The Original Bowling Company (TOBC) is an umbrella that unites the brands AMF Bowling and Hollywood Bowl. Formed in 2010 the business is the UK’s largest tenpin bowling operator. Significant changes in the operating environment such as a rising cost base and falling revenues underlie much of the M&A activity seen in recent years; many of today’s consolidated businesses seek to exploit economies of scale. From its 25 Hollywood Bowl and 19 AMF Bowling centres, The Original Bowling Company aims to provide the UK’s Number One tenpin bowling experience and deliver it consistently across every one of its venues.
- Sustainable and profitable growth through integrated CRM strategy
- Helping raise total revenues by 7% and increase YOY revenue by 7%
- Database size doubled, with revenue growing in line with database growth
- EBITDA increased 18%
Defying gravity in a falling market
Meeting targets and maintaining growth is tough in a climate where consumer disposable income and corporate budgeting for leisure activities is under severe pressure. With some operators reporting revenues down 16% YOY, the sector is highly reactive, and competition for a slice of the dwindling leisure pie is fierce. With the bowling market forecasted to fall, it is simply not enough to consolidate and optimise the efficiency of business operations and rely on normal patterns of leisure consumption to generate growth.
For many customers bowling seems to be an occasional activity. Although 9 out of 10 people ‘love bowling’, and the UK’s changeable weather often provides a good reason to go, the average customer attends only 1.1 times per year; attendance can only be characterised as unpredictable and irregular.
To increase new attendances and boost the return visit rate, the business recognised it needed to encourage greater customer engagement with the brand. In order to achieve this, TOBC decided it needed to innovate in its sales process, CRM and technology by moving away from an operator focused system.
Green 4 Leisure is an industry leading single platform venue solution that enables The Original Bowling Company to innovate in its sales and booking process, CRM and eCommunications. The solution was selected after TOBC’s extensive research
revealed it was the only customer focused system in the marketplace. Revenue is maximised through allowing the business to understand the habits and behaviour of customers. Green 4 Leisure provides the functionality to manage and automate email campaigns, boosting attendance, increasing spending and promoting brand loyalty.
To meet its business objectives of sustainable and profitable growth, the business anchored its strategy to the fact that there are much lower costs for retaining customers than there are for acquiring new ones. To increase the average number of visits per year, repeat visits are encouraged by offering 33% discounts to customers immediately booking again; discounts of 25% and 10% are offered at further intervals after the initial visit if a re-booking is not made.
Sustainable and profitable growth
The economic outlook continues to present difficulties for many in the leisure sector; however The Original Bowling Company is bucking the trend of declining profitability and obtaining the growth that eludes others.
Director, Steve Burns, comments: "We have been delighted with the service we have received from the team at Green 4. From concept through to delivery and on-going support, the team exceeded our expectation and deadlines, delivering a top class product that is focused on the commercial and service orientated goals of our company.”
With all of its data accessible from the central CRM database, TOBC accurately measures ROI and determines the value it derives from its integrated CRM strategy. The Original Bowling Company reported total revenue up 5% in the 6 months to March 2012, and further interim financial performance reports indicate total revenue is now increased to 7%. The business could be said to be outperforming the market, as this comes at a time when other operators report significant falls in revenue and have sought to structure debt repayments and ward off insolvency.
“We have a business that interacts with 12.5 million customers a year and have seen an almost immediate return on our investment. With Green 4’s help, we are evolving the relationship with our customers to keep ourselves competitive and at the cutting edge in the leisure marketplace," says Steve Burns.