Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper. Like everyone I can’t wait get back to working at a regular pace. Since business has slowed, I’ve started blogging and realized that over the past 13 years in business I’ve learned a great deal from my customers and how they generate extra revenue. In order to increase revenue, ice arenas must either gain new customers or sell more to existing customers. Below are some suggestions that may help your facility increase revenue.
Offer Value-Added Service
Selling a value-added service to an existing customer is easier than getting a new customer. The Skate Helper is an example of a value-added service. Some of my customers have gone to local businesses like orthodontists, lawyers, hospitals to secure funding and in return have put their logo placed prominently on the front of the Skate Helpers. Other ice arenas have purchased the skate helpers and in turn rent them out to their customers so they pay for themselves in a season or two.
The Skate Helpers can also be used in adaptive skating programs. Ice arenas can offer inclusive programs enabling people with balance issues or autism the chance to experience ice skating in a safe way. Older adults could also benefit using the skate helper as adults can use two stacked together. Offering adaptive skating programs to the community may help create a new customer base.
A few months ago, I visited the Chicago Blackhawks to see their First Stride program in action. Every day 60 kids come to the arena to participate in skating and learn a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program. Perhaps ice arenas could offer something like this on a smaller scale and work with local school boards. Bring kids into the arena for skating and then perhaps an hour of educational instruction.
The Chicago Blackhawks use the skate helper as part of their First Stride program.
Hire an Expert or Find One In-House
You’ve got to spend money to make money. An ice arena may benefit from hiring a marketing, social media or event planner. This may be one person or three different people depending on how big your facility is. All three are extremely important in building your brand and awareness of your facility. There are many freelancers that can be hired on a contract basis. Having someone dedicated to creating, executing and managing events make that person invaluable. Your arena is more than just an ice rink.
If money is really tight, look inward and see what kind of talent you have at your disposal internally. You may be surprised at the potential of creative thought and innovation if you simply ask for it. For example, I know that students and part-time help would love to be asked their opinions.
Visiting the ice arena should be an enjoyable experience. As a hockey mom I’ve spent a lot of time at various ice arenas. Maybe there’s an opportunity to enhance food and beverage services. Partner up with a local business to offer healthy snacks, quality coffee and tea and perhaps smoothies. Sell fruit and other healthy alternatives to junk food. The ice arena should be a wellness center just like community centers and gyms. You can promote health and wellness by hanging inspiring artwork or posters, and pictures of your management team. You could book an appointment with an interior designer to come in and offer advice on how you might refresh the arena interior with paint and furniture. In short, make your space feel inviting and warm! Customers pay attention to details. Would a customer believe that your staff are well groomed and presentable? Are they trained in customer service and are they friendly and outgoing? How clean is your facility? Look in the lobby, locker rooms and restrooms. Your facility represents your brand. So many times, I left the rink to get a coffee or sandwich. Other times I just sat in my car and looked at my phone because my car was more comfortable.
What about partnering with a local gym and offering some kind of membership deal along with skating passes? Could you put a couple of recombinant bikes in the waiting area sectioned off as “Adult-Only” so parents could ride them while waiting for practice to end. How about creating a children’s play area in the lobby or a lending library area for families?
I remember being in the Calgary Airport and you could hop on a bike and see how much energy you were generating. It was better than just sitting there waiting for my flight.
Offer customers comfortable seating with charging stations and put televisions up so you can broadcast your upcoming events. If you make your customers feel more comfortable, they will feel positive about the experience at your facility. They will then be more inclined to spend money on food and beverage, rent a skate helper or sign up for other programs your facility is offering. There is power in Word of Mouth referrals.
Other Ways to Generate Revenue:
- Use your rink year-round. Your arena is an event space. Market to customers who may need a big event space for wedding fairs, farmers markets or trade shows.
- In the off season take the ice out and use the floor surface for indoor sports like volley ball, ball hockey, lacrosse or basketball. This may be a great reason to hire a marketing professional who can market the rink in the off-season and sell to new customers.
- Partner with a gym or personal trainer and run athletic training camps for kids, teens and adults. Make your facility more than just an ice arena – it is a community wellness center.
- Sell advertising in your facility. Get local businesses to sponsor your scoreboard or dasher boards. Look to local businesses like banks, local restaurants, account ants, realtors, car dealerships etc. Any businesses that your customers go to regularly should be on your contact list.
Stay Safe and Healthy
Heather from Skate Helper