The Milestones of Opening a New Entertainment Facility
Opening a new business is a ton of work. We’ve helped hundreds of entrepreneurs along the path of starting a new entertainment business, and we understand what this process looks like.
We want to give you a breakdown of some of the big milestones and the steps you should take during each phase.
Demographics and Feasibility Research
This is where you go from “this business looks like fun” to “ok, this business could really work in my market.” Research the age breakdown of your area, average household income, and population growth, among other factors.
What are the demographics you want to target? Are there enough people that fit this criteria? Do you have enough younger kids that can fill the void as your target demographic ages out? What kind of attraction mix do you need to reach your target?
Write a Business Plan
You want to gather the information from your research and combine that with cost estimates, revenue projections, and ROI analysis. This will be crucial to funding your project, whether that comes from the SBA, private lenders, or investors.
Make sure the attraction vendors you’re working with are able to provide some of this material to make this process easier. We have a ton of resources for our products that can help you. Want to learn more, contact us!
The hardest parts of the process are funding and location. Jerry Merola, one of top experts in the industry, wrote a great article that helps break down the funding process for new entrepreneurs.
Secure a Location
Entertainment businesses have a unique set of requirements that can sometimes make it difficult to find the right location: open layout, high ceilings, proximity to highly trafficked roads, and ample parking. But in recent years, a lot of big box retailers have closed down, and these vacant spaces have been great for entertainment.
Zoning and Permitting
A lot of new entrepreneurs underestimate how long this process will take. Every city and municipality has different requirements and processes. And usually, there’s a long line of other projects waiting in front of you.
Once you do get to the front of the line and your plans are reviewed, be prepared for red lines and change requests. After these are fixed, you’ll likely have to go to the back of the line again. So do your research and to understand how long this phase will take.
Construction and Inspections
When a general contractor tells you they can have everything done in 4 months, don’t get too excited. There are a lot of things that can lead to delays on their end: other projects taking priority, subcontractor shortages, unexpected issues with the building, etc.
Even with standard International Building Code, every inspector interprets the code in different ways. Make sure you work with vendors who can be true partners and help you educate inspectors who likely haven’t reviewed an entertainment business before (hint, we can do that).
Attraction and Vendor Installations
This is where your business really starts to take shape. It’s really exciting to see all of the attractions come to life, and you’ll be anxious to get open so you can get people in the door!
Hire and Train Staff
Most of your employees will be high school and college students. The entertainment business is a performance of sorts, so think about targeting people who are used to the spotlight: show choir, glee clubs, athletes, student body representatives, etc. These kids will thrive in front of large groups of people and have the outgoing and fun attitude that you want.
Before you get too excited and open the doors, you want to work out some of the kinks in a low-stakes setting. Do a “family and friends” soft opening where people can have a good time and your staff can understand how to put their training into practice.
This is it! After months of researching and planning, it’s time to throw open the doors and welcome the customers into your center. You can start generating revenue, and more importantly, start making memories for your guests.
Learn the Right Way
Are you looking for a helping hand to make this process easier and shorten the learning curve? If so, we have the perfect event for you: Amusement 360.
The Amusement 360 Events bring together experts, operators, and entrepreneurs for 2.5 days of intense learning, networking and fun! We’ve had hundreds of aspiring operators attend this event, and they all walk away with practical knowledge and an action plan to help them reach their goals.