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A Top-of-Mind Name Can Lead to an Improved Bottom Line – February 2010 – Shop Talk by Dennis Bergendorf

Naming your pro shop can be a key that unlocks profits.

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare, from “Romeo and Juliet”

Would your pro shop, by any other name, be as successful? Or, heaven forbid, has a bad name put a dent in your shop’s bottom line?

The experts say the name of a business is one of the keys to success. Done right, it tells potential customers what they can expect in a way that’s easy to remember. Done wrong, it only confuses the public… and, in today’s world, they won’t invest the effort to get unconfused. Worse, it may be totally irrelevant.

Consultant S.B. Master divides names into the descriptive (such as Bowlers’ Supply in York, Pa.) and the suggestive (like Perfect Pocket Strike Pro Shop in Peoria, Ariz.).

Of course, in the big world of retail, most businesses are stand-alone, in some sense. They need a name that sets them apart. But most pro shops are located in bowling centers, and tend to take the name of that center, unofficially. For instance, bowlers in Lafayette, Ind., usually call the shop at Mike Aulby’s Arrowhead Bowl “the Arrowhead pro shop,” or “Tom Taylor’s shop” (he’s the center’s long-time PSO), not the formal “Mike Aulby’s Triple Crown Pro Shop.”

Following the hall-of-famer’s lead of putting one’s name in the title can be beneficial if you’re regarded as an expert bowler or driller. Ed Walsh has been well-known in New Jersey for more than two decades, and when he took over another guy’s shop, he gave it his name (he now has two shops). PBA superstar Wes Malott named his shop in Austin, Texas, “Strikes-ALott.” It not only plays on his famous name, but conveys a subtle promise of more strikes to those who spend money

Dennis Klein was reading a story on Mark Roth’s propensity to throw perfect pocket strikes, so he chose that phrase for his new shop in suburban Phoenix. Plus, he says, the name tells customers that he’ll help them get those perfect pocket strikes, “just like Mark Roth threw.”

David Remp picked “Lightning Strikes Pro Shop” (in Orlando) because it’s in the lightning capital of the U.S., “plus it sounds pretty cool.” Now, does it mean lightning strikes… or that you’ll get a lot of powerful, lightning-like strikes if you buy there? Just a little mental tickler that can add top-of-mind awareness.

A name that’s functional and clever, and capitalizes on a part of pop culture (okay, as it was 25 years ago), is Pinbusters, in Rochester, NY. Joe Shulleck got the idea when he saw “Ghostbusters,” the Bill Murray-Dan Aykroyd hit movie. But the name also implies busting pins, the dream of most recreational bowlers. He even created a logo similar to the “no ghosts” device of the film, and a catchy jingle based on the Ray Parker Jr. theme song.

Small business consultant Laura Lake has some suggestions for PSOs just starting out, or who are contemplating a new name for their business. The first is to write down a description of the target audience (league bowler, beginner, or very occasional FEC “player”). Then ask what problems the shop will help solve. Write down some active words and phrases that will appeal to your target (such as power, strikes, score, etc.). List several benefits you’ll offer. And list the names of competitors.

Now, use those answers to come up with a list of several names. The names not only should be easy to say, but also should summarize your business — and they should not contain negative hidden words. Also watch out for boasting (“The World’s Best Pro Shop” just might be a little over the top).

One thing to remember: don’t make the name hard or awkward. It’s safe to say that most bowlers aren’t fluent in French, so “Professionals des Quilleurs” is probably out, unless your shop is in Quebec. So, too, might be “The Kegler Emporium.”

The advice from the experts: keep it simple, keep it fun, and have it convey what your business can do for the bowler.

You’ll be on the right track to a successful, and well-remembered, pro shop.

Posted with permission from Luby Publishing Inc.