Indoor laser tag as a serious business: where to begin?
If you made up your mind to get involved with indoor laser tag, rest assured you can’t go wrong with it. This business is for people who are single-minded and determined to succeed. You are about to start a new interesting job and make lots of discoveries. There are adversities in any business. In spite of them, laser tag will not only become a source of income for you – it will bring you lots of positive emotions. So, what shall we start with?
Taking the first step
Before you draft a business plan and estimate the forthcoming expenditures, study laser tag business well by playing a game yourself, going on a journey to different cities and seeing how arenas are organized. Learn from your colleagues’ experience. Don’t feel self-conscious to ask people who have achieved heights in this business. They will certainly not disclose their trade secrets, but they will advise you on where to begin. No doubt, there is competition in laser tag. Yet it is not as fierce as in other business areas.
Finding a place
It is general belief that it is easier to achieve commercial success by opening an arena in a shopping centre, as costs for advertising will significantly lower while the payback will be higher. This doesn’t mean though that setting up a laser tag arena in a separate place is out of the question. Choose the option that suits your purposes best. Do you expect to serve customers of various ages? Then spacious shopping centres are your choice. Is your aim to serve regular customers that do laser tag on a professional level? Then you had better rent a separate spacious place. Good marketing will help make any arena profitable, even if it is located in the outskirts of the city.
Build your own maze or buy it
Now that you have rented a place and decided on the concept, your next step will be setting up the arena. You have three options:
- to buy a ready-made labyrinth (the equipment is often included in the “set”);
- to buy a pre-owned labyrinth;
- to build your own labyrinth.
It is going to be cheapest to build a labyrinth by yourself. If you are familiar with a building job, then setting up a decent construction is not going to be a big deal for you. Especially if you are not in a rush, because the building and assembling process is lengthy.
When you are running out of time and rent needs to be paid, buying a new labyrinth is going to be a better money investment, despite its high cost. Besides, the manufacturer is going to deliver it and set it up it within a brief period.
When it comes to buying a used labyrinth, there is a high risk of buying a pig in a poke. You cannot secure yourself from stumbling upon a dishonest seller who will try to get rid of a well worn-out construction.
Buying the equipment
The good news is that manufactured in Russia (by LLC “LASERWAR”) ready play sets for indoor laser tag are 2-3 times cheaper than their foreign equivalents. Their quality beats that of foreign sets. Furthermore, the equipment needs no additional expendable parts. All you need is purchase it, activate it and play. But don’t try to save on equipment – only buy from trusted reliable makers! For your income entirely depends on it. Even though equipment hardly ever breaks down (basically, none of its elements can fail), you had rather buy a couple of extra sets, so as not to disrupt a game someday.
Initially, one person can perform all the functions (of the administrator, instructor, cleaner). There is no doubt that doing the job all by yourself is hard, but it is even more difficult to pay employees’ salaries when the profit is still low. That is why indoor laser tag is frequently a family business and close family members are employed – one’s husband or wife, for instance. Thus, all the profit remains in the family and is spent on business development instead of being spent on salaries for little known assistants. Although there are pitfalls here: sometimes it is better to hire a good specialist who is experienced in entertainment business, than a mediocre family member who can ruin your business, leaving you high and dry.
Remember about advertising and the bonus system
You should aim not only to attract new clients, but also to stimulate your regular customers, especially if you have competitors. There is no need for us to explain that without marketing no one is going to know about you. As to word of mouth, it is only efficient during the first few months. Do hire an experienced marketing specialist, if you have an opportunity to do so. He will attract new customers a lot faster than the largest billboard in your city.
Laser tag regular customers bring the highest money intake, so you should always remember about them. A bonus system, promotions, discounts – this all will attract a loyal following to your arena. Eventually, you are highly likely to start organizing real championships among regular customers and professional players – such events attract attention to the arena and are more effective than is advertising.
Be sure to create pages devoted to the arena in big social networks. Most of your prospective customers (of all ages!) can be found there. These days almost everyone has an account on Facebook or Vkontakte. People share their opinions, useful links and important contact details on the pages of social networks.
Besides, gaining popularity by means of social networks has many significant advantages: among them quick start-up (creating a group or a community is a matter of a few minutes), low cost, a lot of ways to attract new customers, personal contact with the audience.
A few words about the budget
For clear reasons, indoor laser tag requires bigger investments than the outdoor variety. However, we cannot give even an approximate estimate, it all depends on the idea you want to implement. The amounts laser tag business owners provide vary so greatly (form 400 000 to 4 000 000 Russian rubles), that it makes no sense to give them as an example.
Whether you take a bank loan for starting off your business or save the necessary sum – it is up to you. You can start by equipping a small place for playing the game, buy a required minimum of play sets and if required employ a few people who will give you a hand. If you plan a good strategy for your business start-up, you will expand your business in a year’s time. A couple years later you may become owner of a chain of indoor laser tag arenas. This is no fantasy, but a realistic goal.