The following is a guide to
what is involved in opening a DarkLight laser tag facility. It highlights
various criteria for decision-making and gives an indication of the scope
of jobs ahead of you. A lot of it may appear obvious but we have witnessed
how easy it is to miss some of the most basic points.
You will need to convince investors of a) the viability
of Lasertag as a business b) that you are the right person to make
the business a success. Even if you are funding this entirely yourself,
having gone through the motions of selling you/your team to others
brings a lot of home truths out in to the open.
assuming you don't have all the cash available this might
take some time and it is worth lining up your options as early as
possible even if you can't secure anything until you have your building
and operational details finalised. You could
do you have sufficient assets you can offer as security?
. Will they be your active partners or will they be
silent, providing just money and leaving you to organise everything
and run the finished facility (unlikely if they are putting up
most or all the funding!)
(see Links page) but
you will need to satisfy the lending institution's criteria for
credit worthiness so you will need to have assets and a good credit
SBA in the USA or Small Firms Loan Guarantee
in the UK which might help you with the bank negotiations.
the most important key to your success will be the demographics
of the area in which you find your location. It shouldn't need saying
but here it is anyway... you will need a good market to sustain
your business. Lasertag is not cheap to play and will therefore
need to be supported by many of the right type of customers who
can afford to play, preferably many times. The practicalities of
being able to manage it easily from where you live is another major
consideration. Look at potential competition from other leisure
activities - they may be complimentary or not.
is the key to keeping your overheads down. All the other ongoing
costs can be managed relative to your busy periods but your rent
carries on relentlessly.
be it a busy road, pedestrian shopping
make it easy for people to get in there!
this will be crucial - both for reason of your customer's convenience,
but it may well also fall under your local authority's requirements
in terms of building size, and occupancy levels.
Although the number of players that can play in
a space is determined more by the density of fittings and
on how many levels, as a rule of thumb, a small arena for
say, 12-16 players, needs to be around 2,000 - 2,500 sq.ft
(200 - 250 sq.mt), and a large arena for, say 30 players,
needs to be around 4,000 - 5,000 sq.ft (400 - 500 sq.mt).
essential for accomodating your main target market. Birthday
parties are the bread and butter of almost all successful
laser tag facilities..
the most obvious and easy way to take more revenue from those
waiting to play.
- although this may be less necessary
for players waiting to play, visit any Lasertag centre on
a busy Saturday afternoon and there are always parents hanging
around waiting enduringly for their children to finish playing.
This is often the sum of their experience. If it is pleasant
for them they are going to be happy to stay and since they
often make the decision as to whether their child can play
again and pay for them they become the secondary target market.
- basic drink dispensers are a must and
a significant source of revenue as playing laser tag often
makes players thirsty and again it will be the parents and
the older clientel that will appreciate this most and therefore
quality is a significant factor too.
this is the first part of the whole game experience which
sets the atmosphere.
Packs are spaced at 50 - 60 cm (20 - 24") intervals and
whilst a central partition can be put in to create more walls
space, corners, standing room and doorways must still be taken
Just inside the arena, accessed from the vesting room, this
is an essential for smooth operations and good control over
the game. This is where the game computer will be housed as
well as any lighting and sound control equipment.
somewhere a tech can do simple work on any equipment.
as central as possible to operations to maximise
will judge your operation by your toilets.
such as health & safety,
fire, and building control in order to get your designs through.
Involving them at the earliest possible stage is well worthwhile
as you are less likely to go down a dead end and most importantly,
authorities like to feel they are welcome participants in the setting
up process and you are therefore more likely to get a positive response
to get costings and make sure it is going to work within
budget. This is a task that DarkLight can help with (see Products>VBR
This is also a service that DarkLight can supply (see Products>Arena
(even if you do it all through
one general contractor you often end up helping organise many of
the sub-contractors). Are they punctual, reliable and financially
secure? How high on their priority list will your project be?
detailing the entire operation now that you have found
your building and know exactly what all the costs and commitments
now that you have all the details of your business it's crunch time.
Get professional help with your lease negotiations as commercial
leasing can be a minefield of problems for a newcomer.
- manage and coordinate all the construction workmen
putting a good management structure in place is critical
if you are ever going to be able to delegate any portion of your
business. Lasertag is a customer service dependent product and the
quality of the presentation by the staff is as important as any
other element of the business. Again, a significant portion of the
target market is the parents of the children who play. The ability
of your staff to please the parents will significantly affect your
your target market and be incisive in how you appeal to it.
If you choose to use the DarkLight brand we can supply
a lot of the artwork and templates (see Marketing).
If not, you will need to choose an image, a brand and a logo and
develop all the associated artwork. Unless you have lots of time
and are a graphics designer you need will to involve one.
This is the age of the web and a good web site is of paramount
importance. We can supply you with all your web services from
registration to hosting, building and maintaining (see Web
Services). Whether we supply you or not, your website
will be the most effective piece of passive marketing that
effective if there are a good number of
the target market amongst the readers proportionate to the
cost of the advert.
what message does it convey and how many of your target market
will see it.
this can be expensive. Make sure it pays back.
- The more pro-active
you are with your marketing the better. Having a good, dedicated
sales person can pay huge dividends. Once you have decided who your
target markets are, it is your job to find them, let them know about
you and to entice them to come to your centre. Find what groups
in your area organise entertainment and team building outings and
make contact with them.
These always take more time than predicted and are much more difficult
to get done once you are open such as
If the above list of tasks sounds daunting
then it is worth considering whether you want to set up a Laser Tag Centre.
Without exception, all our customers have gone through all these processes
either in roughly the above order or playing a desperate game of catch-up....
firefighting due to lack of advanced planning and diligence.
©2012 DarkLight Developments Ltd