October is National Roller Skating Month
That means rinks across the country will once again be offering a Learn to Skate class sometime during the month of October. I recommend that rinks also include a “skate maintenance” seminar that demonstrates how to carefully maintain their equipment for years to come.
These classes will reward repeat customers who have been clamoring for this information. Many times, I see people with their own gear at the rink, and their skates are in obvious need of a tune-up. Yet, when I mention it, the common response I get is, “I had no idea I was supposed to clean my wheels. How do I do that?” Hint, I already covered basic maintenance in this post. However, people love show-and-tell, and meeting others who share enthusiasm of their hobbies. It’s how Tupperware and Mary Kay gained an audience of excited shoppers, hosted in people’s homes.
Rinks are missing out when they don’t offer skate maintenance seminars. Therefore, during the month of October, take a page from Derby. Derby participants regularly sit down around a table and teach each other how to remove, clean, and rotate wheels and bearings, and adjust trucks and toe stops. I am a huge advocate of this process.
Rink pros can take it a step further, by having pre-printed cards with fill-in-the-blank areas for adding custom information. These can be included in the seminar and in every box of skates sold. Most people have no clue how long their laces need to be for their particular skate. Or if their bearings are 7 or 8mm to fit the corresponding axles. Or that the cushions need replacing and how often. Same for the wheel nuts. Having this information already calculated for them, and included in their skate bag means a handy reference guide that will save them from buying the wrong products for their skates.
Hosting a group of 10 at a time in the rink just prior to a session is a way of saying thank you to the people who regularly support the rink, and already know how to skate. Plus, it’s an opportunity to sell additional tools, like a bearing press and oil, or let customers know that the rink can take care of this for them for an additional fee. These seminars should not be about rebuilding the skate. Just showcasing the different tools available, removing and cleaning one wheel, and going over all the different parts of the skate.
Rinks host STEM field trips when the business is closed to the public. In one of these lessons, the kids learn the different parts of a roller skate, and how to take it apart. Teaching kids is a good start, although this should be expanded to an audience who really needs and wants this information. The folks who already have their own skates.
Further, don’t make these workshops “free.” Charge a small fee that can be applied toward the purchase of tools during the seminar. That way, they don’t take all the suggestions and then seek out a lower price online. Or if they do, at least the rink pro was paid something for their time and expertise.
Let’s start a trend. During National Roller Skating Month, let’s not only teach skating skills, but also how to care for necessary skating equipment. Because roller skates are not optional for the activity, and safety matters.
Therefore, as rink owners prepare for National Roller Skating Month in 2023, they should consider a maintenance seminar for their best customers. And then continue these seminars throughout the year.