group is thinking of doing this year. The sales process is a focus of finding out what the guest needs. When you find out about them first rather than worry about selling your space, you’ll sell bigger events more often. To learn more about the sales process check out, People Buy From People, How to Personally Connect in an Impersonal World. I believe there will be many more last-minute bookings this year so don’t be afraid to be generous with your deposit rules this year. Make it easy for the guest to say yes to your location. 14


October 2021


Make a promise to your team, your guests, and to yourself that your business will make every attempt to create a wonderful event to remember. It is amazing how the little things can add up to big success. Be ready ahead of the start time of the event. Introduce the event planner to the manager on duty and the host that will be taking care of the group. Deliver food and activities on time and as promised. Interact and check in on the group two to three times to make sure they are having fun, and all is going well. Thank the people for choosing your center and wish them a happy holiday season. Finally, pat yourself and your team on the back for a job well done. I suspect you are finishing this article with the thought of duh! It’s much easier to write about having a great holiday season than to be the one who executes the experience. The planning starts now. I wish you many successful events and a prosperous holiday this year. ❖

Beth’s publication, People Buy From People, details her philosophy of connecting people to their work. Contact Beth Standlee at





October 2021

By Natalie Davis


eneration Z or Gen Z, are currently between the ages of 6-24. While this group is not talked about as much as Millennials, they make up a quarter of the U.S. population and should be on your radar as a lucrative target market. What makes these young consumers different than older ones? A lot! Gen Z is the most skeptical generation, especially regarding spending money, however, when these young consumers find a brand or place they trust, they will spend significant amounts of money there. Gen Zers are willing to spend their limited dollars on dining out and unique, fun experiences, as long as the establishment meets the relatively high standards that have been created through social media. While most of Gen Zers are still children who aren’t yet totally in control of their finances, they do influence mom and dad who regularly open their wallets to please their financially draining offspring. Teens and young adults who have cash at their disposal are excellent targets and travel in groups when they decide a place is “their place.” Keep in mind that the older Gen Zs are currently the main population on every college campus, which can provide an enormous opportunity for entertainment venues if you can grab their attention. Let’s explore college life for a minute… As a former member of college Greek life, I can say with confidence that college clubs and organizations are regularly on the lookout for an out-of-the-ordinary, fresh spot to host their events, besides the local bars. Clubs and organizations on a college campus typically host a few fundraisers each year, along with social events every month. These gatherings need to be hosted somewhere and campus bars usually get booked very fast, leaving a large number of clubs and organizations with nowhere to host their events. It’s a definite problem for the leaders of these groups who are tasked with the ongoing drudgery of providing a fun, unique venue for their social outing. Even small, community colleges have a significant number of clubs and organizations so the possibilities of booking your center into their plans are endless, and can be a very welcomed option for busy group planners. Student organizations love weatherproof activities like bowling and indoor entertainment options which helps them secure a crowd even if Mother Nature is in a mood. Gen Z loves

NEW MARKETS How do you find the decision-makers of these student organizations? Warning: this is going to sound pretty oldfashioned, but it works! The best way to reach the decision-makers of these clubs and organizations is to go to the student union at your local college and pick up some flyers, which usually identify the group’s coordinator. The school website often lists clubs and organizations with the name and email of the club organizer also. Final thoughts – Targeting Gen Zs can be a lucrative part of your marketing mix. They have money to spend and expect an Instagram-worthy, dynamite experience, at a place they feel like a guest, not a bother. ❖

friendly competition and Instagram-worthy activities, which makes bowling and arcade attractions a perfect spot for their next event. These young consumers love casual spaces where they can socialize with friends and hang out for long periods, so if your center has additional entertainment options besides bowling, that’s a huge plus – if it involves the bar and bar specials, even better!

Natalie Davis is the Marketing Manager for IBI who started her career in the industry early, when her mother's water broke in their family bowling center. Natalie also freelance's as a social media consultant for small and medium-sized businesses and has a passion for anything fitness and workout-related.


October 2021


It’s more than Insurance...

Because you're family. Cameron Linder CEO, Western Bowling Proprietors Insurance (WBPI) Rednil Insurance Brokers, Inc.







October 2021


hen presenting marketing seminars I often ask the audience, “How many ways do you think there are to grow your business?” Typically, the replies range from dozens to hundreds and beyond. Perhaps that’s why so many business operators feel that marketing is too complex and time-consuming, and often hand it off to someone else or worse yet, simply avoid working on it. Years ago, life was different and as bowling operators, we didn't have to work too hard to attract customers, but today is a different day and we’re selling to the expectations of very different consumers. To regularly attract customers and profits, you must prioritize generating revenue at the top of your daily to-do list. Getting back to my previous question, “how many ways are there to grow your business”? Most marketing professionals will answer this quite quickly: three. There are only three ways to grow your business – adding more new customers to your business, creating more visits from existing ones, and generating more money from each visit. To have a truly positive effect on your operation being proficient at all three and keeping them in sync with each other is vital. If, for example, you lower the price of a product, you’ll

MARKETING want to be assured you can gain enough additional visits and/or gain sufficient new customers to keep your growth plans intact. Real marketing success comes to those who make great offers and execute them so well that all three of these growth elements work in harmony.


CREATE NEW CUSTOMERS: The goal of finding new customers isn’t shocking news to any business operator but it is more crucial than many think. On average a business loses 20-30% of its customer base each year; bowling and entertainment businesses are no exception. While some customers may leave due to dissatisfaction with the center, service, or its products, much of the loss can be due to factors beyond an operator's control. A substantial portion of the population, 20-25%, move each year. Others develop health concerns, become injured, or die. Let’s not forget the consistent league bowler who decides to take that preverbal year off, while others face a job loss or schedule changes, while still others encounter life issues that alter their buying habits.

On average a business loses 20-30% of its customer base each year; bowling and entertainment businesses are no exception. In today's world, few customers find you and come in on their own, so having a plan in place and working it is key! Keep in mind, this first way to grow your business is the most challenging and expensive of the three we will cover; often three to four times more costly than having success with the remaining two. Caution: Without consistent work in this area, no matter how herculean your efforts are in the other two, your growth efforts will stall. In future issues, we will offer some proven ways to find new customers for your operation. Bottom line: Loss happens. If you’re looking to grow your business and find balance in your marketing efforts, developing and implementing a plan of action to replace who you’ve lost is critical.



October 2021


INCREASE NUMBER OF VISITS FROM EXISTING CUSTOMERS: Increasing the number of times your existing customers visit you is the second key component of growing a business and its profits. A bowling-based business has a variety of obvious ways to do this from offering leagues, tournaments, and special events to hosting fundraisers, parties, and company outings. Make it easy on your customers. Consumers need your help to be matched with relevant offers they find appealing. Present opportunities to those who have already shown an interest in what you’re offering. In the future, we will explore numerous methods you may want to employ ranging from bounce-back offers, local couponing, emailing plans, telemarketing, texting to direct mail, and other strategies to help centers earn more return visits. The Big Takeaway: The most efficient way to accomplish a bump in visits is to work off of a good customer database. Working to build and maintain a strong database is a essential in today's competitive world. What are they waiting on, an invitation?” The answer is YES!


GENERATE MORE MONEY FROM EACH CUSTOMER VISIT: This is not a suggestion to simply raise prices. While I’m all for charging higher prices, it should only be done once you and your team have gone through the process of reviewing, adjusting, and setting prices according to demand on a regular, perhaps quarterly, basis. But that’s a separate conversation for another day.

MARKETING What we’re talking about here is discovering ways to generate more money by increasing additional sales and/or transactions from current customers. From food and beverage sales to gift cards, retail merchandise, upselling, and everything in between, your marketing planning should be exploring ways for your operation to entice customers to spend additional money with your business. One trend many industries have been profiting from are processing and booking fees when customers make online reservations. Consumers have become accustomed to these fees when booking flights, hotel rooms, excursions, dinner reservations, tee times, and so much more. Brainstorm with your staff on how your center can generate more dollars per visit. Challenge your team to use their experiences with other businesses to apply to this challenge.

Over the years I’ve often been surprised with creative suggestions from some of our unlikely staff members. It’s all about perspective and including your team in the process. Generating more revenue per customer visit will be an important part of what this section, Bowling Industry Marketing Monthly will feature in coming issues. Final thoughts: Before you begin this process, I recommend you establish a form of measurement to know how you are doing against any upselling plans you employ. Ask yourself, “What is your current revenue per customer visit in each of your categories?” If you aren’t certain, your very first step should be to find the answer to that question so you can accurately measure your results and concentrate on the most rewarding methods.

This month’s Marketing Monthly was a long one. Moving forward I will try and keep them a bit shorter but still chock full of important marketing lessons.

The Marketing Process That Produces Success!



Find your social butterfly 24


October 2021


few years back an operator of a chain of well-run, up-to-date, and busy centers called me with a dynamite suggestion for an interview for my marketing club members. He said there was a lady in his center having great success building new leagues from scratch for him. She was not an employee but was one of his dedicated league bowlers. He was excited to report to me that she had recently formed numerous adult leagues of 4-to-a-team filling 24 teams once, 32 teams the next time and that she already had 28 teams ready to go for her next league, plus she had 6 full teams on her waiting list! I was anxious to find out how this super salesperson was able to do this and report back to my members, who might use the information to fill some holes they had in their schedules.

Takeaway #1: It doesn’t take a marketing or sales type person to get results, you can get good results simply by using someone who wants to introduce the fun of league bowling to others!

MARKETING I gave her a call and when she answered she came across as very mild-mannered and quiet, in no way did I take her to be a "sales type" of person. I asked her what sales techniques she was using to convince all these people who were mostly new to league play, to sign up for her Pizza, Beverage, & Bowling 16-week leagues. She politely told me that was not a salesperson type at all, she just liked bowling and offering others the fun of league bowling. She found it was very easy to get people to join her leagues by simply explaining all the fun that was involved. When I told her she was an amazing ‘social seller,’ she responded that she prefers the name Social Butterfly.

WHERE DID SHE FIND THE PEOPLE? The prospects were easy to find, they were already at the center open bowling during the center’s busy times. All the Social Butterfly did was walk through the open play traffic and talk with customers about how fun it is being a part of one of her leagues. It’s important to note that her leagues were priced at $18 per week per bowler which was more than center management thought she should ask for. She presented her league to people about 6 to 8 hours a week and most often filled a league in a week or two. Of course, she found people who brought friends and family to the league because she asked interested people to get friends and family members together and join.

Takeaway #2: This technique is relatively easy, the cost is low, and you’re only spending a concentrated effort on people who have already shown an interset in bowling and/or liking your establishment. When soliciting customers inhouse you may have to ask a lot to get a few, but overall, a well worth it endeavor!

YOUR SOCIAL BUTTERFLY I encourage you to find your own Social Butterfly to talk with customers about joining a special hole-filling league you are offering. Find someone who enjoys league bowling (maybe a current league customer) and ask them to "work" a couple of hours a night during your busy open playtimes. Give him or her some flyers and a clipboard and let them be social. This approach is low risk with a possible high reward. The marketing targets are already in your center, so the difficult and expensive marketing work is done. Be sure to make good use of your monitors, broadcast over the PA, display cards and flyers including around the center and bar, and consider making a QR code for more information.



very day I have the unique opportunity to talk with operators all around the U.S. and Canada, as part of my work with BBBI and Kids Bowl Free. I hear about what’s working, what’s not, the challenges operators are faced with, and their creative approaches to solving problems. I think it’s fitting to name this section “Ringing the Register,” as part of an ongoing effort to share how other operators are creating bonus business at their establishments.


October 2021




One of our most popular nights was an employee ugly sweater contest where customers voted on the top winners, who took home some extra holiday cash as the prize. Besides the greenbacks, the staff had fun with the contest and looked forward to it every year. Sidenote: Studies have shown that employees who have fun at work are more likely to perform at a higher level. To kick it off: A few days after Thanksgiving, invite all of your employees to a decorating party where you provide some drinks and pizza and plan the promotion. Grab a big calendar and write down what each of your 12 days will include. Don’t forget to include your younger staff members; they usually come up with unique, fresh ideas.


ß If you decide on giveaways, have all the prizes

This month’s feature is ideal for those of you who like to plan ahead, which by the way I’m a huge proponent of and encourage you to do so also. Since it’s October, now is a perfect time to think ahead and get your staff marinating on how to maximize the winter holidays. When kids are out of school and family and friends are looking to get together for festive cheer, you have an opportunity to create traffic in your center with a fun holiday promotion called the 12 Days of Christmas. This is especially productive in increasing the frequency of casual customers through daily specials and giveaways. I’ve run this promotion many times before and have found it’s an easy and fun way to rev up your staff and share the spirit of the season with customers and employees alike. I know many centers who have run this promotion and have their own spin on it; this version is one I used for many years. Here’s how it works: The 12 Days of Christmas usually begins the the week of Christmas, once kids are out of school, and runs through the beginning of the new year. Each day the center offers a different fun, festive, or cost saving special. In the past we’ve offered a free game of bowling, ½ price pizza, a Christmas cocktail, seasonal craft beer, finger food, an ugly sweater bowling party with prizes, bowling with Santa, and a Christmas carole sing-a-long, along with a host of others.

displayed in a high traffic area ß Email your database before the start of the pro motion and each of the 12 days with the daily special. Use different, engaging subject lines to get your emails opened. Again, the younger group may be a great resource of edgy subject lines that get your communications opened. ß Post the daily special on your website and Facebook page. ß If you have an Instagram page, take Insta-worthy pictures and post with quirky captions. ß Encourage your customers to post FB and Insta pics and tag your center. Consider giving a prize to the best Insta pictures each day. ß Text messaging and Instant Messaging is experi encing a high response rate. ß Tip: Always test your media for the best open rates and adjust your media mix based on fluctu ations of results. Bottom line: This promotion creates bonus business, isn’t hard to roll out, and brings a festive spirit to your staff and customers. Sticking to the holiday theme, if you haven’t read this month’s column, 5 Ways to Wow This Holiday Season, by Beth Standlee, you’ll want to check it out. Happy Holidays!

Don’t miss Bruce and Andy’s Four Minute Marketing Drill in Bowling Industry’s Cocktail Hour Report digital newsletter 26


October 2021




Bowling lanes at PINZ

By Ryan Vasko


ntermingled with the sounds of crashing pins and happy bowlers, you hear booming drives and the kind of cursing that only comes with a heavily sliced 5-iron drifting out of the golf simulator room. On the patio, a knock-down, drag-out, boxing-themed wing-eating contest, complete with a referee, hype men, and a proper ring, roars into the semifinals. And out in the parking lot? A crane drops a 1,200-pound pumpkin—stuffed with ping pong balls bought by attendees to raise money for a local charity foundation—to explode on the asphalt 80 feet below. This is just a typical day for the team at Wamesit Lanes in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. “We wanted to be different,” said general manager Donny MacLaren. “We want that reputation of, ‘What is Wamesit going to do next? What crazy idea are they going to come up with?’” The center is one of many businesses finding smart ways to utilize their square footage in ways that go far beyond bowling. Forward-thinking operators across the country are keeping an eye on trends, listening to what people in their communities want to see, and being unafraid to try something new if it can bring in new revenue.



October 2021

Maximize your square footage to boost revenue

Pumpkin toss at Wamesit Lanes

COVER STORY space and, eventually, a comedy and nightclub hotspot. “We had this space that holds 750 people,” Faulkner says, “so, we adapted and used it for gaming and club nights and experimented until we found what worked. I think most businesses would give their eyeteeth for our Thursday alcohol numbers.” Across America, establishments are finding that variety is the spice of success. From local customs to emerging national crazes, they’re offering a wide variety of out-of-the-box entertainment options, giving returning customers the ability to enjoy a memorable day out each time. Some hot examples:

ß At either of the three Film Alley locations in Cornhole tourney at Wamesit Lanes

“With the room we have to work with, we’re always trying to bring in different events,” said marketing director Janelle Wagstaff. “Between the tavern, the arcade, the golf, and the big patio, we’re constantly trying to keep something going in every section.” Flexibility. It’s the new catch phrase for centers looking to implement new income streams. That’s true whether you’re a new 45,000-square-foot facility or a decades-young alley looking for a little bit of reinvention. At Atomic Bowl in Richland, Washington, for example, the team takes cues

Texas, folks can bowl 30 frames and then catch the latest blockbuster surrounded by the cuttingedge tech of one of their uniquely immersive movie theaters.

ß Up in Columbia Falls, Montana, the people at

Glacier Lanes regularly hold art markets, with local creators selling jewelry, clothing, and pieces for the home alongside live music and food trucks.

ß Pinheads in Fishers, Indiana, grew their space

to target multiple demographics, with craft beers and chef-inspired fare for adults at their adjoining Alley’s Alehouse as well as high-end arcade machines and interactive 4D rides for kids (and kids at heart).

ß Oh, looking for some fresh produce? Swing on by the farmers market at Dodge Lanes every Saturday and grab some pears to go with your spares at the beloved Belvidere, Illinois staple.

Gallagher and managing partner of Atomic Bowl, Max Faulkner

from its past while keeping an eye on what’s next to inform their business decisions. Built in 1956 and named after the area’s claim-to-fame as one of the homes of the atomic bomb, expansions and reimaginations over the years left it in a perfect position to host house-bank card games when they became legal in the state. From there, it was a natural for managing partner Max Faulkner and company to transition the area into a casino

Sometimes, in the pursuit of more revenue and greater word-of-mouth marketing, giving the people what they want is the best first step. “Some of it, yes, is looking at how much we could make, looking into average return on investment, and so on,” said Shenaniganz marketing manager Sheridan Najera. “But also, we just ask ourselves, ‘Is this fun?’” A former cabling manufacturing warehouse in Rockwall, Texas, Shenaniganz’s 75,000 square feet gives Najera and the owners plenty of space for fun, and they take advantage of that to offer outsized entertainment designed to turn customers into repeat customers. “They’re coming in and bowling on Friday, but then the IBI

October 2021



Jokers Comedy Club inside Atomic Bowl

next week it’s axe throwing on Wednesdays, and then in a couple weeks they might try an escape room,” Najeer said. “They like that we add things and keep things fresh. You can’t



October 2021

actually be something for everybody, but we still try to be something for everybody.” David Breen, CEO of PiNZ, which has locations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York, echoes the need to stay nimble to stay relevant in today’s landscape. “We’re always looking to gain additional customers during the week,” Breen said. “We try to do David Breen, CEO of Pinz something each night of the week. Being a no-league venue, we have the flexibility to try new, creative ideas. It allows us to not be a one-trick pony and to have multiple revenue streams going at one time.” This flexibility is especially important, as he and countless other operators have noted, coming out of the restrictions and business-disrupting realities of a global pandemic. “We looked into bringing live music back, but each band member had to be 10 feet away from one another and then the band had to be 25 feet away from the audience,” Atomic Bowl, home of Jokers Comedy Club

COVER STORY Breen said. “Who wants to go to that show?” Instead, Breen worked with his group to digitize their trivia nights via the SpeedQuizzing app and in no time, questions about the highest-grossing Tom Hanks movie (which is Toy Story 4, if you’re wondering) were able to be debated once again. “We made it safe, we made it interactive, and it was the first social activity we were able to bring back to PiNZ.” The importance of collaboration is a theme that comes up again and again when speaking to operators. Pulling together creative thinkers from inside and outside of the organization to work together to look at a space and wonder about its possibilities.“We have a great team here,” said Wagstaff of Wamesit Lanes. “We bounce crazy ideas off each other just to see if we can come up with something cool. We’ve had ups, we’ve had downs, but so far, so good.” Breen adds to this idea, “We’ve all got enough going on with the handson, day-to-day of running the company, you can’t also try to be the full-time marketing genius. You can’t do it all yourself.” Najera from Shenanigenz says, “We’ve got a really strong team,but we also work with an ad agency. We’re willing to adjust the budget almost biweekly, be proactive instead of reactive, if someone can bring in a great idea.” Partnering with the right companies and professionals is sometimes the key to making new attractions run smoothly. Atomic Bowl works with promoters and booking agents to find talent (the promoters get the lion’s share of the door while Atomic enjoys the boost to their bar sales), but Faulkner also reaches out himself. He even interviews incoming comedians on Zoom and posts them to YouTube so customers can get a preview of the acts. Wamesit developed a relationship with well-known local comedian Dave Russo and has been able to lean on his connections to fill up their popular comedy nights. Shenaniganz does the same with DFW stand-ups, who often are just happy for the stage time and the chance to grow and support their own community.

Outdoor area at PINZ 34


October 2021

Wamesit Lanes marketing director Janelle Wagstaff and general manager Donny MacLaren

Part of establishing these customer favorites comes from getting and respecting customer feedback. It’s a great way to test the waters on what ideas could work, and a fantastic way to gather data and contacts to build your database. “I’m really passionate about customer feedback,” said Najera. “We always look for ways to reach out. Online ticket sales and opt-in marketing are big. Kids Bowl Free has been great for us. We send out surveys after visits, ask what we could improve, what we did well. Positive feedback is just as important as criticism. We want to stay in the conversation to make sure our guests are having a great time.” If response rates could be higher, try incentivizing them. Wamesit gives a $5 game card to customers as they leave if they’ll answer a short questionnaire. PiNZ offers free highspeed Wi-Fi to people who share their email addresses. In addition, be consistent and communicative on social media. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn; whatever the medium, seek out responses to boost your visibility and stay top-of-mind for people looking to fill their calendars. But even with that level of customer interaction, you can’t be shy about trying something different or,

COVER STORY sometimes more importantly, letting something fail. Faulkner said that when Atomic Bowl instituted trivia with Geeks Who Drink, the crowds were great, but joked, “The geeks mainly drank water.” Still, when it comes to new ideas, he added, “Commit to it. Give it time to see if it sticks. You might have something good on your hands.” If something does stick, it has the potential to create whole new communities of customers who might never have otherwise become regulars. In addition to bringing in droves of wannabe Houdinis with their Escapology-managed escape rooms, Shenaniganz partnered with the World Axe Throwing League to refine the design of their lumberjack lounges, and the response has been axe-ceptional. “Every season we’ve gotten more and more people, and it’s really created this whole tribe,” Najera said. “They were mostly strangers before this, and now they’re friends who hang out outside of the league. That’s been so awesome to see.” If you told a bowling alley owner of yesteryear that the facilities of the future would be filled with people chucking around axes, paintless paintball (it’s a thing; look it up), and golf leagues that exist within less than 100 square feet, they probably would’ve closed out your bar tab. But this is the new reality: smarter usage of space and the ability to adapt to make more entertaining experiences and happier customers. The managers making the best use of these strategies today will continue to keep an

Playing field for cornhole tournaments.

figure that out.” “Look for inspiration everywhere,” Breen said. “Go to shows that are outside of your wheelhouse. Sometimes you just need to see what else is going on. It gives you a new perspective on what your business can and cannot do.” Doing more with less (or, if you have more, getting the most out of that more) will always be fundamental to success in this industry. Only time will tell what that looks like for the smart centers of the future. ❖

The farmers market at Dodge Lanes

eye looking toward tomorrow, to find the next big thing that drives people through their doors. “Stop looking at everything as what it’s sold as and think about using it differently,” MacLaren of Wamesit Lanes reminds us. “See what people are doing anywhere else, and just get creative and don’t be afraid to do it. We think, ‘We have bowling lanes. How do we turn them into occupiable square footage?’ We’re going to 36


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Ryan Vasko is a writer based in Denver, CO, with 20 years of experience as a journalist, speechwriter, and marketer. His dog is a good boy.



By Mike Fernandez


nique pizza flavors are on the rise! Current consumers are looking further than typical cheese, pepperoni, or even supreme flavors of toppings. In this pizza market, having stand-out topping combinations can add a whole new dimension to your center. Your center might already be a big topic of entertainment in your area, and unique pies may have consumers driving the extra mile just for a slice. It’s no surprise pizza is such a big hit- it’s in our DNA. Humans are drawn to foods that are fatty, sweet, rich and complex. Pizza hits all these right on the nose. Cheese is fatty, meat toppings tend to be rich, and the sauce is sweet. In 2013, research firm Technomic reported that 40% of Americans eat pizza at least once a week. That statistic has continued to grow according to a 2018 study which shows that 43% of us eat it at least once a week and 83% eat this doughy goodness at least once a month. After that much pizza, people start looking at new and creative ways to get a slice of the good stuff. While some of us may stick to long time favorites such as pepperoni or margarita, today’s pizza market has many connoisseurs looking for more. Flavors like buffalo chicken, a la vodka, and hot honey are making waves across the country. This leaves a huge opportunity for bar and food providers to go above and beyond with their menus, and the best part for bowling centers is that many of the ingredients are inexpensive and have a long shelf life. On average, a single pizza topping can add around $2 to the price of a pie, but cost pennies on the dollar to the kitchen. The current market tells that people are happily willing to pay good premiums for the right pizza combinations — especially if they can get a good picture to show others.



October 2021

Recently I visited Pizza Craft Pizzeria in South Florida, a newer spot that has managed to shine among the many pizzerias in the area. Pizza Craft may not have a long list of pizzas combinations but has absolutely perfected the ones they offer. After trying the a la vodka pie and spicy soppressata (which uses the new fad of spicy honey), we asked to speak to their executive chef Jasiel Tejedas, and had some tips for the bowling centers around the country. “The dough we use is high quality. Everything is fresh. All our ingredients from sauce to toppings are fresh. It makes a difference. There are rules you have to follow, and if you follow them, then you got it.” If you’re looking for an affordable way to attract new customers and have the regulars promote you even more, the key is simple — turn your crust into a canvas! ‘Foodies’ has become a popular buzzword in the past decade. What was once a small hobby for some, has become a way of life for many. Trying and tasting refreshing takes on classic foods has consumers flocking around the nation, filling their stomachs, and making sure everyone knows what their top recommendations are. Not all pizza combinations have so many fans; the president of Iceland was recently caught in media controversy after casually mentioning that pineapple pizza should be banned in his country, but said ‘he is glad he does not hold so much power’. ❖

BOOZE & BITES TRENDY AND UNIQUE PIZZA FLAVORS THAT ARE EASY TO ADD TO YOUR MENU: BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA ß Sauce: Ranch dressing ß Cheese: Sharp cheddar ß Toppings Shredded chicken tossed in buffalo sauce Green onions Bleu cheese ß Drizzle: Buffalo sauce Ranch dressing SPICY HONEY ß Sauce: Spicy Marinara ß Cheese: mozzarella & gorgonzola ß Toppings Capicola ham Mediterranean seasoning Red Chili Honey, or Mike’s Hot Honey MEDITERRANEAN PIZZA ß Sauce: Olive oil and garlic ß Cheese: Shredded mozzarella and Feta cheese ß Toppings Artichokes Chopped spinach Kalamata olives Sun-dried tomatoes Fresh oregano Optional: add meat ALLA VODKA PIZZA ß Sauce: Vodka sauce ß Cheese: Shredded mozzarella ß Toppings Shallots Smoked pancetta Optional: add meat CHICKEN PESTO PIZZA ß Sauce: Pesto ß Cheese: Shredded mozzarella and Pecorino Romano ß Toppings Chopped chicken Thinly sliced tomatoes Thinly sliced red onion WHITE PIZZA ß Sauce: Garlic and olive oil ß Cheese: Ricotta, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano ß Toppings Freshly chopped oregano Freshly chopped thyme Crushed red pepper flakes Sides of ranch and garlic butter are popular for dipping, charge a small fee for that (.50 to $1)

BOOZE SECTION Featured Beer: Sam Adams Oktoberfest, German Lager Sam Adams OctoberFest is an easy-to-drink brew. Its appearance is a pleasant amber color with some carbonation. OctoberFest has a caramel malt taste, low bitterness, and some tartness; its aroma has a sweet and nutty caramel smell that is not overwhelming. It is a perfect seasonal brew that is very enjoyable to drink!

Cocktail: Pumpkin Spice White Russian For the drink, add vodka, pumpkin spice creamer, and coffee liqueur (Kahlua) into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to combine. It’s easy to make this drink picture perfect, if needed. For the rim, mix pumpkin pie spice, sugar, and crushed graham crackers on a plate. Dip the rim of your glasses in water and then into the graham cracker mix to coat.

Mike Fernandez is a freelance contributor on all things food and booze. Growing up in his family’s restaurant business fueled his passion for good eats and tasty drinks. By day Mike is a health insurance professional, by night he scours south Florida looking for trends and newcomers in the food and drink business.


October 2021



MEET WENDY SMITH Each month IBI 's “Inside Line” will highlight a team member from one of our loyal advertisers. It's always fun to learn a little something new about people in the industry who make things happen at their company and for the industry as a whole. This month, we were able to grab a few minutes with the ultra-busy Wendy Smith.

By Stephanie Davis



Wendy, you’ve been in the industry and at QubicaAMF a long time. I can’t remember a trade show we haven’t seen you at. When did you begin in the bowling industry?

Wendy: I joined AMF in December of 1989 as the Director of Marketing and Sales Support for the automatic scoring division. It was an exciting time to join AMF because we had a new owner and Bill Goodwin had just moved the manufacturing facility to Richmond. There were a lot of new employees, many of us were young and kind of grew up together as new people in bowling. One of my early memories was meeting the founder of your magazine, Allan Crown. He came to Richmond to meet with us as one of the major suppliers in the bowling business, to garner support for a businessbased publication. I remember that very vividly — Allan was a great guy.



October 2021

IBI: What is your current position? Wendy: Three years before the merger with Qubica in 2005 I transitioned from the automatic scoring division to new center sales. I am currently the Director of New Business Development for North America.

IBI: Over the years you've seen a lot of things come from AMF that have impacted the industry. What would you say some of the biggest product innovations have been?

Wendy: I'll start with automatic scoring. When I first joined the company, many clients were just on their first round of automatic scoring. Early in the ‘90s Qubica gained worldwide market share by bringing more entertainment to the lanes for the bowler’s experience. Another innovation has been point-of-

INSIDE LINE is because the fantastic support team we have in place that that picks up the ball at different stages of the process.

IBI: What do you like most about your job? Wendy: The people. Working directly with owners, entrepreneurs, and decision-makers. I've formed a lot of wonderful, long-lasting relationships with clients and other complementary product and service providers in the industry. And at the end of the day, I love that. We're in the business of creating fun and finding ways to help our customers provide entertainment to their customers.

sale products that help operators manage their business. Today, our customers have the option to use handheld devices that walk around the center allowing staff to leave the front desk, turn lanes on, put names in, and take payment. We even have some clients that are completely getting away from the bowl desk! As you know, labor is a big issue right now with our clients. So, we are introducing a kiosk that allows bowlers to walk in, check-in at a kiosk, and go directly to their lane.


Let’s machines.


about QubicaAMF and

IBI: What’s your view of the industry moving forward. Wendy: My perception is that the future is really bright for bowling. Several existing chain operators have significant plans for growth. Many of our customers are reporting revenue levels that are way outpacing 2019. So that is also very encouraging for the industry. Clients we're talking with are sharing what we all hoped would


Wendy: The string machines are going to be the next big wave in the bowling industry. New investors have already adopted the string machines as their pin spotter of choice. When we started introducing string machines to the market, we built a two-lane bowling center in our factory where we had a string machine right beside a freefall machine so people could experience both from the guest perspective. That was very effective and making people comfortable with the bowling experience on string. When they walk to the back of the machine and saw the simplicity, the choice was easy.

IBI: You’re a very busy woman, how do you manage

happen — pent-up demand after the last year and a half.


I hope that translates quickly into capital goods purchases.

all you do?

Wendy: Well, I’m surrounded by a good team that supports our efforts. Part of my ability to manage so much 42


October 2021

Wendy: You and me both! ❖



t’s a sad fact that last year’s “Summer of Love” has transitioned into a new year of crime. So what can you do to keep your staff, customers, and reputation safe? Here are a few critical points to consider:


Most violent incidents happen after midnight, so curtail your operating hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Or, if you can't justify that, simply don't post your closing hours publicly! Let's not advertise you're open to the wrong crowd. Play music they don't like, have a per-person drink limit, require reservations, or enforce a dress code. Being unwelcoming to the wrong crowd is the first and most effective thing you can do to prevent YOUR center from being the next shooting site.


I recommend uniformed off-duty police because they provide the most deterrence. The wrong crowd knows rent-a-cops don't have any authority--whereas an off-duty police officer can still arrest a criminal. Also, in most states, the moment a police officer identifies himself, the city is responsible for defending his actions.

ENSURE CAMERAS COVER YOUR PARKING LOT, CONCOURSE, AND BAR. These are the main areas violent incidents occur,

and knowing exactly what happened can make a huge difference! Also, make sure your DVR is functioning! The words "the DVR malfunctioned" make me pull out the little hair I have left!

There's so much advice I could share to help you avoid, prevent, and fight violence—but this is about more than your insurance. Centers that experience a newsworthy shooting suffer an average 30% decrease in revenue over the next 12 months. You can't afford to do nothing! ❖ Please call me directly if you wish to discuss how to avoid and fight these kinds of incidents--it's a free call, and I'm happy to help all proprietors, even if you're not a customer!

Cameron Linder CEO, Western Bowling Proprietors Insurance Cell: 559-360-4695



October 2021

FEATURE By Robert Sax

T avis, ask, Bruce D am D e n n xa o R left to right: a Vasko. Florida from arsh in M d am an te , s n ko ctio Vas Davis Produ is, Natalie Davis, Andy av D ie an h p Ste


he notice “Change of Ownership” on a much-loved community institution like a bowling center can cause great anxiety among existing customers. Do the new owners know anything about the business? Will they change anything? Will they change everything? Do they care about us? There’s been a change of ownership at the bowling community’s much-loved magazine International Bowling Industry, but its readers and advertisers have nothing to worry about. The new owners, Davis Publications, have deep roots in bowling and share a great love for the industry with the former owners, B2B Media. The bowling business is very much a family affair, and both companies are family-owned and operated. Bruce and Stephanie Davis are also long-time friends and business associates of former owner Scott Frager. So as big changes go, IBI fans will find that the magazine will evolve in a way that honors its past while growing to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. “We have been deeply involved in bowling in so many ways, from proprietor, tournament directors, suppliers to the industry, marketers, volunteers,” says Stephanie. “We love the people in the industry and we're energized by challenges. And so when the



October 2021

Off on a new purs uit… Scott Frager in fu as a member of th e Leawood, KS, po ll gear lice force.

FEATURE opportunity to buy IBI came up, we couldn't pass it up.” Bruce and Stephanie Davis can be considered one of the “first families” of bowling. Industry insiders know Bruce and Stephanie as innovative marketers who have been active with individual bowling centers, national chains, manufacturers and distributors as well as industry associations and committees. “Bruce, Stephanie, and their team have the vision and experience to reimagine the role of businessto-business publishing in bowling,” says Scott Frager. “I have worked with them for many years, and we are good friends. I know that they can talk the talk and walk the walk. They will provide a fun and informative marketing platform that will inspire, educate, and motivate everyone in the bowling business.” Bruce is from a bowling family; his mother and father owned and operated a bowling center in Toledo, Ohio. When Bruce finished college and army service, his father asked him to help run their center’s restaurant and night club for a short time. That temporary assignment turned into full-time management with increasing responsibility for the bowling center and tournament segments also. It was the beginning of Bruce’s deep involvement with wood, KS bowling. Fisher, Lea

David Garbe r, Eugene, O R



October 2021


FEATURE Today Bruce is a well-known industry leader and one of bowling’s most sought-after seminar presenters. He is the creator and developer of the innovative Forty Frame Game Tournament and the hugely-popular Kids Bowl Free program. Bruce has been inducted into two Bowling Halls of Fame for marketing and is the proud recipient of BPAA’s President Medal and the V.A. Wapensky Award for significant contributions to the marketing of bowling. Stephanie Davis is president of Davis Productions Inc. and will be the new publisher of International Bowling Industry. She has worked in the bowling industry with her husband Bruce since the early 1990s, coordinating advertising and marketing efforts for a multitude of national bowling endeavors as well as individual and chain operations. Stephanie has a diverse marketing background with significant experience as a magazine writer and publisher and is a published book author. She served for many years as tournament director of the Forty Frame Game regional and national tournaments. Two other key members of Davis Productions are Andy and Marsha Vasko. Andy has worked with Bruce since his teen years when he started as a bus boy in their Chinese restaurant then transitioned to the center. Andy’s exceptional grassroots marketing skills led to him to a significant Ryan Vasko, Den ver, CO role with the Davis Productions Inc. team and Bruce’s marketing club Focus On Results, where he has been helping operators develop profitable streams of revenue for their businesses. Andy is well known in the industry for his ability to floor traditional and specialty leagues, tournaments, special events, and after-school busing programs. He is on the phone with operators every day and knows everyone and everything that is going on in the bowling world. A veteran of corporate America, Marsha Vasko followed her passion for bowling and has worked exclusively in the business of bowling since 2007. Marsha enjoys working with center operators as part of her customer relations work at Kids Bowl Free and coordinator of special projects for clients of Davis Productions Inc. Marsha has worked at the center and tournament level alongside her husband Andy for many years. Editorial director Jackie Fisher, associate publisher David Garber and office manager Patty Heath, long-time members of the IBI editorial team, will continue to guide the publication. “This will ensure a seamless customer experience for readers, advertisers and industry professionals” 50


October 2021

says Stephanie. “I have been working alongside the IBI team for the last 15 months in various positions, preparing for a smooth transition moving forward.” A second generation of family members will also participate in the new IBI. The Davis’ daughter Natalie has been the magazine’s marketing and sales manager for over a year. The Vaskos’ son Ryan, an experienced ad agency copywriter, will contribute editorial content. The Davises also plan to include content from their many Patty Heath, A C friends and associates Los Angeles, in the industry. “We're going to be adding in some different contributors who are well-known in the industry who have important things to share. Many of them have already said that they have an idea for a story,” says Bruce. “We will also be adding an increased emphasis on digital marketing to incorporate some different things that our advertisers are telling us that they want.” IBI has always been a valuable resource, devoting its print and web pages exclusively to “the business of bowling.” The full-time participation of the Davis’ will make IBI even more valuable. They are constantly talking to people in the business, gathering stories about what’s bringing in customers and building business. “What’s working is the key,” says Stephanie. “When [customers] call into our offices, or when we meet them at a trade show, it’s about what's working, whether it’s what will bring customers in or help find and keep employees or cut down costs. Everybody wants to know what's working. We look for what's working in the industry and share it with people in an engaging way.” If you want to know what’s working in bowling, keep your eye on IBI, where “change of ownership” is a sign of bigger and even better things to come. ❖

Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.



Measuring success one experience at a time By Fred Kaplowitz


bowling proprietor friend of mine said, “Success”only means one thing to us, and that’s how often our cash register rings and what we have left at the end of the year. If it’s more than last year, we’re successful. If not, we’re not.” I pondered this a while and then asked him if success could also be measured in other ways, for example, how many people his business impacted by offering a truly memorable experience? Or, if he raised a ton of money for BVL and our brave veterans, would he be successful? Or, how frequently a kid’s selfesteem was built because, while he may not play on the high school football or basketball team, he was a talented bowler who could easily outperform peers on the lanes? Or, if families came in laughed, hugged, and had loads of fun because of the experience his establishment gave them, would he be successful? He thought about this a while and then said, “Yeah, I guess those kinds of things would 52


October 2021

make me feel successful too.” I replied that it’s a different perspective to think about how providing those types of quality, memorable experiences directly correlate to a ringing register. We can only produce the economic success we strive for if we give people what they want. As Zig Ziglar, who in my humble opinion was the world’s greatest salesman, once said,

“We will get what we want when, and only when, we give people what they want.” Zig Ziglar

It’s what everybody wants: knock-your-socksoff service and an outstanding experience. But don’t

BUSINESS MARKETING be fooled, it’s a bit more complicated. They also want interesting reasons to visit your business. People react to unique, interesting, out-of-the-ordinary types of offers. If consumers can drive down the road to another entertainment venue, why should they come to you? Why should they ring your register instead of the establishment a few miles away? The real lesson here is one of shifting perspectives — your own and those of your staff. Refocusing the entire team from simply ‘ringing the register’ to becoming a provider of interesting offers and damn good human experiences. As I’ve learned over many years, being successful is more than simply knowing effective marketing strategies, cost savings approaches, and other business-oriented techniques to keep your livelihood producing. Busting butt to provide memorable experiences and connecting with people in a way that makes them feel welcome will encourage them to return. Experience has shown me that money will follow! Ask yourself and your team: Why should customers come here? How can we knock their socks off? ❖



October 2021


1. 2. 3. 4.

No, we don’t do it that way. It’s not our policy to…” I’ll have to ask the manager. Can you call back because our birthday party manager isn’t here? 5. I’m sorry, that’s just how it is.

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: email: Cell phone: 516 359 4874



By Darin Spindler and Zach Boulanger


ver the next few months, we’re going to share with you the 8 Biggest Mistakes you may be making on your bowling center’s website. We’ll also share how you can fix these mistakes to ensure your website is working to grow your business instead of just an online location to post specials.


FAILURE TO AGGRESSIVELY CAPTURE DATA FROM WEBSITE VISITORS The biggest asset that you can build for any business is a prospect and customer list. Many businesses do not put systems in place to capture information actively and aggressively about their customers and prospects. This information is vital to quickly communicate with your prospects and customers. As an example, one of our member-

centers contacted us last minute about his New Year’s Eve reservations, or lack thereof. At the time of his call, his center had very little afternoon and evening reservations. He contacted us to send out a special offer to his prospects. Within minutes of the email going out the phone was ringing. In a few hours, he sold out all 32 unreserved lanes. WOW! This New Year’s Eve success happened because the proprietor had a list of prospects who expressed interest in his center and its offers. What would he have done if he didn’t have that list? Last-minute he had few marketing options. He couldn’t get on the radio, send a postcard in the mail, or place an ad that quickly. Even if he could, who would he have sent it to? He would have been handcuffed with little to no opportunities to turn the dismal situation around. Luckily for this proprietor, he had data and tools at his disposal, and we were able to help him communicate to his database with a happy ending for all. IBI

October 2021



A database IS the most valuable asset of your business. Everyone on your staff must know to collect customer data and why it’s important. Your database and these tools allow you to generate income at will, with the right offer to the right segments of your list.


WEBSITE NOT PROPERLY OPTIMIZED FOR KEY CATEGORIES OF YOUR BUSINESS Another big mistake that businesses make is not optimizing their website for search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how your website ranks on Google, Bing, or any of the major search engines. When consumers or prospects look for bowling, birthday parties, fundraisers, company parties, or other happenings in your city, an optimized site will appear on page 1. If you’re not on page 1 it’s unlikely that prospects will find you. Over 75% of people will not go past page 1 of the search results. For centers with multiple attractions like laser tag, mini-golf, bumper cars, banquets, a sports bar, etc. it is important to be optimized in every category of your business. Getting and staying on page 1 is never a guarantee, so you need to stay up on the latest changes on the search engine algorithms to ensure you’re site is always optimized.

Search Engine Optimization is Tied To Data Capture With an effective SEO website, you'll drive additional traffic from people who were not even considering planning a company party or birthday party with you. That’s why you need a great data capture strategy. At the very least, they’ll request more information. 56


October 2021

Would You Rather Have 30 People Or 300 People To Communicate To? Typical websites capture less than 3% of visitor data because they are created by graphic artists who have not designed them to extract valuable visitor information. A properly optimized site can collect information from 2030% of visitors. Average sites get around 1,000 visitors a month, 25% of that is 250 new people to your database. What does this mean for your center? You’ll have a much larger audience to communicate with, and you’re much more likely to fill up programs and empty lanes.

At best, they’ll book a party with you. The point is it doesn’t matter. You’ve captured their information. Even if they do not book with you at that moment, they may reconsider in the future, and then you can send them offers, specials, and other relevant information. Last word: If your site is not collecting information, you are wasting time, money, and energy. We hope this is making sense so far, we know it’s a lot of information! Feel free to reach out to us for clarification, we’re happy to field calls and point folks in the right direction if we can. If you’re interested in learning more about how our marketing system helps centers with their websites and data collection, you can learn more at ❖ Darin has been in the bowling business his entire life. He grew up in a small town of about 300 people where his parents built an 8-lane bowling alley in 1977, one year before he was born. He grew up doing all the jobs at the center. After moving to Green Bay and working at a busy large center, he found his passion in marketing. He met Bruce Davis and together they formed the team that created Kids BowlFree®. Over the past 10 years, he has helped create over 10 million new customers for his clients and his own businesses. Zach has worked with Darin for over 10 years, hired at the center Darin was managing at the age of 14. Zach went on to be part of the center’s management staff before leaving to join Darin’s marketing team full time. In addition to his involvement in the marketing company, Zach is also very involved in the association side of the sport, serving as the association manager in Green Bay, along with being a director on the Wisconsin state board.




October 2021


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, 1850 San Marco Rd, Marco Island, FL, 34145, USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2021, Davis Productions Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.




October 2021

1850 San Marco Rd Marco Island, FL 34145 (239) 366-2230 Fax (239) 970-0538

HOTLINE: 855-415-7517





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 - OFFICIAL ENTRY RULES FOR THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING $20,000.00 GIVE-A-WAY NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Entries start on 10/1/2021 at 12 AM ET & end on 12/20/2021 at 11:59 PM ET. Winners selected 1/31/2022. You must be legal res of US/DC/CA (excl Quebec), 21+ & auth rep of bowl ctr/free IBIM subscriber. CA winners must correctly solve time-based skill problem. Enter either: (a) online at; (b) by calling (877) 841-4590; or (c) via email to Limit 1 entry & 1 prize/bowling ctr. Odds of winning dep on # of entries rec’d. Prize (20): $1000 voucher for bowling indus gds/svcs valid for 1 yr. ARV: $1000. Winners resp for all taxes/costs not stated above. Other restrs & elig lims apply. For full rules & Winners’ list (avail 3/2/2022), visit Sponsors: BBBI & Internat’l Bowling Indus Magazine, 1850 San Marco Rd Ste A, Marco Isld FL 34145. Void where prohibited.

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: Visit us on the WEB!

LOCKER KEYS FAST! All Keys done by code # Locks and Master Keys E-mail: Phone:

(530) 263-2135 IBI

October 2021


CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT FOR SALE Highway 66. 2 lanes. Excellent condition. Lightly used only 2 years. $25,000 obo 616-322-3119. 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 REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.

PRICED TO SELL • 24 lanes 8270XL with humpback lifts • 25ea 32 inch flat-screen monitors • Conqueror Scoring, BES Fly English keyboard. • BOSS System front and back office,

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.

EQUIPMENT FOR SALE 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.


• POS for lounge • Ball returns with teardrop • PVC gutters with bumpers all 24 lanes • Lane Machines Kegel Kustodian and Century Silver Bullet | (815) 979-6036



October 2021

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 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

SERVICES AVAILABLE Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or

CENTERS FOR SALE 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.


Redemption Plus is proud to offer a complete Service Package that offers benefits like a custom web portal, exclusive pre-access to new products, a custom merchandising plan, 30/60/90-day merchandising installation review to keep your merchandise looking great, priority status for two custom plan-o-gram refreshes per year, and so much more! The Service Package also includes an extensive online training program. Currently, there are more than 50 training videos to assist with everything from Redemption Basics to an on-going Growth Series focused on higher-level topics to more specialized training on systems like Embed. There are some exciting training opportunities on the horizon, making now a great time to enroll in our Redemption Plus Service Model and let us help you with all your redemption needs. Contact us at (913) 563-4300 or for more information or to enroll.


LASERTRON focuses 100% of its efforts on HumanCentered Game Design for out-of-home entertainment venues who want the very best laser tag attraction. We do this at a dramatically higher level than any other laser tag manufacturer or laser tag arena supplier. In the past 6 years we have not sold a black light arena, only our LED-illuminated and programmable arena which integrates with our LT-12.9 game system and Battle Royale Tournament Software. If you would like to experience our most advanced LASERTRON arena in person or would like to see our online presentation, please call Ann at (305) 257-3930 or email her at to set up a presentation or a day to visit


Based on the hugely successful mobile app, Asphalt 9 Legends Arcade gives guests the thrill of getting behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, Porsche, or one of many other high-end supercars from the world’s most renowned auto brands. Players race, drift, boost and perform stunts across incredible racetracks based on real-life locations. The DX 5D Simulator model is the ultimate game room attraction for racing enthusiasts, yet still accessible for all ages and abilities. It features a motion platform, dynamic wind jets, force feedback, vibrating speakers, premium hardware, full HD video graphics and a 43” monitor. The Premium Cabinet has all the same features as the 5D Simulator minus the motion base, offering a thrilling experience in a smaller footprint. Both models allow guests to race 20 world famous supercars in four unique game modes on tracks in San Francisco, The Caribbean, Cairo, and Shanghai. Top racers can access additional controls that provide extreme competitive action during gameplay, performing multiple stunts with the fastest cars in the world. For more information visit or see it for yourself at the IAAPA Expo, Booth 1000.


With Steltronic, we provide your scoring system with all of the features & software modules to make your investment a full package. Truly the best 3-D “patented” animations with WOW factor built-in, inhouse advertising to grow your business, and guaranteed to be the friendliest system to operate at the front desk and on the lanes. When you think of Steltronic, you’re making an investment into your business that really is a “no hidden future costs” company, and with no “end of life” letters, your investment with Steltronic is something some of our customers have enjoyed for more than 25 years with their original equipment. For more information (800) 942-5939. We are YOUR bowling center management specialists since 1980.


Christmas Stockings are a great Christmas gift for your business. Uses: gift card holder, stocking stuffers, leagues bowlers keepsake gift, decorate your center, your staff gift etc. Bowling stocking on Christmas trees help keep bowling top of mind!! Limited quantities. Expert Hosiery / Funtime Footwear is THE athletic footwear supplier for bowling and FECs. Call us for details on how centers are using bowling socks in their centers to increase their revenue. Ph: 919-799-7707 E: IBI

October 2021



1960 G

ood beer, good times and bowling. In 1960, these fun-loving couples had no idea that their favorite beverage would finally close its doors in 1965 after 85 years of fine brewing. Jake Ruppert, the son of Bavarian immigrants, capitalized on Washington Irving’s fictitious, 17th century Dutch family, the Knickerbockers, to establish one of the major beers in America, alongside George Ehret’s Franziskaner. Our gentleman in the center, a little smug possibly due to a high score, seems oblivious to what is to come. Yet the others might be saying, “Here’s to a good run!” On the other hand, it might be the sport and not the beer that is in question. In 1960, there were approximately 9,467 certified centers in the U.S. and the ABC touted 4,000,000 members. Could it be possible that our preppy bowlers were raising their glasses to toast that… beers may come and beers may go, but bowling lives forever! Well, a thought, if not a fact. ❖ - Patty Heath



October 2021

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