THOUGHTS FROM CAREY…
Exiting the Pandemic Pause
The day will come (soon) that you will re-open your bowling center. By the time you read this, it may have already happened. But if you think that unlocking the doors and turning on the ‘open’ sign will put you back in business, you are in for a shock. Things have changed from how we conducted business a couple of months ago. Acknowledging, and understanding those changes will be key to the rebound of your business.
Let’s start with what has changed. How about a new catch word in society called “social distancing.” Will the public expect additional spacing, at least initially, upon your re-opening. For sure. Will we always keep 6 feet between us? No. But you do want to make the public comfortable when they come back to bowling, right? So let’s review some steps you should be taking while you are closed, and what to have in place for your re-opening.
Facebook is seeing record numbers of users each day. The worst thing you can do now is to become invisible! Post social content and updates on what you are doing to prepare for your reopening. Post updates and photos of any maintenance or upgrades you are doing during the down time. This is your opportunity to engage directly with people who respond to your posts, and we are seeing lots of that type of activity on the pages we manage.
When you do re-open your doors, have a targeted Facebook ad campaign ready to drop. Don’t assume everyone is going to rush into your facility just because you open the doors! Contact me if you are looking for help hitting the ground running at your re-opening.
Promote your new cleaning procedures (shoes, balls, all touch points)
Cleaning, and sanitizing are the new buzz words today. From airlines to grocery stores – every business is making sure to communicate their new sanitation standards. Bowling is no different. But you must go beyond practicing new cleaning procedures and make the public aware of those new standards. Use your website, Facebook page, and email or text vehicles to spread the word. Installing sanitizer stations at your front doors will be well received. Plan on going thru lots of soap and paper towels in the restrooms, which means more maintenance for your staff to keep up with. This would be a good time to install electric hand dryers, as it will save you from buying more paper towels and having to dispose of the used ones.
Designate queuing areas for each of the service areas in your facility – front desk, bar, food service, etc. People are not going to be comfortable crowding around the front desk to get a lane. Make the transition easier for them by placing floor decals 6 feet apart to guide them thru proper spacing. (you can buy them here). Throwing down duct tape on the floor makes it look like customer safety was an afterthought, and you don’t want your customers to think you don’t care, right? Not to mention your beautiful facility will look more like a warehouse.
Consider using odd lanes one day and even the next. Expecting to crowd 6 on every lane on your first Saturday night back open is not realistic. Will it happen again? Sure. And you will know when that time comes by the reaction of your customers. But to start off, give them some personal space by using every other lane.
Eventually everyone will get back to having less personal space, and then you can relax these procedures. Until then, do your best to make people very comfortable on their first visit back
If you are thinking about going cash-less, this is the time to do it. We all know that millennials carry little to no cash on them already. And let’s face it, cash is dirty. Credit cards are much easier to clean, and if you don’t take tap-to-pay already – you should do that right now! Allowing people to pay with their phone (which is already in their hand) is fast, simple, safer than a chip, and nobody has to touch your terminal or hand you a card.
How about what hasn’t changed?
People still love to bowl! They are out of the habit now, so we need to re-sell them on the fun and social interaction they have when they bowl. And they do miss social interaction. Being house-bound for weeks is going to result in some pent up demand for sure. In one sense, it is going to be like making a first impression all over again. And you know what they say about first impressions – better get it right or else! Make sure when you do re-open that you are ready, not just with cleaning procedures, but staffing levels also, as you want to remind them how much fun bowling is by providing GREAT customer service.
Once your pandemic pause is over, it will be your chance to reset the table with new standards at your facility. This is your opportunity to WOW people….grab it!
founder, eBowl.biz & BowlRx.com
*Need help driving traffic when you re-open? We have a proven track record using targeted Facebook/Instagram ads that reach thousands of people per day. More info here.