This morning I had to take my old jeep for its MOT.
We live in the countryside in upland Perthshire and it’s about a 10 mile drive to the garage in the nearest town, which in its heyday was a thriving market town and more recently a busy tourist destination.
Incidentally the town had two bowling clubs until recently, but sadly the public, council operated green has now closed.
This is in keeping with the town’s fortunes generally.
The arrangement was for my wife to pick me up from the garage, but somehow we got our wires crossed and I was left with enough time to have a coffee from the local shop and a leisurely walk through the town.
Its funny but when you’re driving you don’t see the finer details or get a feel for what’s really going on in a place.
The site I saw was quite a sorry one; I counted 5 charity shops and lost count of the fast food outlets.
Both large hotels in the main street are closed and have been for sale for quite a while.
Anyway to cut a long story short, although this is depressing news, the garage was very busy, there is a great local butcher, a fish monger and a green grocer; all of the things that we are apparently losing from the high street, so that shows a good level of support from the local community when it comes to making choices about shopping.
However, there were also lots of small businesses, but at 9.30 they still hadn’t opened up for business and in a lot of the windows there were sale signs declaring all sorts of buy one get one free offers and cut price this and bargain that!
I was really struggling to see how any of these people were making enough money to stay afloat for any length of time, especially since I couldn’t have snapped up any of these great offers even if I had wanted to; because they weren’t open yet! Maybe they were trying to save electricity!
OK-to the point: What has all of this got to do with Bowling Clubs?
These businesses were all taking part in what I like to think of as “the race to the bottom”.
The only survivors in such a race are the big boys, because they can go lower than everybody else.
Does low price build loyalty from clients, members and user groups…NO.
People who are shopping for the best price are just going to move along to the next cheap deal and probably can’t afford what you’ve got in the first place if they are honest with themselves.
Niche businesses that focus on quality, service and a great customer experience won’t appeal to everyone, but the people that are attracted to them will be loyal, spend more in each transaction and refer more friends and family members to use the business also.
In your quest to ensure the survival and financial turnaround of your bowling club, don’t join the race to the bottom; there is no surer way to business failure.
And yes, the future of your club relies on a change of thinking; a change that will see your club behave more like a profitable business, at least in the background.
Developing a clear strategy that delivers a quality experience to a wide range of users will be the best way to a bright future for most clubs.
If you want to get into a race, at least make it the race to the top!