Now that Halloween season is done and over, I'm now more than ever motivated to look into the possibility of getting a show up and going for the 2013 season. I've got six years of experience in running my home haunt which saw an average attendance of around 600 patrons a year, our busiest year having almost 1,000. Not a huge number (compared to other areas of the US) but quite the draw for a town of my size. (About 10,000) There are a few haunts in my area that I'd say average around 3-5K patrons a season charging $10-$13 a ticket. There's a population density of nearly 100K people within 20 minutes of my town.
The haunts in my area are OK for what they are, but patrons in this market are unaware of the amazing things going on in this industry. Our market here is stuck in the 80's-90's style haunts with black walls, checkerboard rooms, and fire engine red paint for blood. Don't get me wrong, it works for our area... But I want to bring so much more to the table. I've spent the past two years networking with owners and operators of haunts across the US learning tons of valuable information to use towards opening my own show. I've also done some networking locally in regards to potential sponsorships later on down the road. In short, this place is a gold mine. Given the right resources, I believe I could do amazing things for the Iowa haunt industry.
With that said, I can have all the knowledge in the world, with the best crew and the best sponsors... But it all comes back to funds. Obviously this is a huge obstacle for most haunts (If not the biggest) to deal with. However the more haunters I talk to, it sounds like it's nearly 75% luck as far as finding buildings/investors to help with their business venture. I'm just wondering if this is the norm for most? It certainly seems like it, but I know there's got to be guys out there that find different ways of getting started.
My thinking being gather a group of core sponsors that would be the initial investors to get going our first year. Larger companies like Coke, Monster, possibly local car dealerships, that could afford to invest a chunk of change in order to get the ball rolling. They'd obviously be reimbursed with marketing/tickets/ and other promotions. I was also thinking to have different "tiers" of sponsors that would get different benefits depending on how much they invested.
In all, I feel like it'd be my best bet to get things going financially... I'm just apprehensive that these people will actually be willing to donate much more than a couple hundred bucks.
What are you thoughts? Is it out of line to ask for a large chunk of money out front? Is there a different way of getting financing aside from actually taking out a business loan? What are your previous experiences?