(Topic ID: 195753)

Can you make Money putting machines on Location?


By trk12fire

2 years ago



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  • 114 posts
  • 42 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by pinaholic
  • Topic is favorited by 21 Pinsiders

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    There are 114 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 3.
    #51 2 years ago
    Quoted from robotronjohn:

    My operator friends have an Addams Family locally at Boxcar in Raleigh that averages 500+ plays a week in a line up of 17 pins. They run mostly newer LE games but also have a nice line up of classic B/W DMD games. Location is key to heavy play and great earnings.

    Me and my girl went there on a weekend night. It was PACKED but there were like 5 or 6 machines down. I said they have to haul the cash out in wheelbarrows. Parking sucks though.

    #52 2 years ago

    Funny you mentioned that Zen. That is one of the suggestions I made. 50/50, minus 15% for repair. I'm really focusing on one establishment. He has enough room for 3 machines and our town really needs them. If I was able to place my machines into 1 location, it would be easier for me to maintain them. Also, I could create an atmosphere and have tournaments. It's in a bar/cafe attached to the movie theater. He wants to drive people coming in and out of his theater into his bar/cafe. I checked it out today and he has plenty of room, but not many people coming in. I guess that's where I come in.
    I'd really like to get a Rob Zombie in there too. Does anyone have any pros or cons on this machine. I know it's a little scary, but when I played it I really enjoyed it. I'm more worried about maintaining it and the mechanics.

    #53 2 years ago

    Read everything that Lloyd has said in this thread and then read it again.

    The man has survived in a tough business for a very long time.

    #54 2 years ago

    Has anyone experienced a trashed game in a bar room atmosphere? I've been on the fence on running a few games. Have a open invite to put some games in a local bar. My games are too nice for the bar, so I guess my question is how nasty to they beat them?

    #55 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    Has anyone experienced a trashed game in a bar room atmosphere? I've been on the fence on running a few games. Have a open invite to put some games in a local bar. My games are too nice for the bar, so I guess my question is how nasty to they beat them?

    I'll bet Vid1900 has a picture or two to share ...

    #56 2 years ago

    I'd like to know some of the darker stories.
    The place in mind can host a few less decent folk from time to time.

    I'll say his name three times and hope he appears

    #57 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    I'd like to know some of the darker stories.

    You mean like your pin involved in a brawl ? Someone loses a ball and picks it up three feet in the air and slams it down ? Use a randall or Bowie knife to carve the cabinet. Dump a gallon of bleach on it ? Or simply steal the whole machine ? Pick axe through the playfield glass and into the playfield ?

    Lest I forget, break open the coin door. Thieves aren't always the smartest like stick a screw driver in the frame and pop the door open, some will slam a crowbar into the corner of the cabinet and break the whole front off.

    There isn't anything you can think up that hasn't been done to a pin.

    LTG : )

    #58 2 years ago

    Nothing like working on a Solid-State Evel Knievel directly to the side of the stage at the Chapeau Vert titty bar on Telegraph Road in Detroit. Got knocked on my ass by the 190 volts DC because I just had to peek around and watch the show while fixing the machine. To be fair, this was in 1980....

    #59 2 years ago

    Another was at the now gone Red Run Lanes in Royal Oak, MI (Now a CVS drugstore IIRC). I got the call to go there when they opened at 9:00 am. Someone broke into the place and crowbarred their way into a Paragon, Flash, Atari video game and a cigarette machine of ours. Whole front of the Paragon was off. Had to patch with glue, screws and a wrap-around hasp with padlocks on both sides of the cabinet.

    The Atari video was worse (Sprint 2 IIRC). A hole to the right of the coin door, but they couldn't get at the coins as it was the Atari coin mech door & separate cash box door. Then they crowbarred the whole double door assembly and peeled it away. I had to turn it around and have our truck drivers pick it up.

    #60 2 years ago

    You tell me.

    20170815_000218 (resized).jpg

    #61 2 years ago

    After those instances do you:
    Pull your games from facility ?

    Put a claim with your insurance? The facility insurance?

    Have a mean conversation with someone in charge?

    Keep repairing game if it earns?

    Sell game on pinside?

    #62 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    After those instances do you:
    Pull your games from facility ?
    Put a claim with your insurance? The facility insurance?
    Have a mean conversation with someone in charge?
    Keep repairing game if it earns?
    Sell game on pinside?

    Repair or replace. The establishment and Operator have a CONtract. The Operator I worked for had liability insurance but no loss coverage so we ate the costs.

    #63 2 years ago

    Is it too big of a question to ask what the contract entails?

    #64 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    Pull your games from facility ?

    My experience is from my Father's arcade and the one year I worked for a big operator. So usually you leave the game, unless you haul it in for repair and return it.

    Quoted from Mogg:

    Put a claim with your insurance?

    Have your rates go up ? Not worth it.

    Quoted from Mogg:

    The facility insurance?

    If it's a great location, no.

    Quoted from Mogg:

    Have a mean conversation with someone in charge?

    Depends on location. That may not be the best idea you ever had. You might incur bodily harm trying that one.

    Quoted from Mogg:

    Keep repairing game if it earns?

    Until there is nothing left.

    Quoted from Mogg:

    Sell game on pinside?

    My experience was probably 30 years before Pinside, but great idea !

    LTG : )

    #65 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    Is it too big of a question to ask what the contract entails?

    Ops with contracts can best answer that. It could include many things. Who pays for license. How the money is divided. If anyone else can have anything coin operated in there. Etc. Etc.

    Each contract can be different. And vary from state to state, and even different in other countries.

    LTG : )

    #66 2 years ago

    Are those ugly cross bar locks that go across the coin door a must have? I'd hate to put one on my machine.

    #67 2 years ago

    Sorry I'm the village idiot here, what license needs to be paid for?

    #68 2 years ago

    The RZ at our local location constantly has problems and I can't think of anyone who enjoys it. It's been pulled from three of the last 5 tournaments due to malfunctions. Not because of content or callouts or imagery; nobody I know enjoys shooting that game. It's an odd little break from other games now and again for sure. I'll usually play one game of it when I see it working, but not two or three. I would not recommend RZ for location pinball. YMMV, but I suggest you consider other options if money is a factor.

    If your goal is to be a spot for lesser-known titles (an admirable, but less profitable goal), then by all means toss it on location.

    #69 2 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    Until there is nothing left.

    Ive wondered about this. Say one OP maintains his games and one doesnt. A couple pinheads in the aread play NotOps games and theyre always broken. Four of us put $1 apiece in and never go back to your three games. We go to other OPs place and put $5 a week in there every week.

    Do you care? Will enough casuals come along to broken game that you dont give a shit compared to guy across the street who may get pinhead money buy not casual money?

    #70 2 years ago
    Quoted from trk12fire:

    Are those ugly cross bar locks that go across the coin door a must have? I'd hate to put one on my machine.

    Yes. No. Depends. Might deter opportunists, might make people think there is something in there worth breaking into. Might make the location look like a "tough" location.

    It's a case by case decision.

    LTG : )

    #71 2 years ago

    That's probably the scary honest truth Playboy. I think if you had enough machines on location that were well taken care of, Pinheads would come. If you only had 1 or 2 then you would only get a Pinhead every now and again.
    Thank you Brew, I kind of knew that, but I needed to be told.

    #72 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    Sorry I'm the village idiot here, what license needs to be paid for?

    No you aren't. You are seeking information. That is smart.

    This can vary from state to state, county to county, city to city. Costs of needed licenses can vary too. Many cities haven't changed coin op licenses from the slot machine days. So they can be very expensive. The licenses are usually yearly. Though some cities use stamps on the game, so if you swap it for another game, time for a new license.

    The requirements can be from none needed ( rare as every city has a planing commission now, even private clubs aren't exempt ) to a lot of different ones. They might want a license on the operator, his business, the location, and each machine.

    Any city you want to operate in, you take yourself to city hall in that city ( and other cities if you operate in more than one ) and go to the license division and ask. And check into zoning issues too. You may have to be so many feet from the nearest church, or school. You may need so many feet of retail space for each machine. Etc. Etc. There may be areas where you can't operate too. And limits on your hours, and all kinds of neat surprises.

    And I wouldn't try and operate without licenses or checking the zoning ordinances. Many cities deal in big fines, and or confiscate the equipment.

    LTG : )

    17
    #73 2 years ago
    Quoted from playboywillis:

    Ive wondered about this. Say one OP maintains his games and one doesnt. A couple pinheads in the aread play NotOps games and theyre always broken. Four of us put $1 apiece in and never go back to your three games. We go to other OPs place and put $5 a week in there every week.

    Do you care? Will enough casuals come along to broken game that you dont give a shit compared to guy across the street who may get pinhead money buy not casual money?

    You raise some interesting points. And there isn't one easy answer. For customers, you are dealing with the general public.

    While I think if a pinball machine is on location, it should be clean, working, updated software, etc.

    But truth be known, a pinball machine left to rot, still earns. And may do better than a maintained one. Especially if you factor in the service costs.

    It is the weirdest most F'd up market out there right now that I've ever seen. I only have my arcade, right now with 19 pinball machines. I try to have great games, I keep them up. You have a problem with a game, I'm always there to help you, fix it, refund your money, what ever.

    Yet time and time again I have customers telling me about other places, and how great they are, and what they all have. Even though I know many of them don't maintain their games, or have someone there to help you if you have a problem with a game. I've even had customers ask me to go to these other places and fix the pinball machines there.

    You know, I do give a shit. But it gets harder ever year, when people like getting F'd and support places that do it to them.

    When a person comes through my door, I welcome them. If they get change, I'm the change machine, I get them what they want. And tell them if they have any problems or questions to please let me know. If they start talking pinball, I talk pinball with them ( except for that one guy on Reddit ) and when they leave, I thank them for stopping in. I appreciate anybody that walks through my door.

    LTG : )

    #74 2 years ago

    Great help- thank you
    I'll look into city codes sometime this week.
    I'd much rather just be a customer at someone else's pinbar, but no one else is doing it.

    #75 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    I'd much rather just be a customer at someone else's pinbar, but no one else is doing it.

    I wish you every success. For you, and a thank you for promoting and supporting pinball !

    LTG : )

    #76 2 years ago

    I love this clash of Pinball Nerds we are and whom I can speak with. I want to thank everyone for their input. This is all very helpful. Fore, I have an addiction and it is Pinball. There are worse addictions, but this is mine.

    #77 2 years ago
    Quoted from trk12fire:

    I want to thank everyone for their input.

    You are more than welcome. Learn as much as you can. So you have the best chance at success. I hope you do great out there. And welcome to the wonderful world of operating.

    LTG : )

    #78 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    Great help- thank you
    I'll look into city codes sometime this week.
    I'd much rather just be a customer at someone else's pinbar, but no one else is doing it.

    Hope the city codes aren't WHY no one else is doing it!

    #79 2 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    You are more than welcome. Learn as much as you can. So you have the best chance at success. I hope you do great out there. And welcome to the wonderful world of operating.
    LTG : )

    Thank you,
    Honestly I don't think I have a choice. I really feel the need to buy more machines and make them shine. I'm tired of all these broken down machines in our area. This is BS! I completely understand that it doesn't make much. I'm doing it to have nice machines in my area. I'm hoping to enjoy this with other family members and friends. I'm just not sure how many more people look at www.Pinballmaps.com like I do, to find where the machines are located. Compared to casuals just coming in.

    #80 2 years ago

    Now that we have an answer, There is very little money putting machines on location. Can we talk about, what we have to do to keep our machines running on location. I'll be honest, I'm pretty good about fixing the playfield, but I'm constantly learning about how to fix the CPU and Driver Board. I have some friends that work on radios and solder a lot. I've been going to them to learn how to best test and solder. I think they've all been sniffing to many solder fumes, but they help me solve problems. What are the most common issues behind the back glass and how often do they happen?

    #81 2 years ago

    Yep, listen to LTG. He knows his stuff.

    #82 2 years ago

    I have a question about this. There is currently no pinball on location anywhere in my town. I don't have much room at home and thought about approaching my local tavern if they would consider siting a couple machines. I wouldn't be doing it for the money, but want to share my love of pinball. Perhaps if it was successful down the track and I had enough machines sited, I could even start a small league or something.

    My question is, does the bar owner/business owner have a key to access the game?

    #83 2 years ago
    Quoted from PinSinner:

    My question is, does the bar owner/business owner have a key to access the game?

    In our case, yes; but only because we have established a deep trust with them. They handle the odd ball trap and on a couple of occasions have changed a broken slingshot rubber. If we didn't trust them 100%, I would much rather take those extra trips down to fix those issues myself, rather than risk abuse or being ripped off.

    #84 2 years ago
    Quoted from PinSinner:

    I have a question about this. There is currently no pinball on location anywhere in my town. I don't have much room at home and thought about approaching my local tavern if they would consider siting a couple machines. I wouldn't be doing it for the money, but want to share my love of pinball. Perhaps if it was successful down the track and I had enough machines sited, I could even start a small league or something.
    My question is, does the bar owner/business owner have a key to access the game?

    It will vary from location to location. I used to prevent them from having a key by citing, "sorry, my public liability insurance won't allow anyone but the technician to have internal access".

    Offer them 70/30 (your favor) BUT immediately sweeten the deal by saying you will give them $10 "off the top" before the split so they can either give away games, play themselves or refund in case of problems but also make it clear you won't be giving any additional cash back - if the machine has a problem you expect a txt or call rather than they tell you "oh, we had to refund $80" (which is compete BS but they try it on believe me).

    Also make sure you tell them that you are very fond of your machines and will do your very best to make sure it is always clean and working to the best of it's ability - explain that replacement parts are VERY expensive and are required often and that's why the 70/30 split.

    My 2RMB's worth

    #85 2 years ago
    Quoted from Travish:

    Me and my girl went there on a weekend night. It was PACKED but there were like 5 or 6 machines down. I said they have to haul the cash out in wheelbarrows. Parking sucks though.

    Those games are played hard and the techs stay busy. Well known fact... Call the number on the games and most cases a tech is there within the hour to fix..

    #86 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    Sorry I'm the village idiot here, what license needs to be paid for?

    Google eCode "town name". This usually brings up the municipalities' codified local laws. Then search for 'amusement' or 'arcade' or coin-operated'. This will find the appropriate section of law dealing with permits or licenses.

    #87 2 years ago

    the worst (to fix) story I know of is one operator being pissed at another back in the early 90s. He took a can of Great Stuff and unloaded it through the coin doors of a few of his rivals games.

    I saw 1 such game in an old barn and was told this story. The game was not pretty.

    #88 2 years ago
    Quoted from trk12fire:

    Are those ugly cross bar locks that go across the coin door a must have? I'd hate to put one on my machine.

    If someone is determined to get into your machine, they are going to do it. The idea of locks on the coin doors keep honest people honest. The idea of lockbars make crooks extreme vandals. In the end, a lockbar is just going to cause more damage. Better to have a little damage and lost cash vs. a lot of damage and lost cash. Also, don't clean out your machines in public view, try to do it before the location opens, if you have the playfield up and working on a pin, throw a rag in the cash pan to cover up the money.

    I would suggest not putting your machines where they aren't in plain view or sketchy locations.

    You could take it a step forward if you had concerns and get a coin exchanger that gives tokens for your machines. There are also apps that can allow a customer to pay that way. So there is never any "money" in the pins, only worthless tokens.

    #89 2 years ago

    important advice if you do decide to put games out

    Buy some new coin mechs. Mechs are a PITA and always nice to have some nice new spares to easily drop in so you can take the old one home to ultrasonicate/clean and adjust.

    Put new beer seal on old games. Reality is that even well intentioned pinheads sometimes spill entire beers on games. A fresh beer seal and properly adjusted lock down bar can mean the difference between a hell of a mess and not a big deal.

    #90 2 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    It is the weirdest most F'd up market out there right now that I've ever seen. I only have my arcade, right now with 19 pinball machines. I try to have great games, I keep them up. You have a problem with a game, I'm always there to help you, fix it, refund your money, what ever.

    Yet time and time again I have customers telling me about other places, and how great they are, and what they all have. Even though I know many of them don't maintain their games, or have someone there to help you if you have a problem with a game. I've even had customers ask me to go to these other places and fix the pinball machines there.

    Lloyd, I don't know the competition you are speaking of, but can the answer to this mystery be as simple as "the other place lets me drink a beer while I play their shitty pinball"? Does it come down to that?

    #91 2 years ago

    Lots of good info for you to go on in this thread so I won't repeat (except, make sure you get insurance. That's worth repeating.)

    But to answer your original question, yes, yes you can.

    #92 2 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    You raise some interesting points. And there isn't one easy answer. For customers, you are dealing with the general public.
    While I think if a pinball machine is on location, it should be clean, working, updated software, etc.
    But truth be known, a pinball machine left to rot, still earns. And may do better than a maintained one. Especially if you factor in the service costs.
    It is the weirdest most F'd up market out there right now that I've ever seen. I only have my arcade, right now with 19 pinball machines. I try to have great games, I keep them up. You have a problem with a game, I'm always there to help you, fix it, refund your money, what ever.
    Yet time and time again I have customers telling me about other places, and how great they are, and what they all have. Even though I know many of them don't maintain their games, or have someone there to help you if you have a problem with a game. I've even had customers ask me to go to these other places and fix the pinball machines there.
    You know, I do give a shit. But it gets harder ever year, when people like getting F'd and support places that do it to them.
    When a person comes through my door, I welcome them. If they get change, I'm the change machine, I get them what they want. And tell them if they have any problems or questions to please let me know. If they start talking pinball, I talk pinball with them ( except for that one guy on Reddit ) and when they leave, I thank them for stopping in. I appreciate anybody that walks through my door.
    LTG : )

    Thanks for the answer. I ask because there was an OP with two machines in a D&B knockoff. Had the only Xmen in town and I really wanted to play it. The Iceman ramp would not go all of the way over so it would just drain straight over the flipper whenever it was moved. Made the game unplayable. Multiple people reported it and it sat for over 5 months without repair. I'm sure you still got people playing the odd game or two, but lose out on the regulars coming in and paying $5-$10. Always figured the guy made enough to not care.

    Kept me away from his other locations too.

    #93 2 years ago
    Quoted from Mogg:

    I'd like to know some of the darker stories.
    The place in mind can host a few less decent folk from time to time.
    I'll say his name three times and hope he appears

    This happened last weekend at one of my locations.

    IMG_0365 (resized).JPG

    #94 2 years ago

    did you catch the person that did it?

    or did it happen spontaneously?

    #95 2 years ago
    Quoted from Chrizg:

    This happened last weekend at one of my locations.

    wow but it can happen at a bar with wasted people. I have heard of drunks playing golden tee trying to hitting the trackball so hard that they smash in to the screen.

    #96 2 years ago

    It seems like a labor of love to route pinball.
    I'm glad it is being done. I wish there was more around me. I am in a wheelchair walker / no driving yet. It's going to about a year for the driving.

    At a cinema near me there was a broken kiss game. I'm hoping it gets replaced with a star wars. Soon. Or atleast working again it's been off a month or more. No money there. Being made. On that one.

    #97 2 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    did you catch the person that did it?
    or did it happen spontaneously?

    The person who did it called me no apoligized and it was a local pinball guy. He said his wedding ring prob did it when he smacked the glass. Said he would pay for the repairs, but it is just a cost of doing business as far as I'm concerned. It was cool he called me. Game needs a full shop anyways...

    #98 2 years ago
    Quoted from Chrizg:

    The person who did it called me no apoligized and it was a local pinball guy. He said his wedding ring prob did it when he smacked the glass. Said he would pay for the repairs, but it is just a cost of doing business as far as I'm concerned. It was cool he called me. Game needs a full shop anyways...

    very cool he took ownership of it. sucks, but that is cool.

    I bet he will never smack a game again

    #99 2 years ago
    Quoted from PinSinner:

    My question is, does the bar owner/business owner have a key to access the game?

    Usually, no.

    LTG : )

    #100 2 years ago

    I am really glad to see an operator thread active again. I really enjoyed the insights and stories shared over at this one, and you may as well OP: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/operating-pinball-machines-on-location-club

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