By: Howard McAuliffe, Pinnacle Entertainment Group
The family entertainment industry is hot right now.  Locations are profitable and new locations are opening every week.  Existing ticket redemption arcade models are flourishing, and most of us are busy.  Everyone knows nothing lasts forever, and prudent business people continuously examine their business models for improvement, threats, as well as how best to evolve in the future.  Some of the most experienced and progressive leaders in our industry are increasingly cautioning that our industry could be changing soon due to new technology, shifting, demographics, and/or saturation of our existing business models.  The challenge is, how can we evolve for the future when we are busy right now?  For our business, our biggest cost is our opportunity cost, because our time is limited.  If we are working on one thing, then we are not working on something else, its really that simple.  Here are the basic 3 steps we use to prioritize what to work on:
  • Take Care of Existing Customers- The most important thing we can do for our businesses today and in the future is take care of those who are counting on us. This is a core value for all successful businesses, not an item on a checklist.  This will not change no matter how the business model changes.  Business is booming in a lot of areas right now, and it is possible to take on too much and not execute, which is far worse than turning down business.
  • Come to a Consensus Internally on a Project and Execute It: Personally, I get excited about new ideas and concepts, there are so many that are presented on a regular basis that it is easy to get moving in too many directions at once.  This can also lead to taking on too much and not be able to handle it all, which leads to not taking care of customers.  I have the benefit of having a more experienced partner, my father, who keeps us grounded and focused on our major project which is creating a data driven headquarters for small chains and independent FECs.  Our goal is this will allow these types of locations to benefit from the economies of scale that major chains have.  Whatever, you decide to focus on, it is important to see it through to a conclusion and not get distracted.
  • Adjust Existing Business or Direction if Needed: Our business at one time was based primarily on a route where Walmart was by far our biggest account. One year we had an offer to buy the Walmart route.  The price was fair, and there were several potential threats to our business, primarily that we had a 30 contract with Walmart.  So we sold and shifted our business model.  A year and half later, Walmart kicked out all the small and medium operators and went to only 3, we would have lost our locations and got nothing in return.  It is important to follow possible major disruptions to our current models.  Some things to follow include virtual reality technology, consumer and demographic trends, and the proliferation of out of home entertainment options.  These are all potential game changers to our existing models and we need to make sure we are positioning ourselves for the future.
Nobody has crystal ball, so we don’t know what the future will hold.  Some react to this lack of certainty by putting their head down and working on what is in front of them only.  Unless, the plan is to retire soon, this probably won’t work over the long term.  Others will take on too much business, which is possible in a booming market.  This leads to dissatisfied customers and a badly damaged brand.  Some will waste time and money investing in too many emerging technologies and models, and not focusing on executing well. The most successful companies will balance the current business, while planning for the future, and maintaining the humility and ability to adjust course if needed.