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For the last 35 years, league bowling has been eroding. Probably at a 3% to
5%rate annually. From 10 million sanctioned league bowlers to about 2
million today. From a 5% penetration rate (against adults 18+) to less than
In other words, less than 1 in 100 adults in this country bowl in a
This downward cycle has been met with various industry initiatives; none
of which reversed the cycle. It was hoped that the quick fix magic pill
of “promotion” would make our cash registers ring like it once did a long,
long time ago
But quick fixes or neither quick nor do they ultimately fix the problem.
Instead, individually and collectively we need to create a better plan. A
1. Truly recognizes this long cycle.
2. Strongly considers “what will it cost me to replace it with a
3. Asks “Is there anyone who can help me? Is there any organization
that can help?”
4. Probes, “What do I need to learn to get to an “up cycle?”
5. And finally hits a hard question, “How do I change my habits and
instincts?” (which clearly we haven't been doing so well in confronting
One of the first things you can do is to get out of the center and go
speak to some people.
Younger people. People 15 to 25 years old. People 26 to 35 years old.
Married people. Single people. Find out what’s important to them and
you’ll find out what they want and expect from your bowling center.
What you think you know about why people bowl may be diametrically opposed
to the reality you find or it might align quite nicely.
Ask them about bowling; how often they go bowling? Why they go bowling and
why they don’t go bowling? Find out if they ever bowled in a league and
would they do it again if it was a shorter season, less expensive, 2 games
instead of 3, etc?
Listen to what Winnie the Pooh has to say about your business:
"You cannot stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come
to you. You have to go to them sometimes." -
Makes sense to me.