In looking at all that is involved with the establishment, operation, and maintenance of a haunt, it can be overwelming to say the least. Researching and thinking about how a traditional company is formed, I feel that there is potential for a paradigm shift in the above said. A traditional haunt busines has a set number of owners/partners (i.e., one, two, five, etc.) taking on all the responsibilities of a haunt (e.g., finding funding, creating a design, casting, etc.) and hiring managers or employees to do the work with them. While this works for some, and no offense to them, I believe that a co-op of sorts would present a better opportunity for the success of not just a haunt itself, but strengthing the industry as a whole.
By having members who are allowed to buy into the company, they would be more enthusiastic and willing to work harder toward the success of the haunt. I'm not talking about investors who ponny up the venture capital and sit back, but those people who actually are the ones that show up day and night to plan, build, market, operate, and tear down. These people are the ones who are the life blood of any haunted attraction. Without your people, paid and volunteer both, all you have is scary empty warehouse. As all of you are aware and as most of you have had to tell non-industry patrons, a haunt does not just happen in a couple of weeks. It takes months of prep. With a co-op, the responsibilities can be divided amongst the "Board Members" if you will, freeing up a members valuable time to spent with a job, loved ones, personal enjoyment; and by allowing the member to buy-in to the company they not only provide venture and working capital that does not have to borrowed from a financial institution. By doing so, if additional financing is required, an institution will be more likely to loan the haunt money because the risk of repayment is lower. Each members gets one vote in all things business, regardless of how many shares they have. The Board Members can decide to bring in new members as they feel fit to. If the haunt doesn't pan out, then the members are only out their initial buy-in instead of their house or vehicle.
These are just my thoughts on how I want to begin my journey into the oh-so exciting time in my life as a haunt owner and my passion for all things halloween. I'm interested in what those of you who have been around the block a couple of times, those that just moved into the neighborhood, and those like me are house hunting.
In this situation, the best thing you can do is assign specialization. That is, have each member of your Board be in charge of a different aspect of the haunt. Otherwise it is too difficult to get anything done when you have to get everyone's opinion and when disagreements arrise. One person should be assigned to marketing, one to management, one to each haunt design/set design, one to permits, ect.
In my opinion, a partnership between two people is the best; hopefully with members with complementary skills. In this way, the members can split up the specialization and talk through all aspects without there being much disagreements. Choosing the right partner is challenging, however. You don't want your best friend; you want someone who you trust completely for their intellectual capacity and their creativity, but also someone who you can be brutally honest with. Some disagreements are good in a partnership.
Your strategy as a co-op seems too laissez faire and chaotic.
Thanks for the response. I can see the point that you're saying in regards to how chaotic it would be, much like a chicken with its head cut off. When I wrote this post, I tried to keep it as short as possible without losing what I was trying to say. I omitted a lot of details about bylaws and the functionality dynamic of the organization;but keeping in tune with what you're saying, yes department heads would be voted on and assigned. Daily decisions would be made by those dept. heads leaving major business decisions up to a majority vote of all members. Again, this is a new concept in the industry but not new as a concept (e.g., agriculture co-ops). Any thoughts are greatly appreciated and their are no bad ideas.
I couldn't agree MORE!! This is the exact lesson I learned in the four years I've been at Hall of Horrors which is a Jaycee funded charity haunt. It's set up with all the board member BS and when it comes down to getting the HAUNT done it was best split between two-three people who all brought DIFFERENT things to the table but met on common ground. I had a business chair who took care of the "blah blah blahs" of haunt operation, I was the creative chair who did all things design and construction, and during the months around October we had our actor manager who wrangled volunteers and kept them in line. The three of us all loved what we did while giving our suggestions to the other areas. In the end it was easy to come to agreements because we all had our own area of focus without too much "noise".
Originally Posted by NateTheGreat