We're Back!



We recently took a one week hiatus from the business, closing up early Super Bowl Sunday and - with the exception of Thursday Night Fights - keeping the doors closed for 1 week straight. There were varying reasons for this, including some fatigue and the fact that the guys have honestly never had a vacation from the place in almost 2 & 1/2 years. I myself was tired mentally in my approach to the business and our efforts. It has been a lot in just a few months and I thought tapping the brakes might help.

Killing Social Media to Let the Subconcious Work


Meditation is a practice I turn to when my mind gets in a bad place, and it usually helps me to flush out my head and refocus on what’s important. I practice a form of mindful meditation where I close my eyes and let my thoughts come to me, not making an effort to force these thoughts out but recognizing them while continually refocusing on my breathing. It’s amazing what thoughts will come through and how much better I feel when I can reach a state of calm in my mind. This works well for a while, but when you’re constantly on the go day to day and never have a break even meditation can not fully keep up with everything going on. A vacation in contrast allows a step away from everything, a chance for the subconcious mind to crank away on all those problems that have been grinding at us and reach some conclusions.

Myself and the rest of the staff have become heavy users of social media to support the business, and not just our internal communications day to day, but also an increasing daily presence on our Discord, an Instagram, three Facebook pages, five Facebook groups, two Twitter accounts and a Twitch. These are sometimes so busy that I can sit and flip from app to app and have a constant flow of communications revolving around the business that never seems to end. While this is a great thing, it can also be exhausting and a source of stress even after we’ve left our shifts behind and are at home with family or out with friends.

One thing I asked of the staff this week was to disable/remove certain apps from our phones for the duration of the week. This was really the only way we could make a clean break from the busy-ness of LAN Mob and spend some times focusing on our own lives. I myself dumped Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, and Basecamp for the week. I also limited my Discord for the majority of the week. Now that we’re back it’s clear to me that I need to keep Facebook, Messenger and Twitter off my phone due to the distraction that causes me daily, and agree to only use those platforms when I’m at LAN Mob.

The real value in the week though was all of us reconvening on Sunday afternoon to talk through the entire business A-Z. What’s working, what’s not, what’s stressful, what’s rewarding, and how can we better shape the business towards where we want to take it 1, 3, 5 years from now? This led to a great 3 hour discussion just prior to us recording the AMA podcast last night, and we were able to make some good decisions on how we can improve LAN Mob. I highlighted each of the major decisions below in bold to make the rest of this blog a bit easier to read for just the high level takeaways.

By the way: if you haven’t already listened to our AMA podcast recording yesterday you can give it a listen here:

Lock-ins


The Saturday night lock-in has always been a big hit for us, an event we’ve even sold out every seat before, and is an important factor in keeping our doors open. More recently we’ve experienced some softness with the lock-in attendance, frequently barely breaking the minimum number of lock-ins needed to run the event. We’ve been trying different things including running tournaments, not running tournaments, planning special events around releases, discounted pricing for consoles & more.

A problem that we became aware of at the last lock-in was some unfriendliness coming from various patrons. LAN Mob isn’t a huge space, so it’s important everyone get along to some degree and act appropriately towards one another. We are a social space and the event is social in nature, so when people are making other’s experience unenjoyable that’s a problem. At the end of the day everyone is there to game, so just play, and if you don’t want to play with others it’s fine to play by yourself or with your own group, but just don’t be an a-hole about it. Decision 1: we’re handing out some lock-in bans for the month of February, and will be more proactive in kicking people from lock-ins who are making it unenjoyable for others.

We also spent some time discussing what our true customer demographic is for the lock-ins, and how we can better serve them. When we think back to all the past lock-ins that saw 75% utilization of the shop these were often packed with kids 13-16 years old. We have had patrons both younger and older than that, but that’s really the ages the lock-ins have been popular with. As we’ve grown as a business some of these customers have aged out, some even graduating high school (or about to), and for whatever reason the lock-in hasn’t been able to stick with the new crowd of teens. If you’ve been to a lock-in or have any feedback on our lock-ins, we would definitely like to hear from you. Decision 2: changing the console discount to a school discount instead - a valid student ID for junior/senior high school will give you a 10% discount to the lock-in ($22.50).

Rome Revolution eSports


We launched this new brand back in November to coincide with Zehn Masters 1, and have fielded teams for Overwatch, League of Legends, and are just starting out to build a PubG team. We’re also offering as many as twelve sponsorship pools tied to our Thursday Night Fight events for various fighting games. It’s been a lot happening in a short period of time so tapping the brakes was a great help for us to clear our thinking on where we’re at and where we need to head with our teams.

We want to be clear - long-term we want these to be finely tuned eSports teams with sponsorships, regular tournaments, salaries and potentially even our own gaming houses. But we’re living in the reality of right now, and working with what we have to grow to that point. Our players vary where they’re at skillwise, but all are in need of major improvements to get to the mountaintop that is the professional level. That only comes through time and hard work, and that work is all going to come through the Discord discussions, practice nights at the shop, and personal effort between practices.

I’ll start off with pricing. During Zehn 1 we were sometimes doing 2-3 practices a week, and dropped a special $5 night pass to help alleviate from a financial standpoint. That pricing has stuck around even after Zehn 1, and given all of the extra value we’re adding for the night from structure to comms to video reviews and coaching, it just doesn’t make sense for us to charge less for the night while providing all that extra value. Decision 3: we’re returning to our standard pricing on all nights including practice nights; VIP discounts can be applied.

Along those same lines, we’re going to start pushing the teams to be a bit more self-sufficient. We’ll still have a coach along to guide you on that practice night, but everyone needs to be able to understand the team, communicate, and act as an individual contributor. Individuals also need to learn to rely less on their coach and rely more on each other. The Discord channels are set up to allow this but we have way too many one-on-one conversations being funneled between some team members and their coaches. I respect what Mike and Cody have accomplished and they’ve proven the coaches time is valuable, and their services should not be squandered for free. Decision 4: outside of practice nights, League and Overwatch individual one-on-one coaching can be purchased at the rate of $20 an hour.

Next is structure. We’ve applied some loose structure to how we operate the practice nights, and I’m comfortable leaving it up to the individual coaches on how they wish to structure each night. The major change here is coming to the League practice night structure. Decision 5: League practice night begins officially at 7 pm with duos from 7-8 pm, flex from 8-9:30 pm, and video review from 9:30-10 pm.

Lastly is our agreements between the players and the organization. Long-term we want you all to succeed as players and to help us grow the organization to a profitable venture for all of us, so we have expectations of how our players should behave and what the expectations are both ways. We’re offering structured & coached practice nights, media exposure, & entry into future tournaments as the Rome Revolution eSports team. In exchange we’re asking for a certain level of commitment from each of you - basically just showing up and playing your game. But we agreed it’s time to get some of this in writing. Decision 6: if you’re on one of our teams currently, we’ll be looking for you to sign an agreement outlining the expectations both ways.

Coming Soon


There was quite a bit more discussed last night and more decisions made, but many of these more focused on how we run the shop day to day. In other news - we have a lot of announcements pending finalization - I’m hoping we can get them out this week, but long story short we have more tournaments on the way for everyone.

Thank you to everyone for giving us a week to stop and refocus and we look forward to seeing you back at the shop soon! Also don’t forget our DBZ event this Sunday with a $100 pot bonus! Tournament begins around 1 pm.
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