Rigging Won’t Bring Repeat Business
Fairness, Fun and Skillful Winning Will Keep Your Players Coming Back
by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball & PinballSales.com
Everyone in our industry has some belief that a new game should make more money than an older game. But we all know that there are many “older” games that faithfully continue to earn money for years, week after week. Those games are the core of any route or FEC operation.
Shows like IAAPA get us excited as we judge the new offerings, trying to figure out what the return on our investment might be based on what we think those pieces will bring to our locations. It’s important to remember that those new games keep our players excited as well.
Since many of the games that earn the most money today are instant-win, merchandise or redemption games, it is critical that players see other players winning and carrying prizes.
Not enough can ever be written or said about how important prizes are in your games or in your redemption counters. Fresh, clean, new and desirable merch will always earn more than old, outdated, faded or worn merchandise. We’ve all seen it and it isn’t pretty. If you see a crane with sun damaged plush you can bet that players will not put their money in for a chance to lose.
There have been recent news reports showing what the reporters called “rigged” crane machines, ones that are virtually impossible to win. Legislators around the U.S. have been keenly watching this for years and in many jurisdictions, they’ve created laws to protect consumers –– the players –– and these games are fair. State associations should step up before legislators form opinions and turn words into bills that could become a law that will hurt your business.
Putting prizes into games that can be won is the key to making more money. Your job is to reward your players for their skillful play of these games and make money while they are smiling and playing the games and winning these prizes.
How long you keep your players engaged, challenged, amused and rewarded will determine how long they stay and how much money they spend … and how much you earn!
Long ago, Gene Romano, the legendary owner of the Nellie Bly Amusement Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., told me one crowded Sunday afternoon:
“Jackie, look at all of these people with my money in their pockets.”
I have used this quote from Gene, now long gone, many times. Back then, it took me a moment to understand what he meant. He didn’t mean to shake them upside down and take their money as fast as you can! What he meant was: How can I keep these people here longer, playing more, eating more, riding more and having a good time for a while longer?
I got it and I think of it when I walk the Jersey Shore or visit FECs or street locations. How can I make my customers feel better, appreciate the loyalty and experience good customer service? These are the challenges in how you do business. If you try to cheat players out of a prize or squeeze more out of tired equipment (or old, faded merchandise), your players will know and they won’t stay and play. Your players are way too sophisticated and tech-savvy to be ripped off for too long before they walk.
Perceived value is important. All of us are sensitive to the question we ask ourselves, “Is this worth it?” before we buy something. Think about what you are selling and how. Put yourself in your player’s shoes and ask: Does it make sense to you as a customer seeing or playing it for the first time?
Give the customer what the customer wants at a fair price and they will come back again and again. The best advice I can give you is to simply treat them as you would like your own family to be treated. If you do that, you’ll do fine!
Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999, PinballSales.com, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011 he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at [email protected] jerseyjackpinball.com.