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slindsay8
08-30-2010, 10:35 PM
I'm 21 years old and very eager to become an entrapenuer. I love going out to the pool hall with my budies, but I hate the drive we all have to take to get there.

I've been looking into opening my own small business for the past couple years. Pretty much since out of high school. And it all of a sudden hit me out of nowher that I should open up a pool hall in my city. Now I live in Surprise, AZ and it's a very high teen populated city. And there isn't one hangout spot for teens out here at all.

So i'm really considering opening up a pool hall out here in Surprise. I can almost guarantee high customer flow do to my location. I have a rough draft of a business plan But theres some raw areas i need help with.

I read a lot that getting a liquir license is a must for a pool hall but the majority of my customers are going to be under 20. Which is why I'm going to incorparate The Hookah instead. The Pool Hall I go to does this, as many others in the Phoenix area. But I still dont know if i should try to obtain a liquir license.

My impression is if i get a liquer license then i must kick out anybody thats under 21 at 10pm? That would murder my income big time I think. I plan to have the pool hall open from 5pm to 2am 7 days a week.

I also am not completly sure on what licenses i may need to open this pool hall. Any suggestions?

Also sorry for my spelling. This is my first post and i can't seem to find any sort of spell cheker.

Thanks for all the info you might have to offer. I am very serious about opening this pool hall. I know it will be a blast and i have very close friends that love it as much as me that are willing to work shifts. So I have the man power to do this definatly. It's just I don't know exactly what i need to start. I sorta need a mentor persay.

Thanks again!!

-Scott

pooltchr
08-31-2010, 07:01 AM
Hi Scott,
I admire your spirit, and would love to see you succeed with your project, but I am going to throw a little reality your way.

First, opening and operating a pool room is not a blast. It is a business, and it requires a lot of hard work. Don't plan on spending a lot of time playing pool, as owning any business requires your full attention. You might get an occasional game in, but it will be the exception.

You are going to have to commit to being there even beyond the operating hours. Just because you lock the doors, doesn't mean your day is over.

You absolutely must have another revenue source beyond renting tables. Particularly with your target customer base, remember that most of them are going to have a lot of time committed to school, homework, and part time jobs. So you will rarely have time other than some nights and weekends when all of your tables are occupied. If you aren't going to sell alcohol, which is where most pool rooms actually make some money, you are going to have to have food. That means a kitchen, and health department inspections, etc.

Also, make sure you have covered all your expenses.
Business licenses
Taxes
Rent
Insurance
table repairs and maint.
cue repair
utilities
Advertising and promotions
payroll (You can NOT be the only employee)
And I'm sure I have forgotten a few things.

Plan on having 6 to 9 months of operating expense money before you open the doors. That is in addition to the start up costs of getting and installing tables, lights, kitchen equipment, furniture, etc.

I'm really not trying to be negative, but many pool rooms fail because of poor planning and under funding. Make sure you have all your ducks lined up, and are willing to put in 60 to 70 hours a week of hard work to even have a chance of being successful.

I would recommend you spend a lot of time with other pool room owners and learn the ins and outs of owning this type of business.

Good Luck.

Steve

Bambu
08-31-2010, 10:06 AM
Good reality check, Steve. I had the same idea, and I even had the cash to back it up. I was gonna buy a structure outright, or have one built. I had the plans on paper, and a whole folder full of paperwork. But after about a years worth of research, I woke up and came to my senses.

Pacifist
08-31-2010, 11:33 AM
There is a poolhall in my town that opened a couple of years ago. They are non-alcoholic and they do ok. The only reason they do as well as they do is because of a small group of dedicated shooters that frequent the place. They get quite a few young people in, but the young people don't work as much and don't spend much money. Table rental makes them enough to maintain the tables but the majority of the money they make comes from concessions. One of the owners works a full time job, if he didn't I don't think they could stay in business. The other owner spends most of her time at the poolhall this allows them to run without any other employees. They kept their initial investment low by buying lower cost tables rather than spending twice as much or more on higher quality expensive tables. I believe their decision to remain non-alcoholic hurts them. They have enough tables to support an in-house league as large as the local bar league but the lack of alcohol means only about one fifth of the available players in town will play there. Personally I have no problems playing in a non-alcoholic environment, but I am definately in the minority. Most of the people playing pool around here started playing in bars and alcohol has strong ties to their view of the sport.

All that said I wish you the best of luck in your endevor. I am a big fan of pool and am in support of any effort to make the game more accessable and enjoyable for everyone. Just make sure you do the research on the demographics of your area thoroughly before you invest the money to get started.

Wity
08-31-2010, 12:18 PM
and dont even think about it over this side of the pond either, licenced or not
Pubs and Pool/snooker halls are going bust at record levels.

BCA Master Instr
08-31-2010, 01:31 PM
You are indeed very fortunate.

Go to http://www.poollessons.com
and email Jerry Briesath. Jerry lives in Surprise, Az.

Jerry is one of the best business men I know when it comes to pool related rooms. He was a very successful owner of billiard rooms in Wisconson.

Here is your chance......SPF=randyg

pooltchr
08-31-2010, 03:02 PM
What a great opportunity to learn from someone who knows the ins and outs of the business! I hope the OP takes advantage.

Steve

slindsay8
08-31-2010, 03:56 PM
Thanks pooltchr for your reality check. Believe it or not. I am a very open andfree minded person when it comes to just messing around with friends. But I do know the difference between work and fun. I managed a T-Mobile store for 6 months, open to close. What i meant by I plan on having a blast was just being able to work at a place that I love working. The pool Hall has been my scene for along time, so i know it would be a lot more fun to work than T-mobile :D.

Thanks for all the support too, This only drives me harder in succeeding.

And thank you BCA Master Instr! I am going to get on that right after i send this replay.

All comments are welcome! Once My business starts up it would be great to look back at this thread with tons of support.

-Scott

bradb
08-31-2010, 04:21 PM
Next to restaurants pool halls are probably the most difficult businesses to start up. There has been only one in our entire area that has pulled it off.....


1. To start off he bought out a hall that was about to go broke. He picked up the tables and equipment for 10 cents on the dollar.

2. He involved his whole family to work for him.

3. He knew a lot of local top players as he was one himself and used them to spread the word around.

4. He organized a local in house mens/womans pool league for 8ball and 9ball and got local businesses for sponsors.

5. He got a beer/wine license for people to drink in a separate area from the tables.

6. He offers heat up pizzas and cheese nachos (easy to make behind the bar.)

7. Most Important he advertises regularly.


If you can meet all that criteria plus some of the other advise posted in this thread you might make it.

Good luck. Brad

slindsay8
08-31-2010, 04:49 PM
Unfortunalty theres no pool halls out here to go under or i would look into that. I'm not a pro player nor know any top players. But 5,6,7 was already on my list of thing to do. It's funny you mentioned pizza and nachos cuz last night I came up with that idea.

Thanks brad for your advice. I don't meet all of those criteria but I do with some.

kbilliards
08-31-2010, 05:40 PM
Can any one recommend where to get insurance for a non alcohol pool hall...the commercial insurance places that i call do not insure pool halls.

bradb
09-01-2010, 09:08 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: slindsay8</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Unfortunalty theres no pool halls out here to go under or i would look into that. I'm not a pro player nor know any top players. But 5,6,7 was already on my list of thing to do. It's funny you mentioned pizza and nachos cuz last night I came up with that idea.

Thanks brad for your advice. I don't meet all of those criteria but I do with some. </div></div>

Check out other cities or areas and ask around for sales or pool halls going bust, you may be able to buy their stuff and deliver it to your site, its the tables that you want the deals on.

You can get the pros to come around if you offer them free incentives, you want their feed back because you will learn all about pool in your area from them. You want your place to become a hang out from beginning to top players. Maybe encourage women to play by giving them 1/2 price. Offer coupons for father/son players. Above all your place must be friendly.

You must be strict in your rules, once you become well known then the bad elements will start poking around and thats what killed a popular club here.

slindsay8
09-02-2010, 12:51 PM
Thanks guys This really helps.

I'm taking the next step and calling a leasing company. I found a great lot at a great location for some of the cheapest pricing in Surprise. But i read that i need to negioate the price. I also heard from this new business owner that there was fees in the lease that most people don't know about.

Is there anybody that has a lot of experience leasing? The group I'm going to try to lease form is "Americor Investment Group"

Thanks guys

pooltchr
09-02-2010, 02:54 PM
Most business leases include CAM fees that provide for upkeep of all the common areas like parking lots, etc.

Did you talk to Jerry?

Steve

slindsay8
09-02-2010, 07:02 PM
I E-mailed him yes but I don't think it was his personal e-mail. I couldn't find any e-mail that seemed it would go straight to him.

And this lease comes comes with Tripple net which he charges an extra 4.50. Which includes propery tax,insurance, and common expenses

He charges $20.00 a sq ft per year. and its 3358 sq ft suite. But I haven't negotiated yet. I only asked what he was ofeering it at. And it's a 5 year lease.

pooltchr
09-02-2010, 07:16 PM
Wow, commericial real estate is high in your area. Most strip malls and commercial spots around here run about $12.

Steve

slindsay8
09-02-2010, 08:17 PM
Now thats a good price. East of us most of the commercial spots range from $11-$17. But there's 3 Pool Halls/Hookah lounges within a 10 mile radious out there.

Believe it or not This Suite is the cheapest i've found. I've seen spots run from $22-$38 for 2200 sq ft!

in Surprise there's not one within a 15 mile radious. Which is why my goal is to open it out here.

Anybody have any experience negotiating with lease owners?

pooltchr
09-03-2010, 06:32 AM
You actually have the advantage. The owner isn't making any money at all if the space is empty. You can offer to pay a lower rate at first, and then increase it after your business is up and running. You might also get a grace period (3 or 4 months) before your lease payments start. This is "move in" time, where you are getting everything set up to open your business. You can ask for anything...now whether you get it or not, depends on how badly they want a tennent.

Steve

Brian in VA
09-03-2010, 10:55 AM
I recommend having an absolute maximum you are willing to pay and start lower than that when you start to negotiate. You must be willing to walk away if the price is over your maximum; I can't stress this enough.

Take the time to create a business plan for yourself so that you can determine what the max rent you can afford to pay really is. Do a google search or go to Barnes and Noble and find a book on business plans so you can learn what you're doing.

Good luck!

Brian in VA

slindsay8
09-03-2010, 03:14 PM
Thanks guys. Pooltchr thats some good advice i didnt think about that. Plus should I try emailing jerry again?

And brian I planned on going to B&N today thats good i'll look for a good book thanks!

pooltchr
09-03-2010, 04:57 PM
There are plenty of good books available on writing a business plan, and starting a business. And you REALLY need to actually write your business plan.

Yes, you need to talk to Jerry.

Don't be in too much of a rush. I know you are excited, but careful planning now could save you a lot of money later.

Also, contact the local SBA (Small Business Administration) office. They offer a lot of great information at no cost. You might even get help writing your business plan.

Steve

slindsay8
09-03-2010, 06:52 PM
Thanks Steve I'll do that. I Just bought the Book "The Successful Business Plan" Fourth Edition, by Rhonda Abrams. I Heard really good things about the book. We will see.

-Scott

Sid_Vicious
09-11-2010, 03:34 PM
Give the clientele, "smoking cigarettes priviledges" and it'll keep and attract a lot of your youth base. I saw a hall in NE Oklahoma catering to mainly youths, many seven foot tables, and the place was rocking out. Last time I visited, it went smoke free ans was about to go under. Sad but true, there's just some sins that people gravitate to in pool. If all you have is a hall with no alcohol and no smoking, all you really have is a rec center. jm2c sid

Rich R.
09-12-2010, 08:14 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Sid_Vicious</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Give the clientele, "smoking cigarettes priviledges" and it'll keep and attract a lot of your youth base. I saw a hall in NE Oklahoma catering to mainly youths, many seven foot tables, and the place was rocking out. Last time I visited, it went smoke free ans was about to go under. Sad but true, there's just some sins that people gravitate to in pool. If all you have is a hall with no alcohol and no smoking, all you really have is a rec center. jm2c sid </div></div>
I can't agree with Sid.
Not all pool players are smokers and for every smoking customer you lose, you may gain two non-smoking customers.
Many pool halls are using the new non-smoking laws as an excuse for failure when in fact they are failing because of poor management. I live in a non-smoking state and the good pool halls are still in business. They may be stuggling but that is due to the economy, not because of the non-smoking laws. The poorly run rooms were stuggling before the laws went into effect and some of them have gone, but they would have gone anyway.
I play in a non-smoking room, with no alcohol and minimum food, and the room is doing alright. It is struggling because of the economy but they are surviving by catering to the players.

Fran Crimi
09-12-2010, 02:08 PM
Hi Scott: I have a simple suggestion. Find pool rooms that work and study them. Learn why they are successful. Also, if you have the stomach for it, visit those that are failing and figure out the difference between the failing ones and the successful ones. You'll learn a lot.

I have an example for you. There was a pool room in NYC called Corner Billiards that failed about 6 years ago. Management blamed it on the poor economy, etc.... Amsterdam Billiard Club owners came along and took over the space. They now run a hugely successful room in the same space. Many nights there is a waiting list for a table and there are about 25 tables.

The differences between the two rooms? One difference is leagues. Amsterdam has leagues and leagues and more leagues. There is a league going on nearly every day, sometimes 2 in one day. Individual leagues, team leagues--- 9-ball, 8-Ball 14.1, you name it, they've got it. The league operators are people with long lived reputations and know what they are doing. That's big. Another thing is their mailing list. My guess is they've been accumunlating addresses from their old locations over 2 decades worth and they don't just sit on them. They send stuf out to let you know they are there.

This year to mark their 20th anniversary in business, they are running a team 9-Ball league with $26,000 in added prize money. That's the kind of publicity that brings people to the room. Granted, most can't afford to add 20 grand to a league but it shows that they are on the ball and always looking to come up with new stuff to keep the customers interested. They also hold challenge matches between pros that bring people into the room.

Sid_Vicious
09-12-2010, 11:34 PM
I really hope that you are right and that I am wrong...sid

Fran Crimi
09-13-2010, 06:18 AM
One more thing ---- Amsterdam Billiards also has a full bar which I know is a big income-maker. But I think it's more than just the bar that fills the tables with players.

Pacifist
09-13-2010, 11:33 AM
I play in a pool room that has no smoking and no alcohol. The no smoking is no big deal since it is now a state law. The lack of alcohol is a problem. Most of the players in my area play at bars. They aren't all serious, but they do like to play. If you add up the pool players in the area there are about 120-150. Only about 25-30 play at the pool hall and the main reason for not visiting the poolhall is the lack of alcohol. The poolhall has the nicest tables and a good atmosphere and it doesn't seem to matter at all. I personally find this very sad, but thats just the way it is in my area.

Soflasnapper
09-24-2010, 06:23 PM
I've done a little leasing in my day. One absolute rule we use in my business is to make sure there is no personal guarantee of the lease (by our company officers). Unfortunately, that is almost certainly not an available option for a younger person without a successful background in business currently.

The problem is that almost every lease has a provision that if the lease is declared in default for any reason, it ACCELERATES the ENTIRE lease amount for the entire term of lease as due and owing NOW. And if you have personally guaranteed the lease, you now owe, and will be sued for, the entire balance of the lease. Which will most likely force you to declare bankruptcy. (Unless the lessor figures they cannot get blood from a stone, and that the lawsuit would cost more than they would get from you.) Still, barring a bankruptcy discharge of this debt, they could record a judgment against you that would follow you around so that IF you DO ever get some money or property in your name, it would be seized to satisfy the judgment. A typical judgment runs a course of 5 to 7 to 10 years, but then it can be renewed by re-filing, prolly forever.

Now, it's true that IF they get another lessee in there, they cannot unjustly enrich themselves with what amounts to double lease payments. However, just as the space is empty now, it might take a very long time to re-let it to another party, and the next lessee might pay less than your negotiated monthly rate, in which case you'd still owe the difference.

You can try to minimize your exposure by negotiating a limitation of the personal guarantee to something less than the term of the lease (say, 1 year to 18 months-- anything less than the full lease term would be helpful). Or, alternatively, take a lower lease term (3 years, say), with two 1-year options (only the first part might be required to be guaranteed, hopefully, but if you default in the first term of lease, you'd only owe for that, not the option years).

Lastly, take the time and minimal expense to either incorporate or get a limited liability corporation (LLC), and operate the pool hall under the company name. In this way, any liability for a slip-and-fall or other injury liability will be limited to the assets of the company, and not put some high-5-figure to 6-figure injury award against you personally and follow you around for years (and/or cause you to file bankruptcy to get rid of it).

It's also basically mandatory to have a lawyer review the lease before signing it (unless you're confident of your own abilities in this regard, and still do that anyway!). Small things can be overlooked that may be very costly over time. For instance, it might be standard to put in a 5% annual increase amount in the base rent, but CPI has been running more like 1.5%. So you could try to have any escalation clause read '3% or CPI, whichever is LOWER.' If they insist that it must be the higher of the figures, make sure the prolly higher figure is 2 or 3%, not 4 or 5%.

I am not trying to discourage you, but to keep it real. BEFORE the current economic downturn, pool halls went out of business right and left here in South Florida. It's true that the remaining ones get the remaining business to themselves.

If you are confident in your niche market being as strong as you say, you may have a winner there regardless. Good luck.

Soflasnapper
09-24-2010, 06:48 PM
A couple of other quick thoughts.

Try to get language that you can sublet the space, or that subletting 'will not be unreasonably denied.' In practice, that last would mean the landlord has to have confidence in the sublessee's ability to pay, as much or more than in you, based on financial statements, etc. (This could really save your bacon!)

Also, realize that the base rent may be relatively inflexible, if the landlord needs to make his pro forma numbers work, BUT, they typically will deal on the TIA (tenant improvement allowance). So, you can get either cash to improve the space, or free rent, ideally both, which will be the equivalent of a reduced monthly lease amount for the first year.

Pay particular attention to CAM (common area maintenance), and try to get it pinned down to a number (and a set, or no, annual escalator). I've seen where the landlord decides to do a major appearance overhaul, and sticks every tenant with a proportional bill for major work that was never anticipated or really agreed to by the tenants.

Everything in this and the previous post is what an attorney should look into for you and your security, so do not neglect that step!

Scott Lee
09-28-2010, 09:16 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: slindsay8</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Thanks pooltchr for your reality check. Believe it or not. I am a very open andfree minded person when it comes to just messing around with friends. But I do know the difference between work and fun. I managed a T-Mobile store for 6 months, open to close. What i meant by I plan on having a blast was just being able to work at a place that I love working. The pool Hall has been my scene for along time, so i know it would be a lot more fun to work than T-mobile :D.

Thanks for all the support too, This only drives me harder in succeeding.

And thank you BCA Master Instr! I am going to get on that right after i send this replay.

All comments are welcome! Once My business starts up it would be great to look back at this thread with tons of support.

-Scott </div></div>

So Scott...it's been a month since you were going to contact Jerry. Did you? As Randy (BCA Master Instructor) and Steve (pooltcher) said, Jerry is an unbelievable resource right in your backyard. I'd offer to take him out to dinner, and have a list of questions to ask him. He's a GREAT guy, and loves talking to young people!

Scott Lee