(Topic ID: 329950)

Pinball Rental - Northeast OH

By GoldenBeard

10 days ago


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    Topic poll

    “Pinball Rental”

    • Interested in renting newer pins 3 votes
      9%
    • Interested in renting a mix of new/old 3 votes
      9%
    • Will never rent a pin 27 votes
      82%

    (33 votes)

    #1 10 days ago

    My wife and I are interested in offering a pinball rental service through one of our businesses in the amusement/vending space.

    Thought I’d just throw it out there on here first to gauge any interest or see what thoughts people have.

    We would be looking at renting pins for an initial setup fee, plus a lower monthly fee. The dollar amount of the rental will most likely have a few tiers or even custom pricing depending on the games or setup.

    We are looking to rent to businesses as well as private residences, along with weddings, birthday parties, etc.

    In general initial setup (includes first month) would be $550 +/-
    Every month after initial - Monthly fee $350 +/-

    First two months - $900 +/-

    First three months - $1250 +/-

    With the amount of time involved and wide range of pins we’re thinking a 2-3 month minimum commitment, and if you ‘swap’ pins there wouldn’t be any additional fees setup fees, just a continuation of the monthly pricing. We are also looking at possibly bundling multiple pins together for rental at a discount.

    Depending on the comfort level of the residence or business, keys will be left and machines set to free play. Some basic knowledge passed along and if there’s any issues or service required we would be a phone call away. Business rentals are not bars or routes, they are simply that, business rentals.
    Pins would vary based on availability and would range from select newer pins, select ‘newish’ pins and older pins. Most pins available are standard models and pro models, with a few premiums or higher end pins mixed in.

    I did try to post under marketplace - services offered and it kept directing me to list an actual game for sale.

    PS, my personal collection is not for rent. We are working on finalizing our list of available pins and pricing and if there are specific questions from interested parties feel free to message me.
    Thanks in advance!!

    Edit to clarify monthly pricing

    #2 10 days ago

    Is the poll only for people who live in the area? Because I do not but am willing to answer anyway for market research purposes.

    #3 10 days ago
    Quoted from oldbaby:

    Is the poll only for people who live in the area? Because I do not but am willing to answer anyway for market research purposes.

    Feel free to answer anyway. Fine with me. I’m assuming on this website the vast majority will not rent. But I am curious on any feedback.

    #4 10 days ago

    Your actual potential customers and the Pinside crowd may be two different demographics. So I’d take your poll results with a grain of salt and maybe try find a way to poll the “normal” people in your area also.

    #5 10 days ago

    I don't feel that renting pins would work because of the logistics. With setup fees and rentals, it would simply be much easier and less costly to go to an arcade, even if you had an office of 50 people. It would also make a lot more sense when only a few people can play at a time, whereas an arcade would offer simultaneously entertainment for all.

    It would be more likely an individual or family that would rent, but then you run into the same problem.

    Looking at it that way, you would be likely looking for an area that had few to no pins around...which would mean more travel for you to deliver and do technical work. It would also mean you would lessen your coverage area.

    At a starting fee of $900, it would be much simpler for these clients to travel to an arcade or go to pinball shows. There would also be a breaking point for the pins (e.g. why pay $900 for a month when you could buy a pin for 2-3k?)

    You would then need to look at damage/stealing possibilities. Even if the individual/company you are dealing with takes care of the pin...that doesn't mean everyone else will. Employees, friends, neighbors, strangers, and others will have access to it. What if someone destroys it or steals it?

    I know lots of people that tried this during the pandemic, and none of them had it pan out. Im not saying it can't be done, but I just don't see the logistics working out.

    #6 10 days ago

    jackd104 def taking Pinside with a grain of salt. Pinside will also, in a good way, be my harshest critic.

    Daditude i agree with a lot of your points. First month at $550, every month after at $350. Being able try out a brand new pin before you buy it for $900 for the first two months, especially if someone is looking at buying a premium or LE version, could hold a lot of weight to them. I’ve found, including myself, people being on the fence of the first few pins they buy. It’s normally a combination of not knowing what they will like, money, and space in their home.

    The theft and responsibility thing is something I’m already used to dealing with. Just an unfortunate part of any business.

    Commercial accounts would not be bars, just people looking to rent machines and swap them around. It’s def a few and far between option, but it is out there.

    If you route a machine you still have to worry about someone pouring a beer on it or hitting it and breaking it. I’d rather it be someone’s kid who destroys it to be honest than a drunk person.

    The good news is I can start this on a small scale and not rely solely based on the income to survive. I have a few people lined up already which is awesome. Just trying to gauge the general perception on this.

    Opening this up to feedback on faceback would be a nightmare hahaha

    PS… it’s scary every time I leave anything I own whether it be personal or commercial anywhere. It’s sad people will steal just about anything. But it’s been happening for a long time and won’t go away anytime soon.

    #7 10 days ago

    There are a lot of places to go to play pinball in this area, and most of those places have a majority of the newer Sterns. We got 4 Bond Pros on route in our area weeks before my family in AZ got one. Not sure the renting before buying thought will play, unless your inventory is unique to what’s on route around us.

    I’ve thought about this before too, good luck to you if you pursue it!

    #8 10 days ago
    Quoted from cookpins:

    There are a lot of places to go to play pinball in this area, and most of those places have a majority of the newer Sterns. We got 4 Bond Pros on route in our area weeks before my family in AZ got one. Not sure the renting before buying thought will play, unless your inventory is unique to what’s on route around us.
    I’ve thought about this before too, good luck to you if you pursue it!

    Def trying to find a niche in the area. Very small scale to just add something extra to what we are already doing.

    I love that we have so many pins in the area and places to go as well. I just know there are def groups of people that don’t like going to bars or arcades / bowling alleys.

    #9 10 days ago

    So what about renting it to a business to make money?

    What happens to the machine if it’s damaged on site?
    What happens if it’s stolen?

    What kind of background checks would you be performing to reduce fraud or someone stealing your game with false information.

    I love cheap games

    #10 10 days ago

    I'm very interested in what the difficulties are here.

    I've had requests. Not a lot, but maybe a dozen in the past year or two.

    My biggest concern when I thought about getting into this is that while we are careful, and handle all our own delivery, within the first few days I generally need to run a service call for something. A screw comes loose. A bulb pops out of it's socket. Something small, but it's always something.

    So I've been a little concerned about delivering for events. It would suck if I put five great pinballs in a fancy hotel meeting area for a company party and they had problems with one or two during their event. My previous company does jukebox, foosball, pool table and classic video game rental packages for a single night for hundreds of dollars per piece of equipment. These events always required the pickup of the games when the event closed at midnight, so it was a long day! Pinballs weren't in that mix for them because pinball was always broken.

    Give some thought to what your policy would be to 'swap'. Your costs are going to be the cost of the pinballs themselves, the service to keep them running, but most importantly, the cost of delivery. If your business 'swaps' every week, you eat delivery costs like crazy.

    Finally, I agree with the above poster. Pinside isn't the place to get feedback for any positive business venture.

    Pinside people are more interested in making the hobby they love freely available to everyone. The idea that someone would (GASP) profit off of pinballs, that they would (GASP TWICE) charge someone for pinballs... well, a significant fraction of the crowd here is interested in not promoting that. So take any negativity here with a grain of salt.

    Watching with interest!

    #11 10 days ago
    Quoted from Gundam_Pilot_:

    So what about renting it to a business to make money?
    What happens to the machine if it’s damaged on site?
    What happens if it’s stolen?
    What kind of background checks would you be performing to reduce fraud or someone stealing your game with false information.
    I love cheap games

    We have some checks & balances we currently use that seem to do well in our ‘placement process’. It’s an unfortunate part of business, that’s for sure. But hey, you’re more than welcome to fill out the application, give me a deposit and steal away. Other than the massive headache of dealing with it eventually the police will have your information and we’ll have our insurance check to get a new game along with the deposit money.

    #12 10 days ago
    Quoted from PinRetail:

    I'm very interested in what the difficulties are here.
    I've had requests. Not a lot, but maybe a dozen in the past year or two.
    My biggest concern when I thought about getting into this is that while we are careful, and handle all our own delivery, within the first few days I generally need to run a service call for something. A screw comes loose. A bulb pops out of it's socket. Something small, but it's always something.
    So I've been a little concerned about delivering for events. It would suck if I put five great pinballs in a fancy hotel meeting area for a company party and they had problems with one or two during their event. My previous company does jukebox, foosball, pool table and classic video game rental packages for a single night for hundreds of dollars per piece of equipment. These events always required the pickup of the games when the event closed at midnight, so it was a long day! Pinballs weren't in that mix for them because pinball was always broken.
    Give some thought to what your policy would be to 'swap'. Your costs are going to be the cost of the pinballs themselves, the service to keep them running, but most importantly, the cost of delivery. If your business 'swaps' every week, you eat delivery costs like crazy.
    Finally, I agree with the above poster. Pinside isn't the place to get feedback for any positive business venture.
    Pinside people are more interested in making the hobby they love freely available to everyone. The idea that someone would (GASP) profit off of pinballs, that they would (GASP TWICE) charge someone for pinballs... well, a significant fraction of the crowd here is interested in not promoting that. So take any negativity here with a grain of salt.
    Watching with interest!

    I was involved in DJing for weddings, bday parties, etc from a young age so I have a little insight into the extreme short term rentals. Not fun but there’s def money to be made. That was actual my first business! I still debate about doing a wedding here and there now for fun and still have a lot of my equipment.

    Pinside is an interesting animal. Lol but I still love it.

    I wish Pinball could be free to everyone. Let’s start at the top and convince stern first and I’ll happily place their newly free made machines for all to play. Haha

    I can still make money off of that while letting the public play for free. There’s always a way!

    #13 10 days ago
    Quoted from GoldenBeard:

    Depending on the comfort level of the residence or business, keys will be left and machines set to free play.

    This is a serious can of worms. How exactly are you planning on determining a "comfort level?"

    #14 10 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    This is a serious can of worms. How exactly are you planning on determining a "comfort level?"

    All a part of the super secret business plan. I’ll franchise out the information for a small fee of $10k and 10% royalties. Haha

    #15 10 days ago

    CrazyLevi I’ve been burned in every business I’ve been a part of it. Whether it’s owning/operating or just simply working as an employee. It’s a sad unfortunate part of the business. The best you do is your due diligence as an owner and try to use what’s worked in the past along with some common sense. Between attorneys, law enforcement and insurance, sometimes all you can do is dive in. Start small and see where it goes. What’s the worst thing that happens. I light my money on fire? Can’t be any worse than stern selling me a brand new paper weight they won’t help fix. Haha

    May not have quite answered your question upon reading a second time. I think leaving the keys is a must. Obviously taking the spares with me. But if there’s a simple fox or just getting a stuck ball and they are comfortable doing it just having them do it. If it’s something that they don’t want to do even if it’s a stuck ball we would still pop out there to fix it for them. Especially if we are already in an area doing something else. And if a machine breaks down we try to fix on-site or swap it out, pro-rate rental fee, whatever we have to do. But the beauty of renting, not their problem unless they abused the machine.

    #16 10 days ago

    Aside from the problems already presented (insurance, damage, general "dealing with the public"), the pricing you're proposing seems bonkers, especially with the market today.

    In most instances, people can buy a pin and sell it down the road and break even, take a slight loss in the case of NIB games, or even make some money on older titles. The value proposition seems WAY off here to me. What games are you offering? For 900 bucks for 2 months what am I getting that I can't get by buying a game myself and then selling it, or playing on location at a buck a play for new games or less (usually) for older titles? I think you'd have the most luck with targeting events rather than homeowners for what you're looking to charge.

    Maybe I'm just lazy, but I can't see there being enough people to make this worth your time or the headache, if you can get anyone to bite at that price. For the "casual" market, at 900 bucks, they could get a PS5 for the kids and still have enough left to grab a 60-in-1 off the Facebook marketplace that will likely never cause them a problem.

    #17 10 days ago

    A lot of naysayers here, there’s a company in my area that rents pins and says he does much better than most pins on location, a lot less wear and tear too.

    The pinside diehard pinheads won’t be the ones renting.

    #18 10 days ago
    Quoted from grantopia:

    Aside from the problems already presented (insurance, damage, general "dealing with the public"), the pricing you're proposing seems bonkers, especially with the market today.
    In most instances, people can buy a pin and sell it down the road and break even, take a slight loss in the case of NIB games, or even make some money on older titles. The value proposition seems WAY off here to me. What games are you offering? For 900 bucks for 2 months what am I getting that I can't get by buying a game myself and then selling it, or playing on location at a buck a play for new games or less (usually) for older titles? I think you'd have the most luck with targeting events rather than homeowners for what you're looking to charge.
    Maybe I'm just lazy, but I can't see there being enough people to make this worth your time or the headache, if you can get anyone to bite at that price. For the "casual" market, at 900 bucks, they could get a PS5 for the kids and still have enough left to grab a 60-in-1 off the Facebook marketplace that will likely never cause them a problem.

    Initial setup fee includes application fee, travel time, prep time, ‘level of comfort’ discussing with the renter time. So in my opinion, that initial fee is irrelevant to the long term benefits of the renter. They can get up to 4 machines a year (3-month min per machine is what I’m thinking) for far less than buying new, dialing it in, fixing it when broken, paying shipping fees. Paying taxes. Paying shipping fees again when they sell it. Or hourly time and gas on picking up or selling, the general headache of dealing with the public, etc.

    Truthfully I feel that for some pins $350 is too high, for some too low, it all depends on what they are looking for and the general cost of the machine.

    #19 10 days ago
    Quoted from GoldenBeard:Initial setup fee includes application fee, travel time, prep time, ‘level of comfort’ discussing with the renter time. So in my opinion, that initial fee is irrelevant to the long term benefits of the renter. They can get up to 4 machines a year (3-month min per machine is what I’m thinking) for far less than buying new, dialing it in, fixing it when broken, paying shipping fees. Paying taxes. Paying shipping fees again when they sell it. Or hourly time and gas on picking up or selling, the general headache of dealing with the public, etc.
    Truthfully I feel that for some pins $350 is too high, for some too low, it all depends on what they are looking for and the general cost of the machine.

    The prices here are $200-$450/month ranging from early SS to brand new.

    #20 10 days ago
    Quoted from Jaybird815:

    The prices here are $200-$450/month ranging from early SS to brand new.

    This seems to be the "going rate" from the guys I know who have been doing this successfully.

    That being said, if the OP can get $900 a month for his games, he should do it. I'm all for it.

    #22 10 days ago
    Quoted from Jaybird815:

    The prices here are $200-$450/month ranging from early SS to brand new.

    That’s pretty much spot on to what I have down on paper. That’s where even the thought of someone getting newer and older bundled together getting a small price break. Only paying one setup fee.

    A vast majority of Pinside members have 3 or more machines. We are all crazy pinheads. And probably would be are or hoarders in another realty or this one.

    Some people have disposable income and want to dabble or have limited space. Being able to swap out pins and not have to worry about them is a huge plus.

    If someone offered me a service for $300 a month to swap out for a different pin every 3 months, that would drastically curb my desire to continue to buy pins and arcade machines. That’s for sure.

    Side note on one of the comments about a PS5 or 60-1 arcade. My Xbox was turned on for the first time in over a year to play the new Rick and Morty game (high on life) for about 10 minutes the other day. I did buy a 17000+ arcade machine that I love… but it never fails… when people are at my house they want to play pinball. They casually play pool. Maybe a game of NFL blitz or Mario kart. But they ignore the Pac-Man Galaga machine. Ignore shuffleboard. Ignore bumper pool and foosball. And just drool over 1-2 pins at a time.

    #24 10 days ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    This seems to be the "going rate" from the guys I know who have been doing this successfully.
    That being said, if the OP can get $900 a month for his games, he should do it. I'm all for it.

    I’ll charge $900/month for the new bond $20k bond

    Other than that, that’s too steep. Just a small extra charge on the first month. Then simply the price range mentioned for each additional month.

    #26 9 days ago
    Quoted from Jaybird815:

    The prices here are $200-$450/month ranging from early SS to brand new.

    that all pends distance and if any other fees are on top of base pricing (steps, extra distance, etc).

    the labor involved is more than it seems. pre work on machine, then deliver and setup, included repairs during the rental period (drive an hour and back to fix one switch etc)., pickup/breakdown machine after rental. Then, shop it correct after its all said and done.. I have had rentals get 2k plays in one month. people can go bonkers with plays.

    #27 9 days ago

    I do rentals. Cactus Canyon I rent for $500 a month delivered and have had success renting it. Pros, are 300-350 but desirability depends strictly on your titles.
    A lot of my renters are like “I have a summer rental on the cape and want a pin for four months”or a day event, and home rentals.

    Like someone mentioned, most people don’t hold back and play until the cows come home over a months time.
    One of the worst things that happens is no matter how careful you are, you’re going to ding up the cabinet and backside of the cabinet. If you don’t care, then no loss, but new Stern cabs are made as strong as wet paper bags, so wear and tear can be significant, especially if you’re trying to retain value.
    It’s a nice way to offset the cost of the game, but it takes a lot of discipline and drive (literally) to get it all rolling.

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