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Opening a Family Entertainment Center? Don’t Overlook These 3 Small Business Basics

Alex Keller
Jun 4, 2019 5:30 AM

Considering opening a Family Entertainment Center, or already have the wheels in motion?

My guess is, you’re a special breed of business owner. While others:

  • Research lawnmowers: you test go-karts.
  • Set up cubicles: you fell in love with an abandoned big-box store.
  • Adjust their desk chairs: you install trampolines.

You’re taking your childhood memories and turning them into a reality for another generation.

With that said, your memories probably don’t include all the hard work the owner of that family entertainment center had to put in behind the scenes. Those precious moments were only possible because of all the lessons they learned and the hard work they had to put in.

The Family Entertainment Center Landscape

According to the 2018 Small Business Profile, there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States, comprising 99.9% of all companies. When you’re looking to start your own business, there are countless steps that you must take in order to be successful. These range from market research and funding, to choosing a name and picking a location.

With a 50%, five-year small business survival rate, implementing a winning strategy quickly is almost as important as picking the right one.

When you’re opening your own family entertainment center, however, there are going to be a few added factors that other entrepreneurs get to overlook. Just like laser tag phasers, your new client base will evolve over time.

Much of your company’s success will be tied to your ability to align with their needs and evolve alongside them while also moving forward.

Family Entertainment Center Basics

Every business owner faces unique challenges in their industry. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

1. Be Involved in the Community

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” - Sam Walton

Even though you own your business, you still report to the customer - even more so if you’ve decided to open a family entertainment center!

An ongoing commitment to your community will be key if you are to sustain success. A tourist destination still has “dry” seasons, and locals will always be an important foundation.

Your event bookings will likely fit into one of three categories. Here are some ways to expand and maximize those relationships:

  • Birthday Parties:

Be involved with your local school system. Make it a point to meet the administration and attend school board meetings. The majority of a juvenile’s time is spent with their teachers and guardians, who you can impress by being involved.

After all, who is paying for this event and (literally) driving them your way?

If you have a budget for this, consider sponsoring local athletics or even offering some sort of scholarship.

  • Corporate Events

Join, and regularly attend, the local chamber of commerce. Building a relationship with fellow entrepreneurs will put your name out front the next time they’re team building.

  • Youth Groups (Religious, Boys & Girls Club)

You’re both dedicated to a safe space for youth. Schedule a simple, 10 minute meeting over coffee with each youth pastor and program director in the area. Interview them on ways to make your venue better, and build trust in your center being one for positive growth.

2. Don’t Forget the Food - Park It.

Food, Water, Shelter.

The longer a customer stays, the more revenue can be generated. Hunger is such a basic need that you may have overlooked it.

So many boxes have to be checked before your grand opening, and launching your own cafe on top of that is a whole other can of worms.

You need to offer something they can eat, but can’t lose the forest for the trees.

What now?

  • Enter: Food Trucks.

Off The Grid is leading the mobile food movement. Their 2018 Mobile Food Trends Report outlines a 20% growth in size for the food truck industry. If you’re in a city with such a community, you’re in luck! There are going to be new trucks that need a place to park, and you’re paving your parking lot next week.

They also outline how “creative uses of mobile food can provoke thought, conversation and build community by inserting pockets of the unexpected into the urban fabric.” Consider the following each truck may generate, or already have in place.

You’re becoming deeper ingrained into your community, while addressing a major need for free.

3. Don’t “Tough-it” with Tech in 2019

Every night you lock up thousands of dollars in high-tech, laser combat equipment.

Your employees still have to call in order to check their schedule every week.

You have tens of thousands in square footage with at least 4 anchor attractions.

Your customers still have to call during business hours to book your space.

You have awesome merchandise, and customers want your logo in their home somehow.

Your point of sale system takes 5 minutes to process the order, and struggles to accept modern payment methods.

Do you see the problem?

After spending so much on your new family entertainment center, it might be tempting to skimp on this piece. Don’t.

Your customers (and employees) have certain expectations that must be met. Keep it easy for them to spend money, and they will.

Check out our 2018 Online Party Booking Study. In 2018, we saw an increase from 44.9% in parties booked online to 47.6%. Aside from booking parties after your operating hours, think about customers calling at the worst possible time to inquire about your availability on a given time and date.

Get your copy of the 2018 Online Party Booking Study

If you don’t see the benefit of automating your party bookings yet, check out this: We saw a 4.6% increase in revenue per party, from $312.68 to $327.21. With an average of 100 events per quarter, that equates to over $5,000 of revenue per month booked online. Yikes!

Picking the right tech stack is going to make your life easier, and your wallet greener. From online and mobile booking, to digital waivers and your point of sale -- don’t tough it with tech.

Get a Head Start on your Family Entertainment Center Success

We love this industry and serving ambitious people along the journey you walk today. That’s why we created Party Center Software.

Of course, we're not just a product company. We also provide a holistic solution with marketing insights and services to empower you to grow your business. We're an active part of a vibrant community of industry partners and we support industry events throughout the year.

You knew this wouldn’t be easy, but you’re not alone. Let’s talk about your business and see how we can help.

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