Archive for the ‘Sales Ideas’ Category

IAAPA Benchmark: Despite Diversity There IS Much to Be Learned from Fellow FECs

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IAAPA has just published our new IAAPA FEC Benchmark Report. The report is based on FY 2016 data and covers demographics, admissions, attractions information, guests, parking, and financial such as pricing. The results are broken out by FEC location, attendance, and type (indoor, outdoor, mixed). The report concentrates on metrics you can use when reviewing your own operations.

As expected, our results show a very diverse marketplace. We found that 42% were pay-as-you-go, 41% were pay-as-you-go with some attractions ticketed separate, and the rest (15%) were pay-one-price. When looking at type the two largest respondent types were indoor/outdoor FECs at 39% and 36% identified as all indoor FECs. 45% of respondents are from single FECs, but the average number of facilities owned is 4.5 showing many FECs are part of a large company.

All the complexity in the market can make it difficult to compare facilities. One of the metrics we found effective for comparison across all facilities was pricing. We asked for typical pricing for a series of activities at FECs. We found the average pricing for individual activities was between $5 and $8 with a bumper boat ride the lowest average at $5.81 and an hour of a ropes course being the highest at $7.64. The two most common activities were one game of miniature golf and a single laser tag game, which averaged $6.63 and $7.36, respectively.

We asked about which individual activities generated the most revenue based on a list of the top 28 activities found at FECs. Arcade games, laser tag, outdoor miniature golf, and go-karts generated the most revenue for the FECs surveyed. We also found that birthday parties remain the most lucrative special events.

Staffing is another common metric for all FECs despite any size, activities, or format differences. All FECs struggle with staffing and we found facilities are seeing only a 50% retention rate on an annual basis on average. The average age for all employees is 25.7 years with 65% of employees between 18 and 30 years old. The facilities with a smaller staff tend to have a higher ratio of full-time employees to part-time compared to facilities with a larger staff. Staffing is also a large investment for FECs with payroll being the largest expense for FECs averaging 33% of total expenses. FECs also reported 1% of expenses going towards training of staff on average

Guest demographics are very important to successful marketing and for planning market expansion. We asked FEC a few key questions about their guests. On average, the respondent’s guests come from 25.6 miles away with most coming from under 10 miles away. The average length of guest visit is 2.7 hours, the average guest age is 20 years, and guests visit 2.8 times a year.

There is much more detail about the metrics covered in this overview and about other metrics in the report. The report is available to IAAPA members as part of their membership and non-members can purchase it. More information is available at Or email with any research questions.

Coaching Leads to Success

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This week has been an amazing leadership week for me. Do you ever have weeks where you think, “I got this!”? Yeah, they do happen, and I know there are times where we just feel like we are failing at everything. I’ve felt both the winning and failing this week and the week isn’t even over!

This past Sunday a friend and I got into a wonderful conversation about work. He has been with his company for the past year and recently was transferred to another department. During training, he felt like his trainer was going a million miles a minute and he was trying to capture everything she said. For the most part, he felt pretty confident until she popped by to see if he could do it on his own.

With the pressure standing over his shoulder, he felt paralyzed and made a couple of mistakes. What happened next is where I saw the difference between a great trainer and coach and one who will not be the next person to help someone succeed. She asked him if he took good enough notes.

As a training company, we realize people are going to make mistakes, especially in the days just after training. When a team member isn’t doing well, we take a step back and look to see how we failed in the training process and then coach them on how to do it correctly and be more confident for the future.

His next statement made me realize how important it is to have a trainer and coach. He told me he wants to know what he is doing wrong, how to improve, and what he can do to move up but is scared to ask because he doesn’t want to seem incompetent. Then he hit me with this, “I should know how to do so many things because I learned them in my days as a baseball player but it seems like I can’t implement any of them.”

That’s when it clicked for me. I asked him, “What is the difference between when you played sports and working now? You had a coach to guide you and teach you.”

I’ve written about this many times before. I have spent most of my adult life looking for a mentor or coach. So many of the most successful people in the world have a mentor or coach to guide them and that is why as leaders it’s important for us to take on that mentoring, training, and coaching our team members to be successful.

Imagine if, from day one, my friend’s supervisor went to him and said, “We are excited to have you on the team. We want to make sure you succeed. When you succeed, our team succeeds. I’m here to be your leader and coach.”

Having a coach has been such an amazing blessing for us at Trainertainment. Every week our coach Nancy has an amazing and important part in coaching us leaders about how to run the company. She always asks all the hard and right questions for us to succeed.

Part of what got me riled up during our conversation was that this is what we do! We coach owners, managers, supervisors, leadership teams, and sales team about how to grow their people through coaching and training. I believe every business has the potential to be successful and, with the right coach, I think even more can be extraordinary! Are you ready to become extraordinary? Call us and we will help you get on the path to success.

5 Tips to Grow Group Sales

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We would all like to grow our group sales and see them become 20% of our center sales. Sometimes, we don’t even know where to start. Sales can feel very overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. This week our team put together our top tips for growing group sales.

Have a Sales Champion

There is nothing more important to growing group sales than a dedicated sales champion. A sales champion inspires the whole center to be the best to keep guests coming back time and time for events. Imagine calling your food purveyor to inquire about a new product. How would you feel getting someone on the phone who doesn’t know what they are selling and couldn’t answer your questions? Even worse, what if no one ever answered the phone?As a parent, when I call to book events for my kids, I am looking for a few things.

  1. They have to answer the phone. I don’t have time in my day to play phone tag by leaving messages and waiting for a callback. If I’m calling at that time, that is the time I have available to talk. So, if they don’t answer, I’m moving on.
  2. The representative needs to be clear and knows the product. If they aren’t knowledgeable, I lose the trust they will make my event great.

The sales champion may be one of the most important roles in the center. How do you make sure they are staying on track and increasing sales? They have to be involved with the goals and that leads us to tip number 2.

Get a Scorecard with KPI’s in Place

KPIs are Key Performance Indicators. It is your goal broken down into mini weekly goals. KPIs are what keep us on track toward achieving our objectives. A scorecard is a place where we put those goals and track them each week.

When I was a party manager, I didn’t know what a scorecard was, but I did know if I wanted to hit a million dollars in a year, I would have to break that goal down into weekly goals. I created a spreadsheet and made sure everyone in the center knew the goals and where we were each week. When you can look at it weekly, you can see when you are off track and get ahead before it’s too late.

Outbound Efforts

Are you waiting for calls to come to you? Don’t! There will always be clients who call the center to book events because they are already guests and know how great you are. Reach out to new businesses and expand your network! Plan each day with a power hour to kick start your day. Nothing is more important than to plant the seeds and watch the harvest come in. If we allow sales to come merely through inbound efforts, it will be too late to recover when the phones go silent.

Call everyone!

What do arcade games, laser tag, or bowling have to do with a dentist office or mechanic’s business? EVERYTHING! It doesn’t matter what industry people work in,  everyone has holiday parties. Even more have team building events, summer picnics, team appreciation, and more. If they don’t, why not put the thought in their head? Stay away from the temptation of thinking a certain business would never use your facility for their small, medium, or large events because you may just be surprised.

Get out in the center and talk to guests.

Our sales teams shouldn’t stay in an office all day. A great way to get a break and be productive is to get out of the office, into the center, and talk to guests who are already there.

Summers are a great time to be out in the center, too. Look for parents on laptops, for example. They may be working from home, and you could talk with them about what kind of events their company has and even get contact information for the person who plans the events. The point is, you will get loads of feedback about why they love your center, what keeps them coming back, and maybe even a recommendation to a friend or business.

Bonus! Get with TrainerTainment and learn sales processes that work!

Our sales coaching program has proven results that will grow your sales program. Our team has over 100 combined years of experience in the sales and the family entertainment industry. Our coaches will teach your sales team how to make the most out of group events and transform your team into a motivated and successful selling machine. Each week we will meet with your team to dig in. We’ll teach them new tools and techniques about selling, hold them accountable, and grow your group sales.

I hope these tips will help you. As always, I would love to hear from you and what you are doing to grow your sales.

Getting to Know TrainerTainment’s Mary Southwick

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What do you enjoy most about working with our clients?

It is fun to talk shop and share your experiences with other people. I find I learn so much from all our clients, so my takeaways go straight to my tool box to share again. I enjoy going onsite, too. It is interesting to see and experience the regional differences in the FEC world and how they interact with their communities.


How long have you been in the FEC industry and in what roles?

Well, as we all know Beth brought me into the bowling industry in the late nineties (don’t do the math for my age) as the bookkeeper for the facility she was managing. I worked at two locations for Schumaker & Company as a bookkeeper. From there, I learned the operational side of the bowling business. I also started bowling leagues and found that I enjoyed all the people you meet. Then I went on to work part-time for Trainertainment as the bookkeeper and onsite trainer. Ten years later I left my job of teaching 5th grade to become the Director of Training with Trainertainment, a shift for me in the content of what I share but still being in service and teaching others.


What is the most significant thing you have learned working in the FEC industry?

The most significant thing I have learned is that most all the people I have met are “good” people. They are all working hard to better the industry, keeping in mind that they are in the business of providing fun entertainment to their guest. I love smaller venues that are in the process of growing into the FEC world from traditional bowling centers and watching their transformation and growth.


Which of our core values resonate with you the most?

Being in service to others – I worked in education for 20 years. I get gratification helping, sharing, and interacting with other people. I’m a people person and rarely meet a stranger. I am a big advocate for great guest service and love to share with others when I have experienced great guest service.


What are your favorite movies? Comedy? Drama?

I don’t watch many comedies, but my favorite comedy would be Christmas Vacation, which is a classic. I love realistic/historical fiction. The last movie I watched was The Light Between Oceans. I loved that it was in the post-WWI period. I especially enjoyed watching it from the deck of a cruise ship.

How would you spend a billion dollars?

Well, you know Mister would not let me tell a soul until we had everything in order. Money doesn’t make my world go around, but I would buy property and get my bed and breakfast up and running. I would have a working ranch where I could raise cows and have horses, with huge trees and a house with a wraparound porch. I would move to an easier way of life, low key and back to the basics. I would take care of my family and friends to make sure they were in good shape financially. I would find some way to give back – a veteran’s organization or low-income schools would be my focus.


You Can’t Eat Chit Chat

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We have ample doctor time right now, and I had a GREAT opportunity to watch sales in action (well, maybe inaction). I’m always interested in learning. JD and I were hanging out in the infusion area of the doctor’s office. Okay, I was hanging out. JD is doing the cancer-busting work.

My Sales Coaching Hat

A couple of pharmaceutical representatives walk in doing their ‘thang.’ This is fun for me. put on my Sales Coach hat and begin to watch the play in action. In my mind, I’m always looking for what someone’s sales process is. If you have any TrainerTainment exposure you know, we think Prospecting, Connecting, Qualifying, Proposing, & then Closing is THE Sales process. So I measure others by that standard.  Here’s what I saw…

The Sales Process

Connect – The lead sales guy introduces himself and the guy that’s with him to the nurses. It looks as if he might be training that guy. He begins to build rapport. I’m thinking, this guy knows what he’s doing.  But then he keeps chit chatting. They talk about spring break, what are they going to do for Easter, and …and…and…

Qualify – I think he may have asked if they had any patients using a specific type of drug (I’m assuming that’s the one they sell).

Present – No

Close – Well, no. I don’t think so. It was about a 5-minute interaction. The nurses were receptive but not decision-makers. The rep shakes hands and says, “I’ll check back in a couple of weeks.”


I nearly went crazy. Honestly, I almost shouted, “WHY?” What would you be checking on, May flowers? I wanted to help. I thought about running out after them and inquiring about what their objective was. Maybe they simply had the objective of meeting the nurses. That seems like a weird reason to spend time prospecting in that way.

I think they could have learned so much more if they had asked questions like:

“How do you decide who to buy this particular drug from?” The nurses would have information about who they buy it from and why they buy it from them and maybe if they were happy with their service or had any reason to change suppliers. Wouldn’t that have been helpful? This could have helped them understand who their competition is and potentially their focus on the budget or if that is even an issue.

“Who does the ordering and how often do you typically place orders?” That would have helped them get closer to the decision-maker or at least the decision-influencer.

The Lesson

The lesson for me is that you have to make your chit chat matter. There needs to be a purpose to the call that goes beyond meeting people in the office. They could have turned the chit-chat into a meaningful conversation because they would have learned something! With every encounter, you need to ask for something to make the call worthwhile. That’s closing.

I thought about chasing them out the door so that I could at least have the answer to my question about their original objective. Maybe he was just introducing the new guy. Instead of chasing them out the door, I started rattling off my concerns to JD. He always takes the high road and suggested that the guy already had the answers to those questions. He is so good at assuming the best.

I felt like they wasted their most precious asset (time). I hope his trainee gets to ride along with other representatives. Maybe we need to get a PCQPC script written for the pharmaceutical industry. Could be “just what the Sales Doctor ordered!”