13 tips to attracting the attention of customers, deciding on the shape, displaying the prizes, avoiding lawsuits and more.
IT HAS OFTEN been stated that the redemption prize center is the “eye candy” that drives redemption game revenue. Why is it, then, that I still come across so many bowling centers that pay little attention to their redemption prize center (RPC) and prize item displays, and treat their RPC with little respect? The same goes for the spectacular new and modernized centers, where the RPC is poorly located out of the entrance sight lines, and away from the customer traffic flow.
A properly designed RPC, stocked with a wide range of high-perceived-value and desired prizes, can be the driving factor that increases game revenue significantly in any bowling-anchored center on the planet. Here are 13 tips on how to place and design a profit-generating redemption prize center…
- RPC PLACEMENT – The best location is directly to the right of the main entrance because 90% of people enter the facility, take a few steps, stop, and turn their heads to the right. The first thing they should see is the RPC. If it’s not possible to locate the RPC to the right, then the next-best placement is where it can be seen from the main entrance by both adults and small children – even if that is to the left.
- GAME PLACEMENT – The faster playing games with the highest ticket/point percentage payout need to be located closest to the RPC, yet far enough away so as not to create a bottleneck among guests lined up to collect their prizes. The closest games should be approximately 12 feet away from the front of the RPC, assuming that a player will be standing in front of the game and taking up 3 of those 12 feet. It’s best to have low-height, multi-player games close to the RPC. These are the games that players will go to when they need additional points to get their desired prize(s).
- RPC DESIGN SHAPES – For the past 100 years, the most common designs for the front display cases have been L-shaped (with the short leg of the L on the right or left side), U-shaped, or straight. I like to keep the corners rounded, with 2-foot-radius ends, for both appearance and safety concerns – no corner points for guests to get hurt on.
- DISPLAY CASES – Standard display cases are two feet deep and come in lengths of two, three, four, five and six feet. The standard height is 38 inches. I like the ones that have two shelves (adjustable heights) so you have three horizontal display levels. It’s best to have UL-approved lighted display cases with mousetrap electrical connections (cases can be interconnected). If yours are not lighted, you can install fluorescent lights or just buy battery-operated sticks on lights. Be sure to keep glare to a minimum.
- LENGTH OF DISPLAY CASES – Length (running feet of the cases) is determined by games revenue. The higher the games’ revenue, the more running feet of display cases, and the more staff are needed. I design for a super peak day, which is usually a Saturday or holiday on which the daily games’ revenue is 35% of the weekly gross. For example, let’s say your games’ revenue is $250,000/year, or an average of $5,000/week, and a super peak week is $10,000. That Saturday would generate $3,500 over a 10-hour period, or $350/hour. To easily handle this, your RPC needs only 12 running feet, and this can easily hold two staff people. If your annual gross games revenue is $500,000/year (a $10,000/ week average, a super peak week of $20,000), 22 running feet works and you could then fit three or four staff people. Note that a U-shape has more running feet on the sides, but the back slat wall length is much less.
- BACK STORAGE COUNTER – The height should be 36 inches, the depth either 18 inches or two feet (I like two feet), and the POS and other electrical hardware can be placed on top of the counter.
- BACK SLAT WALL – Black is the recommended color. With black, if some prizes are missing, it is less noticeable. Slat wall hardware to hang prizes comes in many shapes and sizes. Here are the basics (including the acrylic bins for the front display cases):
- Wire stock hooks – 1,000 count
- Acrylic flat slat wall shelves – 8-inch by 24-inches
- Back wall merchandise hooks – slat wall (6 inches)
- Acrylic hook holders
- Slat wall sloping shelf – 24-inches by 14-inches with a 2-inch lip (black)
- Acrylic bins for display cases – 10-inches by 6-inches by 6-inches (clear)
- Slat wall large baskets – 24-inches by 12-inches by 6-inches (black)
- SOFFIT (TOP OVERHANG) – This is highly recommended, so the guests’ eyes focus on the prizes and don’t wander off the back wall if it is higher. Signage also goes on the front of the soffit. Also, install lights in the soffit that can be aimed at the slat wall prizes.
LEARN MORE – Should you be operating a redemption prize center, as described in this column, or a full-brown redemption store? Frank Seninsky will show you how to make that decision in the Marth issue of Bowling Center Management.
- HANDICAP COMPLIANCE LAWS (ADA) – A 3-foot swinging door (same height as display cases) is required to let staff in and out. The door must swing “out” its 3-foot width for wheelchair access. Note that the back storage counter must end at least three feet before the door (if the door also swings in) and three feet from the back of a side display counter so guests can’t reach the slat wall prizes and steal them. This also gives the staff a place to stand while serving customers at either end of the L-shaped or U-shaped display cases.
- STORAGE – You will need easy access to the storage room so your staff can quickly get prizes that are in low supply or not displayed physically without leaving the RPC. The storage room should be located behind the RPC whenever possible, or off to the side. I recommend putting slat wall on the storage room door so it is not noticeable and provides additional display area.
- PRIZE POINTS – Depending on how you want your customers to traverse the RPC (left to right, or right to left), that is the same direction the prize points should run from low to high. I like to start from 5 points and go up to 300 or 400 (in 5-point increments, rounding up and down with consistency) in the front display counters. Note that children up to even 10 years old are still much shorter than teens and adults. The children look only at the prizes in the front display cases, while the teens and adults (unless they bend down at the waist) tend to look straight at the slat wall prizes, which usually have higher point values. The goal is to increase throughput in order to minimize the time it takes for guests to make their prize choices. Keeping the number of low-point prizes and high- point prizes to a minimum means that it is the medium-range point prizes that are the most important to your success. To better understand the “Bell-Shaped Curve” rule and see lists of the most redeemed prizes in various point ranges, visit The Redemption & FEC Report at Frank-theCrank.com (and don’t forget the hyphen).
The goal is to increase throughput in order to minimize the time it takes for guests to make their prize.
- DISTANCE FROM BACK OF DISPLAY CASES TO FRONT OF BACK STORAGE COUNTER – This needs to be five feet exactly. It is designed this way for two reasons: 1) so guests standing in front of the RPC can see the prizes and prize points on the back wall slat wall; and 2) so one staff person can easily move left or right behind another staff person without touching them or bumping into them. Anything less than five feet puts you at risk of a lawsuit.
- THE BEST RPCs ON EARTH – The best redemption prize centers today are still found up and down the New Jersey Shore in the boardwalk arcades running from Keansburg to Point Pleasant to Seaside Heights, and all the way south to Wildwood and Cape May. In fact, redemption was invented and perfected in the New York/New Jersey area, starting at Coney Island in the early 1900s, and moved up and down the East Coast seashore communities in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, then on to the California coast. But if you’re looking for veteran operators to emulate and chat with, plan a visit to the Jersey Shore. Redemption is still the most profitable part of any family entertainment center and is a critical component of developing repeat customers. Follow these13 tips, and you’ll be on your way to having a great RPC.
Bowling Entertainment Center – February 2019