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Kameron Messmer
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Billings, MT
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Hey guys! It's been forever! I'd like your opinion on something, but first the background:

I opened a birthday party room about a year ago with a "free play" arcade, a little theater for magic shows and it has blown up. I've gone from a handful of random shows a month to over 30 gigs a month, almost entirely on Friday Saturday, and Sunday. They are private parties, so only one at a time and we have add ons for food, drinks, balloons etc. The arcade now has 11 arcade cabinets, big screens with video games and ping ping, foosball, pool table etc.

The most popular day is obviously Saturdays and most in the morning to early afternoon. I can only get 4 parties in from 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. I have hit a ceiling as far as how much I can make and we are usually booked solid.
I don't/can't do more then one party at a time and it is a great selling point that it is a private party. Also it's easier, but my current building is set up so it's impossible to do 2 parties at once.

The problem: I want to make more money and the only way I can figure is to try and do 2 parties at once.

My solutions? Find another building that I can run 2 parties at once, but still keep the parties separate and private. e.g. while one party is playing in the arcade, another is eating or watching a show and cycle them through.
OR find a place where one party can do the arcade and the other does another activity (my current favorite is nerf gun arena)
Problem? My rent is STUPID cheap (about $850 with utilities) and any other place I find will be over $1000 MORE then my current rent.
If I can do up to 8 parties on a Saturday It's a no brainer, but my wife is afraid we will not get that many more shows to justify moving in to a new place, putting money into decorating, etc.

If I can even do ONE more party a week it's an extra $1000 we didn't have before, but I'm also paying more employees then now, and it's a lot more work and again, more rent...

I need ideas... Thanks in advance!


P.S. if you want to see the website it's www.allfunandgamesroom.com but the website pics are old and we just got about 8-12 more games so a more accurate idea is at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/allfunandgamesroom/ and the last video shows a walkthrough
the Sponge
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Atlanta
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Raise your prices.
Kameron Messmer
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Billings, MT
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Quote:
On Apr 14, 2016, the Sponge wrote:
Raise your prices.

That is what I just told my wife! Our base price was 200 and we just raised it to 225. If it weren't so soon I would raise it again. We are not in a huge area so I'm afraid going up is going to price too many people out. I think we will raise the price but we will have to wait a bit.
Kameron Messmer
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I know $225 is stupid cheap for 2 hours in a private game room, because I'll bet most magis In here charge $300 and up bare minimum for a show. My game room plus show is only $275. My area sucks and people are CHEAP!
the Sponge
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Don't know know how many people you can feed at once, but maybe a couple nights a week have "family dinner night" where for a price they can have pizza and play games and stuff like a Chuckie Cheese. Looks like you have to figure out how to get more use during the week. Summer is coming, maybe a daily "camp" type of thing?
thomasR
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Such an awesome idea! Looks like a great place. I would go with raising your rates slowly over time vs. expanding to a larger and more expensive place.
Like you said.. the "Private Party" really sells too. Having 2 groups share a space, even if it was set up good for it, could lose some of that "exclusive" feel.

I was guessing the party room rented for $400-500 based on your website. I was really surprised to see the low price. Like you said.. it's a small town and they are cheap... but I still think you can easily charge close to $300 for the room.

The other performers you have listed charge $100 per hour, and your show is only $50 to add on. I think you could bump that up to $75 easy. (I understand you want to be the cheaper option, since you are already there!).

Really love the business idea.... glad to hear it's been so popular!
Dannydoyle
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Sounds like you are doing well. I doubt I can add much except to say congratulations.

You seem to know your area. You Definately know the market. Good on you brother. I like to see people succeed. You Definately are.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Kameron Messmer
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Quote:
On Apr 14, 2016, thomasR wrote:

I was guessing the party room rented for $400-500 based on your website. I was really surprised to see the low price. Like you said.. it's a small town and they are cheap... but I still think you can easily charge close to $300 for the room.

The other performers you have listed charge $100 per hour, and your show is only $50 to add on. I think you could bump that up to $75 easy. (I understand you want to be the cheaper option, since you are already there!).

Thanks for all the kind words! If I was anywhere else in the country, I would have to. I don't think cost of living is as high here, but I could be wrong.

To tell you how cheap they are, IN one year I have had probably less then 10 parties order food from me, NOT ONE cake from me, NOT ONE order the clown (and he is a popular entertainer in town). We have had VERY few people upgrade. They all want to bring in their own food, drinks, balloons etc, because I let them. I don't make much if anything on most upgrades so it's fine, and that is a reason we raised prices so we would make money for people bringing in food. This town seems to resent the "extra charge for outside food" thing or the "no outside food allowed" so we are automatically the good guys for letting them do that. These people are saving pennies to a few bucks by bringing in their own stuff so it's pulling teeth to get more money.

But one time I got a $200 tip on a $275 party...
Kameron Messmer
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Quote:
On Apr 14, 2016, Dannydoyle wrote:
Sounds like you are doing well. I doubt I can add much except to say congratulations.

You seem to know your area. You Definately know the market. Good on you brother. I like to see people succeed. You Definately are.

You have no idea how much your words mean to me. Thanks man.
Dannydoyle
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I am glad.

I tell you what I do see in your model. You are setting in for the long run. Keep that in mind. Perhaps you may not get as much on each individual but in 10 years you are still going. That is the goal. That is a recipe for sixes.

Also maybe don't think of them as cheap. It is possible they can't afford things. And you are the guy who makes it possible for them to afford it! That is why tips like that come in.

I think you are moving in a great direction. Good fortune!
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
WDavis
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Business packages for retailers.

They need training venues and meeting areas. I've seen banks rent movie houses out for their training/sales rallies. Why can't that be you? Best part is they do it during the week. Provide an all inclusive price- food beverage game room and you will be set to sale.
Dannydoyle
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Problem is in such a small market those opportunities are quite limited.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
WDavis
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As I don't know his location or environment, that might be true. My thoughts were geared to leveraging the weekday downtime. Another option is get a wine and beer license and do a boys night type of event for certain clubs and associations.
Mindpro
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While right now I don't have the time to really get into this as I'm currently on my Spring Tour, I was one of the creators and helped launch Rock-N-Bowls which is today known as Cosmic Bowl currently at hundreds of bowling and sports centers worldwide. I also owned my own teen club/party venue, so I'll offer you some quick random thoughts.

I don't believe you have maximized your earning potential to it's fullest at the space you are at. I would advise working towards this rather than moving to a costlier location. It's one thing to expand when you are bursting at the seams with all the business you can handle for the size space you are at, but that kind of growth can also bring different and additional dynamics not incurred where you are currently at.

Some good advice as been offered here so far. My thoughts would also be..

Work on boosting non-prime offerings, I would raise prices for your prime times and offer special discount rates/packages for non-prime to try to boast them.

I would also look at making profits from every element of your business, there seems to be so much you are not (free play, no getting anything/much for additional services/entertainment or options, etc.)

You seem to be outsourcing some of your additional talent at retail or near retail pricing. I would do more in-house or under your own umbrella as you should set a pay rate and work with performers willing to work at that rate for the amount of work you will provide them, or simply train your own staff or talent to do this in-house as part of your business and operations.

Same for food, you seem to use Pizza Hut, where perhaps you could do this in house or in conjunction with someone not at retail pricing. What about concessions or a snack bar?

I would have more inclusive packages, that include balloons, cake , drinks, utencils, napkins, candy, etc. My guess is your customers are just going to the dollar store and bring their own, because they have that option. I would not let them be able t bring their own. You business can offer three things - games, entertainment and the food/drinks. You are giving the control (and profit centers) of these away.

The key to any good business operation is to provide them what they can't get get or do themselves, or at least not easily or together at one place for one price. Get more value for your show. $50 for it as an extra is crazy. You must create greater value in both your performance and the party business. Do you rent it our for graduation parties, scouts, church groups, boys/girls clubs, and other community events? How about rather than a party business, and kids or family entertainment complex? Greater perceived value. People will pay for what they don't have anywhere else in town.

How about hosting open mic nights or performers showcase events?

I would look for more NTR (non-traditional revenue) such as a birthday club or magic club for kids. Teach magic lessons on the slower weeknights. I believe Michael Ammar offers a fantastic package for this that could prove a great investment.

Do you know what Rock-n-Bowl is or Cosmic Bowl at bowling/sports centers? Use the same concept for a week nights or non-booked weekend periods, color lighting, recorded music and the games all played under the cosmic lights. Create more of a cool atmosphere rather than just free play games.

Have a cover for your non-party events, such as $5, $8, or $10 for 2 hours of free game play. Make the attraction the venue and atmosphere not just "have your party here."

Also who are you targeting? I used to own a teen club and it offers some possibilities as well. Have a family game night, like the television game show where family can come play and compete.

Are you using the Press & Media? This would be ideal for your venue. Check out my book Press & Media For Entertainers. For your type of business and your location you could really work this angle and it would position your business as the go-to place for fun parties, celebrations and as a family & live entertainment venue.

Just some random thoughts for you.
Skip Way
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Kameron, first, congratulations on your growing success. As Danny said, you know your market - stick with that knowledge.

What do you do during the weekdays? Could you offer morning shows for stay-at-home preschoolers, daycares, and homeschoolers? Friends of mine here make use of a local comedy club that sits idle during the weekdays to offer fun and somewhat educational music & puppet shows for this market. They do four shows a week hat are usually packed. They change the show monthly. Charge a flat per child or family admission rate. Moms would BLESS you for a reason to get out of the house once a week! If you have a coffee or pastry shop nearby, offer to co-op with them on delivering pastries and coffee for the mothers and teachers.

Offer after school magic lessons, balloon twisting lessons, etc. Find subcontractors to sublet your space for lessons or activities during down time. I don't know if this is a dated idea, but maybe offer balloon bouquet deliveries through the week with a 15-minute magic or comedy presentation for the recipient. Your storefront would be the place for customers to select a gift item to accompany the balloons.

I also concur with Mindpro on primetime pricing. Set prices higher during peak periods to try and drive people to lower priced non=peak weekday evenings. You'll still book those primetime hours, but you'll pack more non-prime parties on nights that might have gone empty.

Just a few wild thoughts to help kickstart the idea process.

If your building joins another on either side owned by the same landlord, wait for one of those spaces to become vacant then expand into that one.
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
charliecheckers
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First of all, Kameron great job pulling this venture through.
My biggest advice is to stop criticizing your patrons. You have done this on TMC as long as I can remember. You seem to have the perception that if people had, or spent more money that you would be the one to get it. That is far from true. With more money, comes more and better competition. If your area was more affluent, Dave and Busters (or the like) would be in, and you would be out.

When I started my business, I cannot tell you how glad I was to see that Library program budgets were rather fixed. This kept many pros away, yet still afforded me the opportunity of a lifetime, making crazy money for someone just starting out. You have potentially the same thing going and you gripe. You are the one owning a lower end game room and establishing a business model that attracts budget conscious patrons. You seem surprised to then have them behave that way.

Before running and changing a bunch of things, I recommend you first see that your current number of bookings is sustainable over the coming months, as the weather is warmer and competition from summer activities is better known. Just a few strong months does not mean you will always be booked solid.
Dannydoyle
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It is always dangerous that you may change the very thing that attracts them.

I will also say often people resent the upsell. I know how popular it is but anybody who comes in on a fixed budget will be upset that there are hidden costs. Or at least what are perceived as hidden costs. Nobody wants to feel as if you are trying to drain them of every last dollar they have.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
TomBoleware
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Kameron, good to see you doing well with it. I knew you could.

Let’s not forget the three most important things with a brick and mortar business, 1.location, 2. location, 3. location.
When you in the perfect spot, you move you lose. Sometimes it’s best to just enjoy what you have.

Tom
Do What Others Do And You Will Become Average

The Daycare Magician Book
www.amazekids.com/magic-downloads/childrens-magic-ebooks/the-daycare-magician/

Tom Boleware
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Dynamike
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Tom beat me to it dealing with a brick and mortar business. It does not have to be gigantic. Just rent/lease a building you can fix up and have parties at. Especially in the winter time you can have more parties there as if it is a kid's entertainment hall. have objects and games where kids will have fun after your magic show.

Another idea is expand your business by subcontracting with clowns, kid characters, etc. The whole business is under you name.
Kameron Messmer
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Billings, MT
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Quote:
On Apr 15, 2016, Dannydoyle wrote:
Also maybe don't think of them as cheap. It is possible they can't afford things. And you are the guy who makes it possible for them to afford it! That is why tips like that come in.


I know, It's hard not to, but I am not alone as a business owner in my town. It is frustrating when I offer so much that never gets purchased because it's too expensive, but they are still buying stuff. I am told to make money on add ons and upgrades and I do NOT gouge like I could and my kindness is returned by people not ever buying extra stuff. It's just weird to me. I offer helium balloons because WHO WANTS TO FILL UP THEIR CAR WITH FLOATING BALLOONS AND KIDS AND DRIVE TO A PARTY PLACE? But NO ONE buys my helium balloons. doesn't even ask questions about them when we offer.
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