3 Habits of Highly Successful Stores
When we make recommendations on this site, when we encourage one best practice or another, we're usually taking a cue from our best stores. We're following their lead. We look at the data, we see what the WPN's top performing stores are doing, and we try to encourage other stores to do the same.
So, when we say "take preregistration," it's because that's what stores with the best Prerelease numbers are doing. When we say "pair drafters within their own pods," it's because that's what stores with the best Booster Draft numbers are doing.
When it comes to retention—stores with big communities, where a majority of players visit six or more times a year—there are clear trends among the top performers.
Here are three of them—all within reach of every store in the WPN.
1. They understand the value of the second event.
Getting players into their first event is important, but it’s what happens next that will determine whether you see the benefits. Converting those first-timers into second-timers—that’s the whole ball game.
If one of your new players comes back for a second event, they'll play in an average of thirteen events in the following twelve months. Not only that, but those events, on average, will usually use front-list product (Standard, Draft, Sealed)—about 60%.
Top performing stores in the retention category understand this, and they make retention a priority from the very first interaction they have with players: about 74% of their newly-recruited players return for a second event. That's more than twice the WPN average.
So it's no surprise that they almost categorically run Open House, where they can give new players an introductory experience tailored just for them.
In fact, most of these stores run all the events.
2. They take advantage of the full complement of WPN programs.
Of the top-performing stores in the retention category, 86% run every single event available to them. From Open House to Draft Weekend to FNM. Plus, they tend to be early adopters on new programs like Magic Weekend.
It could be because they understand the advantage Wizards-supported events have over other events—not just the promos, but the recognition and discoverability.
When we focus on a specific event—"Draft Weekend" rather than, say, "Saturday Draft"—we can put our full weight behind it. We can hype it up our websites, social media, and more. We can give a simple message, and a decisive call to action, in every channel available to us.
By keeping in step with Wizards, they get the benefit of not just their own marketing, but ours as well.
Which may also help explain this:
3. They focus on Standard and Booster Draft.
Stores tend to accomplish high retention rates with lots of Standard and lots of Booster Drafts. Top-performers average just over one Standard event per week, and they run about seven Booster Drafts each month.
It makes sense. Standard and draft are the two most popular formats among our most engaged players: among players that visit their LGS at least six times a year, about 61% of play Standard and 65% do Booster Drafts—higher rates than any other format.
They're also the most accessible formats. By focusing on Standard and Draft, these stores keep the door open to all players: beginners almost categorically have Standard-legal decks right out of the gate, and Booster Drafts, while not a great experience for a beginner, scale nicely for everyone else.
But of course, all of Magic’s major formats have their place in the ecosystem. But in terms of player retention—Standard and Booster Draft are where you should be spending most of your efforts.
The stores we're talking about are the top .5% of the WPN in terms of retention—they average well over 200 players a year, with more than half of them playing in at least six events each year.
If those numbers sound good to you, follow their lead. Prioritize retaining new players, take full advantage of all WPN event offerings, and focus on Standard and Draft.