"Take action. It can only suck once, or it can be the best thing we've ever done." -AMP Up1 Culture Values
Sales. How do we increase sales in an already highly successful 27,000+ sqft eatertainment complex? We couldn’t build more bowling lanes, and we already built an arcade in an underutilized space during the previous year. In the winter we were completely booked, essentially from open to close. Had we plateaued? Where were our opportunities and what could we possibly do about it? There was always the summer, but that was hopeless.
Anyone that’s worked in a venue dependent on indoor gaming knows that the summer time is hard. Who wants to go inside when it’s gorgeous out? We would cross our fingers and do a rain dance, and when it rained, we’d be busy. This was the annual cycle. We would discount for the sake of discounting and hope some clever marketing idea from corporate would catch the eye of the right group. July would come and we’d hold our breath, hoping it would be rainy and fall couldn’t come to us fast enough. It’s just the way it was, and there wasn’t anything we could do about it.
We’ve attempted patio business with limited success. Some tables overlooking a parking lot with some tv’s was better than nothing. We took what we got and were happy it was better than nothing. The irony was, the patio wasn’t a small amount of space. It was still square footage we paid for, just as valuable as the bowling lanes. This was frustrating. Everyday, coming to work and knowing the grind before us.
So here we were. We could continue to accept our fate, but that isn’t really in my personality.
I started in this industry as a wait assistant/food runner. I’ve always been inclined to put my head down and work hard. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a team where nothing is given, but those who do more are allowed to grow. If you want to learn or do something, you simply have to raise your hand. Taking action to help the team is part of our identity. Fast forward a handful of years, and although my title has changed significantly, the mindset and need to take action is still the same.
There were some interesting trends popping up at this time. There were “lawns” that were becoming hugely popular using many of the low-tech games we already had in house. Giant Connect 4, cornhole and Jenga (we had multiple of each) were taking off in popularity. Being outside, under the sun, walking on astroturf with a cold beverage gave the games new meaning. Magic was happening.
Why couldn’t we do that? What was stopping us?
Well, I’ve never redesigned a patio space or had to shop for furniture and decor. Not my specialty. It was a pretty dramatic change from what our patio currently was. I’m sure our space was the way it was for a reason, right?
I decided to move forward. I enlisted the help of our leadership team , all departments, and we formulated our plan of attack. We decided to build more of a social outdoor setting and flip the script with the patio. We wanted it to go from an extended dining room feel to a social outdoor space that was focused around low tech gaming and a laid back outdoor feel.
We started doing our homework and making phone calls. We selected an astroturf that felt real and drained rain water incredibly well. We decided to remove the tv’s, our guests would want to hang out, not watch tv. No need for chairs or traditional tables either, instead outdoor couches and sectionals where our guests could truly be comfortable. We were creating a place we’d want to hang out in. Fun lights were strung across the ceiling, trellises were added and we updated our planters. Finally, we not only brought out our oversized games, we even invested in more, like a variation on putt-putt meeting flip-cups.
It was a place where when you drove by, you just had to go spend some time there.
Once the renovation was done, we had to actually get people to sit there. We needed a return on our investment. It was a little nerve wracking wondering if it would work. Our team put a lot of effort into the transformation, and I challenged the status quo to make it happen.
The space got off to a terrific start the first night it was open. A group hung out for over 2 hours and had a substantial check. From there, we didn't look back. The space was a hit with after work groups, Monday-Friday. We had successfully taken a “dead space” and created a destination for our guests.
All of this happened because we took action and did something. Not doing anything would have worse than the new patio failing. We weren’t design experts. We simply made one phone call, then another, then discussed with each other, then made another call, until it came together. We took one step at a time.
Don't wait for someone else or “corporate” to address your opportunities. Don’t let “not knowing how” hold you back. Educate yourself, utilize your team and move forward. The only way to strengthen that action muscle is to use it, and take the first step.
AMP UP1 Hospitality | © 2021