Quoted from Flowst:
Fair enough, subjectively speaking most pinsiders are against the redemption games. Most modern arcades however focus strongly on the ticket redemption versus classic games as it is a much higher revenue stream. Certainly they more strongly appeal to the younger generation over Space Invaders etc.
I asked about your business plan as a result. Did you find the magic location, the perfect combination of games, the reason to not have alcohol present to supplement income?
Zero sarcasm implied here; Share your wisdom and findings, please. I myself would be very interested in your discoveries, tweaking, and forecast.
I appreciate your sincerity. I found a very centralized location, really tweaked the admission system to ensure a good financial situation (coin drop/card swipe doesn't work anywhere anymore as good as admission, that's for sure, admission is a wonderful thing), and honestly we get a TON of kids that go nuts for the games.
With as many games as we have now, the average person either goes for the 2 hour pass or all day pass. When we had less games, it was interesting because it was not this way, and it makes sense. Once we passed 70 games or so there was a really strong noticable shift over the course of a month that remains. It's nice. And it adds up. Family of 5 comes in for 3 hours, and it's $125. They leave smiling and wanting to come back for more, and we see a lot of families who come in at least two or three times a month, and if they don't, there's another family coming in anyways. We do get a lot of people who come in for an hour and end up staying 4-5 hours because they enjoy it so much, and you pay at the end, so the system accounts for that. It's all very upfront and we make it very clear, and thus anybody who stays longer than they mentioned when they came in, usually isn't doing so by accident. We make sure people know to watch the clock, because I'm not out to make money swindling people... if they go over they are pretty much always aware of it, did it because they wanted to, and are happy about it.
As for kids, especially with Stranger Things out now, the kids are really rabid about it, but even without that they really enjoy it. I was expecting mainly an adult prescence but it's actually about half and half. There also seems to be the same large animosity with young teenagers about ticket games and "how stupid the crappy prizes are at places like that" (thanks teenage angst), so I hear a lot from them about how much more they enjoy an arcade like this.
We have a pretty strong following with the local high school crowd and have become the local hangout for a lot of them which definitely helps too.
We get a lot of people coming in and I am really a social media/advertising expert so we get people coming in no problem (I think a lot of people, especially older folks, struggle in that department, I think it's a nice bonus of the age - social media is like second nature). It is not uncommon for us, in full honesty, to pull a bigger salary than if I were a surgeon per month (when not in COVID of course), and that's without having to dish out any of it for prizes, tickets, swipe cards, etc., I basically just keep the electricity on, keep the arcade stocked full and keep it fresh, and keep the games running well, and it works. I have a medical condition that gives me bouts of being unable to do much, so I also kind of shaped it to where I can take a few days off of doing anything but desk work now and then if I need to (a lot of our stuff is bulletproofed really strong inside, work smarter not harder, so I don't have a lot of failures). And it really can be hands off some days, because we don't even use coins, so not even any coin jams. It's a dream come true and a nice living, and even if it wanes in time and I only have half of the year I did last year, it would still turn a profit and be a decent career.
I'm sure there's some good secrets and tips in there, but I don't even know if I could rattle them off, even if I wanted to. I just have a knack for it.
It can be pretty hands off if need be but I do like to keep adding things, rotating things, doing special events, getting involved, etc., because I enjoy it. But no replacing tickets, no giving out prizes, no coin jams, etc.
I am very well versed in repair, even down to circuit boards, so I do all the repairs myself while somebody (usually my wife) mans the desk. It saves a lot of money to not have to outsource repairs or send boards out, and transistors are like what, 10 cents? So repairs are usually pretty cheap. Bonus of the old stuff is you can actually fix it for cheap, instead of replacing a whole assembly of non-servicable parts.
Probably will hire a high schooler at some point to take some of the load off, but haven't felt the need yet. We're hoping to buy a house in the next year or two, so I figure we may as well grind it hard and save up.
As for alcohol, I just haven't had the need... the numbers have been there without it, because I plan and operate my business to run without needing to rely on anything and be entirely self-propelling with just the games. We don't even do BYOB. No need, but also keeps things less rowdy I guess. Rather than pulling out all the cards at once I try to save them for the future if I ever get in a bind.
Same with food and drink. No need right now, but did start providing near-cost drinks and snacks because it makes people stay longer. Making money from the food and drinks isn't the point, so I went with near-cost. A $1.50 soda has turned a potential $10 sale into a $25 sale... times an entire family. Lots of people plan to leave, see we have drinks, and stay.
Quoted from Flowst:
Why no new titles if you are as successful as you say? Wouldn't the Stern offerings, or CGC remakes be a feasible addition? Maybe even rotate games in and out of the line up?
This was on purpose. I planned to spend the first year buying quantity of lesser expensive games to help fill the space and really get it packed in here, because especially with laymen, the visuals count. It worked, as described above, we noticed a large shift once the count passed a certain point. We started out a little empty and I expected to take a hit for that, so I decided to invest the first year's profits into mainly buying games back to back and fleshing out the space. Quantity, but quality at the same time, no junk or filler - I took middle ground and bought a lot of well-remembered 80's stuff for instance, rather than a bunch of crappy EMs or something like that. Mid 80's Williams stuff people went nuts for and doesn't break the bank. A lot of the people that come in here would rather play 20 old games than a brand new Stern if they had the choice anyways - it's completely backwards from the collector world, and the nice thing is Gorgar is just as beloved as Getaway (kind of refreshing honestly). So it relies less heavily than most think on what exact games you have or how new they are. A lot of times here the numbers impress more than what games you have (but I don't abuse that and just have a bunch of turd games either, I bring in good stuff). A lot of the stuff wins points for being old too, so it actually does better for me to have a well-remembered favorite than a newer game in some cases, not to mention it being cost-effective. It's completely backwards from the collector world, but here on the business end, our Pac-Man cabinet may be more valuable than a brand new Stern.
New Sterns and stuff were (were... we'll see) planned for year 2 (this year), now that I have successfully basically filled the building to its maximum, as planned. Year 2, with quantity done, will now be refining the selection and eliminating any games that don't get a lot of love and replacing them with fan favorites to really make an A-list selection.
I spent a good chunk last summer buying several tractor trailers I store some extra games in on some land (sold some of those games to make ends meet of course) that I will use to rotate games in and out now that we are full as well, to still keep things fresh even though we're filling up. Focus is definitely now shifting (when things go back to normal) to the more expensive games now that I've fulfilled everything else I wanted to do, and can justify saving up for months on end for a game, rather than trying to hammer down on ensuring we had 5 or more new games per month. Now that it's full in here, I can take a breath essentially. Which is good, because this year will probably be nothing but saving up a safety net again instead, and the collection is convieniently vast enough now to hold its own for quite some time and give anybody who comes in an absolutely fantastic experience, even if they come back multiple times.
People say sell some games, but it's not that easy... when you're charging admission, you gotta keep the place full and live up to expectations, and especially don't go in reverse. People notice missing games really particularly, even just one. When you are taking money upfront, you have to deliver of course. So it's not like I can liquidate half of my assets and expect nobody to notice or to not shoot myself in both feet in an instant. Pinside may dislike it but for longterm success these games aren't going anywhere, and if you look at any other arcades doing fundraisers, it's pretty much the same way for them - no liquidation. Too risky. The worst thing you can do during this low point is give people less reasons to come back.
Not many here see it but I know exactly what I am doing and there is tons of thought put into everything. The entire year was consistent and we never had a particularly rough month (until everybody started having a rough month, of course). Thanks again for talking shop and the sincerity, it was enjoyable!