Quite a few years ago, a startup novelty company (since disappeared) made what looked like a promising amusement machine. It was, as the description said, “novel,” and they sold a bunch. Trouble was, customer service (like repair parts availability) wasn’t too hot. In fact, their sales manager once told me he complained to the boss about the scarcity of replacements and the response was something like: “Why should I worry about that? There’s no money in parts.”
As I said, they exited coin-op rather quickly, but not before selling the plans for the game to one of our more established factories. Their engineers gussied it up right, and then did okay with it when they brought it back to the market, along with the parts backup to put the machine back on its rails when it needed it.
The best promotion for any game, of course, is the cash box take. But, a close second would be the durability of the machine or more likely, the reputation that its manufacturer enjoys due to past product performance and follow-thru on customer service. Another important part of a sale is when a trusted distributor recommends a game…somebody you know will have your back if or when a glitch comes along to spoil your fun.
I remember an amusing story about that last thing. It happened in California where an operator took a brand-new game out of the crate, plugged it in and…nothing! So, he called the distributor who sent a tech out to see what was up. The tech checked it out, identified the faulty part and called the dealer who contacted the factory (long since gone from coin-op). He was told they didn’t have the part in stock yet. So, the dealer asked if they had the machine out on the production line. “Sure,” he was told. “Then go right out there, open the cabinet, pull the part out and FedEx it to me right now!” was the response. (Do you SoCal guys and gals remember which former distributor that might have been?)
Our new Directory has the standard laundry list of machine makers, dealers and parts suppliers our readers expect at the beginning of each calendar year. This annual reference issue is very hard to produce due to all the research that goes into it. But, it’s part of our own “service to customers.” I think everyone can see that it’s laid out in an easy-to-use form and can be kept for instant use on the desk, in the glove box of the truck or in the tool box if you roll it up. Here’s the new one and I hope you’ll get good use out of it.
I want to close with my best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2019 to one and all, even the folks who borrow the magazine from a buddy because they don’t want to spend the price of a subscription (okay, I got my own two cents in). There’s always something new to exploit in this business and so I also wish you the grit to take a risk and put some extra spark in your business and in your heart by doing something fresh. Novelty is still the name of our game.