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How to Start a Laser Tag Business
Starting a new business is a daunting time for anybody. It is important that you have all of the relevant information at your fingertips, before you make the decision to go-ahead with your plans. You need to find a business that is a good match for yourself, you’re going to be spending a lot of your time knee-deep in your new venture, so it is in your best interests to find one that you’re interested in.
A new, up and coming idea for a business venture is laser tag. Yes, laser tag has been around for a long time, but it has seen a recent spike in popularity over recent years. More and more people are flocking to the activity, so now may be a good time to invest in your own laser tag business!
Tell Me About the Laser Tag Business…
The entertainment industry is on the rise at the moment, with people seeming to want to spend lots of time at various different adventure parks… laser tag being one of them. Laser tag is a great activity for children, families and even adults. There are so many different ideas to get clients into your laser tag business, such as team-build exercises (popular amongst corporate businesses), birthday parties and people looking for indoor activities. Remember, that indoor activities are always a winner as they can be used during bad weather conditions, something all parents need!
Am I Right for this Business?
This business is absolutely perfect for people who are interested in technology, entertaining and interacting with so many different types of people! It is definitely a bonus if you are a ‘people person’. Laser tag environments are often fast-paced and high-energy, so you need to be ready to be rushed off your feet.
What Does a Typical Day Look Like?
A typical day at a laser tag park can look different depending on your role there. However, when you first open your business, you’ll more than likely need to take a more interactive approach in day-to-day operations. Once your business is up and running, you’ll be able to take a step back from the daily management as you acquire more team members to help with this. Tasks such as the following, will regularly require your attention; speaking with clients, maintenance of equipment, safety-checks, inventory, networking, management of staff and administrative duties. This may not seem like a long list, but believe me, it will take up a lot of time!
What is a Laser Tag Target Market?
Despite the fact that anybody can enjoy laser tag, your core demographic will mostly be children aged six to fourteen. Younger players get so much out of the world of laser tag, and have fabulous adventures doing so. If you think carefully about your design and marketing, you will most certainly be able to attract adults to visit your business. There are four main types of adults who enjoy laser tag, those who are playing with their children, co-worker trips, evenings out with friends and those who want to compete against others, in a more serious fashion.
So, How Does Laser Tag Make Money?
Laser tag makes money by charging patrons to use the facilities, usually per game. There are a whole host of different things you can do influence patrons to use the facilities for longer or bring more people including themed nights, two-for-one vouchers or discounts for students. The more imaginative you are with this, the wider audience you will reach.
How Do I Start My Own Business?
Firstly, you need to think about your skills and whether they are a match for the business. Don’t worry if they are not, these are all things that can be worked on. There are some skills and experience that will support you when opening your own laser tag business. Strong leadership skills are worth their weight in gold, particularly if you are good at communicating and delegating. You will be very busy, especially at the start of your business. Spend some time figuring out what the target audience want from your business, this will help you to gain more customers and deliver a fun experience. Another action that could be useful in the long run, is to learn some solid business skills. If you don’t already have experience in this area, it could be useful to take some classes.
If laser tag is something you do not have experience working with, then it could be a good idea to work in the industry for a while prior to opening your own. It will give you some good perspective about the business. Try to attend The Laser Tag Convention. This annual event will give you additional insight into industry standards and trends. It will also give you the opportunity to network. Similarly, check out the Laser Tag Owners Association for information for people just starting out in the industry.
How Much Will It Cost to Start My Laser Tag Business?
Due to the amount of space required to house a laser tag facility, it is recommended that you have between $115,000 and $252,000 budgeted to begin with. Your budget will include lease of the building, obstacle course build and décor, point of sale software and laser tag equipment. An alternative way to open your own laser tag business is to invest in a franchise. Franchises can offer financing options, as well as a wealth of industry knowledge.
What Are the Steps to Opening My Laser Tag business?
- The Planning – You need a clear business plan in place. This must consider initial costs, the target market, how long it will take to make your money back and the name of your business. Choosing the right name is important as it is the first impression people get of your business. If you have thought of a name, secure the web domain early before it is taken.
- The Legal Entity – It is important that you establish a legal entity, an LLC for example, as this prevents you from being personally liable. You could use a registered agency for this.
- Tax – You need to register for taxes before you can open your laser tag site.
- Bank Account and Accounting – You would benefit from opening a business account pretty quickly, this will simplify matters when it comes to expenses and taxes. Keeping an accurate account of your expenses and sources of income will simplify your annual tax filing.
- Permits and Licensing – You will need to ensure that you have obtained any permits and licensing you need to hold. Failing to do so can result in fines or the closing of your business.
- Business Insurance – This is so important! It is a legal. You may also need to have workers compensation insurance dependent upon your state.
- Your Brand – Define what your business means, what it stands for. A strong brand will really help you bring in business!
- Web Presence – Establishing yourself on the web will allow customers to find out more about your company. Social media can be a fantastic tool to bring in clients!
Do You Have Any Insider Tips?
Yes, there are some brilliant tips from insiders in the industry. Here are some that will help you out as you start your journey.
- Equipment is so important! The equipment you use should be light enough to be used by children, but heavy duty enough to attract the serious laser taggers. The hit accuracy of your your equipment is super important!
- Research the manufacturers of your equipment. Look at customer reviews and testimonials. These are so valuable when learning about the manufacturer.
- The look and design of your site is very important, particularly the obstacle course. Do not rush, get it planned out properly by professionals.
- Remember that this is a limited occupancy activity and make sure you have enough space. 166 square feet is often recommended.
- Consult with contractors before you make a commitment to a building. You need to meet specific safety and construction guidelines.
- Adjust your opening hours around the demographic you are targeting.
- Ask patrons to sign waivers before using the laser tag course, this will reduce your liability exposure.
How Do I Grow My Own Business?
Promote and Market Your Business
It is suggested for larger facilities that a budget of up to $5000 be used for marketing each month. Make sure you tailor any marketing towards your demographic. The use of social media is fantastic for reaching teenagers and adults! You can also make yourself known in the community. Consider donating and getting involved in local organizations. This gesture of good will should result in a productive relationship with your local area.
If you are looking at utilizing parties and events, use direct flyers or mail to event coordinators, sports clubs, schools and churches. It would be particularly useful for you to emphasize that laser tag is a great team building activity. Similarly, you can partner up with other local businesses to drum up clientele for you. A local pizzeria is good for this. They can attach coupons to their packaging, and you can offer a similar service for them too!
About two weeks before you open up your business for the first time, advertise on radio stations and local news, even through printed mailers. Make sure everyone in the area knows about your grand opening! You can offer special promotions/gifts to your first 50/100 patrons, get as many people through the doors and experiencing your business as you can!
How Can I Make Sure Customers Come Back?
With laser tag, your target demographics cover a wide range of people. Try to ensure that word-of-mouth is positive and reward any return customers. Reward programs are so useful for ensuring people come back. Customer service is the main thing you need to consider when it comes to returning customers. Your team should be friendly, kind and dedicated.
How Do I Build a Good Team?
Your team is one of the most important aspects of your business, it is also one of the most costly, so making sure you hire the right people for you is essential. Your team should probably look something like this… a general manager, 2/3 shift managers, laser tag attendants and party hosts. The age demographic of your team is not important as long as they are well trained in equipment, safety and rules and regulations. They are the face of your company, so choose wisely!
Are There Any Legal Things I Need to Consider?
There are quite a few legalities you need to be aware of when opening your own laser tag business. Take a look at what your state requires in terms of permits and licenses. Personal Asset Protection is important, it will protect any of your personal items in case of any lawsuit. Get a business credit card – this prevents your personal and business expenses getting confused and also helps to build the credit history for your company. One word… WAIVERS! These can really save you in terms of any potential lawsuits. Lastly, businesses working out of a specific location will require a Certificate of Occupancy. A CO proves that all building codes, government regulations and zoning laws are being abided by.
What Is My Earning Potential?
In order to figure out your earning potential, you need to firstly think about what you will charge your customers. Typically, a 5 – 7-minute game can be charged at $8-$15 depending on your facilities and your location. Usually, subsequent games are offered for a discount. You then need to consider your expenses, which can cost annually approximately $200,000. These expenses include payroll, marketing, lease, utilities, insurances, supplies, new software, bank and credit card fees and your insurances. A profit of approximately $40,000 – $100,000 is achievable in the first three years of ownership.
Running your own laser tag area has the potential to be a very lucrative business and is perfect for someone who has strong business skills and likes interacting with a wide range of people. If you are struggling to decide whether this is something you wish to pursue, consider visiting The Laser Tag convention or speaking to the lovely people over at the Laser Tag Owners Association, they will be able to give you more specific advice. The last thing that needs to be said is good luck with your venture, if you work hard and heed the advice given, your hard work should pay off!