The prime market of a bowling center is a five-mile radius. However, if the center has easy access to the Interstate highway system, that radius can be extended to seven to ten miles. The demographics of Kiln Creek Bowling Center are:
According to the National Bowling Council, the demographics of the prime market area are a perfect match of the most likely person to join a league.
A full-time public relations coordinator will be a vital part of Kiln Creek Bowling Center's management team. She will be responsible for assuring customer satisfaction, generating public awareness of the type of entertainment offered at the center, and filling the various leagues with bowlers. Publicity will be generated through:
The demographics of Kiln Creek Bowling Center indicate it will be filling a void that has existed for years in the local entertainment market. This market has a higher income than the average section of Virginia; therefore, more money is available for entertainment.
During the past ten years, large chains like AMF Bowling and Brunswick Bowling have been buying up various local bowling centers until they control the market. When they control the market, they cut services, raise prices, and drive away core business, due to their indifference to customers' concerns. The chain always moves decision-making to its headquarters. Now the center is no longer a community-oriented business, and the customers see it as a big corporation that doesn't care about local inputs. This is why there has been a downward trend nationally in the bowling industry, but an increase in business where good, locally-owned and operated centers exist.
As the population ages, the potential market also increases. The centers that have a good marketing program and provide excellent service will increase their customer base.
Kiln Creek Bowling Center will be competing for the customers' dollars with other recreation and leisure establishments such as movie theaters, sports venues, theme parks, night clubs, etc.
Competition in the bowling business in York County is mild. As described in the following section, one of the bowling centers will be closed in 2002. None of the incumbent establishments have either the level of technology, or the wide range of services provided by Kiln Creek Bowling Center. Furthermore, customer service, which is the underlying criteria for success in this business, has not been stressed by the current management of the competing bowling centers. Like other types of entertainment, price is not the only buying criterion as customers expect to enjoy the whole process of having fun. Customer service, a spotless environment, and properly working equipment equally contribute to ensuring the customer will want to come back again.
There are three bowling centers within seven miles of Kiln Creek Bowling Center. All are owned by AMF Bowling Corporation. Two of them, AMF Hiddenwood and AMF Denbigh, will not have any impact on the Kiln Creek potential customers. Both are located on the southwest side of the railroad which divides the entire region. No easy roadway connects their customer base to Kiln Creek's potential customers. However, Kiln Creek Bowling Center may gain customers from AMF Hiddenwood when it closes in 2002. That is when Christopher Newport University, the owner of the building, is scheduled to replace it with a new math building. The third center, AMF York, was designed and built in 1983 by this plan's author. He operated it until 1994, when it was sold to AMF. Kiln Creek Bowling Center will have a major impact on this center. The lack of concern for the customer is why several leagues have indicated they will move to Kiln Creek when it opens.
The bowling market is targeted according to household income. The three major categories are $25,000 to $34,999, $35,000 to $49,000, and $50,000 to $75,000. (See chart and table below.)