I will be opening my haunt in about a year and have been working on it for 5 years from first thought to now buying props. I have invested about $30,000 in props and have another $ 50,000 to go. I have looked at the numbers and if you don't have a good marketing plan then you won't get the customers you need the first year. This is a business that you have to grow and build a core following. I have owned 5 companies including the one that I own now and some have done better than expected the first year and some worse. The thing that I have learn is get all your ducks in a row and it will help with the profitability. If you have a set number of customers them you need to spend money to get them in the door. A rule that I live by is for every customer I want, I need to spend atleast $2 to get them. Sounds high but I have been doing this for a long time and the numbers work. Everytime I lower my marketing the customer base goes down too. Don't forget put out a good product you need the guys back next year. When I open I want 20,000 customers so I expect to spend $ 50,000 to get them. Now You say that you can't spend that much, then here is my free tip for you. Go to your local high school and offer all of the sport teams coupons for $2 dollars off and for every coupon redeemed, each team gets $1. Make it a contest between the sports and give them a pizza dinner and a tour for being the highs earners. Now with that said if you got 1000 kids to come and you charge $15 person you net $12 ( $12,000), you have just invested $3000 in to marketing without much up front money being spent. Hope that helps get you thinking about how to do some marketing with out blowing the bank roll on big ticket adds with radio and cable.
Just want to scare the s**t out of someone.