Inflation –– the “issue du jour” in America (if you set aside Ukraine, the Supreme Court, heat waves and some other stuff) –– is a two-sided coin, and both of those sides can be troublesome. In business, the two sides known as “money in vs. money out” are both subject to the effects of galloping prices (e.g. salaries that are paid by what’s in the cash box). If what you spend gets a little too close to even-Steven, you’re dancing on the razor blade, which is what FDR might have called the “fear” to be avoided.
Now, in what we like to call the “post-pandemic” marketplace, game operators (especially FEC and game room owners) have generally enjoyed surprisingly high collections, pinning this happy occurrence on people released from the bondage of Covid-19 and ready to party regardless of the cost. True, the cost of doing business has been inflating (ask a route operator with a fleet of vehicles parked out back). But at this writing, the industrial ship is still riding the waves rather comfortably for quite a few who make their livings in this craft.
Okay, but let’s get real. Unless you let some people go, the cost of help is bound to go up. New machines (when you can get them) are more costly overall. Merchandise for the cranes and prize counters (again, when you can get it)…well, let’s not beat the horse and instead, try to find some positives. The number one positive, of course, is that players are bound to look far more seriously at entertainment venues close to home rather than (shudder the thought) taking a vacation on a plane or playing gas station hopscotch with the family car motoring to Grandma’s at the Podunk family farm.
As Jersey Jack Guarnieri says in his column this month, “Good times don’t last forever, but neither do bad times.” In the meantime, avoid showing a glum face to your customers even if you feel one coming on. That goes for route and game room people and the guys and gals that work for you. And as George McAuliffe cautions, “This isn’t the time to let your game mix age!”
As Denise Charpentier of Caesars Entertainment puts it, “It’s important to keep the floor fresh!” So, if you can’t replace it, then clean it or rotate it. Just keep moving forward. PS: I heard from a reliable source that two big FEC chains each placed over one million dollar machine orders at the recent bowling show, so keep your eye on the competition, too!