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Start Your Own Bowling Alley

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Start Your Own Bowling Alley! iii

Start Your Own Bowling Alley

Fifth Edition

Starting a successful bowling center

operation takes careful planning. You may
have a large business operation in mind
that would encompass a complete
entertainment venue. This type of venture
requires tighter controls than a small
bowling center operation. This book
contains the information that you need to
plan, start, operate and manage a
profitable bowling center operation.

Dustin Murray

125aday.com Publishing Company, Inc.

PO Box 2432
Frisco, Texas USA 75034
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! iv

Publisher: 125aday.com Publishing Company, Inc.

Cover Design: Amy White
Photographs Copyright © 2007 Justin Clark

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard

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professional person should be sought. ADAPTED FROM A DECLARATION OF

Copyright 2004-2007 by 125aday.com Publishing Company, Inc.

All rights reserved.

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Start Your Own Bowling Alley! v

Table of Contents

PREFACE............................................................................................. 7
INTRODUCTION.................................................................................. 8
STARTUP SUMMARY ................................................................................8
Initial Investment Costs ..................................................................8
Ongoing Operation Costs .................................................................8
Other Profit Centers........................................................................8
The Steps to Building a Sound Investment .........................................9
CHAPTER ONE .................................................................................. 11
GETTING STARTED ............................................................................... 11
The Business Plan ........................................................................ 11
Products and Services ................................................................... 11
Determining Your Market............................................................... 12
Financing .................................................................................... 14
Choosing a Name ......................................................................... 15
Choosing Your Location ................................................................. 16
Bowling Alley Layout and Design .................................................... 22
Example of Six Lane Bowling Alley Layout..................................... 23
Example of Ten Lane Bowling Alley Layout.................................... 24
Guidelines to Establishing Pricing.................................................... 24
Target Customers and the Retailing Mix ....................................... 25
A Price Level Strategy................................................................ 26
The Relationship between Product Prices and Costs........................ 26
Licenses, Permits and Regulations .................................................. 27
Licenses .................................................................................. 28
Permits.................................................................................... 29
Regulations .............................................................................. 29
CHAPTER TWO.................................................................................. 30
MANAGING YOUR BOWLING ALLEY OPERATION .............................................. 30
Developing New Accounts and New Customers ................................. 30
Customer Development Program ................................................. 31
Computer Software ...................................................................... 32
Retail Operations ...................................................................... 32
Center Computer Software ......................................................... 35
Insurance.................................................................................... 36
Marketing/Advertising ................................................................... 37
Internet/Website .......................................................................... 37
Signs and Your Business................................................................ 37
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! vi

Planning Your Advertising Budget ................................................... 38

Market Analysis............................................................................ 39
Market Analysis Components ...................................................... 41
Your Marketing Plan...................................................................... 46
CHAPTER THREE ............................................................................... 54
ACCOUNTING/BOOKKEEPING ................................................................... 54
Cost Control ................................................................................ 55
Projecting Your Sales Potential ....................................................... 56
Cash Control Systems ................................................................... 57
CHAPTER FOUR ................................................................................ 66
INFORMATION PERTAINING TO EMPLOYEES ................................................... 66
Position Your Image...................................................................... 66
Planning...................................................................................... 66
The Hiring Process........................................................................ 66
Training ...................................................................................... 67
How to Keep Your Employees ......................................................... 68
CHAPTER FIVE.................................................................................. 69
PUBLICATIONS ................................................................................... 69
TRADE SHOWS ................................................................................... 69
CHAPTER SIX ................................................................................... 70
ASSOCIATIONS ................................................................................... 70
CHAPTER SEVEN ............................................................................... 71
GOVERNMENT AND STATE WEBSITES .......................................................... 71
INDEX .............................................................................................. 73
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 7


If you are serious about starting your bowling alley, the information in this
book will help you plan, start, operate and manage your operation. This book
is only one of many resources you should consult before starting the
business. The more information and knowledge that you have about what it
takes to start a successful, profitable bowling center, the better prepared you
will be to address all of the business challenges you will face in your venture.

You probably have an idea of what you want your bowling center to be; the
image, the layout and what you will offer your customers. Hopefully, the
information in this book will expand on your ideas. I hope that this book
brings up new interest in offering more to your customers and providing you
more opportunities to create revenue and profits.

I approached the task of presenting this information in a more factual style

than in a “do this, don’t do that” format. I also approached presenting the
information without assuming that you are an experienced bowling alley
owner/manager or that you have knowledge in the bowling center industry. I
purposely designed the book for the new entrepreneur; the first time business
owner. If you have experience, some of the information might seem
elementary. Embrace this information as it will never hurt to review the
basics of business ownership.

Your bowling center will be unique. There will be no operation exactly like
your operation. As I present the information pertaining to the possible retail
products and center services, I am attempting to encompass all of the
possibilities. For instance, in your operation, you may want to offer only
limited concession offerings. Other center owners may want to offer an
upscale grill and a specialty dining area, like a pizzeria or a bar with expanded
menu options. You might decide to expand your operation; if not in the
beginning, maybe later. The information in this book can help you now and
later on in the business venture. So for now, you will find yourself picking
and choosing the information you will apply to your center operation. Don’t
be too quick to ignore or eliminate the possibilities of the products and
services you can offer.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 8


Startup Summary

Initial Investment Costs

Initial investment costs are affordable for serious investors, but discourage
casual investors. Approximate cost in U.S. dollars is $100,000 to $120,000
per lane (includes land, building and bowling equipment), depending heavily
on land cost. These figures are based on building space requirements of 1,000
square feet or 92.9 square meters per lane.

The investment is capital intensive only at the outset. Once the center is
built, the assets maintain their value for two decades or more, so the
business requires little ongoing working capital.

Ongoing Operation Costs

Bowling is essentially an all-cash business. Cash flow from bowling, shoe

rental and food and beverage is immediate.

Profitability is very high. Pre-tax profits in many places can be 30% or more
of revenue. In emerging markets, payback on Initial investment is often
reached in as little as 1 to 2 years. Variable costs associated with bowling
center operations are so low that gross profit can be more than 90%. Once
the bowling alley’s relatively fixed operating costs are covered, incremental
sales go straight to net profits. Little or no inventory is required, allowing for
maximum use of space and capital.

Other Profit Centers

Bowling is not the only profit center in a bowling center. Pro shops, food and
beverage sales, shoe rentals, arcade rooms, vending machines, billiard tables
and league bowling fees also contribute to already strong profitability

The larger size of your center, the most potential for additional profit center

• Additional profit centers can include:

• Snack bars
• Vending machine areas
• Billiard tables
• Arcade-type games
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 9

Pro shop sales of items ranging from bags, shirts and shoes to a wide range
of the latest bowling balls and accessories Percentage of revenue

• Bowling 61%
• Food & Bar 23%
• Amusement 7%
• Shoe Rental 6%
• Other 3%

(Typical North American Center)

The grand opening of your bowling center - or perhaps a chain of bowling

centers - could be sooner than you think.

A bowling center isn't a stadium or a sports arena with a year-long

construction schedule. For example, once the basic building is complete and
lane surfaces installed, your equipment supplier can install lane equipment at
the rate of one day to day-and-half per lane. That translates into about three
weeks for an entire 20-lane center to go form floor, walls, lane surfacing and
ceiling to fully operational for automated bowling.

Building a Sound Investment

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 10

BOWLING ALLEY Costs per square foot of floor area

Building Parameters: 1 Story, 14 Ft Story Height, 20,000 Square Feet
Tilt-up panels, steel frame $ 86.50
Concrete block, steel roof frame $ 87.70
Decorative concrete block, steel frame $ 88.00
Stucco on stud frame $ 74.20
Wood siding on stud frame $ 74.70
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 11

Chapter One

Getting Started

Contents of the Getting Started Section:

1. The Business Plan on page 11

2. Products and Services on page 11
3. Choosing Your Market on page 12
4. Financing Your Bowling Alley on page 14
5. Choosing a Name for Your Bowling Alley on page 15
6. Choosing Your Location on page 16
7. Bowling Alley Layout & Design on page 22
8. Guidelines to Establishing Product and Service Pricing on page 24
9. Licenses, Permits and Regulations on page 27

1. The Business Plan

A business plan is often a requirement to getting bank loans, investor funds

and/or government money/grants. These entities need to know that you
have a well planned business model and a full understanding of the business
venture that you are undertaking.

If you don’t have a business plan for your bowling alley, you should
immediately consider doing the business plan before proceeding with your
business. There are many business plan products available today in retail
office supply stores and online. Some of the best sellers are Business Plan
Pro, BPlans.com, BizPlans.com & ProBP Business Plan Software.

You can purchase a customized business plan template for a bowling alley
entitled The Business Plan for Your Bowling Center. This business plan was
prepared with the ProBP Business Plan Software, the professional business
plan software solution, at the following link:


Beware of free business plan software programs. You get what you pay for
and these business plans are usually a waste of your time.

2. Products and Services

Individual Play League Play

Instruction Retail Sales
Playroom Charges Snack Bar
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 12

Beverage Bar Parties

Catering Special Events
Retail Pro Shop Dining Options
Bowling Balls
AMF Brunswick
Circle Columbia
Dynothane Ebonite
Hammer Rotogrip
Storm Track

Bowling Shoes
Circle ABS Shoes
Dexter Men's Dexter Women's
Etonic Men's Etonic Women's

Bowling Bags
Columbia Ebonite
Hammer KR Strikeforce

Ball Inserts
Bowling Towels
Bowling Shirts
Drilling Service

(Back to Contents of the Getting Started Section on page 11)

3. Determining Your Market

Tools For Choosing Your Concept:

• Demographic Survey - This will help you to pinpoint a market that is

appropriate for your bowling alley. This would be obtaining information

Ages of customers, ethnic groups, occupations, income levels, size of your

market (how many will be interested in your product or service), geographic
region (where your customers are located), interests and what products and
services does the market need? Is your concept for your bowling alley
something these people will use?
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 13

Some web sites for finding demographic information are:

US Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/
FedStats http://www.fedstats.gov/
Claritas http://www.clusterbigip1.claritas.com/claritas/
PopNet http://www.popnet.org
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov
Demographics Now www.demographicsnow.com

• Target Market Analysis

This will show who your main projected customers are and where they are

• Competitive Analysis

This will help you understand who your competition will be. You should
compare your product prices with your potential market competitors. Simply
perform some market research by visiting these competitors and taking note
of their product prices. Use this competitive pricing analysis as a test of
reasonableness to determine whether your products and prices are in line.

The search for information on your competitors should begin by finding their
names and locations. Online directories such as www.superpages.com and
www.qwestdex.com can help you find competitors in your area. Just choose
the category and the number of miles around a city you'd like to search.
Visiting the competitors' web sites will help you decide what marketing
strategy would be best for you.

Remember the concept of your bowling alley will affect:

1. The type of equipment you will need.

2. Employee attire
3. Interior building size
4. Amount of staff
5. The size and exterior of your building
6. Your signage

(Back to Contents of the Getting Started Section on page 11)

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 14

4. Financing

Financing Your Business

Most banks and lenders require you to put some of your own money into the
business. Experience is a major factor for lenders. So the more experience
you have, the better. If this is a new venture for you, you might consider
taking a job in a bowling alley and/or take some classes to help you succeed
in getting the funding you need.

Places you can get financing are

• Small Business Association

• Personal resources - Savings, IRA accounts, credit cards, home
mortgages and personal assets (including family or friends).
• Private investors - also known as "angel investors". Go to
angeldeals.com (http://www.angeldeals.com/) for more
information. "Angel investors" are the largest pool of capital in
the United States. Typically entrepreneurs find "angel
investors" through net-working with people across the industry.
• Commercial finance companies, such banks and equipment
leasing companies.
• Friends and relatives (be careful to arrange the loan in a
business-like manner). Draw up papers stating the loan
repayment schedule and interest to be charged.
• Real-Estate assets. You may have enough equity in your home
to finance your business.
• Life Insurance - You may carry a life insurance policy that has a
loan value. You can borrow on the cash value at a low interest
• Housing and Urban Development - Sometimes the Federal
Government's HUD will provide loans to restore and rehabilitate
buildings in certain areas. They won't finance your business,
but may provide renovation funds.

The basic loan application includes a written statement in which you describe
your business plan (see page 11). You will need to include how this business
will generate income, define at what points you will need an injection of cash
and explain how you will use the requested loan proceeds. Also, include an
explanation of how the loan will be repaid.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 15

It is best to have the money in place about six months before you need it,
including in it enough cash to carry you through two months of business
operation of your bowling alley.

Financing Tips

1. Shop around for the best interest rate and terms.

2. Get your financing before you negotiate your lease.
3. Get your loan agreement in writing.
4. Hire an accountant or lawyer to review your agreement before signing.
5. Make sure there is no prepayment penalty.
6. If you choose a venture capitalist, make sure you maintain control running
your business.
7. If you get a construction loan, make sure you only pay interest on the
commitment as you use it.

(Back to Contents of the Getting Started Section on page 11)

5. Choosing a Name

Choosing the right name for your business is important. A good name can
help you attract more customers, so take your time. Discuss it with your
friends and family and do some research before deciding what to name your
bowling alley.

Your business name should fit the vision of what you want your bowling alley
to be. You will want your name to tie into your decor, concept and the
market you are targeting. Your name should be distinctive and easy to
remember. Choose a name that is easy to spell. Think of your customers
writing checks to your business or trying to find your business online or in the
phone book.

Your name should represent the type of bowling alley products and any
services you will offer and should set you apart from your competitors.

Registering Your Name:

You will need to register your business name with your state. You can do this
by contacting the Secretary of State's office and requesting the forms that
you will need to fill out. Also, ask them how to search for state trade marks to
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 16

see if any part of your name is registered. You may also need to do this in
your county at your county clerk's office.

Check to see if any part of your name is a Federally Registered Trademark;

enter your name on this website: http://tess2.uspto.gov/


Thomas Register
Niten Research Corporation
Mahtta Trademark Company
Mark Monitor
US Patent Office

(Back to Contents of the Getting Started Section on page 11)

6. Choosing Your Location

Choosing the right location for your bowling alley is important. Considerations
include the needs of your bowling alley, where your customers and
competitors are, and such things as taxes, zoning restrictions, noise and the
environment. For most bowling alleys, an appropriate location is critical.

The choice of your location has a profound effect on the entire business life of
your bowling alley. A bad choice may all but guarantee failure while a good
choice can contribute to your success. This book takes up site selection
criteria, such as retail compatibility and zoning, which the bowling alley
owner-manager must consider after making basic economic, demographic,
and traffic analyses. It offers questions that you must ask (and find answers
to) before making the all important choice of the bowling alley location.

The first step in choosing your business location takes place in your head.
Before you do anything else, define your type of bowling alley in the broadest
terms and determine your long term objective. Write them down. This
exercise will help you greatly later in choosing the best location possible for
your bowling alley.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 17

In picking the site, many bowling alley owners believe that it's enough to
learn about the demographics ("people information" like age, income, family
size, etc.) of the population, about the kind of competition they will be facing,
and about traffic patterns in the area they are considering. Beyond a doubt,
these factors are basic to all bowling alley location analysis.

Once you have spotted a tentative location using these factors, you have only
done half the job. Before you make a commitment to moving in and setting
up, you must carefully check several more aspects of the location to help
insure your satisfaction with -- and, most importantly, your success at -- the
site you've chosen.

Retail Compatibility

How important is retail compatibility?

For a bowling alley in its first year of operation, with limited funds for
advertising and promoting, retail compatibility can be the most important
factor in the survival of your business. Will you be located next to businesses
that will generate traffic for your bowling alley? Or will you be located near
businesses that may clash with yours?

Merchants Associations

Most first time bowling alley owners have no idea how effective a strong
merchants association can be in promoting and maintaining the retail stores
in a given area. Always find out about the merchants association. The
presence of an effective merchants association can strengthen your bowling
alley business and save you money through group advertising programs,
group insurance plans and collective security measures.

A strong merchants association can accomplish through group strength what

an individual retail store owner couldn't even dream of. Some merchant
associations have induced city planners to add highway exits near their retail
stores. Others have lobbied for -- and received -- funds from cities to
remodel their retail stores, including extension of parking lots, refacing of
buildings, and installation of better lighting.

Merchants associations can be particularly effective in the promotion of retail

stores using common themes or events and during holiday seasons. The
collective draw from these promotions is usually several times that which a
single merchant could have mustered.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 18

How can you determine if the business location you are considering has the
benefit of an effective merchants association? Ask other retail store owners in
the area. Find out:

How many members the merchant association has?

Who the officers are?
How often the group meets?
What the early dues are?
What specifically, has it accomplished in the last 12 months?

Ask to see a copy of the last meeting minutes. Determine what percentage of
the members were in attendance.

What if there is no merchants association? Generally, a shopping area or

center without a merchants association (or an ineffective one) is on the
decline. You'll probably see extensive litter or debris in the area, vacant
stores, a parking lot in need of repairs, and similar symptoms. You should
shun locations with these warning signs. With a little on-site investigation,
they are easy to avoid.

Responsiveness of the Landlord

Directly related to the appearance of a retail location is the responsiveness of

the landlord to the individual merchant's needs. Unfortunately, some
landlords of retail business properties actually hinder the operation of their
tenants' businesses. They are often, in fact, responsible for the demise of
their properties.

By restricting the placement and size of your signs, by forgoing or ignoring

needed maintenance and repairs, by renting adjacent retail spaces to
incompatible businesses -- or worse, other businesses offering bowling alley
products and services similar to what you offer in your bowling alley--,
landlords may cripple your attempts to increase business.

Sometimes landlords lack the funds to maintain their properties. Rather than
continuing to "invest" in their holdings by maintaining a proper appearance
for their buildings and supporting their tenants, they try to "squeeze" the
property for whatever they can get.

To find out if a landlord is responsive to the needs of the retail tenants, talk to
other tenants before you commit to moving in yourself. Ask them:

Does the landlord return calls in a reasonable period and send service
people quickly?
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 19

Is it necessary to nag the landlord just to get routine maintenance

taken care of?
Does the landlord just collect the rent and disappear, or is he or she
sympathetic to the needs of the tenants?
Does the landlord have any policies that hamper marketing

Zoning and Planning

Your town's zoning commission will be happy to provide you with the latest
"mapping" of the retail location and surrounding areas that you are
considering. Here are some questions to consider:

Are there restrictions that will limit or hamper your bowling alley operations?
Will construction or changes in city traffic or new highways present barriers to
your bowling alley?
Will any competitive advantages you currently find at the location you're
considering be diminished by zoning changes that will be advantageous for
competitors or even allow new competitors to enter your trade area?

Most zoning boards, along with economic/regional development committees,

plan several years in advance. They can provide you with valuable insights to
help you decide among tentative bowling alley locations.


Directly related to zoning is your intended length of stay and your lease
agreement. Before you enter into any rigid lease agreement, you must get
information on future zoning plans. Then you will be able to decide how long
you wish to remain at the location under consideration. To help you, ask

• Do you plan to operate the bowling alley in your first location

indefinitely or have you set a given number of years as a limit?
• If your bowling alley is successful, will you be able to expand at this
• Is your lease flexible, so that you have an option to renew after a
specified number of years? (On the other hand, is the lease of limited
duration so, if need be, you may seek another location?)

Study the proposed lease agreement carefully. Get advice from your lawyer
or other experts. Does the agreement:
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 20

• Peg rent to sales volume (with a definite scaling) or is rent merely

• Protect you as well as the property owner?
• Put in writing the promises the property owner has made about
repairs, construction and reconstruction, decorating, alterations, and
• Contain prohibitions against subleasing?

There are other factors that you should take into consideration before
selecting your location. The following questions may help you decide on your
business location:

• How much retail, office, and storage or workroom space do you need?
• Is parking space available and is it adequate?
• Do you want special lighting, heating or cooling, or other installations?
• Will your advertising expenses be much higher if you choose a
relatively remote location?
• Is the area served by public transportation?
• Can the area serve as a source of supply of employees?
• Is there adequate fire and police protection?
• Will sanitation or utility supply be a problem?
• Is exterior lighting in the area adequate to attract evening customers
and make them feel safe?
• Are customer restroom facilities available?
• Is the store easily accessible?
• Will crime insurance be prohibitively expensive?
• Do you plan to provide pick up or delivery?
• Is the trade area heavily dependent on seasonal business?
• Is the location convenient to where you live?
• Do the people you want for customers live nearby?
• Is the population density of the area sufficient?

Help in Choosing the Location

Choosing your location can be a risky undertaking. Considering the

consequences of choosing a location that proves to be unsuitable, it pays to
get as much assistance as possible. You may wish to hire a consultant to
analyze two or three locations that you have selected. It costs less if you
provide the consultant with pre-selected potential locations than to have him
or her initiate an open-ended search for the business location. The business
school of a nearby college or university may also be able to provide help.

Other sources of information on potential business locations include bankers

and lawyers, who may have been in position to have observed over an
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 21

extended period of time many bowling alley locations where other clients
previously did business.

Realtors can also provide information on location. Remember, though, their

compensation is based upon commissions for renting property.

Take Your Time in Selecting the Location

Selection of a retail location requires time and careful consideration. It should

not be done in haste just to coincide, say, with a loan approval. If you haven't
found a suitable location, don't plan to open your bowling alley until you are
sure you have what you want. Put your plans on hold and don't just settle for
a location you hope might work out. A few months delay is only a minor
setback compared to the massive -- often fatal -- problems that occur from
operating a bowling alley in a poor location.

Characteristics of a Good Location

The characteristics of a good location are:

Traffic: Drivers passing your bowling alley will become familiar with your
location. You can get traffic counts from a real estate firm, demographic firm,
planning commission, or highway department. You will want to pick a location
that has high traffic counts during peak business hours. One inexpensive way
to do this is to park at the site at different times of the day, including week-
ends, and count the traffic yourself.

If you are in a downtown area, you will need to access the foot traffic. The
type of foot traffic will also have a bearing on the business concept you

Visibility - If potential customers can't see you, they may not stop. A corner
location is great. And even better is a free-standing building on a corner lot! If
you choose a strip mall, a location at the end is best.

Signage also increases visibility; especially a sign with a read-a-board that

allows you to advertise your products. If you are in a downtown location, a
curb site gives you more visibility.

Readily Accessible Parking - This is a must. Customers need to be able to

find a place to park or they may consider it to be more hassle than it's worth,
especially if they are in a hurry.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 22

Strong Population Back-Up – These are areas near a high school, college,
university, office buildings, dense residential areas or high traffic commercial

Accessibility - Customers need to be able to get to your bowling alley with

ease. Median strips that don't allow for a left-hand turn make it hard for your
customers to get to your bowling alley. Highly congested traffic areas may
also discourage your customers.

Size - Will the site handle the projected amount of customers you are
planning on having?

Price - Make sure the price of the site or lease amount fits your projected
break-even or you may just be buying a lot of work with no pay.

Condition of the Site – If land is available, how much money will it take to
build? If it is an existing building, how much money will it take to remodel or
repair? Always check with the highway department and local agencies to see
what improvements or changes are planned for the areas.

Another thing to consider is whether or not this is a high crime area. People
may not stop if they don't feel safe. Destruction of property, robbery and
employee safety are other considerations to take into account.

(Back to Contents of the Getting Started Section on page 11)

7. Bowling Alley Layout and Design

Practical and Useful Layout Features

Aim for a practical, useful layout, while setting the mood. Make sure you

• good retail space traffic flow in the store for products, cashier area,
rest rooms;
• one or more areas from which you can view the entire bowling alley;
• lighting, signs and obstacle-free traffic flow;

Designing your layout will include the items above and décor design, bowling
alley displays, fixtures and designing visual merchandising appeal.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 23

Example of Six Lane Bowling Alley Layout

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 24

Example of Ten Lane Bowling Alley Layout

(Back to Contents of the Getting Started Section on page 11)

8. Guidelines to Establishing Pricing

To establish pricing:

• estimate your revenue - counter-balance higher cost items tagged with

lower markup, with higher markups on lower cost items;
• maintain a desired overall net profit percentage, usually 33-40% of
gross sales, and a normal margin of profit;
• balance items ranging in popularity - monitor high demand items
which can determine your success.

Setting the right price can influence the quantities of various product and
service that your customers will buy, which in turn affects the total revenue
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 25

and the profit in the your bowling alley. In the end, the right price for the
product and service is the price that the consumer is willing to pay for it.
Hence, correct pricing decisions are a key to successful bowling alley
management. Systematic and informed decisions regarding pricing strategies
must be made while considering a wide range of issues.

A major step toward making a profit in your bowling alley is selling the
bowling products and providing whatever services you decide to offer for
more than it has cost you. The difference between the wholesale cost of the
bowling products and the retail price of those products is called the mark-up.
These are the dollars that are now available to pay the operating expenses of
your bowling alley. When establishing the markup on a product and service,
two points should be noted:

1. The cost of the product and service used in calculating markup

consists of the cost of providing the product and service plus any other
indirect cost of providing the product and service minus any quantity
or cash discounts given by the seller.
2. The price, rather than cost, is ordinarily used in calculating
percentage markup. The reason for this is that when other operating
figures such as wages, advertising and profits are expressed as a
percentage, all are based on retail price rather than on the cost of the
product and service being sold.

The following points will highlight issues that should be considered:

Target Customers and the Retailing Mix

In this section, your attention is directed to price as it relates to your

potential bowling alley customers.

Is the price of this particular product and service very important to your
target consumers? You need to know your customers' desires for different
products and whether price is an important issue in their purchasing decision?

Have you established a price range that people will pay for your products and
services? What is the high and low price that the products and services will
have to fall within for someone to buy?

Have you considered what price strategies would be compatible with your
business’ total retailing mix that includes merchandise, location, promotion
and services?

Competitor Considerations
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 26

This set of questions looks outside your bowling alley operation to the
competitive factors that you cannot directly control.

Do you know what your direct competitors are doing price wise?
Do you regularly review competitors' ads to obtain information on their
Do you do comparison shopping of competitors to obtain information on their
pricing strategy?
Have you considered how your competition will react when you enter the
market place, and how will you deal with their reactions?

A Price Level Strategy

Selecting a general level of prices, while considering the competition, is a key

strategic decision. Should your overall strategy be to price at the prevailing
market prices or do you want to work at an above-the-market or below-the-
market strategy? Should competitors' temporary price reductions ever be

Pricing Policies

In this section, overall pricing policy and the message that you want to
convey will be considered. Setting the price must be compatible with your
established pricing policies and your store concept.

Will odd-ending prices such as $1.98 and $44.95, be more appealing to your
customers than even-ending prices?
Will consumers buy more if multiple pricing, such as 2 games for $8.50 is
Should any loss leader product pricing be used?
Will coupons be used in newspaper ads or mailed to selected consumers on
any occasion?
Will holiday gift giving season be a major advertising and sale opportunity for
Would periodic specials, combining reduced prices and heavier advertising, be
consistent with the bowling alley image you are seeking?
Has the impact of various sale items on profit been considered?
Are these product and service at the peak of its popularity?
Will customer services such as delivery, gift certificates and other business
services be free of charge to customers?

The Relationship between Product Prices and Costs

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 27

To keep costs in line, it is important to have consistently in pricing control.

Factoring Method Pricing - Multiply the cost of the product by three (this
method does not include labor or other costs)
Gross Margin Pricing - The formula is gross profit minus cost of goods sold
divided by net sales. A gross profit margin of 0.33:1 means that for every
dollar in sales, you have 33 cents to cover your basic operating costs and
Prime Cost Pricing - The formula is to add the cost of labor and cost of your
products and services. Then you add a percentage for profit.
Competitive Pricing - Competitive pricing seeks to match what others
charge for the same product or service. Conduct a market study and compare
the prices to similar ones that you intend to offer in your bowling alley. That
means pricing your products and services are neither above nor below what
others charge.
Combination Pricing -This method considers all methods, factoring, gross
margin, prime costs and competition. It then tries to balance the prices of
the competition with your costs and needs.

(Back to Contents of the Getting Started Section on page 11)

9. Licenses, Permits and Regulations

One area of rules and regulations that all new businesses must comply with
are licenses, permits and regulations. When creating a business, the
entrepreneur must contact the municipality involved, along with the state and
federal governments.

Each municipal government has the authority to issue its own business
licenses within its jurisdiction. Since there is no uniformity throughout the
country regarding municipal licenses for businesses, you should consult with
the appropriate local officials to determine whether your business will be
affected by local regulations and licensing requirements. Businesses
(including home-based businesses) must also meet the zoning by-laws that
control property uses in their municipalities.

There may be various licenses and permits required for your bowling alley.
Business licensing requirements vary from city to city, county to county and
state to state. Some require all businesses to register and they collect annual
business licensing fees. Others don't require licenses or registration for
unincorporated businesses unless you are doing business under a fictitious
name (also known as a DBA or "doing business as").
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 28

You may need a license or permit for occupancy, sanitation, and fire safety.
Your first step should be to check with your city or town clerk for any local
requirements. You should also check on zoning and sign regulations that may
apply to your business and location.

Examples of licenses, permits and regulations that could apply to you when
starting your bowling alley may include, but are not limited to:


• municipal business license

• occupancy
• sanitation
• fire safety

The first thing you need to apply for is Federal Employer Identification
Number (EIN) Application. You can access the information at the following

Business Licenses - Some cities charge a percentage of your gross sales

and some only charge a fee to operate your business in their city.

Sign Permit- Before investing in a sign, contact your local municipality to

find out if there are any restrictions on the size, location, lighting and type of
sign you can use. Also get written approval from your landlord.

Music License - Any business that plays copyrighted music whether you
have live music, music on hold for your phone or play CDs in your business
that is copyrighted without a license, you can be fined from $5,000 to
$20,000 dollars. Fees for these licenses are collected by the American Society
of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music, Inc.
(http://www.ascap.com/index.html) and Broadcast Music, Inc.

Fire Certificates - You may be required to be inspected by the fire

department before you can open for business. Your local fire department
should be able to inform you of the regulations you need to follow.

SBA Link for Where to Obtain Business Licenses

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 29

The SBA has a page titled, WHERE TO OBTAIN BUSINESS LICENSES for your
state and you can access the information at the following website link:
http://www.sba.gov/hot list/license.html


• vendor permit
• building permit

Police Permit - Your business may require police clearance or a permit.

Sellers Permit - This is also known as a resale permit. It allows you to avoid
paying sales tax on merchandise when you purchase it from wholesalers.
This permit is issued through the state entity that is responsible for taxes.

You can go to the following link for a list of states and the required permits:


Building Permits And Zoning Permits - These permits are regulated by

your local city or county planning department. Call your local building
department and ask them what is required.


• health regulations and requirements

• fire safety standards or regulations
• retail sales tax
• zoning by-laws

You can get permit, license and regulation information by contacting your
local city hall, town or village office or rural municipal office. Contacts for
Federal and US State Governments can be found in the Government and
State Website Listings, found in this book on page 71.

(Back to Contents of the Getting Started Section on page 11)

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 30

Chapter Two

Managing Your Bowling Alley Operation

Developing New Accounts and New Customers

The problem of developing new accounts and new customers is a common

one. A frequent lament of sales managers is "we just don't have enough new
accounts to provide the volume we need." In most companies, a five percent
improvement in sales volume will have a most favorable profit effect. It will
equal or exceed, for example, a comparable percentage improvement in costs
of material and services, productivity, inventory management, or control of

How to acquire the new accounts and new customers to provide added
volume becomes a matter of prime importance for survival and growth. In
many businesses, small and large, the matter of new customer acquisition is
approached in a haphazard, intermittent, unplanned and uncoordinated way.
The results are understandably often less than satisfying, more expensive
than expected and generally inadequate from the standpoint of contribution of

Useful insight into the problem of getting new customers can be obtained by
considering the sales department as a purchasing function, spending company
resources by investing in customers and sales volume. The controls, systems,
thought and effort devoted to finding the right source of materials, provide for
the most effective and evident management concern relative to its purchasing
activities. Disciplines are established and controls are in place to measure
supplier and purchasing effectiveness. Alternate bids are secured and
potential suppliers critically tested for quality and service. Capital
expenditures are closely evaluated. Yet the problem of investing to get a new
customer, one who is expected to deliver profitable sales over an extended
period of time, is often reduced to a simple charge to the sales department of
'more customers'!

In most cases the investment in customer acquisition is heavy, scattered,

unmeasured and unplanned. The money spent on this type of effort consists
of advertising dollars, sales, salaries and expenses, phones, samples,
administrative time and often expensive engineering costs.

The alternative approach to customer or account development is usually less

expensive and substantially more productive. It involves some
straightforward initial analysis and planning; inexpensive enough for the
smallest business. It may likewise involve a change in attitude and emphasis
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 31

that says that the business of investing in a customer ought to be a selective,

investigative, consistent, and planned process; worthy of the closest attention
of the managing sales executive. Finding and developing a worthwhile
customer is a different objective from simply 'more sales’ or 'more accounts'.

There is more to getting new customers than just chasing the volume they
produce. Obviously the quality of the volume is more important. Measure your
required standard, not just for the amount of volume, but for the profit yield
of the volume and the trend for the future.

Customer Development Program

Your Customer Development Program should involve at least six (6) steps:

Step One – Fully Understand Your Business and Your Customer’s

Needs. You must know exactly what your customers need from your bowling
alley and how your bowling alley will meet those customer needs.

Step Two – Know Who Your Potential Customers Are. You must know
who your potential customers are, where they live, why they would buy your
product and service.

Step Three – The Market Research. When many business owners hear the
words “Market Research”, many just felt that the task is too great or too
complicated to even tackle. The level of market research that needs to be
done must be determined.

Step Four – How To Get Your First New Customers. As an entrepreneur,

you know that the sooner you get customers knocking on your door, the
greater the likelihood that you can sustain your business. Like any other
business, you can only succeed if you have enough business to sustain you.

Step Five – Implement a Successful Marketing Program. The amount

of business you get is highly proportional to the amount of effort that you put
in marketing your bowling alley.

Step Six - How To Keep Your Customers. Your existing customer base is
a goldmine. These are people who already know your bowling alley and are
familiar with you. These are people who have already established a
relationship with you by buying your product and service.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 32

Computer Software

Retail Operations

Automated Point-of-Sale
Automated Point-of-Sale develops and markets premier inventory control/POS
software and hardware solutions for small to medium Retailers.

Small and mid-sized retailers rely on CORESense On-Demand Retail Software
to manage their entire retail business, from sales channel to customer
125 High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
866-229-2804 Toll Free 518-306-3043

CounterPoint SQL Enterprise

CounterPoint SQL Enterprise is a powerful and flexible retail management
solution for businesses with one store or hundreds of stores. By harnessing
the power of Microsoft® SQL Server, CounterPoint gives you speed and
control over every aspect of your business—point-of-sale, inventory,
customers, purchasing, sales history, and much more. Nearly every aspect of
CounterPoint—its appearance, content, and behavior—can be customized.
Retail Division, 1727 Kirby Parkway, Memphis, TN 38120
Office: (800) 852-5852 (901) 681-2800 Fax: (901) 681-2802

CounterPoint SQL Express

CounterPoint SQL Express is ideal for small, single store businesses that want
a powerful yet economical solution. Express utilizes the same cutting edge
technology found in the Enterprise edition and includes many of the same
great features— point-of-sale, inventory, customers, purchasing, sales
history, and much more. Express fits your business now and will grow with
you as your business grows.
(For contact information, see CounterPoint SQL Enterprise, above)

CounterPoint V7
CounterPoint V7 is a feature-rich retail management solution suitable for
businesses of all sizes. With plenty of options, CounterPoint V7 is ready to
expand when you are. And with full support for a broad range of operating
environments, CounterPoint V7 works with whatever platform you do.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 33

(For contact information, see CounterPoint SQL Enterprise, above)

CPOnline is an affordable and powerful ecommerce service that allows you to
connect your existing CounterPoint inventory and customer information to
your online store. Integrated retail and ecommerce doesn't get any easier!
CPOnline gives you a customizable storefront, "real-time" online credit card
authorizations, automatic shipping calculation, powerful marketing tools,
email newsletters, visitor statistics, Froogle™ submissions, member pricing,
and more. Compatible with the entire CounterPoint family, CPOnline lets you
open your store to the world.
(For contact information, see CounterPoint SQL Enterprise, above)

CPGateway is a secure, reliable, and affordable service that enhances credit
card processing for Synchronics merchants. CPGateway uses your Internet
connection to provide lightning-fast credit, debit, and check authorizations in
under 2 seconds. Compatible with the entire CounterPoint family, CPGateway
keeps your lines moving and your customers happy.
(For contact information, see CounterPoint SQL Enterprise, above)

Electronic Retail Software

For small to medium independent retailers. Benefits of the software include:
Improves inventory management and control, Complete customer
information, including purchase history, Easy-to-learn, easy-to-use point of
sale and Extensive reporting capability.
20101 Birch St, Suite 150-K, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Phone: (949)660-6333 Fax: (949)660-6334

Island Pacific.com
Retail Pro (http://www.islandpacific.com/RetailPro2.htm) is the global leader
in retail management systems. Retail Pro helps retail businesses around the
world run more profitably and achieve impressive returns on their technology
investments. The software is an integrated system for POS and store
operations, merchandising planning and analysis, and customer management
/ CRM.
400 Plaza Drive, Suite 200, Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: 800-738-2457 Fax: 916-605-7201

JPMA Retail Software Solutions

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 34

JPMA is a worldwide supplier of Point-of-Sale software to the retail industry.

The cash register software operates on Microsoft Windows systems and can
handle different languages (Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and more),
currencies, tax regimes etc.
1626 Cole Blvd., Suite 250, Lakewood, CO 80401. 303-232-3700

Keystroke POS
Specialized Business Solutions began developing Keystroke Point Of Sale
software nearly 20 years ago. Today, thousands of retail, wholesale, and
service businesses use Keystroke POS to manage sales and control inventory.
Telephone: (800) 359-3458 (970) 262-1720 PO Box 2019 Dillon, CO

With Microsoft Business Solutions for Retail Management System, you get an
easy-to-use, affordable solution that streamlines business processes,
integrates with other applications, and adapts to meet your specific retail
(800) 426-9400

Positrac 5 Software
Since 1983, designing, writing, and assisting dealers install retail systems
throughout the U. S. and Canada. Positrac Software is designed for retail
stores desiring a Point of Sale and Inventory Control System. 4 different
Inventory programs: Grocery, Liquor, Convenience, and Retail versions. Each
version is uniquely written for the specified market. The software is very
flexible and easy to use. Track inventory usage, costs, and profits with the
click of a few buttons. Operating systems supported are Windows 95, 98, ME,
NT, 2000, XP, and XP Pro.
1209 Whispering Pines Rd. Albany, GA 31707
Phone 229-883-2398 Fax 229-420-5999

Progress Application Partners

The Global Solutions Directory contains hundreds of business applications and
solutions developed by Progress Application Partners. Offerings range from
enterprise solutions to niche applications solving the most complex business
14 Oak Park Drive, Bedford, MA 01730, USA
Tel: 781-280-4000 Toll Free: 800-477-6473
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 35

QuickStore POS
Wasp QuickStore is the easiest, quickest way to checkout customers and
manage inventory. Simple and powerful, the point-of-sale and inventory
control features are ideal for stores such as a bowling center.
Wasp Barcode Technologies 214-547-4100
1400 10th Street, Plano, TX 75074

VAI software systems

S2K Enterprise for Retail is a comprehensive retail point of sale software
solution specifically designed for the retail industry. VAI’s S2K for Retail is a
system designed for the larger retail end user with multi-locations and more
than five POS registers.

Center Computer Software

A-2 Technologies
Mechanics software for the bowling industry

Ball Call Eliminator System

Patented new product for Brunswick A,A2, Factory A-2 & Jetback

Bowl 101
Bowl101 will handle all of your bowling league stats. Windows 95/98,
Windows 3.1 and Dos versions available. Unlimited number of leagues, almost
any scoring system with up to 58 teams with 15 bowlers per team and 100
subs. Weekly and yearly awards and a full array of sorts

Bowlers Map
BowlersMAPTM Motion Analysis Program was developed to combine the power
of video instruction with the technology of computers

CDE Software
CDE Software provides Windows 98/95/NT solutions to center management.
Software offerings include Bowl-o-Dex, a master bowler database that can
import from the premier league secretary software, BLS-X/32
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 36

C.S.P. Inc Bowling Software

Makers of complete and easy to use Tournament Software with Brackets and
complete Pro Shop Software (Windows 95/98)

DownTime Manager
DownTime Manager keeps track of your equipment downtime

Fox Trot Computer Systems

Call Sheet/Parts Inventory software for pinsetter mechanics

FREE internet based league secretary software. Pinsetter makes it easy for
league secretaries to manage scores and for league members to browse
current standings and statistics

Sleltronic USA Scoring System

Steltronic automatic scoring for the bowling business

Voice Link Corporation

Phone Reservation and Scheduling System. Frequent Bowler Reward Debit
Card System

Wollop Computer Solutions

Wollop Tenpin Reservations, advanced reservations and lane management


Insurance needs for businesses vary greatly. It is best to choose an insurance

agent or broker familiar with your size of business and, in particular, an agent
familiar with your type of bowling alley operation. If you don't have an
insurance agent, it could be a wise decision to ask other business owners in
your area to recommend one.

The following list is included to remind you not to overlook the complex areas
of business insurance. It is best, however, to discuss your specific
requirements with your insurance agent.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 37

Basic Insurance:

• fire insurance (extended coverage on buildings and contents);

• liability insurance;
• burglary protection (theft coverage);
• dishonesty insurance (covers thefts by employees).


Word-of-mouth advertising and good public relations are often the best ways
of promoting your bowling alley. Depending on your market and its size, also
consider flyers, newspapers (especially for holiday promotions), radio, TV, the
Yellow Pages and the Internet. Also remember that a satisfied customer is
good advertising.


A Web site should have details to describe the location (your business’
address, telephone and fax numbers, and directions on how to get to your
bowling alley), hours of operation, products and services, and anything else
you think may be of interest to potential customers. However, once you
launch a Web site, you must update it on a regular basis.

Signs and Your Business

Have you considered the impact that your sign has on your bowling alley
business? This section discusses signs, what they can do for your business
and how they can be used to your advantage.

Signs index the environment so people can find you. This is especially true for
travelers, new members of your community and impulse customers. A
primary source of customers for your bowling alley is the large number of
people who are new to your community. Your sign is the most effective way
of reaching this mobile or transient group of potential customers.

Signs can correct a poor location by substituting effective communication for

poor site characteristics. If your bowling alley is located on a site which is not
visible or in a building which does not correspond with the products and
services offered, your sign can overcome this disability. For example, most
buildings are not built to conform to the design needs of any particular type of
tenant. Without an effective sign, it is often impossible to determine what
type of business is being conducted in a given building. In addition, when
your site is located off a busy traffic artery or in an area which is not easily
accessible, your sign can communicate to people who are passing on a busy
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 38

street several blocks away. If you are located off a busy freeway but far from
an exit, your sign becomes your main device for directing people to your
bowling alley.

Planning Your Advertising Budget

Advertising costs are a completely controllable expense. Advertising budgets

are the means of determining and controlling this expense and dividing it
wisely among departments, lines or services. This section describes various
methods (percentage of sales or profits, units of sales, objective and task) of
establishing an advertising budget and suggests ways of applying budget
amounts to get the effect you want.

If you want to build sales for your bowling alley, it is almost certain that you
will need to advertise. How much should you spend? How should you
allocate your advertising dollars? How can you be sure your advertising
outlays aren't out of line? The advertising budget helps you determine how
much you have to spend as well as how you are going to spend it. What you
would like to invest in advertising and what you can afford are seldom the
same. Spending too much is obviously an extravagance, but spending too
little can be just as bad in terms of lost sales and diminished visibility. Costs
must be tied to results. You must be prepared to evaluate your goals and
assess your capabilities - a budget will help you do precisely this.

Your budget will help you choose and assess the amount of advertising and its
timing. It will also serve as the background for next year's plan.

Methods of Establishing a Budget

Each of the various ways in which to establish an advertising budget has its
problems as well as its benefits. No method is perfect for all types of
businesses nor is any combination of methods. Here, concepts from several
traditional methods of budgeting have been combined into three basic
methods: percentage of sales or profits; unit of sales; and objective and task.
You will need to use judgment and caution in choosing your method or

Percentage of Sales or Profits

The most widely used method of establishing an advertising budget is to base
it on a percentage of sales. Advertising is as much a business expense as the
cost of labor and should be related to revenue.

The percentage-of-sales method avoids some of the problems that result from
using profits as a base. For instance, if profits in a period are low, it might
not be the fault of sale or advertising. But if you stick with the same
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 39

percentage figure, you will automatically reduce your advertising allotment.

There's no way around it: two percent of $10,000 is less than two percent of
$15,000. Such a cut in the advertising budget may very well lead to further
losses in sales and profits. This in turn will lead to further reductions in
advertising investment, and so on.

By using the percentage-of-sales method, you keep your advertising in a

consistent relation to your revenue volume - which is what your advertising
should be primarily affecting. Here is the explanation of the different
percentage’s you can utilize with the percentage-of-sales method:

Past sales: Your base can be last year's sales or an average of a number of
years in the immediate past. Consider that changes in economic conditions
may cause your figures to be too high or too low.

Estimated future sales: You can calculate your advertising budget as a

percentage of your anticipated revenue for next year. The most common
pitfall of this method is an optimistic assumption that your bowling alley will
continue to grow. You must always keep general business trends in mind,
especially if there is the chance of a slump. Remember to assess the
directions in both the industry and your own bowling alley operation.

Past sales and estimated future sales: The middle ground between an often
conservative appraisal based on last year's revenue and an often overly
optimistic assessment of next year's is to combine both. This method is
generally more realistic during periods of changing economic conditions. It
allows you to analyze trends and results as well as predict future sales with a
little more accurately.

The more complex methods are Unit of Sales and Objective and Task
methods. We will not cover those. If the percentage-of-sales method does
not work for you or you want to go another route, do your research on the
Unit of Sales and Objective and Task methods.

Market Analysis

Successful businesses have extensive knowledge about their customers and

their competitors. Acquiring accurate and specific information about your
customers and competitors is a critical first step in market investigation and
development of a marketing plan. In developing a marketing plan, your
primary functions are to understand the needs and desires of your customers
select or develop a product or service that will meet customer needs, develop
promotional material that will make the customer aware and ensure product
or service delivery.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 40

Developing a business plan (for more information, see page 11) for an
existing business or conducting a feasibility study for a new venture requires
a thorough analysis of market conditions. Market conditions in your area
have a significant impact on the profitability of your bowling alley. The
strength of the local market affects how many customers you will serve and
the prices that you can charge. This section will help you analyze your
market so that you can gauge the potential of your existing or proposed
operation and make more informed operating and investment decisions.

On the pages that follow are a series of checklists to help you collect and
analyze information as part of your market analysis. The checklists will serve
as a learning tool to help you understand the many market factors that
influence your profitability.

Types of Questions Answered by the Market Analysis

By conducting a market analysis, you will be able to answer questions such


What trends are emerging in the bowling alley industry?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of my competition?
Is my location suitable?
Does my concept fill a niche in the market?
What is the potential number of customers for my bowling alley per year?

Application of the Market Analysis Data

This information will provide you with a market analysis format that can be
used in a feasibility study, business plan or marketing plan. The following will
help analyze the market potential of an existing operation, an expansion or a
new development.

Existing bowling alley operators can use a market analysis to identify

opportunities to improve sales. The analysis can provide valuable information
on market conditions to help in forecasting and budgeting. It also provides a
foundation for an effective marketing plan. Prospective bowling alley
operators can use a market analysis to project sales volume for a new
bowling alley venture.

Using your market analysis findings, you can estimate the financial potential
of your venture by creating financial projections. If you are a prospective
bowling alley owner, these projections will help you determine if your venture
is feasible.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 41

Market Analysis Components

Industry Trends on page 41

Location and Facility on page 42
Competition on page 43
Location on page 44
Concept Refinement on page 46

I. Industry Trends

Studying industry trends is one of the first steps in conducting a market

analysis. It will help you identify opportunities and threats in the industry
that may affect your profitability.

Studies on consumer buying patterns are available from various sources.

Such studies report recent changes and trends in consumer attitudes and
behaviors regarding your bowling alley products. They can identify changing
trends before they become apparent in your local market. The following are
some of the sources of industry trends data available to you:

¾ National Associations (see page 70)

¾ State and Local Associations (see page 70)
¾ Industry Groups
¾ Industry Publications (see page 69)

Industry Trends Checklist

The following industry trends checklist provides a sample of topics you might
want to study as part of your market analysis.

Market Demand
Economic trends
Consumer confidence
Demographic trends

Success Factors
New and popular concepts/themes
Customer service innovations
Pricing practices
Labor saving techniques

Back to the list of Market Analysis Components on page 41

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 42

II. Local Market Area

Demographic and economic statistics will help you determine the bowling
alley sales potential of the market area you plan to serve. By comparing
these statistics with those of other areas and the state, you will be able to
evaluate the strength of your market area.

The first step in this analysis is to define the geographic size of your market
area. Be reasonable in estimating how far people will travel to reach your
bowling alley. Once your geographic market area is defined, you should
obtain demographic data that describes the people who live and work in the
area. Descriptions of the population's age, income, education and gender will
help you understand the market area you plan to serve.

Obtain economic statistics such as business growth trends and tourism

visitation data. They indicate the overall economic health of the market area.

Data on your market area is available from various sources such as:

o Bureau of Census, U.S. Dept. of Commerce;

o Private marketing data entry forms;
o State and local economic development agencies and State Data
o Small Business Development Centers;
o County Extension offices;
o Local Chambers of Commerce
o Library resource materials such as: Sourcebook of Zipcode
Demographics and Sales and Marketing Management

In addition to studying economic and demographic data, you should also

determine the buying behaviors and preferences of local residents. “Lifestyle
Segmentation Reports” provided by marketing group data firms provides a
useful source of consumer behavior information.

Market Area Checklist

The market area checklist will help you collect data to evaluate your market

Geographic Market Area

• Market area radius (one, two, three miles, etc.)

• Market area
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 43

Demographic Characteristics

• Population
• Age distribution and median age
• Gender
• Ethnic groups
• Household income distribution
• Marital status
• Dwelling types
• Households with children
• Education

Economic Characteristics

• Employment levels
• Types of employment
• Number of and growth in business establishments
• Local developments planned
• Seasonality and tourism visitation

Back to the list of Market Analysis Components on page 41

III. Competition

Existing market area competition can provide valuable information to help you
analyze demand and market opportunities. You can assess their competitive
strengths and weaknesses and learn from their successes and failures.

First, identify how many bowling alleys are in your market area. Then,
identify those businesses that appeal to the types of customers (market
segments) that you plan to serve. You should also identify all other
businesses located in your immediate area because they can also influence
your business. Refer to the Yellow Pages and your local Chamber of
Commerce for listings of area bowling alleys.

It is important to identify any market area bowling alleys that have closed
and for what reasons. Also, learn what new bowling alleys are planned for the
market area and determine how they might affect your proposed operation.

After identifying your competition, visit and evaluate each bowling alley.
Speak with the manager of each operation if possible. Use the following
checklist to complete this part of your market analysis.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 44

Competition Checklist

™ Community traffic patterns
™ Proximity to sources of demand
™ Accessibility
™ Visibility
™ Surrounding neighborhood
™ Parking availability
™ Sign visibility


™ Exterior appearance and theme

™ Interior appearance and theme
™ Atmosphere
™ Cleanliness
™ Heating and ventilation


™ Days open
™ Hours of operation
™ Service style
™ Quality of service
™ Speed of Service
™ Extra services offered

General Information

™ Franchise affiliation
™ Local reputation
™ Advertising and promotion methods used


™ Strengths
™ Weaknesses

Back to the list of Market Analysis Components on page 41

IV. Location

Location is a critical consideration because it affects your ability to draw

customers. It is important that your site be visible, accessible, convenient
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 45

and attractive to your market. How you evaluate your location will depend on
the type of bowling alley you are planning and the type of customers you
hope to serve.

Two major choices face prospective bowling alley owners: What kind of
bowling alley should I open and where should I open it? Typically, you will
have already selected either a location or a concept for your bowling alley. It
is important that your location and concept complement each other. It is
critical that a site be chosen based on market factors and not because of a
low price.

Different types of bowling alleys will have different location requirements.

However, certain elements should be analyzed regardless of the type of
bowling alley you are planning. Use the following checklist to complete this
part of your market analysis.

Location Checklist

Description of Immediate Area

9 Residential and commercial profile

9 Adjacent land uses
9 Proposed developments
9 Safety
9 Special appeal of location
9 Map of area (identify sources of demand, competition and other
relevant landmarks)

Proximity to Customers and Competition

9 Major demand generators (retail, offices, lodging, hospitals ...)

9 Number of potential customers by segment within one-, two-, three-
mile radius, etc.
9 List of direct bowling alley competitors

Traffic Volume

9 Street and road patterns

9 Speed limit and traffic signs/lights
9 Highway/Street traffic counts
9 Pedestrian traffic counts
9 Peak and off-peak traffic periods
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 46


9 Proximity to major streets and highways

9 Ease of entrance and exit
9 Parking (guests and delivery)
9 Pedestrian accessibility
9 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance


9 Visibility from road

9 Effectiveness of sign
9 "Curb appeal" of building
9 Landscaping
9 Exterior lighting

Other Issues

9 Zoning
9 Environmental Issues
9 Easements and restrictions
9 Growth Patterns of Surrounding Areas

Back to the list of Market Analysis Components on page 41

V. Concept Refinement and Evaluation

An effective concept establishes your business’ identity. It distinguishes your

operation from others in the market area and allows the business to attract
particular customer groups. Understanding customer preferences is essential
in developing an appropriate concept. It is important to realize that concepts
appropriate for one area may not be appropriate for another.

Concept involves the entire shopping experience, not just the type of product
and service offered. Elements that define your concept include decor,
lighting, service, price, location and size. Even the name of the establishment
conveys a sense of the concept. To help refine your idea, describe your
proposed bowling alley in one or two sentences.

Back to the list of Market Analysis Components on page 41

Your Marketing Plan

Every how-to book on the market has a different take on the essential
elements of a marketing plan.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 47

This section outlines the key elements you need to include in your bowling
alley marketing plan. No matter how it's ultimately organized, your marketing
plan should be a straightforward, easily understood company document. It
should provide you with a clear direction for your marketing efforts for the
coming year and it should give an incisive look into your company for all

The Marketing Plan section is broken down into nine (9) parts:

Preparing to Write on page 47

Market Situation on page 48
Threats and Opportunities on page 48
Marketing Objectives on page 49
Goal for Your Marketing Plan on page 49
Marketing Goals on page 50
Budgets on page 50
Controls: Tracking Effectiveness on page 51
Executive Summary on page 52

Preparing to Write Your Marketing Plan

Before you begin to write, pull together some information you'll need. Getting
the information first avoids interruptions in the thinking and writing process.
Have on hand:

• Your company's latest financial reports (profit and loss, operating

budgets and so on), the latest sales figures by product and service and
the records for the current and the past three years or, if less, for
however long you've been in business
• A listing of each bowling alley product in the current line, along with
target markets
• An organization table (if you can count your employees on one hand,
you can probably omit this.)
• Your understanding of your bowling alley marketplace: your
competitors, geographical boundaries, types of customers you market
to, latest and most useful demographic data, any information on
trends in your market(s) (both demographic and product and service

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 48

Market Situation

The "market situation" section should contain your best and most clear-
headed description of the current state of the bowling alley marketplace (this
is no place for hunches).

• What are your bowling alley product and service lines?

• What is the dollar size of your markets?
• What is your sales and distribution setup?
• What geographic area do you sell to?
• Describe your audience in terms of population, demographics, income
levels and so on.
• What competitors exist?
• Historically, how well have your bowling products sold?

Much of this information may exist in your head. But now is when you write it
down. For example, how much information do you have in your office—right
now—on your competition? Your marketing plan gives you a chance to pull all
this relevant information together in one place, to spur ideas and justify

Consider each of your bowling products up against the matching products or

services of your competitors. How well do you stack up? Is there any
significant market opportunity for you that neither you nor your competitors
are currently exploiting?

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47

Threats and Opportunities

This section is an extension of the "market situation" section, and it should

focus on the bad and good implications of the current bowling alley market:

• What trends in the marketplace are against you?

• Are there competitive trends that are ominous?
• Are your current products and services poised to succeed in the
market as it now exists?
• What trends in the marketplace favor you?
• Are there competitive trends working to your benefit?
• Are the demographics of your market in your favor? Against you?

There are lots of places to go to get information on the trends in your bowling
alley market. City and state business publications frequently publish overview
issues; you can talk to local business reporters; and local chambers of
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 49

commerce publish projections, as do associations of manufacturers (the

names are different in various parts of the country). Talk to your professional
association and read your trade journals.

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47

Marketing Objectives

In the "marketing objectives" section, you paint your picture of the future:
What marketing objectives do you want to achieve over the course of the
plan? Each of your marketing objectives should include both a narrative
description of what you intend to accomplish along with numbers to give you
something concrete to aim for. Just to say you want to start the best bowling
alley in the marketplace isn’t providing much guidance. Saying you want to
go from 0 percent to 8 percent of the local market in two years is easier to
understand—and verifiable. If you're not sure of the size of the local market,
then aim at a dollar figure in sales. Your accountant will let you know
whether you've succeeded or not.

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47

Goal for Your Marketing Plan

If you're new to developing a marketing plan, how do you set a quantifiable

goal? Start with your past. Review your past sales numbers, your growth
over the years in different markets, the size of typical new customers, and
how new bowling alley product introductions have fared. If over the last five
years you've grown a cumulative 80 percent in gross revenues, projecting a
20 percent to 25 percent increase in the next year is reasonable; 45 percent
is not. Make a low but reasonable projection for what you’ll be able to
accomplish with marketing support toward your new marketing objectives.
Set modest goals to start, until you get a feel for the terrain.

You should make it a point to limit the number of marketing objectives you
take on in a given year. Let's face it, change can bring stress, disorient staff
and sometimes even confuse your target market. Keep your objectives
challenging but achievable. Better to motivate yourself with ambitious but
worthy targets than to depress you by failing at too many enthusiastic goals.

Here are some typical marketing objective categories:

• Introduce new bowling alley products

• Extend or regain market for existing bowling alley products
• Enter new territories for the company
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 50

• Boost sales in a particular bowling alley product, market or price

range. Where will this business come from? Be specific.
• Cross-sell (or bundle) one bowling alley product with another
• Raise prices without cutting into sales figures
• Refine bowling alley products

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47

Marketing Goals

Here's where you spell out how you're going to make things happen. While
your spreadsheet has shown increasingly stunning profits each time you
bump up the market gains, now you're in the real world. Gains must be
earned by marketing brains and brawn. Each marketing objective should
have several goals (subsets of objectives) and tactics for achieving those
goals. In the objectives section of your marketing plan, you focus on the
"what" and the "why" of the marketing tasks for the year ahead. In the
implementation section, you focus on the practical areas of who, where, when
and how.

The key task is to take each objective and lay out the steps you intend to
take to reach it. If your objective is to build a bowling alley in Anytown, USA,
you have to put together concrete goals to make it happen.

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47


Whether done well or poorly, business activity always costs money. Your
marketing plan needs to have a section in which you allocate budgets for each
activity planned. This information should be in writing with the individual
carrying overall program responsibility. People responsible for portions of the
marketing activity should know exactly what funds are available to them. In
fact, you would be wise to involve them in planning those budgets.

Be as objective as you can about those costs you can anticipate. For things
with which you have no budget experience, add 25 percent to your best
estimate. Your budget should allocate separate accounting for internal hours
(staff time) and external costs (out-of-pocket expenses). Make sure to enter
the budget on a Lotus or Excel spreadsheet so you can manipulate it during
construction to see which variant works best.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 51

Your budget section might look something like this:

Gross sales $142,000

Budget for annual marketing efforts $7,045
Yellow Pages $2,600
Sales letter mailing to prospects $625
Clerical help on mailing list $125
Advertising in local business magazine $500
Advertising in newspaper business section $1,200
Brochure design and copywriting $380
Brochure printing $315
Registration for business exhibitions $145
Attend training session $930
Purchase new mailing label software $225

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47

Controls: Tracking Effectiveness

To track progress on your marketing plan throughout the year, establish a

regular schedule of meetings and spell this out in writing. How will you make
adjustments to your plan midstream? How will you monitor progress in
sales/costs to make changes during the year? You can't leave yourself
without this capability.

The reason you pick measurable marketing objectives is to have the ability to
track your progress toward reaching them. Too many marketing efforts
aren't quantifiable, with the result that the achievements of your marketing
campaigns aren't satisfactory, or they're just plain illusory.

All your marketing efforts will benefit from the classic feedback loop: Act,
observe, adjust and act again. Scheduling quarterly meetings is best. At
these meetings, responsible individuals should report on what they've
accomplished in the last quarter, including how much of the budget has been
spent. Reports should be verbal, with a printed summary for the record.

As your bowling alley business activity moves forward over time, you'll
doubtless find the need to adjust the timing, the budget or the tasks
themselves. At these points you must decide whether to intensify your
efforts, add more tactical steps to pick up the pace or scale back your
objectives. Make your changes in an organized manner, adjusting all the
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 52

dependent tasks so that the plan shifts as a whole. Whatever your decision,
make sure to update your marketing plan document. Put in writing your
understanding of why you didn't reach your goals. Keep the original and date
and number all changes. Your plan must be dynamic, but it shouldn't lose its
sense of history. All this information will be extremely useful when you create
next year's marketing plan.

Marketing isn't a science, but it is a skill in which you can make steady
incremental improvement.

Your effectiveness section might look like this:

A) Annual gross sales from the previous year $129,750

B) Marketing expenditures planned during the
current year
C) Anticipated impact of marketing expenditures
on gross sales
D) Actual marketing expenses during the
current year
E) Annual gross sales at the end of the current
F) Percentage of the actual difference between
this year's sales and last year's sales that can 60%
be fairly attributed to the marketing effort

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47

Executive Summary

Put a brief summary at the front of your marketing plan binder. On a single
page, sum up (with key financial numbers) in no more than a single page the
contents of your marketing plan. Use bullet points, short sentences and bold
type for major points, and stay focused on the big issues. What does
someone have to know about your plan to have any sense of it?

This summary gives plan readers a concise description of what your bowling
alley plans to do in the coming year.

Your plan must address two different time frames: the short-term (one to 12
months) and the long-term (over 12 months). Most of your document should
focus on the coming year, which is the most important for the majority of
small and medium-size businesses. Marketing typically demands the
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 53

performance of a number of short-term actions planned in unison, which

together bring about change. Once you've outlined the major year-end goals,
the analysis will largely focus on the mechanics of media, mailing and
promotion. But you shouldn't stop your serious thinking at year-end. Stretch
beyond your business's immediate needs and envision the next two or three
years. What are you ultimately reaching for?

Write this down, briefly and in general terms. Questions you might answer
could include: How many employees do you envision adding over the next
few years? Will your need for office space stay the same? Will there be
major equipment purchases? Will you be able to hire a manager? Are there
specific training courses or certifications you'd like to put your staff through?
Does a manufacturer or one of your wholesales offer special product training?
Will your profit margin stay constant or do you think you'll be able to better
it? Will you become active in local, regional or national trade groups? How
will the market demographics affect your business in the coming years? Keep
track of how your larger vision changes over time as well.

(Return to Market Plan Parts) on page 47

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 54

Chapter Three


A good record keeping system should be simple to use, easy to understand,

reliable, accurate, consistent, and designed to provide information on a timely
basis. The legal requirements concerning financial records specify only that
they be a permanent, accurate and complete record of your daily income and
expenses. There are many types of record books and bookkeeping systems
available. For example:

• double entry bookkeeping; on page 54

• commercial bookkeeping systems; on page 54
• one-write systems; on page 54
• computerized systems; on page 54
• single entry bookkeeping. on page 54

Double Entry Bookkeeping Systems - this is the system taught in most high
school and college bookkeeping and accounting classes. Each transaction is
recorded twice, one account is credited with the given dollar amount and a
second account is debited by an equal dollar amount. This is an excellent
system. But often formal training and practice will be needed to understand
and master it.

Commercial Bookkeeping Systems - these are available through stationery

outlets and are usually a package system with instructions and forms to use.

One-Write Systems - these are copyrighted systems that are set up using
carbon-backed checks. As you write the information on a check, it also
transfers the data to a record system.

Computerized Systems - there are several excellent programs available.

These programs offer the speed and capacity of computers as well as the
ability to produce daily updated financial statements. One should be careful,
however, that they are not buying expensive software programs or computer
equipment that has more capacity than they need. Most small businesses
grow into the need for a computerized system; usually as a means to control
larger volumes of inventory or transactions.

Single Entry Bookkeeping Systems - a single entry system means every dollar
transaction is recorded only once, either as income or expense, an asset or a
liability. All entries are recorded on a one page synoptic journal or also called
a revenue and expense journal. The system is simple, easily understood, and
thus requires little training.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 55

You should seek professional advice in this area. A good accounting

professional can advise you on the accounting system that is best for your
bowling alley.

Furnishings and Equipment

Before you open your bowling alley, you will need fixtures and furniture for
your bowling alley. For assistance in this area, you may get the advice of a
sales representative or consult trade publications and manufacturers' Web
sites. In addition to your office set up, you will need a design of your bowling
alley layout, tables and chairs, counters, and any concession stand equipment
you need if you plan on providing this service. List that equipment and its
cost to you. An important factor to consider when choosing equipment is the
after-sales service and repair and their affordability.

Used Equipment - Consider buying used equipment as a cost-saving measure.

Sources of used equipment could be bowling alley that is closing or dealers in
second-hand equipment. The drawback to this approach is that, often, there
are no guarantees with the purchase.

Leasing Equipment - Another alternative is to lease equipment to help keep

start-up costs down.

Cost Control

In the bowling alley business, you must have procedures for controlling
inventory and costs. Ask people in the industry for information about the
procedures for:

¾ Purchasing - Most of the time, purchasing is done over the telephone,

by fax, or online. Often no contract is signed between the purchaser
and the supplier; therefore, it is essential that you choose your
supplier carefully. You will have multiple suppliers supplying your
bowling alley. Each one will have different terms, conditions and
payment options.

Develop specifications on product brand names, size, quantity,

grade/weight, delivery time/place, emergency deliveries, availability
and policies for substitutes or damaged goods. Entertain bids from
multiple sources and get the best product for the lowest price. Use a
Purchasing and Receiving Form.

¾ Receiving – Check all deliveries against the Purchasing and Receiving

Form, focusing on three things: quantity, price and quality; packaging
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 56

should be intact. Make sure specifications are met. Careful recording

will show short shipments, price variations and weight differences.

¾ Budgeting and Projecting – Establish a cash budget and maintain cash

flow projections on a continual basis.

¾ Calculating Monthly Product Costs – Determine the actual cost of

products purchased wholesale and the actual cost of products sold.
This is a combination of opening inventories, purchases, adjustments
and closing inventories. This ratio should remain relatively constant.

Projecting Your Sales Potential

If you have completed your market analysis, you have completed your data
collection. You have analyzed industry trends, market area demographics,
economic statistics, competition, suitability of your location and your bowling
alley concept. You are now ready to estimate your sales potential based on
these factors. A key indicator of future sales performance is past sales
performance. Existing businesses can rely on their historical records for this
information. Prospective operators must look to comparable bowling alleys
for data on their past performance.

While there are no formulas for calculating your sales potential, your prior
research will help you make more informed and reasonable estimates. The
information that follows will help you estimate your sales potential.

1. Review Your Competitive Position

A review of your business’ relative strengths and weaknesses will help you to
determine your competitive position in the market area. Compare your
bowling alley operation with your competition using the criteria below. Be
sure to keep in mind your concept and the types of customers you hope to

Strength Weakness
Proximity to Customers
Traffic Volume
Service Quality
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 57

Franchise Affiliation
Hours of Operation

Financial Projection

Once you complete your market analysis, you will be better equipped to
developed realistic financial projections for your proposed bowling alley.
These projections will help you determine the financial feasibility of your
venture and should be constructed in the process of a complete business

Cash Control Systems

The industry averages show that between 2-4% of sales are lost to theft or
cash mishandling. You need systems to keep track of the money from the
time it leaves the customers hands until the time it is deposited in the bank.

Have a written cash/credit handling policy. Have forms that employees can
enter refunds given to customers and mistakes made. This form should have
the time, date and employees signature.

Limit access to the safe. The safe should be kept locked at all times. Most
safes have envelope size areas allowing money to be dropped in (drop safe).

Keep the opening and closing cash, used to make change for the customers,
the same all of the time. Make sure the money is counted at opening and
closing. Keep cash stores kept to a minimum.

Paid-outs entered on a form with time, date, signature and receipt stapled to
it. Paid-outs should be deducted from a petty cash fund if possible and not
from the daily deposits.

Do a cash drop for each shift. One person should be responsible for each
shift deposit. Have them enter a log with the amount of the deposit, total
sales for the day, date, time and signature. Also have them put this on the
envelope that is to be dropped into the safe.

Make bank deposits daily keeping each days deposit separate and attach the
bank deposit slips to daily cash reports
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 58

A key and safe combination access log should be maintained. Keys should be
numbered and a log should be kept with information on the person having the

Have written standard cash register procedures - what types of checks to be

taken and if it should be for the amount only, etc.

Use registers with a cumulative register reading - This is like an odometer on

a car, keeping a running total of the sales, coupons, etc. Incorporate theses
readings in the daily sales report.

Use a register that has the transaction visible to the cashier and the
customers. Secret shoppers take note of these transactions to make sure the
employees are not under-ringing sales.

Sales should always be rung up at time of the transaction and a cash receipt
should be given to the customer.

Cashiers should place customer's money on register ledge until the change is
made. This way if the customer says he gave a larger dollar amount, the
cashier has it right there to confirm it.

Cash registers should not be left unattended. Money should not be

exchanged from register to register if multiple registers are used.

Do a Z reading each day. This clears the register of the previous day’s sales.
This reading should be attached to the daily cash report.

Follow up on your banks deposits to make sure your money has been credited
to you account. Go through your bank statements line by line and check to
see that no deposits are missing and each one is entered accurately. Banks
do make mistakes.

Employee Theft

It has been estimated that about $52 billion a year is lost due to employee
theft and that approximately 95% of all businesses experience employee
theft. So, what are the symptoms and what can you do to protect your
business? Watch for these signals from your employees.

Early Warning Signals of Internal Dishonesty

Signals from Personal Behavior

1. Inconsistencies by a staff member explaining discrepancies or errors.

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 59

2. Bad temper or unpleasant behavior that tends to discourage questions.

3. Warning signs of substance abuse. An employee with a substance abuse
problem will need extra money to finance a habit.
4. Habitual borrowing of store money or property without permission.
5. Expensive habits (drinking, extra marital affair, etc.)
6. Spending more money than earned or what salary can support.
7. Disgruntled, belligerent attitude, complaining about management or job to
8. Admission of theft from prior employer.
9. Concealed family relationships or cohabitation among employees.

Signals from Employee Activities:

1. Secretive conversations among employees, phone conversations that stop

abruptly when you approach. Any one engaged in sending or receiving
cryptic messages.
2. Excessive loitering of around your business of off duty employees, ex-
employees or friends.
3. Frequent "shortcuts" in security procedures to expedite deliveries. Rapid
checking in of some deliveries while others take much longer for no legitimate
4. Bringing large shopping bags or wearing unusually loose clothing to work
5. Attempting to distract or hold the attention of a supervisor for no good
reason while another employee is in the work area or signaling by hand
gestures, whistling, etc. when a supervisor approaches.
6. Repeated violations of such security regulations as use of unauthorized
exits or keeping personal packages in the work area. Finding an employee in
an area he/she has no legitimate business in.
7. Signing another employee's name or signing illegibly on invoices or packing
8. Habitually returning to the work area after others have left to retrieve
something left behind.
9. Complaints by employees or customers that personal effects are being lost
or stolen.
10. Frequent cash shortages on the same employee's shift. An unusual
eagerness to "make up" the shortages rather than relinquish cash handling
11. Frequent cash overages on the same employee's shift. This may indicate
that an employee is stealing cash at the register but not "light ringing" sales
enough to totally cover it.
12. Unusually high number of "no sale" transactions registered on any one
13. Excessive undocumented voids on any one shift or voids left unrecorded
until the end of an employee's shift.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 60

14. Numerous receipt slips held by an employee until the end of a shift or
notes found in the trash indicating that the employee was keeping a secret
count of transactions.
15. Unusually low sales factor on any one shift (shift sales divided by number
of items sold).
16. Make excuses for theft. Employees who steal, rather than believing theft
is wrong, may condone the acts of dishonest employees as, "It's no big deal.
It was only a few bucks."
17. Employees who violate bowling alley policies and procedures should be
18. Overzealous work habits. Employees who work through their lunch
breaks, seldom take a breather and never ask for time off may be running a
game with the cash register. Also, employees who refuse to go on vacation
may be afraid that their substitute will discover their dishonesty.

Signals from Customers and Outsiders

1. Frequent customer complaints of shortages or substitutions in orders.

2. Unusually large or frequent credits or refunds by one employee.
3. Anonymous phone calls or letters concerning theft.
4. Unusually friendly relationships or loyalty between employees and
5. Any customer who insists that only a certain employee handle their sale.
6. Gifts or favors given to an employee from suppliers or customers.
7. Presence of delivery drivers, repairmen, etc. in restricted areas.
8. Frequent hang-up phone calls to a substitute employee working a shift
normally handled solely by another employee.
9. Customers who visit your business an unusual number of times daily or
who loiter in your business for an excessive amount of time.
10. Customers who meet with employees regularly at unusual times, such as
at closing.

What You Can Do:

You can inform employees about internal security measures, e.g., surveillance
and inventory checks, and the likelihood and consequences of being caught
stealing. Many employees steal because they think they can easily get away
with it. Limit employee access to the building to the hours that they are
scheduled to work.

(1) Cash Control

Provide a receipt for every transaction. Encourage customers to expect a

receipt by posting signs at each register.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 61

Put one employee in charge of setting up cash drawers. Have another double-
check the cash count. Make each employee responsible for his/her own cash
drawer. Issue one cash drawer per on-duty employee. No other employee
should at any time (during lunch, breaks, etc.) be allowed to open or use
another's cash drawer. At the end of each shift each cash drawer should be
balanced by the employee and double-checked by another.

Require that the cash register drawer be closed after each transaction. Never
leave a register unlocked when not attended. And never leave the register
key with a register. Identify each over-ring and under-ring. Managers should
sign off all voids and over-rings. Check signatures against those on file.

Limit the amount of accumulated cash in any register. Use a drop-safe.

Check cash-to-sale ratios. These, along with unusually frequent refund
transactions, can indicate employee theft.

Keep tendered bills on the register until the transaction is concluded. Short-
change artists frequently use large bills to pay

Conduct only one transaction at a time. Do not be intimidated into rushing.

Check for counterfeit currency. The look of the paper and its "feel" are
usually the most obvious signs. A common counterfeiting practice is to "cut
corners" off large bills and affix them to small-denomination bills.
Inexpensive devices are available to aid detection of counterfeit bills.

(2) Get Your Employees Involved - Offer rewards to employees who report
theft. Ask your staff for their suggestions on how to eliminate theft.

(3) Employee Background Checks - Contact previous employers to find out if

this person has a theft problem before you hire. When employees are not
screened properly, you spend more time and money training new employees
to replace dishonest ones.

(4) Secret Shoppers: Secret shoppers or mystery shoppers pose as

customers and watch employee behavior and situations that owners can't
always observe. Secret shoppers are trained to look at how customers are
treated, the type of service provided, efficiency, honesty, sales techniques as
well as misbehavior.

Secret shoppers go to your bowling alley, observe employees and customer

service. They gather information, which may take several visits, record their
observations and rate your employees.

They look for speed of service, friendliness, suggestive selling, whether the
sales were rung up properly, and the bowling alley and employee cleanliness.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 62

You can use these reports for training and rewarding employees for
performance. Recognizing employees who perform will motivate other
employees to improve.

Develop or buy "secret shopper forms" that include these areas: bowling alley
appearance, friendliness, knowledge, helpfulness, efficiency of the service,
suggestive selling and honesty.

Have your bowling alley secret shopped several times so you can look for
trends, loopholes, and areas needing improvement. Most secret shoppers
charge between $20 - 40 an hour. To locate a secret shopper service, look in
the Yellow Pages under shopping, market research, market analysis, market
consultants, or sales training. Check with your local chamber of commerce or
university marketing programs.

Let your staff know that you plan to use a secret shopper. Some bowling alley
owners will have the secret shopper hand the employee money such as a $20
bill when they meet a certain criteria, giving an instant reward.

(5) Survey Cards: Give your customers a short survey card to complete or
place one on your web site for customers to fill out. Offer recognition and
rewards to employees who consistently provide exceptional customer service.

(6) Video Surveillance: Often just installing cameras will cause employees to
think twice before stealing. But in order for them to be effective, you need to
let your employees know you check these by offering them feedback (Positive
or Negative) based on their job performance by viewing these videos with

(7) Cash in Sheets: Have employees do a cash in sheet for every shift. This
would be a control sheet where the employee would take the gross sales,
subtract paid outs, adjustments and credit sales (adjusted gross sales).
Count down the cash drawer, leaving the change fund amount (usually
$100.00). Subtract this from the adjusted gross sales and this will give you
your over and shorts. This should always be within 90 cents. Too much
money could mean a customer was short-changed and being short money
could mean a customer was given too much change or possibly employee
theft. Have them place the money in an envelope, date and sign it and place
it in the safe.

Keeping the cash register drawers low in cash also helps to deter would be
robbers. When they see only a small amount of cash in the register, they are
less likely to take the risk of getting caught and going to jail.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 63

(8) Do a Product Inventory and Usage Sheet: Conduct inventories often and
at irregular intervals. Also make routine spot checks. Inspect records of
purchases and sales at the beginning and end of each shift. Define individual
employee responsibilities for inventory control. This establishes a climate of

Post signs to indicate areas that are open to the public and those that are for
employees only. Install locks on all doors to interior work areas to control
public and employee access. Doors to storage and supply rooms, and
individual offices should be locked to limit access

(9) Trash Control: Keep trash dumpsters inside during business hours.
Check bins at random times for pilfered goods that might have been placed in
them for pick-up after the trash is taken out. Use clear plastic trash bags.
Inspect contents for pilfered goods. Keep lids of outside trash dumpsters
locked during non-business hours. If practical, keep the lids locked whenever
the dumpsters are not being filled or emptied. Have employees work in pairs
in emptying trash. Or have different employees empty the trash from day to

If You Suspect Theft

Despite your best efforts, dishonest employees can find ways to steal. If you
suspect theft, call your local police department. Don't play detective and try
to solve the crime. And do not jump to unwarranted conclusions. A false
accusation could result in serious civil liability.

How You Can Protect Yourself from Counterfeit Money

You can buy a counter detection pen, which is easy to use and requires no
training. A clerk at a cash register uses the detector pen to put a small mark
on the bill. If the bill is counterfeit and the paper is wood-based, the iodine in
the pen solution will react with the starch and leave a dark brown or black
mark. If the bill is authentic and the paper is fiber-based, there won't be any
starch and the pen will not leave a mark. A detector pen costs between 5-10
dollars and can screen up to 3,000 bills.

Another option is a scanner used to check each bill, but this may tie up lines
and your customer service may suffer. To find out how these scanners work,
you can go to the following website for more information:

For more information regarding counterfeit money, go to the Secret Service

Web Site at the following link:
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 64

Bad Checks

How to Handle Bounced Checks:

1) Send it through the bank a second time.

2) Try to contact the check writer and give a time limit on payment.
3) Sign a complaint at the City Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor’s Office
will handle it from here.

Any bad check in excess of $200.00 is considered to be a felony offense.

Several checks written within a 90 day period that total over $200 may
constitute a felony.

It is easy to get a fictitious name and identification, allowing criminals to open

bank accounts and obtain credit cards. Training your employees how to
accept checks to be alert to some common signs is your first line of defense.

• Always ask for an ID (A driver’s license is best) and compare

the photo and signatures.
• Ask for a date of birth.
• Do not accept a two party check.
• Look for low numbered checks – A lot of bad checks are
numbered below 200.
• If only a P.O. Box is listed on the check, ask for a residential
• Make sure written and numerical amounts agree.
• Make sure check is dated same day you receive it.
• Post check limits.
• Poor print quality of the check. (Counterfeit checks sometimes
have poor print quality).
• Signature that goes beyond the signature line (the forger has
limited experience writing someone else's name and the
signature will often extend past the signature line).
• Legitimate checks should have one perforated edge.

If you have received a check you think is a forgery, take it to the Police
Department. All forged checks are felonies, even if the amount is under $200.

Credit Card Fraud

Never accept a credit card which is broken, cut, damaged, or expired. Witness
the signing of the sales draft. Ask for supporting identification and compare
signatures and/or photos.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 65

Train employees to check for:

• Holograms badly faked with tiny bits of aluminum foil.
• Misspellings on the card.
• Alterations on the signature panel.
• Discolored, glued or painted cards.
• Cards that appear to have been flattened and re-stamped with
different numbers
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 66

Chapter Four

Information Pertaining to Employees

I. Position Your Image

Before you find, hire and train your bowling alley employees, you need to
have a plan. It should start by determining and positioning your image.
Decide what you want your bowling alley to be “known as.”

What type of image do you want to present to your customers? What is your
theme? What message do you want to convey? Are you going to provide
nametags or smocks? Are they all going to be wearing uniforms? When your
employee has on a uniform or a nametag, it makes them approachable. Your
customers need to feel that they can turn to your employees with questions
and concerns. Your customers are the life-blood of your business, so your
employees need to be your first line of defense. Your employees need to be
you when you aren’t in the business.

II. Planning

The second step is planning. You need to start by developing an employee

job description. Your employees need to be an extension of you, so planning
is very important. How many employees are you going to hire? Are they
going to be full-time or part-time employees? Are you going to have
employees throughout the entire day or just at peak periods of time? How
much are you going to pay them? Do you want them to be bilingual? Will
they all be employees or will they be independent contractors? These are all
areas you need to examine.

III. The Hiring Process

The third step is the hiring process. This starts with your advertising. Are
you going to run a help wanted ad in the newspaper? Decide where you are
going to advertise, how long you are going to advertise, and what types of
advertising you are going to choose. It may be as simple as hanging a
banner in your store, capitalizing on word-of-mouth advertising, or putting
flyers on cars.

After you have collected the applications, you can now start the pre-screening
process. Things to look for on the application include: completeness of the
form, work experience, reasons for leaving their last position, and their
availability to work and other work employment. When pre-screening, it is a
good idea to hire someone from within the area. It is okay to hire customers
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 67

as well. These people are going to know the area and the people coming into
your bowling alley.

Perform a reference check on each potential employee. Make a few phone

calls to see if your interviewee is credible. Ask four or five basic questions
and then listen for a negative or hesitant response. Next, plan the interview

Put the interviewee at ease during the interview process. Start by explaining
the interview process. Describe the job and ask them questions about items
on their application.

There are some questions you can’t ask. Unacceptable inquiries include:
How old are you? Have you been arrested, convicted or spent time in jail?
Do you have children under 18? Do you plan to have children? Acceptable
inquiries include: Verification of age, for legal reasons, request for felony
conviction (if you indicate that such a conviction is not an automatic barrier to
employment). You can also inquire as to what languages the applicant
speaks fluently, but only if the qualification is job related.

When you are asking questions, make sure you listen twice as much as you
talk. Get the interviewees talking about themselves so you can find out if
they will be a good match in your bowling alley. In closing, invite questions
from the applicant.

IV. Training

The fourth step is proper training for the employees. The training process
should begin with industry education. Most people don’t know a lot about the
bowling alley business. You need to help them with the terms and
vocabulary. If your employees aren’t doing what you would like them to be
doing, it is because you didn’t train them properly.

In the training process, describe to your employees what constitutes an

emergency. If there is a physical injury, what steps should they take? Are
you the first one they call? Have forms ready and emergency numbers
posted to assure they will handle the situation correctly. If there is a power
outage or a water problem, do they call you or the repair man? Your
employees need to become your eyes and ears when you are not present in
your bowling alley.

Dealing with complaints is a touchy subject. If your employees are properly

trained, they can handle some of the complaints for you. If there is a
complaint they can’t handle, have them document the complaint. It is also a
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 68

good idea to have a number posted that customers can call if they have a

The most important part of training falls under the employee’s job
description. If your employee works a seven hour shift, they need to be
working all seven hours. Clearly state the employee’s responsibilities. Have
a bowling alley inspection checklist with a daily report form. It is a good idea
to have an employee walk to the exterior and the interior of your building
daily. Have them check the parking lot, the sidewalk and check for trash.
Have a checklist for them when they are reviewing the interior.

Is everything clean and in working condition? Visually, do the aisles look

clean? If they run out of any supplies you should have a form that they can
leave for you so you know when to re-order items. When you walk into the
bowling alley, are they always busy doing something?

An employee’s responsibility list should include these items: Assisting

customers with their shopping, emptying trash cans, sweeping floors,
removing larger debris from the floor, refilling empty retail product space,
clearing carts from aisles, cleaning countertops, folding tables, checking
facilities for graffiti, and moping floors when needed.

Other daily items include: Sweeping the parking lot, cleaning the restrooms,
scrubbing the floor tiles, and washing the windows.

V. How to Keep Your Employees

The last step is learning how to keep your employees. If your employees are
properly trained, they will take pride in their job. Help your employees learn
and they will help your bowling alley business grow.
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 69

Chapter Five


Bowling This Month Magazine

Bowling This Month is the technical magazine for high average bowlers.

Bowling Center Management

Bowling Center Management, the official publication of the Bowling
Proprietors' Association of America, is the only magazine written and edited
solely for the benefit of bowling center operators.

International Bowling Industry

Monthly publication focused on every facet of the bowling business.

Trade Shows

East Coast Bowling Centers Convention


Great Lakes International Bowling Showcase

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 70

Chapter Six

National Bowling Associations

National Bowling Association

9944 Reading Road, Evendale, Ohio 45241-3106
513 769-1985

American Bowling Congress

(United States Bowling Congress)
5301 South 76th Street, Greendale, Wisconsin 53129
1-800-514-BOWL (2695)

Bowling Proprietors Association of America

615 Six Flags Dr., Arlington, TX 76011
800.343.1329 Fax: 817.633.2940

Professional Bowlers Association (PBA)

719 Second Avenue, Suite 701, Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 332-9688 Fax: (206) 654-6030
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 71

Chapter Seven

Government and State Websites

United States Government - http://www.firstgov.gov/

Individual US state websites

Alabama Alaska
http://www.alabama.gov http://www.state.ak.us
Arizona Arkansas
http://www.az.gov http://www.state.ar.us/
California Colorado
http://www.ca.gov http://www.colorado.gov
Connecticut Delaware
http://www.ct.gov http://www.delaware.gov
Florida Georgia
http://www.myflorida.com http://www.georgia.gov
Hawaii Idaho
www.ehawaiigov.org http://www.accessidaho.org
Illinois Indiana
http://www.illinois.gov http://www.state.in.us
Iowa Kansas
http://www.iowa.gov http://www.accesskansas.org
Kentucky Louisiana
www.ky.gov http://www.state.la.us
Maine Massachusetts
http://www.state.me.us http://www.mass.gov
Maryland Michigan
http://www.maryland.gov http://www.michigan.gov
Minnesota Mississippi
www.governor.state.mn.us http://www.mississippi.gov
Missouri Montana
http://www.state.mo.us http://www.state.mt.us
Nebraska Nevada
http://www.nebraska.gov http://www.nv.gov
New Hampshire New Jersey
http://www.state.nh.us http://www.state.nj.us
New Mexico New York
http://www.state.nm.us http://www.state.ny.us
North Carolina North Dakota
http://www.ncgov.com http://discovernd.com
Ohio Oklahoma
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 72

http://www.state.oh.us http://www.ok.gov
Oregon Pennsylvania
http://www.oregon.gov/ http://www.pa.gov
Rhode Island South Carolina
http://www.state.ri.us http://www.myscgov.com
South Dakota Tennessee
http://www.state.sd.us http://www.state.tn.us
Texas Utah
http://www.state.tx.us http://www.utah.gov
Vermont Virginia
http://vermont.gov http://www.virginia.gov
Washington West Virginia
http://access.wa.gov/ http://www.wv.gov/
Wisconsin Wyoming
http://www.wisconsin.gov http://wyoming.gov/
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 73


Customer Acquisition. See

A Customers
Accessibility. Also See Location
Customer Development
Accounting, 54
Program, 31
Cash Control Systems, 57
Developing Customers, 30
Commercial Bookkeeping
Developing New Accounts, 30
Systems, 54
Computerized Systems, 54
Cost Control, 55
Double Entry Bookkeeping Demographic Survey. See
Systems, 54 Marketing
One-Write Systems, 54 Demographics Now, 13
Projecting Sales Potential, 56
Projecting Your Sales Potential, E
Employee Theft, 58, Also See
Single Entry Bookkeeping
Systems, 54
Cash Control, 60
Advertising. See Marketing
Cash in Sheets, 62
Advertising Budget. See Marketing
Early Warning Signals, 58
Angel Investors, 14
Product Inventory, 63
Signals from Customers and
Outsiders, 60
Bookkeeping. See Accounting Signals from Employee
Business Plan, 11 Activities, 59
Signals from Personal Behavior,
C 58
Survey Cards, 62
Trash Control, 63
Fire Certificates, 28
Video Surveillace, 62
Choosing. See Location
Claritas, 13
Background Checks, 61
Competition, 43
Hiring Process, 66
Competition Checklist, 44
Image, 66
Competitive Analysis. See
Keeping, 68
Planning, 66
Computer Software, 32
Training, 67
Center Operations, 35
Equipment, 55
Retail, 32
Concept, 46
Refinement and Evaluation, 46
Condition. Also See Location FedStats, 13
Financing, 14
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 74

Financing Tips, 15 Competitive Analysis, 13

Furnishings, 55 Demographic Characteristics, 43
Demographic Survey, 12
I Economic Characteristics, 43
Geographic Market Area, 42
Insurance, 36
Location, 44
Basic Insurance, 37
Market Area Checklist, 42
Internet. See Website
Target Market Analysis, 13
Marketing Plan, 46
Budgets, 50
Landlord. See Location Controls, 51
Layout. See Store Executive Summary, 52
Leases. See Location Goals, 49
Legalname.com. See Name: Market Situation, 48
Resources Objectives, 49
Licenses, 27, 28 Threats and Opportunities, 48
Business Licenses, 28 Writing, 47
Business licensing, 27 Merchants Associations. See
Music License, 28 Location
Obtain Business Licenses, 29
Local Market Area, 42, Also See N
Registering, 15
Characteristics of a Good
Resources, 16
Location, 21
National Bowling Associations, 70
Choosing, 16
Niten Research Corporation. See
Landlord, 18
Name: Resources
Leases, 19
Location Checklist, 45
Merchants Associations, 17
Price, 22 Parking. Also See Location
Zoning and Planning, 19 Permits, 27, 29
Building Permits, 29
M Police Permit, 29
Sellers Permit, 29
Mahtta Trademark Company. See
Sign Permit, 28
Name: Resources
Zoning Permits, 29
Mark Monitor. See Name:
PopNet, 13
Market Analysis, 39
Combination Pricing, 27
Market Analysis Components, 41
Competitive Pricing, 27
Market Demand, 41, See Marketing
Factoring Method Pricing, 27
Gross Margin Pricing, 27
Advertising, 37
Guidelines to Establishing, 24
Advertising Budget, 38
Price Level Strategy, 26
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 75

Pricing Policies, 26 T
Prime Cost Pricing, 27
Target Market Analysis. See
Publications, 69
Thomas Register. See Name:
Registering. See Name Trade Shows, 69
Regulations, 27, 29 Traffic. Also See Location
Municipal Government, 27
Retail Compatibility. See Location U
United States Bureau of Labor
Statistics, 13
Sales US Census Bureau, 13
Bad Checks, 64 US Patent Office. See Name:
Counterfeit Money, 63 Resources
Credit Card Fraud, 64
Secret Shoppers, 61, Also See V
Employee Theft
Visibility. Also See Location
Signs, 37
Size. Also See Location
Small Business Association, 14
Store. Also See Location Website, 37
Accessibility, 22 Websites
Condition, 22 Government, 71
Design, 22 State, 71
Layout, 22
Parking, 21 Z
Size, 22
Zoning. See Location
Traffic, 21
Visibility, 21
Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 76

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 77

Start Your Own Bowling Alley! 78