Nothing For Kids To Do Here

"But There's Nothing for Kids To Do Here..."
a Laser Tag in Small Communities

by Jason Bock

The Small Town Curse

I've lived in smaller communities. There are a lot of benefits to small towns. Everybody knows you. Your kids can walk over to their friend's house. No traffic to speak of. Usually things are less expensive.

But kids, especially teenagers have a few complaints about small towns. Compared to the wide variety of activities available in a larger city, there isn't a lot to appeal to kids.

Many potential clients have come to LASERTRON with this in mind. Some see opportunity. Others are community-minded...they just want to provide something for kids in their towns.

Be A Business First

The laser tag and entertainment industry is a wonderful industry. It's a lot of fun to own and manage a high-quality laser tag facility. But it is also work. Hard work.

Laser tag takes an incredible investment of your time and money. Even if you get a bank loan, you are still going to be personally responsible for making restitution. The only way to win this game is to run your facility like a business. The good news is that if you build the right laser tag in the right area, you can make a business that is both fun and profitable.

Even if your goal is to provide a valuable service for your community, you can't do that if you can't keep the facility open. If you want to provide a real service to your community, charge fair prices, make a profit and stay open. Become an icon in your home town.

There Is a Reason Why There Is Nothing To Do.

If your community doesn't have the population necessary to support an entertainment business, your laser tag dreams just won't come true in the long-term or the short-term.

It's easy to make the assumption that because there isn't anything else to do in the area, your business will be wildly successful. After all, kids will flock to your facility for lack of an alternative. Unfortunately, this could be a costly assumption for you.

You see, laser tag is not an essential activity. Nobody has to come to your facility at all. If it's not cool enough, players won't come. If it's just a tiny version of what's available to them on vacation or in a nearby city, they won't come. A

The fact is that if your community was a big enough marketplace, someone else would have developed some sort of entertainment facility. Most smaller communities don't have any entertainment facilities (unless they attract tourist traffic).

Even if they do come. Even if everybody in the community supports your location, it still may not be enough for long-term success. LASERTRON recommends a minimum of 250,000 in a 10-15 mile radius around your facility. If you have a lot less than this minimum population, you will have a hard time breaking even.

There Are a Few Success Stories

Sure, there are a few locations around the United States that have developed a successful entertainment facility in a smaller community.

When you look at these facilities, there are a few common factors. First, the successful facilities are often long-term family businesses. They've been there, in one shape or another, for a number of years. Maybe they started as a bowling alley or a kiddie park and developing laser tag was a later addition.

This means they have experienced entertainment management. It's easy to think that running a laser tag or family entertainment center is easy. Straightforward, perhaps, but it's far from easy. Just ask a few of the best operators in this business. Experienced management means you are less likely to make costly mistakes. It means you know how to do the right thing most of the time.

Second, small-town success stories often have high quality attractions. The theory that you can "right-size" a facility for a smaller town simply doesn't pan out. Nobody much enjoys playing in a 1000 square foot laser tag arena. It certainly won't draw a lot of repeat business. Likewise, a 3-hole miniature golf course would be silly. A four-lane bowling alley has a hard time attracting enough people to cover the costs payroll, utilities, taxes, rent and capital expenses.

Entertainment is all about being the biggest and the best. With the internet, television and cable media, and easy travel options, even people in smaller communities have a pretty good idea of what the biggest and the best is.

This all means being successful in a small community may be almost as large of a capital investment as being successful in a large community.

Finally, small-town success stories often attract tourists or other out-of-town business. But, a laser tag facility or family entertainment center is not usually a destination unto themselves. Your community will have to have other reasons to draw tourists with kids in the proper age group.

There Must Be an Easier Way

There is. You have to consider building a facility where it has a real chance to flourish. After all, you wouldn't try to grow oranges in northern Canada or corn in the Sahara Desert. There might be a way to do it, but it's a lot easier to find the appropriate climate for the right crop.

Our team at LASERTRON is straightforward when it comes to evaluating a potential site for your facility. If it's not likely to work, we'll tell you. As much as possible, we try to make sure your investment has every opportunity to pay off for you.

If your heart is set on opening a facility in a smaller community, understand the tremendous risk you are taking on for you and your family. Odds are you will struggle.

If you still decide to do it, make certain you learn everything you can about operating an entertainment business. Consider alternative attractions that may work with fewer participants or shorter hours of operation. Contact your community leaders and make certain that your facility will be welcome and supported.

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