Are Bowling Alleys Profitable? (Facts & Figures)

Welcome to the exciting world of bowling alley investments!

As a billion-dollar industry and the largest participatory sport in the world, bowling offers investors a stable, cash-based enterprise with compelling ROI potential.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into understanding the profitability and trends in the bowling industry while also providing valuable tips for maximizing profits through strategic planning, marketing tactics, franchise opportunities, and more.

The Bowling Industry: Profitability And Trends

The profitability of the bowling industry can be affected by various factors such as location, competition, and operating costs, but it remains a stable enterprise with an estimated $4 billion in revenue in 2019.

Factors Affecting Profitability

In order to fully understand the profitability potential of owning a bowling alley, it is important to consider several key factors. One major factor is location. Bowling alleys located in areas with high foot traffic or strong demographics can see increased revenue and profitability.

Another factor is facility management and upkeep costs, which can include expenses for utilities, maintenance, repairs, and equipment upgrades. Additionally, staffing costs and labor laws also play a role in determining profitability.

It’s critical that investors conduct an in-depth analysis of these expenses when considering ownership of a bowling alley business. Other factors affecting profitability may include competition from other entertainment options in the area or unforeseen events such as natural disasters or economic downturns.

Common Expenses And Revenue Potential

As a potential investor in the bowling industry, it is crucial to understand the common expenses and revenue potential of owning a bowling alley. The cost of operating a bowling alley includes building rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, equipment maintenance and repair costs, staffing wages, and other overhead expenses.

On average across America in 2019 for every $1.00 spent on bowling, there was an additional $.67 made from ancillary sales such as shoes or concessions that go beyond the actual frames bowled by patrons.

Tips For Investing In A Bowling Alley

Conduct thorough market research and due diligence to identify target markets, create a unique customer experience that sets your bowling alley apart from competitors, implement effective marketing strategies to promote the business, and ensure proper facility management and staffing.

Conducting Market Research And Due Diligence

Before investing in a bowling alley, it’s essential to conduct thorough market research and perform due diligence. This involves analyzing the industry trends and identifying the target market and demographics that could potentially patronize your business.

One way to get started is by visiting other successful bowling alleys in different locations or speaking with existing owners about their experiences. Researching online for industry reports on profitability and trends can also provide valuable insights into what works best for this type of investment opportunity.

Identifying Target Markets And Demographics

As an investor looking to unlock the profit potential of bowling alleys, it’s essential to identify your target market and demographic. Knowing who your ideal customer is can impact everything from marketing and promotions to facility layout and amenities.

One way of identifying your target market is by analyzing the demographics in the surrounding area. For instance, if you’re opening a bowling alley in an area with a high number of families with children, then providing kid-friendly lanes, arcade games, and comfortable seating for parents would be critical elements to include in your design plans.

It’s also essential to consider factors such as income levels and lifestyle preferences when determining your target audience.

Creating A Unique Experience For Customers

As an investor in a bowling alley, it is essential to create a unique and unforgettable experience for customers. Providing more than just the standard bowling game can make your establishment stand out and increase customer satisfaction.

Consider offering additional activities such as laser tag, arcade games, or escape rooms to attract diverse clientele who may not be interested in just bowling. Incorporating themes into your facility also creates a fun atmosphere that encourages repeat visits.

Additionally, try enhancing the overall ambiance of the venue by investing in sound systems or lighting effects that offer engaging visuals and sounds throughout the space.

Marketing And Promoting The Bowling Alley

Marketing and promoting the bowling alley is a crucial aspect of attracting customers and generating revenue. The first step is to identify your target market and craft a unique brand identity to appeal to them.

Utilize social media platforms, email marketing campaigns, promotions, and advertising in local newspapers or magazines.

Creating a successful loyalty program can encourage repeat business by offering incentives for returning customers. Offering themed nights such as glow-in-the-dark bowling, karaoke nights, or trivia games can attract new customers while keeping existing ones engaged.

It’s essential to stay up-to-date on customer feedback through online reviews or surveys to ensure that the experience remains enjoyable for all visitors.

Ensuring Proper Facility Management And Staffing

As an investor in a bowling alley business, it is essential to ensure proper facility management and staffing. A well-managed facility can contribute significantly to the customer experience and, consequently, higher profits.

Hiring the right staff members who genuinely care about providing excellent service is crucial. The staff should be knowledgeable about the equipment and able to provide technical support when required.

Facility management involves ensuring that all aspects of the physical plant are working correctly: from lighting systems to sound systems, scorekeeping machines, and washrooms cleaning maintenance schedules for equipment repairs or upgrades scheduled regularly.

Proper cleanliness standards must also be maintained consistently throughout public areas and back-of-house spaces.

Maximizing Profit Potential In Bowling Alleys

are bowling alleys profitable

Implementing Themed Events And Promotions

One surefire way to boost revenue and attract new customers to your bowling alley is through themed events and promotions. You can plan classic events, such as cosmic bowling or tournaments, but also consider creating a unique experience that sets you apart from competitors.

For example, hosting an ’80s night complete with neon lights and throwback music can appeal to the nostalgia of older generations while attracting younger audiences looking for a fun Instagram-worthy night out.

Themed promotions don’t have to stop with just special nights either; creative marketing tactics also go a long way in boosting sales. Consider partnering with local businesses or influencers on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok for influencer takeovers or shoutouts that lure in their followers.

Upselling Food And Beverage Offerings

One of the most effective ways to maximize profit potential in a bowling alley is by upselling food and beverage offerings. As customers play, they are likely to get hungry or thirsty, and providing them with delicious snacks and beverages can increase their satisfaction while also increasing revenue.

Offering specials like snack packs or meal deals can be an excellent way to encourage customers to purchase more food.

Some bowling alleys have gone above and beyond traditional offerings by partnering with local restaurants or food trucks to offer unique menu items that set them apart from competitors.

Providing these options creates a memorable experience for customers, which results in repeat visits as well as positive reviews that help attract new business.

Creating Loyalty Programs And Diversifying Revenue Streams

One way to maximize profit potential in bowling alleys is by creating loyalty programs and diversifying revenue streams. Offering incentives for frequent customers can increase their loyalty and encourage them to return.

Diversifying revenue streams involves offering additional products or services beyond traditional bowling offerings. For example, some bowling alleys have added arcade games, laser tag arenas, or virtual reality experiences to their facilities.

Another way to diversify is by exploring catering options or partnering with local restaurants to offer food and beverage packages.

By implementing these strategies, such as creating loyalty programs and diversifying revenue streams, owners can ensure that their business grows while remaining competitive in the market.

Renovating And Improving The Facility

As with any establishment, the appearance and condition of a bowling alley can significantly affect its ability to attract and retain customers. Therefore, renovating and improving the facility can be a crucial element in enhancing customer experience and driving profitability.

Renovations might include updating lighting fixtures or installing LCD screens for scoring systems. Furthermore, adding interactive games for children could also help draw more families into your establishment.

Revamping food offerings can drive sales as well by providing fresh, diverse options that align with modern tastes.

Investment Opportunities In The Bowling Industry

Investing In Existing Facilities

Investing in existing bowling alleys is a great way to reap the rewards of an already-established business. Before buying, it’s essential to conduct thorough due diligence on the facility, including reviewing financial statements and analyzing revenues.

It’s also important to assess any potential for growth or improvements that could be made to increase profits.

One example of successful investment in existing bowling facilities is Lucky Strike Entertainment, which has acquired several struggling bowling alleys over the years and revamped them into vibrant entertainment venues.

The company implemented modernized technology, diversified food offerings, and updated decor to create unique experiences for customers while keeping the traditional love of bowling alive.

Franchising Opportunities

Investing in a bowling alley franchise is a viable option for investors who want to tap into the booming industry. Franchising provides access to an established business model, marketing support, and operational training.

For example, Bowlero Corporation operates over 300 locations across the United States and offers various brands such as Bowling Bowlmor Lanes, AMF Bowling Co., and Brunswick Zone.

Moreover, franchising allows investors to avoid the challenges of starting from scratch by providing pre-existing networks with suppliers and vendors that have been vetted according to strict brand standards.

According to Investopedia’s research, franchising offers several advantages including lower risks than building a new company from scratch while leveraging an already-known brand identity.

It also saves on advertising expenses since branding is done at a national level through corporate marketing efforts rather than being shouldered entirely onto individual owners’ shoulders.

Types Of Bowling Alleys And Business Models

As an investor, it’s essential to understand the different types of bowling alleys and business models available when considering buying or franchising a bowling alley. Traditional bowling centers are the most common type, offering leagues, open play, food and beverage options, and party rentals.

Boutique-style bowling alleys have gained popularity in recent years by providing a more upscale experience with unique themes, specialty cocktails and food offerings.

Each business model has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to profitability. A traditional center may have lower costs for equipment but may not be as attractive to younger demographics who are seeking more luxurious experiences found in boutique-style settings.

Meanwhile, family entertainment centers tend to require more extensive investments due to their expanded set of offerings but also provide additional revenue streams beyond just bowlers alone.


In conclusion, owning a bowling alley can be a lucrative investment opportunity. By following the strategies outlined in this comprehensive guide, investors can unlock the profit potential of bowling alleys.

Conducting thorough market research and due diligence, identifying target markets and demographics, creating unique experiences for customers, implementing themed events and promotions, upselling food and beverage offerings, diversifying revenue streams, and renovating and improving facilities are just some of the ways to maximize profit potential.

Last updated on May 13, 2023