View Full Version : Hypothetical Business Plan
This was my tool to get my mother to take me seriously about this and show her the real side to the industry "behind the masks". I figure, what the hell, post it up here and see what the pros think. I tried to think of all the aspects of designing and running a haunt. Feel free to critcize, add too or throw in your own opinions based up what I have here.
Ticket selling procedures
-Haunt sq. ft.
Code compliance and research
Business plan development
Research EMT services
Create Story Line
[list:8d76ae83ee] -Main characters
Number of houses
Themes for each house
Number of rooms per house
[list:8d76ae83ee]-Design of rooms
Misc. Scare design (hallways, etc.)[/list:u:8d76ae83ee]
Exact floor plans
[list:8d76ae83ee] -Both fire and chicken-run
[list:8d76ae83ee]-Ticket booth procedures
Equiptment for staff
Mid-haunt repair budget
Fabrication Supervision/Art direction
Saftey check of path
Hiring of actors
Fire saftey training
Emergency operation training
Actual operation management
Pretty much open ended, I threw this in Microsoft Excel and added other blank columns such as duration, % complete, start date, finish date, and predecessors
01-05-2007, 02:57 AM
Haha, I was hoping that wouldn't be a reaction to this, I tried to cover as many bases as I could, and some of it may be tedious and assumed...
Forgot to include duct tape, chapstick, bubblegum...lol
01-05-2007, 07:58 AM
Maybe the first question posed should be:"How many years of successful haunt operation did it take before we were able to convince our parent(s) that it was a viable, worthwhile thing to be doing?
If everything is merely measured with the dollar sign standing next to it, well, it didn't happen within any short time period.
Next question:"Should we be trying to convince our parent(s) that we are doing something they deem to be worthwhile?"
I realise it is nice to have approval of those close to us but by the time adulthood is in full swing for the child most parents have become entrenched in conservativism on all things.
If you are needing financial backing and are trying to convince the parent(s)?...Do you have a successful older brother or sister?
Many old-school parents made plans for our lives before we were born and usually going into the haunt business was not on their veiw finder.
01-05-2007, 08:16 AM
Hey SSP, you remind me of myself when I started planning for our heaunted attractions frist year. I did almost exactly the same thing you are doing! It looks like you are organized and taking time to give serious consideration to all aspects of operating an attraction. I did notice you have Marketing in your Pre-Production category. Make sure to add it to your Budget category, as this is going to be one of your larger expenses. Unless you already own a building/property for the haunt, you'll need to add a property lease to your Budget category as well. This is another one of the "biggies". I'm sure you already realize that within each item in each category is a huge sub-set of "to do" items. If you don't have a daily planner, definitely get one and use it to organize and manage the data and information you collect. Put in on your PC and then, I've learned this one the hard way, back it up! :lol: Start building your email database of vendors/suppliers as you go. You'll be really glad you did! :wink:
Most importantly, before you take the big leap of faith, do a market study of your target demographic area! For help with developing your business plan, check out www.sba.gov They have an online tutorial of writing a business plan that is awesome... and it's FREE! They also have other online business courses that are free. These courses will help you out tremendously! Best of luck in pursuing your dream my friend! If you can balance your passion and enthusiasm with the application of good business practices and strong working and personal ethics, you'll find a way to make it happen! :wink:
Duke of Darkness
01-05-2007, 05:34 PM
SSP - clearly you have put a great deal of thought into this, and what you have covers many of the important aspects of designing and running a haunt. All of this is critical information and great to get in writing. It is not, however, a business plan -- though some areas will overlap. What you have outlined is more of a book of Standard Operational Procedures (SOP), a document separate from but equally as important as the Business plan.
I would take Kel's advice and look at the SBA website for ideas on business plans. Another place too look is http://www.odu.edu/bpa/boaectr/businessplan.htm
I am sure that you can easily find a good book on the subject at your local library as well.
Think of the differences this way: SOPs are used in the day to day operations of the company, while the business plan covers more long range issues such as management, financial projections, demographic research, etc.
You are off to a good start. But there is more. There is always more. *sigh*
Jim, I understand what you are getting at, thank you for your response. To get my mother to take me seriously was simply to stop the whole "You're obsessed with Halloween!" comments. In a way she is right, but in the end and by the time I am actually taking large steps in the direction of achieving my goal I will be working with myself and my business partners and not seeking my parents for gas money as I am now (or at least I hope). In other words, I accept the fact this is more of a life long goal.
Kel, I thank you very much for your response and your advice. Some extremely useful tips, I will save this thread to refer back to it in the future. Your book will be arriving here in the mail soon; I am looking foreword to that as well. Again, thank you
Dave, Thank you for your response, and that is a very good point. I guess what I have is a good starting point, what I feel I benefited from it is a general understanding of "what it takes". I will take both your and Kels advice and do a lot more research on this subject. Once I start exploring my business major I will also be able to elaborate my knowledge on the subject. As I said to Jim, I accept the fact that this is more of a life long goal; a great deal of time and effort to pursue and achieve.
Duke of Darkness
01-05-2007, 08:24 PM
SSP - It sounds to me like you are taking a very considered and mature approach to getting to where you want to go. Do I understand correctly that you plan to go to college and major in business? I think that is an outstanding step in the right direction. Keep your dream alive and keep taking a long term, practical approach, and eventually you will get there.
01-05-2007, 08:56 PM
I confidently say that the majority of noteworthy people with accomplishments of the same ilk were all mostly considered "obsessed" by the clock-watchers and nay-sayers of this world.
When you succeed you get to have that "Last Laugh".
I sure don't have alot of the things in this life that require money but I do have a place to live and work in that suits me greatly and incredible feelings of freedom to express myself and have a fun, even profitable time in doing so. What more could anyone ask for?
15 years ago I told my two youngest boys that I had already had such a great time here that they shouldn't feel bad for me if I suddenly dropped over dead and I really meant it. I have had so much fun !!
Fun can be contageous, people realise that you are having fun, then they feel better too.
Tonight my wife read to me what was being said comparing two on-line games. One was created with decisions being made in favor of making some feature of the game a reality because it sounded like something fun, whereas this other game creator made choices concerning other issues totally ignoring any fun concepts...guess which game is going somewhere?
Guess which one is having trouble?
Everybody usually likes fun!
01-05-2007, 11:45 PM
I read an article the other day that said something to the effect that by the time you are of age to get a job or begin a career, you have been told 185,000 times that you can't do something and only about 11 times that you can do something and maybe 7 of those times they were lieing tryng to be polite.
It's one thing having people you are to some extent being dependent upon tell you there is some kind of obscession. I have a seasonal attraction and even people making money and dependent on ME telling me I'm overly obsessed and that if I applied myself differently I would prosper. Of course none of these people are prospering if they are working for me so how do they know? They don't they just want you to develop bigger resources to not only not have a burden but for more to be available to mooch from you.
In beginning this inspired activity I had life long freinds tell me I couldn't have an attraction because I didn't have any money. I told them all it was time for them to go find new friends. As they went away, I replaced them with haunt friends and have been happier ever since.
For your plan to really work like it is listed will require adding the last paragraph where mom and dad die and leave me all their assets. With out assets there is no budget for any thing on your list. So with out a budget that doesn't mean you quit. It means you mark one thing at a time off of the list in some order of priority until the thing works.
What ever Kelly has to say is completely correct and the conservative maybe even THE successful approach. On the down side a lot of people on here began with one business and springboarded to the business of their choosing. In short they did something they thought would work fo rmoney to fill in all the blanks on the second opportunity. There are also haunts that started from nothing or from a seasonal halloween party or home haunt. They had jobs, had to pay for a place to live, even paid to raise children in somecases all the while building what they have today.
So what you have above is an organized learning tool that looks complete enough to me but some of these buzz words like searching your demographic and such are very hard to prove with a business as unique as a haunted house. Just because they are ages 14 to 35 does not mean they will leave their houses.
What I'm seeing is not so much thinking like a business man so much as an event organizer. For example, so many have been DJs and made a good per night income bringing in the customers with the right kind of music for the right place and making the house money or not. A developed sense sort of like haveing another business and making it into the business you want. Just instead of having the right or the most up to date record collection and sound system you have a haunt and actors.
There are other stunbling blocks like my core day business employees could care less about haunted houses but do the work of the day, a whole other catagory of people intrested in the halloween event do that. There, a curve ball. So you are going to have classes to teach people to scare or are you going to find people that already have that ability. Abd finding people that have all the abiltities on your list is where it goes.
Next to every topic is what kind of craftment or talent or academic skill is needed. Do you have a grasp on it or do you need help? Are you making too much out of this organization? Or is it just not quite understood just yet and that is why it is important.
For older people you just will not be able to make them even realize what a haunted house is. They only became widely accepted all over the country in maybe the late 80's so if they are over 40 years old it might be what is a haunte house? Oh, you mean trick or treating, well son we didn't send you to Harvard to make a living going door to door for candy, that won't make a living. You better come up with something better than that. That's only one night a year and your mother has become very particular wih the pillow cases lately so how much candy you can carry in one night is doubtful and we aren't going to keep you while you wander around believing in this fantasy.
A line my grandfather used to say was it's awful hard to make a living at a hobby. He was refering to motorcycles about 40 years ago. These days has anyone ever heard of a motor cycle? Gee I guess it was all a big pipe dream hobby. I wonder how many Billions are made in selling motorcycle aftermarket items alone these days. How many billions in chrome and paint jobs let alone the sale of all the brands of cycles. Look at all the events that riders go where litterally a million people show up all the way across the country for two weekends and the week in between.
So a haunted house by anyone who does not already understand? Their view is no better than some old dude that thinks it is a minor hobby. It will bever fly, you don't have and never will have any money, you can't do that they won't allow it. Screw them all.
Now grantid it may take a period of years preparing your knowlegde to feel comfortable with going forward and being cautions is actually a strong suit to not failing big time. Not being over confident and such but, after a few years of absorbing as much as possible you will be surprised how much wisdom gets crammed into your head and it goes smoothly.
From a business ranking? There are many small events people have that don't bring in a lot of money. Certainly not enough to pay all the bills and live the rest of the year doing nothing. In perspective to how much per hour it makes (wether as income or for a charity) makes even the lowest turn out something financially worth more than just handing out your wages. It might be classified as a hobby or a part time seasonal business and that is just the way it is.
Other people find the will to do what they have to do (a job or career) because they have no choice. No one WANTS to be the garbage man but they will do it so their kids go to college. No one wants to be stuck in a cubical but if they keep doing it that 2 weeks in Cancun will make them feel like a million dollars. So in comparison, some people are going to buy a motorcyle or a vacation or a resort home or a fancy car or a fancy boat or put their kinds in the military acadame because they look a little squirelly? Just kidding. Well, so spending what ever time and resources you want to on YOUR thing should be a respectable position.
And in the end, when developed to the proper size it is a business. Alas, it isn't the turn of the century. There are no beaches that haven't already been staked off. There is already a rail road and highways and the internet and lots of houses. So if you aren't already 3rd generation billionare it probably won't happen. It does happen though. Bill Gates had to outlast and buy out 16 other partners that at one point or another made their goal level of money or thought it wouldn't work.
Even billionares sometimes have a play book that seemed to work before and fail and fail and fail for 20 years and then have some marginal market presence and then screw that up too.
Who knows? In 5 years every haunt with out virtual reality simulation helmets may be considered a waste of time. Or the culture being disappointed with the hobby of virtual reality will love black plywood habitrails. I think so.
Having a business that runs every day shows what the cost of labor is, what the cost of this is, how many customers does it take to this or that and so on. There is a big difference in the mindset to get a job vs. having a business. A business that runs all year long is certainly better. And then that business sprinboards off the next "event" that has been built and even operated seasonally over time even if it loses money every year like a vacation does.
The SBA can't tell you how to run a business that doesn't start off with hundreds of thousands of dollars. They can only tell you how you will need to distribute this money to pay all of your taxs and meet employee standards. How to creat a budget.
All the great haunted houses and amusement attractions at one point followed their passion beyond all "normal" reasoning and just did what they could. Then 10 to 20 years later they were the biggest thing ever that just happened today.
I don't know how to put this on a list. What you have written is even dazzling and sounds of reason but, it also makes the reality sort of more complicated than it is.
Just get a rubber mask and go scare someone. If you don't like that build a haunted house and give some people masks and let them scare someone. You could go work for one, or just start right off on your own with a trail or super small 1000 SF thing that is an experiment. Who cares if it makes money. This is how you shift that demographic to get out of their house. How large you are able to make your event and how detailed you can afford to make it is entirely functional to how many of the demographic will come out of their house.
If there is a McDonalds within 30 miles of the location you chose, there is an available demographic that can be steered to your event. If there is one 500 feet from your location you must already be a success.
If you want to prove or dissprove the viability of a business plan simply evalute any number of franchise opportunities such as a subway shop. Well, even if you have $375,000 for the super duper location you still might at a moments notice be in there being a sandwitch artist so you better like making sandwitches. You could get 30 subway locations in 24 hour truck stops for $150,000 each and do well but at some point you will have someone quit and be making sandwitches. What kind of vegetables sir?
If you want to build scenery, you start a scenery and display company or install some regular construction technique that lends to a haunted house. If you want to make costumes and masks you do that. If you want to teach actors, you give classes on that if you want to have a haunted house you do all of this many times from scratch or cheap items not really up to industry standards to just do it. Or you intentionally disreguard all industry standards and become a success anyhow because you are different! I know who this is. I respect him big time and he turned a hobby into an all year long event kind of blowing away ALL the things everyone tells you to should or should not do.
When I was a supervisor with Boeing Aerospace, they sent us to their school to make sure we weren't reinventing the wheel and could flow chart any process or budget out over months or years and stick it in a computer so everyone "was on the same page" Well, quite simply a haunted house can not be flow charted as there are too many variables. You end up with a wall of scribbled back looping things with limitations impossibilities and things depsnding on not only minor talent but the big one...DESIRE.
If you want to do it you can. I can do anything I want to if I put my mind to it. I used to get drunk and could make anyone completely understand Einstiens theory of relativity and the entire grand unified theory of physics and what that one piece is that is missing that makes it all not want to go together. I could do it in about half an hour.
I've been watching every kind and mutation and success and failure of haunted house, every inspiration and every complaint of haunted house, every off spurt and idea that is supposed to make it better for everyone and what not to do that leads to disappointment. I have been watching and talking for 8 years now and there is no cut and dry answer, no one resource for how to start one or how much to spend. The more you have that is paid for and made out of junk or something else the better unless you are rich. But if you are rich and looking to get your money back? You can make more money with a $1.25 coin car wash with 4 bays and a vaccum station.
You can make far more wealth, far more of an impact on society at large by having and giving yourself the freedom to do what you want and enjoy and think of ways no one else has to employ a certain nuance or upgrade.
Any one from any walk of life, any trade or craft wether a business man or an artist of some dicipline can make it in a haunted house. When you fill in the blanks on your business plan it is more a reflection of your commitment than what the industry requires. Do you have to raise and support children or have a dog to feed? Do your parents need assistance physically and financially? Is what you are doing now take serious commitment? This could be anything from making sure you finish school with a degree in basket weaving to being instrumental in providing the data that rids the continent of spent plutonium.
If you don't have anything heavy that puts a burden on that business plan, then you can do anything you want. Miraculously once you have your first even loser event, everything is so simple. The two most identifiable names in the haunt industry have one thing in common. They started making a living playing records for groups of people. Me a former chemist and rocket scientist who really wanted to just be an artist it took 5 years to just do it. You can over analyze stuff to death. Sometimes though this is just the way people need to think but is the list above going to impress your sociology professor or is it what you really feel you need to know.
Or one day after graduating college and becoming homeless because they taught you to look for a job, you spend 3 months just wondering how does this work and all those complicated squiggles and back tracking lines come into focus. And then it vanishes. You can do what ever you want to do if you put your mind to it. Oh, yes, and your back as well. Walls are heavy.
Don't do what I do kid! Hit the lottery and buy a permanent location. That wasn't on the list either. If it sucks how do you liquidate? You can't it's all worth 10 cents on the dollar unless it had some bigger meaning to you all along. So you start small and keep going until it doesn't suck. If it never stops sucking stop doing it.
As far as sociology is concerned the big lesson is young people want it now and older people have come to think things require a long term investment to bring a proper reward and be long lived. Investment can be catagorized as well by doing by trial and error or obsorbing others experiences and then finding out they were idiots.
The other main variable not on the list is what is your personal passionate skill. If it is making out business plans then you are a haunt consultant and you will come to think I suck. Hell I think I suck. No one has actually read down this far so I can say anything here. Start out with a puppet show. Work your way up to being a ventriloquist. Then do stand up comedy. Then build your own WTF is this museum and give tours of it. Then sell DVDs on how to have a puppet show, start puppet magazine, run it for a year or two and then make out a business plan similar to how it operates and then sell the company. Now free and independently wealthy, buy some CDX plywood and convince people to be actors only they don't know that really they are puppets. Make sure your puppets have quality refreshments and make sure things are cool at the ticket booth.
Thankyou goodnight, we love you.
01-06-2007, 12:08 AM
No one has actually read down this far so I can say anything here. Start out with a puppet show. Work your way up to being a ventriloquist. Then do stand up comedy. Then build your own WTF is this museum and give tours of it. Then sell DVDs on how to have a puppet show, start puppet magazine, run it for a year or two and then make out a business plan similar to how it operates and then sell the company. Now free and independently wealthy, buy some CDX plywood and convince people to be actors only they don't know that really they are puppets. Make sure your puppets have quality refreshments and make sure things are cool at the ticket booth.
Thankyou goodnight, we love you.
We love you too, Greg... :lol:
01-06-2007, 06:30 AM
..all I can add, that Gregg forgot, was to actually shop around when picking out your chromed wheelbarrow because there can be a large difference in prices.
The one you use to take all of your money to the bank in....
well it's cheaper than buying a new $90,ooo.oo car to impress everyone AND you can use it for more mundane things wheelbarrows were actually intended for.
A chromed wheelbarrow filled to overflowing with deep, rich, red blood!
(Alongside that tremendous pile of drained turnips, work, work, work!)
01-06-2007, 09:17 AM
:lol: Jim, I love you brother!
01-06-2007, 10:25 AM
Chromed Wheelbarrow? http://126.96.36.199/2932/36/emo/Lighten.gif
HMMMMM I wonder if I could come up with a "Spinner" wheel for upfront?
I could get rich......
One day during one of my management courses at my college I'll raise my hand and ask "So, where do I figure in the chromed wheelbarrow?"
"You know, for the puppet show"
Greg you had some great points, and Jim a wheelbarrow of blood ain't too bad either, but where can i get one filled with money for cheap? :)
01-06-2007, 01:45 PM
Chromed Wheelbarrow? http://188.8.131.52/2932/36/emo/Lighten.gif
HMMMMM I wonder if I could come up with a "Spinner" wheel for upfront?
I could get rich......
You'd be better off sending a picture of you riding in a rusty crusty wheelbarrow to MTV's "Pimp My Ride." Then, not only would you get spinning rims on that bad boy, you'd also have flat screens, a heated leather bucket seat, and other fabulous goodies. LOL.
Hey, here's a couple questions...
What kind of EMT/security services do you employ on site? Fire?
How do you handle actors? I know some can do volunteer because they are charity, and I've heard the arguement about contract labor and the IRS ruling, but what do you use?
How about people on site to do maintenence and repair?
Thanks again to everyone who has responded and been very helpful with this.
- By the way, i guess a better term for what I had written would be a "project plan"?
01-06-2007, 04:53 PM
Our event is all Fire and EMT personel. The next step up would be having them as a sponsor or that gets a donation for being on hand. In the big cities up North I hear they cost $450 per night to have a fire truck sitting there and EMT and Police on had have an hourly wage that is usually time and a half of their regular salary (as they already worked 40 hours)
The next step is to become a dictator and you have your own security force and nurse on hand and if things get hot you move.
As far as tons of money go, I thought that was why I had a hearse and a coffin? Seams thats about 3 times the size of a wheel barrow? You pull up to the front door and open the rear door. Right now even though I have a hearse and many coffins to chose from we are at radio controlled dump truck level as far as going to the bank is concerned.
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