Remember to Keep Your Cup Full
By Amber Lambert
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “you can’t fill anyone else’s cup if yours is empty.” This is not being selfish, it’s being pragmatic. If you can’t take care of yourself and your business and remain solvent during a crisis, you won’t be able to help anyone else. To take care of yourself, you need to do what you can to keep in touch with your customers so they don’t forget about you. You also need to come up with new ways to generate cash flow while your center is closed. The following are ideas that I have been sharing with my customers during the COVID-19 crisis:
If you have a food and beverage operation that can accommodate take-out or delivery business, let your customers know that their menu favorites are still available. Get creative with specials; in addition to Buy One Get One offers try a Buy One Donate One deal that meets your customers’ need to help others. For example, for every pizza ordered donate one to local first responders and health care workers.
Just because your customers are sheltering at home doesn’t mean that you can’t keep them entertained. Some centers and game distributors around the country are renting out their machines for home use, so customers can keep playing. Others are offering livestreamed virtual arcade play, where customers choose several games that the host in the center plays for them. The customer gets to keep any redemption points that their round of play generates. They can redeem them for prizes that you distribute by mail or delivery.
Customers still want to celebrate birthdays, even if they can’t do it at your center. One great tactic is offering a “Birthday in a Box” that includes cake, food and goodie bags that can facilitate a “drive-by” party for the birthday celebrant and friends. Team up with other local businesses, for example a bakery or pizza restaurant.
Other box-based ideas include a “Family Sunday” box with a pizza and a game for the whole family to play. Variations include scavenger hunts, escape room scenarios and cards for online bingo. Or take that redemption inventory that’s stuck on the shelf and create “Boredom Boxes” with activity ideas and a game card for future use at your center. Sell them or donate them to those in need.
If you don’t have one, set up an online store that enables customers to buy game cards and gift cards for future use. Offer special prices and offer memberships or season passes as well. My colleague Todd DeMott of Shorecade in New Jersey is doing well with a season pass good for unlimited gaming from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Other ways to stay in touch with your customers include writing letters to homebound kids and asking them to write back; they’ll get to work on their writing skills and you can tell them about new features you will have when you re-open. so write to them and ask them to write you back. Use your database to send out personal birthday cards to remind kids and their parents that you care about them and hope to see them again soon. You can also donate redemption tickets or game cards as incentives for kids studying at home to complete their schoolwork. Plan a future “Class Reunion” or “Make-Up Prom” for seniors in your area whose proms have been postponed or cancelled.
Once you get started you are bound to come up with your own ideas to keep your cup full and stay in business. I am fortunate enough to work for a company who treats me like family and I look at everyone in the industry as part of that family. We have to look out for each other so don’t be afraid to email me at [email protected] if you want to brainstorm or ask for advice.
Amber Lambert has operated her own FEC and is an Intercard sales representative for North America.