First year out n nowheresville Arkansas you have no idea how many people are going to attend. I have exactly the same location type numbers you describe. A few haunts have been right on this highway, a few other events have been on the highway all within a 3 mile area that go such a gathering it was considered unsafe as cars began parking on the highway. The parking lots not thought out. Plus the big attraction is that is isn't really a city although it claims to be.
The actual numbers for a haunted house have been 7500, 420, 800, 4600, 1600, completely depending on advertising. How long you have been at one location is important too. The same 7500 haunt in the town of 95,000 in the ghetto went from 4,000 to going independent and 7500 to 10,000 to 11,400.
In the over all picture, your outward appearence is going to be oh, that old lady at that crappy dance hall is at it again I'm not going there. What if you see 400 people. If we are talking 30% total deal, not rent plus 30% then it is on. Just the shear amount of work required in an unknown rural location, I would only do one 2500 SF haunt and the location proved to deserve more than that. It is going to be a little hard to take advice from another town and expect your location is going to do the same thing.
Now, condemable buildings in the middle of nowhere can be groovy. They should be cheap, it got that way because there is no building inspector. It is creepy and no one can say you are the one that screwed it up.
But, nothing wrong with setting up a few years and learning all the motions. The ultimate goal is to get into the 75,000 population city into the older industrial areas, hashtag ghetto.
I can think of another haunt in East Texas, can picture an old dance hall even a mile from them that even has dances every saturday. They started out at 800 and years later climbed to 8,000. Years later. 13 years later they turned a profit on a very large trail and seperate 3500 SF haunt.
Plus it might only be 7 miles away but in todays brains that is a 14 mile trip at 20 miles per gallon, at $4 a gallon that is $4 to just do a drive through and see if it is a dukes of hazzard haunt, or a grandma haunt or what. Oh hell it isn't worth it, we'll wait until we hear others have gone there. Which turns out to be the next year or 3 years in.
This is just a reality check. On the other hand any gain what so ever is progress in those types of locations. The trick is to not over spend and thus be dissappointed. Or if you do spend you know it isn't the haunt, it is the advertising or the gas prices or people in Arkansas don't like dancehalls anymore or something but, not the haunt. Try not to put yourself in the situation that if they don't turn out you are screwed. Or do have a paln B to pay loans and such. There is no shame in having to work the other 10 months of the year to pay that loan to get what you really want in the end. That is what business is. Doing what it takes. Maybe the other half of the building is intentionally left open for zombie dance hall events held every month or once every 3 months.
I have seen former advertising guys that did that for a living every day for a few years hack away and see 7500 right out of the box but, I doubt they could sell a remote location as well as being in a town of heavier population. They grouped with independent film makers for their videos, hacked out web sites and social marketing and quite really got lucky. The market had already been developed for something more and they came with that something more. The market had only been in development for 25 years when they stepped it up. Yet it sounds like they were marketing geniuses and first year saw 7500.
Everyone has to start somewhere. I probably spent $20,000 in real money and twice that in sweat equity. Never had a loan due date on that much money. Not sure if that would be possible in a small town.
I'm not really bothered by the 30% deal. They are going to have to deal with the building not being up to standard if that comes up and insure themselves. Plus it is going to be a temporary deal where after 3 years it steps up and moves to the big city.
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