If Tony Reyes had to point out what makes a pro-shop successful, he would say customer interaction. As a PBA athlete and pro-shop owner at 4th Street Bowl in San Jose, Calif., he knows that his customers count on him not only for the right equipment but for tips and instruction on how to be better bowlers.
“It is so important when you run a pro-shop that you understand each customer’s needs. It is easy to get caught up in the higher level bowler, but it is the novice bowler that really needs your attention. If you do right by them, they will continue to come back for more equipment as they get better and better.”
Jack Byrd of Bowlers Experience in Freemont, Calif., agreed with Reyes. He believes that the success of a pro-shop depends on customer care.
“Respect is the name of the game for success,” Byrd noted. “You have to treat each customer with kindness, whether they buy a $90 ball or a $200 ball. I know that if I answer a new player’s questions patiently, they will come back for more equipment as they get better. They will enjoy the game more and want to play, and they will need the pro-shop as they move up levels in their play.”
As manager of the Pro’s Edge Shop at Almanor Bowling Center, Richard Lee believes the difference between a pro-shop becoming a success or failing is the hands-on attention given to customers.
“If you take the time to explain the merchandise and direct customers to the equipment they truly need for whatever level they are at, they will remember your courtesy and come back. If you are polite and respectful in the pro-shop, they will use that experience as a tool for gauging their love for the game. If they had a good experience, they will continue to bowl. If they had a bad experience, you may have lost them forever.”
For Skip Pavone of Skip Pavone’s World of Bowling Pro-Shop at Cambrian Bowl in San Jose, Calif., customer service means honest service. He explains in detail the different equipment available to each bowler and steers that bowler toward equipment that is best suited for the individual.
“You have to point customers to balls and equipment that works for them now. You don’t want someone to overspend on equipment that is made for someone more advanced,” he explained. “And the opposite is true as well. You want to respect a player. You don’t want to make them seem that they know nothing and you know it all. To be successful, you have to listen to your customers, hear what they are saying and then direct them to the right equipment. When you do that, they always come back.”
James Allington of Allington’s Pro-Shop, Alpine Valley Lanes in Sacramento, Calif., believes that stand-out customer service is the most important tool in making a pro-shop successful.
“It’s not about putting someone together with the most expensive balls or accessories,” he said. “It’s about finding the right match for the bowler, whether he or she is a novice or expert. People won’t come back if they feel as if they were coerced into buying expensive merchandise or a brand they were not comfortable with. People come back when they think a pro-shop gave them the best deal and the best advice.” –