In the spirit of ending our series of articles about setting up your own arcade business on the right note, we’re here today to facilitate a checklist, or a cheat-sheet, if you will, of the various things you need to consider in order to get started.
On previous occasions, we talked about the different types of arcades games available, what works for most arcade establishments, as well as the appropriate locations to place your business, and the types of games you could feature on it. With this article, our aim is to recap on the topics we’ve touched until now, as well as add a couple extra nuggets of information to make your lifelong dream of opening your arcade into reality, in a simple list format.
As simple as the process may sound (condition a room, set up a few machines), building an arcade business actually takes a lot of planning and know-how. Said process can be divided into two phases: the instruction and planning phase and the execution phase.
Instruction & Planning
This phase should cover everything from getting to know the types of arcades, the industry’s best practices and rules of etiquette, the feasibility of the market you want to build in, and all the other elements related to the construction, space planning, interior design, and so on. Sounds complicated, huh? Well, that’s actually because it kinda is. Most entrepreneurs don’t just “luck out” and score big with their business without actually knowing what they’re doing.
But don’t worry if you feel stumped at first, because that’s where we come in. Our team of knowledgeable agents are available to answer any of your queries, as well as provide valuable insight on the many factors you need to consider in order to get started with your arcade establishment. Our PrimeTime Amusements Family Entertainment Center consultants are prepared to share with you the ins and outs of the industry, and to unerringly guide you through the ropes, in hopes of granting you a head-start with your business. Our team is qualified to answer questions in all the areas mentioned above, as well as assist in you in others, such as the number of machines you should acquire, the types of games in relation to your target demographic, the costs per round, and so much more.
One other important element in this phase is the selection of the theme that will set the mood in your arcade. Be it western, eastern, kid-themed, or tailored for teens and adults, here at PrimeTime Amusements, we have a skilled custom theming and design team comprised of an art director and several talented sculptors that can help you create any type of architectural design, as well as props and other set pieces to bring the theme of your thoughts into physical reality.
Either way, you will want to take your time in finding the best venue that has the right amount of rent, space, and foot traffic that will translate into a better chance for success.After you settle on a location, and theme, then comes the execution phase.
This is where the fun really begins. This phases covers everything from gaining the proper zoning approvals, putting floor plans and designs into motion, furnishing the arcade, and advertising it to the masses. If the previous phase was about getting to know the industry and amassing knowledge, then this phase is the one where you actually put said knowledge to the test. A good business plan makes for a good business, and a good business leads to great profits, which makes all your endeavors well-worth the effort.
As things stand, this part of opening your business is more straightforward; all you need to do is follow whatever you have planned to the letter, while being prepared for ‘unforeseen’ circumstances (shipping delays, permit delays, products suddenly unavailable, etc). Between good planning and willing to be flexible towards those things outside of your control, you’ll have your arcade business up and running in no time.
For the people keeping track at home, you may have noticed that starting your first arcade business is by no means an easy feat. That said, it can be broken down into smaller tasks that are easier to digest and perform. In the following paragraphs, you will find a set of steps that you need to take in order to get your business running. I think it goes without saying that your personal experience may vary. However, these are the hoops that most budding entrepreneurs will have to jump through:
1. Settle upon a location for your new arcade
I think we’ve already stressed enough the importance of proper location in relation to the success of your business. Arcades, as well as any other establishments thrive because of the people that come to visit. In order to secure a good customer base, we need to build our business in places where people, especially younger kids and teens, tend to frequent. School neighborhoods, the proximities of shopping malls, and even commercial or retail zones (such as near a Walmart) are great places to build your arcade.
2. Acquire the proper zoning approvals and permissions
Not every business requires zoning approvals to be built. However, just to be sure, you should always consult with your zoning board before proceeding to build your arcade. This is especially important for you, since Family Entertainment Centers used to have troubles gaining approval in the past, so odds are that you will need to acquire the necessary permissions first. Note that every city/county/state has different laws regarding business creation & establishment. In certain instances, this may require the consultation of a lawyer in your area who is familiar with local business laws & regulations. We recommend that you take your time here to get it right.
3. Creating a business plan
This is hands-down one of the most important steps in the whole process of opening your arcade business, especially if your new establishment budget exceeds the million dollar mark. In these cases, a feasibility study is imperative to determine whether your project will be profitable and be able to make up the investment in a plausible time period. Said feasibility studies are worth a pretty penny to perform, but are well-worth the investment for a couple of reasons:
First, they can actually let you know if your project goals are achievable, and that the benefits will outweigh the costs in the long run. And second, a proper feasibility study can help you to net investors, either private or government-backed, which leads us to our next step.
4. Securing the necessary funds to set your plan in motion
Opening your arcade business will take anywhere from a moderate amount of money, to a sizeable investment of funds; but you already knew that, didn’t you? What you may not know is where to procure said funds in order to begin constructing your business. This is where your business plan and feasibility studies really shine. With these papers in hand, you can sit down with your local bank or other private agents, and persuade them to give you a loan. In most cases, you will have to pay back with interest, while others would lend you the money in exchange for associate status and receive part of the profits of the business.
If you try and approach an investor or a bank without showing that you’ve put in the efforts to study the industry, chances are they will not take you seriously. This runs the risk of “burning a bridge” with a potential investment source that could otherwise be a part of your success.
5. Drawing up the floor plan, theme, and design of your arcade establishment
This is the backbone of your arcade. These blueprints will dictate how your arcade establishment will look after it’s fully furnished and equipped. Consequently, a floor plan must always be drawn up with the assistance of experts in the industry, which we’re more than happy to provide. Along with floor planning, we can also assist you with the design, construction, and applying the theme of your business.
6. Building your business based on the previously agreed upon plans
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The most important part about this step is following the designs and blueprints to the letter in order to avoid unpleasantries or conflicts down the line.
7. Acquiring and Installing furnishings and machines
After finishing the construction, all that’s left is to decide which types of machines to populate your arcade with. As we’ve mentioned on other articles, you may choose from a selection of arcade games, redemption games, and instant prize games. If you’re pressed for space, you might need to settle with the smaller cabinets and machines. On the other hand, if you have plenty of room to spare, you might even be able to furnish your establishment with big amusements, such as simulators or even large rides. But before you start buying machines all willy-nilly, please consider the possibility of acquiring card-swipe systems instead of their coin-based counterparts. The former can really help you forgo the security issues of coin-operated machines, as well as provide a wide slew of benefits, such as remote price adjustment, and real-time machine statistics to determine which games are the most profitable across the board.
8. Creating an advertising and marketing strategy to get the word around about your new business
After all is said and done, you will still need to get the word around about your new arcade. Some of the most effective advertising strategies actually come from direct interaction with the target demographic, such as TV ads, posting flyers on popular places, or even throwing in special discounts via coupons. Creating brochures with all the information about the services your business offers, as well as engaging in cooperation with local schools or other organizations can also work wonders to let your business be known throughout the neighborhood.
In our online world, it is also important to create a presence on the internet. This means an official website with pictures of the venue, lists of the games and other entertainment options you have, pricing and any other details you might want to share. Websites are not expensive to create and run. It is also wise to use those “free” social media hubs to help spread the word – whether that is Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google +, Yelp, MeWe, Vid.Me, etc. Use good pictures and/or video with these sites and it helps customers find you.
Keep in mind that, despite being a fairly convoluted process, you don’t have to walk this path by yourself. Our team of FEC consultants are qualified to help you in every step of the way, so that you can successfully open your arcade business as smoothly as possible. At PrimeTime Amusements we’re the nation’s leading provider of arcade sales and rental solutions. If you have any queries or concerns regarding the process of opening up your very own business, or simply want to ask about a machine in general, feel free to give us a call at 1.800.550.0090, or drop by and visit us at 5300 Powerline Rd, Suite 210, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.