Profit Platform InThe News

ECN Reprint 0614Reprinted / Posted with permission from Bowling Center Management

SpareZ model percentages are the target goals that will maximize revenues to create a strong bottom line. It does not make sense to drive revenues but let profits go down. The key is to add value without having to over-discount.

Joe concludes with these words of wisdom:
“Bowling is a great business. Its future depends on getting more people involved in bowling starting at a young age and increasing their frequency. We cannot survive long-term depending on just the casual bowlers and a large demographic. We must focus on all of the bowling categories and maximize each one. Work at bonding your center to the community and above all, take advantage of the expertise that is out there. This is not a simple business anymore.”

I left SpareZ confident that many core bowling centers can benefit by implementing the SpareZ model and philosophy. For 45 years, I have been concentrating on increasing the complementary revenues and the bowling revenues remaining flat or increasing slightly. Joe has proven to me that the SpareZ model can also increase bowling revenues and at the same time maximize total revenues, but more importantly, this model benefits bowling long term.

For more information contact Joe Schumacker at (954) 434 9663 or
at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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patent1
March 5, 2013, GKM International, LLC was awarded Patent Number 8387312 from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for their utility patent regarding the Profit Platform®. Being able to multi-task the lane area, which is typically 60 - 70% of a bowling center's total square footage, comes at a perfect time as every center is looking to increase revenue and maximize ROI per square foot. This product positions the bowling industry to reach its full potential by hosting many diverse groups and much larger events unlike ever before in the history of bowling. According to GKM International, "Securing the patent lets us take the Profit Platform® to the next level by investing more of our resources and developing strategic partners that can help us reach our revenue goals. We estimate the total lane area of all 10,000 bowling centers worldwide to be approximately 40,000,000 + square feet so even a small percentage of that is an exciting number and we're just getting started helping bowling centers increase their profits." An additional, related patent is pending.








Bowling to the Beat!

Bowling center combines fitness with live music.

Courtesy of Shreveport Times (http://www.shreveporttimes.com)




bildeThe lanes are alive with the sound of music, and Robin Williams plans to keep them rockin'.

What she started at Holiday Lanes in Bossier City last June as a means of bringing live music to the community has turned into an every Friday event, aptly named Tunes and Ten Pins.

"Bowling is a fit activity. Not only are you actually listening to a band, but you're actually getting some fitness in," said Williams, marketing director of the bowling center. "Bowling creates a sense of community within people."

By combining bowling with live music, Williams has established a new venue for local bands to perform in - one that's family oriented and smoke-free.

Her first booked act was 13-year-old singer/songwriter Matthew Davidson.

"It's good to have an all-ages venue for young musicians to be able to perform and where people can bring their families to hear live music," Davidson said. "It was great to be the band that kicked off the first few weeks of Tunes and Ten Pins last summer."

Davidson performed with Bruce Flett, of the Bluebirds (headlining tonight), during the initial go-around.

"It's different and it's fun", said Flett, a veteran musician of the Shreveport-Bossier scene. "It's loud, but what concert isn't - it just makes it more rock 'n' roll."

bilde2After Davidson's initial kick off, Williams continued throughout the summer building a repertoire with local musicians, but when October rolled around, she explained that the center "became a ghost town".

"It was really hard with football season to draw a crowd," Williams said. "At that point, we weren't sure how long we were going to do it."

It was that little bump in the road that ignited Williams to reach out through social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.

"Now my phone rings every day for a new band that wants to work with us," Williams said. "People are now calling us saying 'we want to play'. The bands are talking amongst themselves saying how fun it is - and it really is."

What's fun, according to Williams, is that the stage is actually set up on the lanes. "We rent out the lanes right next to them," Williams said. "It's during our glow show - intergalactic bowling."

While the stage may take up four lanes of revenue, Williams is still willing to make the sacrifice - even if some of the bands aren't exactly up to snuff.

"My original thought was that we've got to give these young kids practice time," said Williams, who admits that she allows bands to play whether they're good or not.

"I've always been really involved in music and arts, and I just think its good to have a place to be able to play," Williams said. "I'm trying really hard to encourage those young bands because I think it's important."

Bill Mann, general manager of Holiday Lanes, loves the new addition to Friday nights. "We get a lot of new faces we haven't seen, and they're bringing with them friends and family - community wise it's pretty nice," Mann said. "It definitely adds a different style of atmosphere. You get a different type of music every time so it's a good variety."

Last weekend, Soulfish Blues Band took the stage. "We had a good time," said lead guitarist Gary Huntsman. "I've never played in a bowling alley. It's different than the norm. I was entertained myself."

Huntsman also reiterated that the venue is all ages, something he feels is important to music.

"It's cool what Robin is doing. It's a good experience for younger musicians," he said.

From blues and classic rock to alternative and funk, Williams has consistently booked an array of performers, and continues to do so.

"Every week we have someone new and it's fun. It's a fun adventure," Williams said. "I've met so many people and it's opened my eyes to the music scene in Shreveport Bossier. When I book bands, some people like them, some people don't - I'm just trying to please everybody." Mann says that the addition of live music is not only a great selling point, but a new way to market Holiday Lanes in general.

"It's part of the entertainment package - bowling is entertainment," said Mann, who's been in the bowling business for over 35 years. "I think from that point we give them something that they may not be able to do just at any bowling center."

Much like the concept of Tunes and Ten Pins, New Orleans boasts its famous Rock 'n' Bowl that has been established as a music place, but they don't have the stage out on the lanes. That's what sets us apart," Mann said. "Everyone's got a radio, but this takes it a step further. It's something people can look forward to every Friday night - a different sound of music."

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SUMMER 2014Get A
Grip Ropes and Obstacle Courses are Taking Hold in FECs
Reprinted/posted with permission from Bowling Center Management
SUMMER 2014 ECN2
By By Frank Seninsky
Pres/CEO
Amusement Entertainment Management
Davie, FL. It is Tuesday, 11:00 am on a school
day in April. I am looking forward to spending
some quiet time with Joe Schumacker, the owner of
SpareZ and one of the most knowledgeable people
in the bowling industry. He is going to show me
how the SpareZ operating model can significantly
improve the revenue of a core bowling center and
maintain a healthy bottom line. I want to see this
firsthand.
As I pull into the driveway, I am stunned to see
that the parking lot at SpareZ is almost completely
full. What is going on here? Upon entering the
building, my jaw drops as all 64 lanes of SpareZ
are in action and the
center is packed with
- count them - more
than 300 bowlers!
There are three different
leagues and
one group event taking
place. Food and drinks are being served to the
lanes by an efficient wait staff. This is quite impressive
for a Tuesday morning.
We all know that league bowling has declined
80% over the past twenty years (4% per year) and
many of the new bowling-anchored FECs and
hybrid models do not focus on league bowling or
have eliminated it altogether. I was intrigued and
wanted to learn how SpareZ has developed into a
bowling revenue machine and whether its operating
model could be used by other bowling centers
to get more people bowling more often. Could this
model be integrated into my own bowling-anchored
FEC models?
I spent the next 30 minutes going through more
than 20 different promotional flyers, including birthday,
sports team, and holiday parties, fund raisers,
corporate events, school field trips, summer camps,
karaoke madness, and league/coaching programs,
as well as Super Savers (Sunday 9 pm-1 am), 5-5-5
(5 lanes, 5 pizzas, 5 pitchers of Pepsi) and 10-10-10
to prepare for my meeting with Joe. SpareZ has by
far the most different types of specialized attentiongrabbing
promotional packages I have ever seen.
Each one targets a different group and schedules
them into specific off-peak time slots.
Joe is very proud of what he has accomplished
with SpareZ. The 60,000-square foot center was
originally operated under a license agreement
as Don Carter University from 1999 to 2005,
when it was rebranded and renovated as SpareZ.
Revenues in 1999 were approximately 20% above
the industry per lane average. Revenue grew
steadily through 2005 and then took off when the
SpareZ model was implemented. Within three
years, revenues increased to a peak of twice the
per lane industry average. The recession took a
bite out of revenues from every bowling center,
but the SpareZ model assured the decline was
small. Through the economic downturn, SpareZ
“SPAREZ OPERATING MODEL IS
A BOWLING REVENUE MACHINE”
Front display for the Miami Dolphins Event at
SpareZ that packed the house. SpareZ had more
than 2,200 events in 2013.
Reprinted/posted with permission from Bowling Center Management
revenue per lane was never less than 60% above the industry average.
The average bowling center in the U.S. has 22 lanes and the average lineage (number of games per year per lane) is 7,000. SpareZ has three times as many lanes and has a current lineage of over 9,000 games per lane. No matter how much bowling has changed over the years, it is still true that strong lineage drives strong revenue.
What is the SpareZ Philosophy?
The SpareZ model is a combination of a philosophy and a well-balanced and -targeted revenue category make-up. It has taken Joe 10 years to fully develop this model and it has proven to be very successful.
“In a nutshell,” Joe says, “the first part is a philosophy to define and create a bowling center’s relationship or bond to its community. The key is not to attempt to drive the business with just advertising and marketing dollars, but with relationships. Today it is more important to grow the business with high frequency repeat customers and referrals from those customers. No matter how strong a trade area you are in, you cannot survive long term with a ‘one and done’ philosophy. If a guest has developed a bond, any type of bond that makes them think positively about your business, you are on the right path to driving revenues. Creating this bond is the one truly sustainable competitive advantage you have. This will even carry you through tough economic times.”
I thought about this and it started to sink in. Marketing and advertising are strategies to get your name out there and, through discounting and giveaways, to get more customers in the door. Competitors can easily copy your advertising programs and even improve on them. So how do bowling center operators create this special relationship with the community?
Joe continues: “On the promotion side, the most important philosophy is to always protect the prime times when you must get peak pricing and then build packages so you can create ‘value’ during non-peak times. This is not the same as discounting. Value is what you put into your product so you can charge more rather than what you take out of products and services so you can charge less. If you keep discounting, your brand eventually gets hurt because you just confuse, and sometimes even disappoint the customer.”
This is a different approach. We have been taught to create discounted packages to entice customers to come during the slow periods. This is similar to happy hour discounting used by bars and restaurants to increase revenue before and after the peak dinner hours or having lunch specials with smaller portions and reduced prices. What I noticed about SpareZ is that every promotion package has been geared to attract a different market segment and that very few are deeply discounted.
The SpareZ league programs are a good example. SpareZ has the largest single shift league (Thursday evenings for 38 weeks) in the country, comprised of 62 teams with five bowlers on each team. Joe points out that this equates to 11,780 bowling visitations, not counting any practice visits or any spectators. Accepting that a casual bowler is one that bowls four times a year, it would take 2,945 casual bowling customers to replace the bowlers in this one league. Although league bowling now only makes up 25% of bowling activity (see chart) at SpareZ, it is an important piece of the model. There is a lot to learn by speaking with some of the league bowlers and more additional input from Joe.
I asked several of the Tuesday morning league bowlers if they also bowled at SpareZ at other times during the year. All but one said yes and they quickly informed me that several of their friends, co-workers, and family members also bowl at or participate in other events at SpareZ. Everyone I spoke with said they tell others about SpareZ because they feel at home there. When Joe and I were going over the financial model, he told me that many corporate events and fundraisers were the direct result of one of the league bowler’s recommendations to their co-workers. One woman was head of her company’s HR
SUMMER 2014
ECN4
Miami Dolphins Lamar Miller, Running Back, (left) and Nate Garner, Offensive Tackle, (right) along with team mascot, are a part of the welcoming committee.
Reprinted/posted with permission from Bowling Center Management
ECN5
SUMMER 2014
department and she books events at SpareZ. When you take all of the referrals into account, league bowling is responsible in many cases for bringing in other category revenues. Joe estimates that “league bowling is actually responsible for more than 33% of total revenues when you include referrals that I know about. It could even be higher.’
What is the SpareZ Revenue Model?
The traditional core bowling center revenue percentage model is for direct bowling revenue to be 50% of total revenue, with ancillary revenue (shoe rental, lockers, pro shop) contributing 15%, and complimentary revenue (food & beverage, amusements) the remaining 35% (50%/15%/35%). In order to grow towards a more balanced revenue model and not back away from bowling revenue dollars, SpareZ, over the past five years, has been slowly shifting downward from 50% bowling, with complimentary revenue increasing at the same percentage amount above 35%. Ancillary has remained the same at 15%. The SpareZ revenue allocation is currently 45%/15%/40%.
The revenue allocation for SpareZ is expected to shift to 40%/15%/45% with the completion of Phase I of a long-term renovation plan. A total revenue increase of a minimum of $1 million is expected with the completion of the Phase I renovation that will focus on enhancing appearance and function. The revenue increase will be accomplished without removing any lanes and will come from food and beverage and adding a full-redemption games operation. I was able to show Joe exactly where the new game space should be and how to incorporate game play into many of the SpareZ promotion packages. Bowling revenue may also indirectly increase slightly. The improvements will also include an additional F&B service at the other end of the center, relocating the pro shop and corporate meeting room with a movable partition to a section of Hammerjacks Sports Bar & Grille, an upgrade to current F&B, new LED lighting throughReprinted/
posted with permission from Bowling Center Management
SUMMER 2014
ECN6
out, improving energy efficiency, new carpeting, and enhanced sales (in and out phone calls). SpareZ will not be upgrading scoring systems, lanes, or bowling equipment as this was done seven years ago. Phase II will be considered if average revenue per lane falls to less than 40% over industry average and will involve removing lanes in order to add FEC attractions.
Joe continues: “It is critical for management and staff to focus on service points. Reducing or eliminating the need for people to stand in line is a part of the philosophy. The goal is to have efficient flow of people into and through the facility. Every day we focus on: How do we deliver better customer service?”
In 2013, SpareZ held over 2,200 events including birthday parties, corporate events, and summer camps. There were more than 200 fundraisers and 10 full center events that included the Miami Dolphins, Spirit Airlines, American Express, Big Brothers, Junior Achievement, and events for the foundations of current and retired athletes from all major sports. The fundraising programs are geared to selected segments of community in order to get maximum penetration. Smaller businesses like the meeting/lunch/bowl program. The use of a portable platform that is placed over three of the lanes is used to change the perspective of the guests and create a different environment for different events. The “Profit Platform” creates this excitement by changing the visual nature of the lanes (See Picture). School programs are also a big part of the SpareZ model. SpareZ has developed special relationships with the schools in the region with appreciation passes for teachers, fundraising programs, and school field trips that include bowling, food and amusements.
SpareZ is a great example of what can be accomplished by a core bowling center. The SpareZ philosophy of building community relationships is a sound way to run a business. Developing the many promotion packages to get the largest percentage of the community involved and convert them into repeat customers who refer others is always the goal. The
BOWLING ACTIVITY IS BROKEN DOWN INTO 5 SEGMENTS:
TARGET
CASUAL: Walk-in, no program or event or competition, impulse purchase, awareness-driven. 30%
ENTERTAINMENT: Driven by desire to participate in an event that is not competitive. 35%
SOCIAL COMPETITIVE LEAGUE: Social aspect outweighs the competitive aspect. 25%
COMPETITIVE: Sport of bowling-this is the smallest category. 2.3%
Free-use of free game media to bring in people. No direct bowling revenue. 7.7%
Joe has been entrenched in every aspect of the bowling industry for the past 35 years. Received MBA 1982 College of William and Mary. Worked 17 years with Fair Lanes, Inc. (owners of 112 bowling centers) in several line and staff positions, including regional manager and headed two staff departments. Also spent 12 years managing Don Carter All Star Lanes’ centers (FL, TX, LA). Joe has also operated six additional bowling centers under an operating lease, management agreement, or as an owner. He has been involved in several start-ups, acquisitions, and turnarounds. He has served as a director and officer on the Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA) for 12 years, including as its President from 2006-08, and also served two separate additional terms as Chairman of Strike Ten Entertainment, the marketing arm of Bowling. He has received awards for the design and operation of centers such as SplitZ, a 29-lane center in Denver, Colorado, and for the rebranding and renovation of SpareZ, a 64-lane center in Davie, FL, which he currently owns. As a community leader, Joe serves in officer positions in the Rotary District 6990, the Rotary Club of Coconut Creek, and the Prestige Club of Broward County and is a member of other civic and local organizations. The capstone of his career will be use his skill and experience to coach the leadership staff at SpareZ to bring it to even higher revenue and profit levels and assist a selected group of existing core bowling centers and emerging entrepreneurs in incorporating the SpareZ Operating Model.
Joe Schumacker History
Reprinted/posted with permission from Bowling Center Management
ECN7
SUMMER 2014
SpareZ model percentages are the target goals that will maximize revenues to create a strong bottom line. It does not make sense to drive revenues but let profits go down. The key is to add value without having to over-discount.
Joe concludes with these words of wisdom: “Bowling is a great business. Its future depends on getting more people involved in bowling starting at a young age and increasing their frequency. We cannot survive long-term depending on just the casual bowlers and a large demographic. We must focus on all of the bowling categories and maximize each one. Work at bonding your center to the community and above all, take advantage of the expertise that is out there. This is not a simple business anymore.”
I left SpareZ confident that many core bowling centers can benefit by implementing the SpareZ model and philosophy. For 45 years, I have been concentrating on increasing the complementary revenues and the bowling revenues remaining flat or increasing slightly. Joe has proven to me that the SpareZ model can also increase bowling revenues and at the same time maximize total revenues, but more importantly, this model benefits bowling long term.
For more information contact Joe Schumacker at (954) 434 9663 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
The Profit Platform is used to create a special environment and added excitement for group events. In this example, 3 lanes are covered to create the space to wow the guests of a charity event.
Reprinted/posted with permission from Bowling Center Management