Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

What you should do to Open Your haunts in 2020 - Thread

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • drfrightner
    replied
    How to Save Vendors and What Should Haunt Owners Do?

    Even before this pandemic, several vendors had already gone out of business. Now with the virus situation, Transworld cancellation, and haunt owners not placing orders out of fear of not opening, will more ill fate plunder our vendor community? What options do vendors have? (The majority of this article was written prior to the cancellation of Transworld show and mostly applies to how vendors should price their products in the future.) Even before all this, vendors were struggling. Some had already cancelled their booths and filed bankruptcy. I can't speak for these companies, but I can tell you thisÖOverall, haunted house vendors do not charge enough. Iíve talked to someone who builds escape room attractions charging only $50,000. Iíve talked to someone else who builds haunted houses who jumped at the chance to build one for an amusement park for only $75,000. I'm like WHAT? You can't make any money, especially after you build, ship, and install. Anytime I get a call, my first question is budget. If itís $100,000 or less, my answer is SORRY. Why? On every project, the buyer expects you to ship and install. Some companies don't have the kind of experience of installing attractions like our company, but let me forewarn. You can get tied up on site for a couple weeks on an install, paying people every day, hotels, food, travel costs, and more. Simply put, you can't do it for $50,000. Just because someone offers you a job, doesn't mean you should take it. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something that will tie up your companyís time and prevent you from doing something else that actually makes money.

    Same thing goes to vendors who sell animations, costumes, masks, and more. The industry started almost like a hobby, and some never left that mentality. Haunted house owners charge $25-$35 to enter their attractions not $8-$10 like in 1999. Vendors: Success is about how much you make, not how many you sell. As a haunt owner, I learned long ago that customers don't choose which haunted house to visit based on price; itís about the quality of the haunt. If your a vendor with the best product, then trust your price with a built-in margin, so you can take care of your employees and your family.



    Too many new vendors come into the game thinking they must keep the price as low as possible. When Transworld started this show in St Louis, the site was chosen in part because it was the cheapest convention center. Why? The idea was if you make the booth prices super low more vendors would buy booths and the show could launch more successfully. I encouraged Transworld to charge admission fee to maintain those lower booth costs Initially Jen thought NO WAY, but if people can't pay $100+ to support the show and the vendors, then they don't need to walk in the door. The cost of the show needs to be shared by vendors and buyers alike. I recently talked to a big retailer, and still he thinks of the Transworld show as a convention not a tradeshow. Why did he say that? Clearly too many actors and enthusiasts show up, plus some haunt owners bring up to 30 of their staff. Some people run around in costume. Some people are there just to have fun. I can understand his perception, but I argued back that Transworld is a tradeshow, because itís a show for a billion dollar industry. (You could argue that Escape Rooms worldwide might be a billion dollar industry now too.) Transworld could charge $200 for entry to weed out the non-buyers and not worry about losing a single valid buyer. Vendors: you would spend more time on the show floor talking to qualified buyers, not people who roam the floor without any ability to buy a $5000 prop. Haunt owners: you should NOT bring 20-30 of your staff to waste vendors time. This must be a tradeshow not a convention. Midwest Haunters Convention is a convention, so take them there. Transworld should be a place to do business.

    Vendors shouldn't be worried about losing one sale due to raised prices. You're entitled to make a profit. If a haunt owner cries about the price, ask them if they're lowering their admission price? You'll hear crickets! If we're going to maintain a strong & healthy vendor community, companies might need to raise prices and not be afraid to make a profit. For an escape room attraction, I charge minimum $100,000 while so many others sell them for $50,000, but many companies are going out of business, and I'm still standing. Ghost Ride is still standing , now in it's 21st year. Creative Visions is still humming along after 27 years. If I make more money from 1 sale than you make from selling 3, well that is a problem for YOU, not me I want to focus on doing a GREAT JOB offering the BEST product and service. Itís not about how many I can sell. You learn from experience and experience teaches you quantity doesn't equal profit. Learn the motto: Work smarter not harder and deliver a better product both on-time & ahead of schedule. That is how you do it!

    But how do vendors survive an entire year of virtually no orders? Vendors: It won't be easy, but you can survive. For starters I hope you got approved for a PPP loan from the government and are using it to hire your staff to build inventory. Yes, build up inventory, because you need to bet on yourself. Ten years ago haunts typically bought products in late July and early August, using credit cards to finance upgrades. This could be the case again. Haunts want to know what conditions will be in 6 to 8 weeks from today. The economy is going to re-open; it has to re-open, because having a depression, poverty, and high crime would destroy more lives than this virus ever could. Right now states can't pay their bills. Cities and townships are laying people off and cutting budgets, because they have no revenue. Cities and States have no other option but to open and once they do there won't be any turning back. This will become very clear by July, and once that happens haunts might start calling asking 'WHAT DO YOU HAVE'. Use government PPP loans to build inventory, because there will be haunts calling in late July, and when they do you'll have product. Re-read what was written above, stop the discounts and make a profit! If a haunt owner wants to wait until July or August...FINE, but charge appropriately because you have a business to save. No matter what happens, Transworld should strongly consider moving the Tradeshow to January or February to help vendors, at least for 2021, if the convention has open dates. Either way the show is currently booked for March 4th 2021, the earliest ever, so that helps!

    What should haunt owners do this 2020 season? I've heard a lot of really wacky concepts like hayrides and haunts doing drive thru... dumbest idea I've ever heard. I'm not risking any of my actors getting hit by cars. Overall, haunt owners have different ideas on what they should do, but honestly why consider doing anything outside the realm of what you normally do? Yes..."buyer confidence" is low right now, and haunt owners are fearful of lower attendance, so skim costs to offset that possibility. For example, you can switch ticketing to Fearticket.com, offering the lowest fees with the best system and fastest scanning PLUS remarketing! Fearticket offers regular tickets, timed ticketing, dynamic pricing, group scanning, and everything in between. And, FearTicket doesn't keep your online convenience fees, so technically many of you could actually MAKE MONEY by switching. (Shameless plug, I know...Sorry. Still, you should switch. )

    Speaking of timed ticketing...Is that the saving grace we all should incorporate for 2020? Good question but NOPE! Is timed ticketing going to prevent actors from being within 6 feet of customers or customers stopping in the haunt and backing up the groups? Is that going to prevent a screaming, fleeing customer from running into other people? No. So how would timed ticketing solve that problem?

    Thinking positively, haunts might actually thrive in this environment. After all, we tend to all do well when people opt for "stay-cations" rather than "vacations". What you should do right now is PLAN TO OPEN! Get your websites updated, get your social media content created, repair your haunt, interview possible staff members, plan your marketing. What else would you do...wait around until the last minute? Yes you're going to spend some money, but this is your only option. Just make sure if you sign marketing deals, add a clause you can cancel with 24 hour notice. If for some reason you can't open, well you can still cancel all the marketing, you don't hire the staff, and you simply cancel everything. (I believe you will open though.)

    Things you could consider to give the public trust in your attraction: (1) Post Warning Signs everywhere including your website. Visit www.Hauntworld.com Fright Forum where you can get FREE warning signs to use. Your warning signs should warn people against entering if they're sick, suggesting everyone wear masks, wash their hands, etc. (2)Put washing stations at the entrance. (3)Take touchless temperature of every staff member and maybe every guest too. (4)Spray-sanitize everyone's hands as they enter. (5)Purchase affordable masks for every possible customer and require them to wear them while in the attraction

    Other thing to do:

    (1) Reduce spending overall.

    (2) You could remove sections of your haunt to reduce staffing, while adding midway attractions which make money. Haunts need to add more scareboxes / scarezones so actors can stay busy hitting multiple sides of the attraction from one area. REDUCE STAFF!

    3) Marketing: Don't throw a wide net, focus on marketing to the CORE audience. Cut out all TV and almost all radio and focus on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, mass email and maybe Youtube with a few billboards. Oh and Hauntworld.com! All haunts should seek better deals from marketing companies or skip them. I also would not launch early marketing programs; I would start marketing no more than 10 days before opening date to save money.

    4) Public Relations: This is the year to SKIP ALL PR efforts. Why? The media could be your worst enemy this year, asking specific questions about safety. I would avoid the media in 2020 and keep a very low profile. Open your haunt, do your best, and make it thru.

    5) Reduce operating Days: This is not the year to open in early September or stay open deep into November. This October has 5 weekends so maybe you skip September all together. Maybe instead of opening every night in October just open weekends. Do what you need to do to cut costs, and focus on the meat and potatoes. If you open later, you'll save labor costs and marketing costs. We've already decided one of our haunts (LEMP) will only open TEN DAYS just Friday and Saturdays in October. We have cut some days from Darkness and Creepyworld too.

    6) Add Revenue Generating Upgrades: Instead of building new scenes, create new revenue generating attractions like a small zombie paintball arena, a 5-minute escape room, gift stores, photo ops, horror arcade, pumpkin smashing, anything that is FUN that generates additional revenue. You can do this simply by removing the last 2000 square feet of your haunt. This is a smart move!

    7) Buy the new How to Get Rich DVD on hauntedhousesupplies.com: (I know... another shameless plug. Sorry.) I might have titled the DVD wrong, because some mistakenly think this is about how to start a successful haunt, but it's more for haunted house owners who currently own a haunt. The DVD shows you how to reduce staff, how to open a gift store, how to build scareboxes to maximize actors, how to market your haunt more effectively, how to create 5 minute escape rooms, and so much more. You can get this DVD at www.HauntedHouseSupplies.com with that being said, this DVD will help you RIGHT NOW! It is by far the best DVD I've ever made; sadly we didn't get to promote the DVD at Trasnworld. All the same, snag this DVD, because it will help your business.

    And FINALLY, become a member of the Hauntworld Fright Forum. You can't learn anything on Facebook. Come to the Fright Forum, where we can talk, share, learn, exchange, trade, etc. I'm posting important information every week on the forums and the blog, and tune into Hauntworld.com to listen to our new podcast which will start soon!

    Happy Haunting,
    Larry Kirchner

    PS: I never thought in a million years we'd get to issue 50 but it was a goal and we made it! Always set goals and achieve them. It makes everything between worthwhile. Congrats to Hauntworld Magazine! Get your subscription now at www.HauntedhouseMagazine.com

    Leave a comment:


  • hauntfarm
    replied
    Thanks so much for sharing all this information. Right now I think everyone is concerned. I did get your video from Patti and I agree best one yet. Tell Patti thanks for sending it so fast.

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    I wanted to mention on this Get Rich DVD we made... I made this DVD BEFORE the Virus shutdown not after. The funny thing is if you watch it you'll swear I made it AFTER!

    Why am I saying that? I'm saying that because when you watch it you'll think I made it to help haunts transition to a new way of doing business because of a possible decrease in attendance. I probably shouldn't have named it 'How to Rich' because some people think its aimed at people who haven't yet opened a haunted house. But no its aimed at people WHO currently own haunted houses. The DVD goes into great detail about HOW to make more money off current attendance or in other words without growing attendance.

    This DVD goes into our retail store we explain what to sell. We travel into our escape rooms, 5 minute escape rooms, into scareboxes and show how you can reduce labor. This DVD is about DECREASING COSTS while RAISING REVENUE!

    This is the best DVD we've made so far.

    I don't care if people buy the dvd or not... I'm telling you because this DVD will help your business during this crisis.

    You can get this at www.hauntedhousesupplies.com

    how to dvd 2020.jpg

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied


    1) Post Warning Signs everywhere including your website. Visit www.Hauntworld.com Fright Forum we're posting FREE warning signs for you to use. Your warning signs should warn people against entering if they're sick, suggesting everyone wear masks, and wash their hands.

    2) Put washing stations at the entrance - Taking Touch less Temperature of every staff member and guest - Spray everyone's hands as they enter - Purchase affordable masks for every possible customer and require them to wear them while in the attraction

    3) Reduce Spending: Every haunt needs to remove sections of their haunts to reduce staffing, while adding midway attractions which make money. Haunts need to add more scareboxes / scarezones so actors can stay busy hitting multiple sides of the attraction from one area. REDUCE STAFF! Haunts can reduce staff if you're a screampark but removing a haunt or big warehouse haunts can bypass an area. I also would not launch early marketing programs I would start marketing no more than 10 days before opening date to save money.

    4) Marketing: Don't throw a wide net, focus on marketing to the CORE audience. Cut out all TV, and almost all radio and focus on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Mass Email and maybe Youtube with a few billboards. All haunts should seek better deals from marketing companies or skip them.

    5) Public Relations: This is the year to SKIP ALL PR efforts. Why? The media could be your worst enemy this year asking specific questions about safety. I would avoid the media in 2020, keep a very low profile, open your haunt, do your best, and make it thru.

    6) Reduce operating Days: This is not the year to open in early September or stay open deep into November. This October has 5 weekends so maybe you skip September, maybe instead of opening every night in October just open weekends. Do what you need to do to cut costs, and focus on the meat and potatoes. If you open later you'll save labor costs and marketing costs. We've already decided one of our haunts (LEMP) will only open TEN DAYS just Friday and Saturdays in October. We have cut some days from Darkness and some from Creepyworld.

    7) Add Revenue Generating Upgrades: instead of building new scenes, create new revenue generating attractions like zombie paintball arena, 5 minute escape rooms, gift stores, photo ops, horror arcade, pumpkin smashing, anything that is FUN that generates additional revenue. You can do this simply but removing the last 2000 square feet of your haunt. This is smart move on your part!

    8) BUY How to Get Rich DVD: I know another shameless plug but I made this DVD prior to the shutdown. I might have titled the DVD wrong, because its not about how to start a haunt and get RICH it's for haunted house owners who currently own a haunt. The DVD shows you how to reduce staff, how to open a gift store, how to build scareboxes, how to market your haunt more effectively, how to create 5 minute escape rooms and so much more. You can get this DVD at www.HauntedHouseSupplies.com with that being said this DVD will help you RIGHT NOW! It is by far the best DVD I've ever made, sadly we didn't get to promote the DVD at Trasnworld. All the same snag this DVD it will help your business.

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    Escape Room Warning

    escape warningsmall 2.jpg

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    They are telling me I donít qualify because I donít have employees in the off season. Does this makes since or no? Thanks

    WHOMEVER TOLD YOU THAT IS A MORON! You just need the payroll records from last year, and apply for the loan. I did and many did.

    Larry

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    Info I got from my bank on PPP LOAN UPDATES
    Congratulations on successfully obtaining Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding under the CARES Act. We fully understand the importance of these funds to you and your business, and weíre committed to helping your business navigate the uncertain economic environment.

    Since the inception of the PPP, the U.S. Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have continually modified the Program guidelines. We recommend that you continue to watch for updates regarding the PPP and its guidelines throughout the loan process, including how you may use the proceeds and which expenses may be paid using the proceeds. You can find this information at the SBA website or at the U.S Treasury site.

    Please know that how you spend PPP funds will affect your eligibility for forgiveness as outlined by the SBA, and there are important things you need to consider regarding this spending. Under the CARES Act that authorized the PPP funding, all or some portion of the loan principal and accrued interest can be forgiven if you use the loan proceeds for eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses that fully meet the forgiveness requirements issued by the SBA.

    If you do not completely follow the requirements, the amount of your loan that is forgiven may be reduced. The actual amount of the forgiveness will depend, in part, on your use of all of the loan proceeds for forgivable purposes and whether you maintain employee and compensation levels during the required periods, according to the CARES Act and SBA rules.

    At this time, the SBA has not provided final guidelines for the forgiveness provisions of PPP loans. You may want to seek advice from an attorney, accountant or other professional advisor regarding your particular situation. Also, please carefully read the CARES Act, including Section 1106, the various SBA documents, as well as Interim Final Rules and FAQs that can be found on the SBA and U.S. Treasury websites at the links above. Since these rules have not been finalized, please continue to look for updates at the SBA website.

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    This is the real killer right here... the economy is at higher unemployment than the Great Depression. This is NOT the year to raise prices, this is not the year to spend a lot of money. You must figure out ways to cut costs. Here are some suggestions.

    1) Don't renovate your haunted house scenes and sets. Instead figure out every possible way to create SCAREZONES where actors can reach multiple area's in your haunted house. You need to reduce dependency on labor by 40%. So if you had 100 actors last year you need to get down to 60 this year. Just a reality. Furthermore once you reduce your dependence on actors you need to KEEP IT THAT WAY FOREVER.

    How do you reduce your labor force?

    A) If you have one of these Screamparks just close down a haunted house, cut out part of the hayride very simple. Get meaner and leaner not longer and bigger.
    B) A warehouse haunt very simple build scareboxes. If you're one of these 40,000 plus square foot haunts cut out 1/4 of that haunt with a bypass. Your haunt will still be massive don't worry.

    2) If you're an indoor haunted house CUT OUT an entire section of the haunted house and build a midway.

    A) Build 5 minutes escape rooms
    B) Zombie Paintball
    C) Gift Store
    D) Horror Arcade
    E) Photo Ops
    F) Games
    G) Axe Throwing (Zombie Style)


    3) Cut out more sections of your haunted house and built a year around Axe Throwing or Escape Room facility.

    4) Cut Marketing Costs. It is time to remove all radio from your budget, all TV, and get down to billboards and digital.

    5) Switch ticketing companies to Fearticket.com Why? I was talking with one haunt yesterday they said their ticketing company keeps the service fee ... we did the math they pay essentially $34,500 for ticketing if they switched to Fearticket they would MAKE PROFIT $50,000 so why would you not SWITCH?????????? FEAR TICKET SWITCH IS GOING TO MAKE THAT HAUNTED HOUSE $50,000 based on how many tickets they sell online. THIS IS A FACT!

    IMPORTANT TO HAVE A PLAN FOR SAFETY use warning signs, and make a final call around August what you might do.

    Here are some suggestions

    Buy facemasks for every single one of your guests require to wear while in line or going thru haunt

    Washing Stations

    Spray every guests hands prior to entry

    Putting up warning signs everywhere including on your website and ticketing page

    JOIN THE CONVERSATION JOIN THE FORUM TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    This is going to start happening across the Halloween industry... which is why you need to get really smart about how you operate over the next 5 months.

    Rubies files for bankruptcy https://toybook.com/rubies-costume-c...B3kMl.facebook

    Leave a comment:


  • Demon Acres
    replied
    They are telling me I donít qualify because I donít have employees in the off season. Does this makes since or no? Thanks

    Leave a comment:


  • Kevin Baird
    replied
    Florida's economic recovery task force is suggesting methods for Disney's reopening. This includes... Disney is going to require all employees to wear face masks, have their temperatures taken before shifts, use social distancing on lines and will begin operating at 50% capacity - date is still TBD but most likely in January they will start up.

    https://www.radio.com/news/disney-wo...PKbtTmANEU5slk


    Last edited by Kevin Baird; 05-01-2020, 02:06 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    And here is ONE MORE feel free to use these at your haunted house
    warning sign 1 big print.jpg

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    image_21745.jpg this is a strict virus warning sign

    Leave a comment:


  • drfrightner
    replied
    Check out this story about stocks of theme parks... it clearly says at the bottom that amusement parks might suffer 50% reduction in attendance. Haunted Houses should plan on 50% reduction in attendance. https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/...cle&yptr=yahoo

    Leave a comment:


  • RJ Productions
    replied
    OK Larry!!!
    Following your info and your lead....applied today for the PPP through my bank. Being a a unique business, a haunted
    house and a Pirate Festival , I am on a first name basis with the bank manager.
    Everything was done on line. She looked through everything, requested additional info and will send it off today!!!
    IF you have that sort of re pore with your bank manager, utilize it!! I always drop off free tickets for her employees, they
    recognize and acknowledge me every time I enter the bank even though I am only really active seasonally. Now when
    I need help, those dividends are paying off as she personally handled the application and will vouch for it to her bosses!!

    Two lessons:
    first follow though when you are handed opportunities like those Larry is outlining,
    second , always build those kind of relationships with other businesses and providers, you never know when they will bear fruit...
    the only issues I am seeing is that base everything off 12 months. All my profit for the Festival was LOST because of Covid.
    But their formulas take your total profit, divide it by 12 for a monthly profit and multiply it by 2,5 for the 2 1/2 months of profit you lost....
    But that's not accurate for people like us, we have 12 months of expenses but only ONE month to make a profit. I will not be able to
    run the festival in June or July,,, so I have NO chance to make anymore profit, but expenses continue.

    So the reality is you will only get 2 1/2 months of what your yearly profit would be but no opportunity to make anymore money the other
    9 1/2 months!!! BUT something is better than nothing!!!

    Thanks Larry for posting (no you don't get a percentage...just a VERY grateful THANKS!!!)

    Leave a comment:

Working...
X