The World's Only Online Magazine Devoted Exclusively to the Business of Bowling
I agree. I was once told, "Never give cash discounts or cash-back". I owned a 16 lane center for a short time and used a process that increased my summer business by over 300% the first summer alone. (Your experience may vary)
Year round, there was one color pin in every machine except for league play. I know, I know! Your saying to yourself, "I tried this". Chances are, you didn't try what I am about to suggest. Use a ticket tumbler and place tickets (at least 100) inside with ticket numbers representing numbers on a posted prize board. The bowler contacts the desk personnel when the color pin comes up in the #1 position. If a strike is bowled, the bowler reaches into the tumbler for one ticket. The number is matched to a corresponding number on the prize board. The bowler could win something as small as a 50 cent candy bar up to a brand new bowling ball (no cash). The difficulty level is determined by the number of tickets in the tumbler. (All ticket numbers must be listed on the prize board) Only one ticket for the bowling ball prize and each drawn ticket is returned into the tumbler keeping the odds the same. The bowlers loved it. There was always something on the board they wanted (watches, dinner for two at a local restaurant, movie tickets, etc.) and they always came back to try for it again and again. Prizes should be changed regularly to keep bowlers interest. Proprietors learn quickly what their bowlers like and these items are what needs to be placed on the prize board. This led me to continue this into the fall season.
If I ever own or manage a center again, this would be my first duty. This may not work for everyone but I'll bet it would work for most.