For Mike Peverill, paintball was a passion. He started playing competitively almost 30 years ago; traveling all over the world, competing in tournaments, and winning equipment as prizes. He didn't really have a need for the equipment, so he simply let his collection grow inside a garage. During his travels, he met a lot of people who were interested in purchasing some of his stock-piled equipment. At the time, the only way to purchase new equipment was through mail-order catalogs, so Mike thought it would be a good business idea to open a pro shop. A family friend let him use some property close by as a playing field, and Pev's Paintball was born. "Back in 1993, we opened up a pro shop and a paintball park, and that's how it all came to be," said Mike.
His paintball park has moved locations a couple times since opening. In 2000, they moved to a second location, but leased instead of buying. After a few years, the owners wanted to sell the land, so Mike was forced to move a final time to a 48 acre plot that he was able to purchase.
Mike's background as an avid player has helped him maintain success by understanding a player's perspective; he knows what they want and how to deliver it. In addition to good branding and marketing, his biggest key focus is customer service. "Paintball is not cheap. You've got to make sure their experience is a fun experience." He has been able to create a unique environment at his park that keeps customers excited and coming back. In addition, Party Center Software has played a role in his success while supporting his customer service efforts. "It is a critical tool for us in how much it saves my staff time and effort."
An average day for Mike consists of high-level tasks typical for a business owner. "I look at our future growth, our expansion, our financial planning, and our marketing." Within these roles, Mike spends the most time on marketing. He works hard to get new players into the sport, and learns how to cater to different groups such as birthday parties and corporate outings. Even with these managerial duties, he's still able to take part in his favorite aspect of running a paintball park. "My favorite part is watching the customers come and play and have a great time." He loves to the see the smiles on parent's faces when they pick up their kids from a birthday party. He also has the unfortunate task of dealing with the most challenging aspect of his business - reaching new customers in the market. Since paintball is not cheap, it's difficult to get new customers to spend the money required for the sport.
Now that Mike owns the property on which his business resides, he's able to plan for the future. "We have the ability to add more playing fields and change the playing field to keep adding diversity to our property." He is planning for the future because he sees continued growth on the horizon. Now that the economy is on a upswing, consumers are more likely to spend their disposable income. And while his market is not as strong as it was before the economy crashed, his business is growing and things are looking great.
Spending almost 30 years in the paintball industry gives a person quite a bit of knowledge on how a park should be run, but it's always important to continue watching for new trends. Mike keeps up with industry news on websites and through trade organizations. "Probably the most important one to us in our industry is the one we have every year in February called the Paintball Extravaganza." This event provides operators like him with the most information, knowledge, and training.
For any new or aspiring operators, Mike has some advice. "Always think safety first because that's the number 1 key." In addition to safety, he also says it's critical to create a great experience for the guests and build the right infrastructure with your staff and tools.
With all of customer-focused goals, decades of industry experience, and a drive to learn more at industry events, Mike "Pev" Peverill is sure to see years of continued success at his facility.