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xtremecreator
07-24-2011, 03:42 PM
Does anyone ever think that they will or have made a profit thier very first year?

If you were building a haunt for a client would you ever tell them they would or could make a profit the first year?

I never do....I just would like to hear from the big guys that have been it a while.

Has anyone made a profit from a first year pro haunt.

thank you,
john

Dalloween
07-24-2011, 03:48 PM
We have a formal written business plan to open a show in 2013. The goal of our plan is to break even or make a small profit somewhere around years 3 to 5. I think planning for a profit the first year would be a little over zealous. Just my 2 cents.

Allen H
07-24-2011, 06:18 PM
It depends on what you spend in the first place. A haunted trail with a $5,000 budget has a great chance of turning a hefty profit its first year. If you spend $30,000 on build and $70,000 in advertising then your odds of a recoup are much much slimmer in the first year. I dont think its a sliding scale exactly as there are way to many factors.
Allen H

xtremecreator
07-24-2011, 07:38 PM
Great comments guys!

I agree with you both and that is exactly my pitch when someone asks me.

I tell them they need to be established and try to build a tradition.

3 to 5 years , and like Allen said depends on what you spend.

Anyone else?

John

Haunted Prints (EOM)
07-24-2011, 07:49 PM
We have a formal written business plan to open a show in 2013. The goal of our plan is to break even or make a small profit somewhere around years 3 to 5. I think planning for a profit the first year would be a little over zealous. Just my 2 cents.

Where are you planning on opening a haunt in the DFW area? Are you branching off from a current haunt?

brad
07-24-2011, 09:26 PM
John, for my first pro season, we didnt plan on making a profit, we were hopefully going to break even. We spent around $65,000 our first year with advertising and rent included. We didnt have the biggest ad budget because construction costs went a little higher than planned. We ended up making around $10K profit our first season. We are in a market of around 450,000 people.

Seeing how well we did, we invested A LOT more money into our 2nd season which was last year. We had a bigger budget in every category. We ended up running thru almost the exact same amount of customers last year, which meant our profit margin was alomst nothing at all. We still made a little money, but almost nothing.

So, it's deffinately possible to make money your first year, even if you have a $70,000 or $80,000 expense openning up. You just have to play your cards right and give the customer a show that they'll tell their friends about and come back 3 or 4 more times in the same season.

Hope this helps!

Mad Wax Sculptor
07-24-2011, 09:50 PM
The problem the industry has seen is owners get into the downward spiral of endless spending. I have seen this a hundred times. I first yr haunter busts into the market and spends 100k they get all the exposure. They have a line wrapped around the building. They secure a 5 yr lease. Everyone loves the haunt and supports it. Nov 1st roles around and reality kicks in they only made back 90k and lost money. Most people run screaming into the night after doing all the work for the privilege to loose money. Start small spend 5k make back 15k, Grow the business from there. You may not have all the hype and big the lines at first. you will make money and you will survive to haunt another day. No matter how cool it looks its never good business to go big and loose you ass.

Greg Chrise
07-24-2011, 10:22 PM
I agree with Patrick's $5,000 per year. So many will just say don't even start a haunt unless you have $150,000 yet they themselves probably spent $5,000 for 10 years to arrive at that figure. Even if you put that $150,000 out there all at once it might be 10 years until you have a stable customer base let alone serious profit if you can get over the shock of how much was spent. Or worse yet you borrowed $25,000 from 6 friends to come up with $150,000 and they each handle having their life savings or credit tied up for so long.

There is nothing wrong with developing a market from a nice little haunt to something slightly bigger. $5,000 with the rigt skills can buy quite a lot of stuff. Other expenses can be boosted with advertising for sponsors on all of your media. You provided a service, advertised yourself and the sponsor in kind, no pay back of money. Banners on the haunt entry. Shared radio advertising. All the crazy free listings and social marketing you can pull off for just time spent.

There is no shame in having all the stuff in build up for just the right location for a few years and then hitting it. It is actually easier to make a deal if you have a haunt and all the accessories just laying around with no where to go.

newhorror2010
07-24-2011, 10:35 PM
Does anyone ever think that they will or have made a profit thier very first year?

If you were building a haunt for a client would you ever tell them they would or could make a profit the first year?

I never do....I just would like to hear from the big guys that have been it a while.

Has anyone made a profit from a first year pro haunt.

thank you,
john

I've been in the "game" for 11 years this season, I can easilly say there's absolutely NO WAY you're gonna make enough your first season being open to be profitable! I would say possibly closer to the 3rd or 4th season before anything starts to show up. I've wanted to do my own haunted house for years now, but I see the way the industry prices continue to rise...not to mention the insurance!!! The guy I work for dreads having to go down to the local office to get things started! Our FAVORITE holiday of them all is getting ridiculously EXPENSIVE! ...Then again, now that I've read all the posts above mine I'd say there's a slim chance a person could do ok as long as that person &/or their partner(s) started out small. Me......I've always loved the BIG, BAD-A$$, STOP YOU IN YOUR TRACKS kind of haunted house! I'm thinking of 2 in particular I was fortunate enough to visit in the past...Netherworld & The Darkness! Those two blow away every haunted house I've been to so far...just my opinion/ 2 cents.

Jim Warfield
07-24-2011, 11:46 PM
I had no money at all. Finally found two backers who provided the purchase amount and the fix up money (to save the house from being bulldozed)
I worked on it all hours I was not working for my Dad, the pay-situation from his business was almost non-existant anyway, I had nothing to lose and nowhere else to go, if I could have left town?
I missed the first Fall I had the house, kept working anyway on it.
That Spring I opened for tours, spent many hours standing in the parking lot trying to convince people to give me $2.00 to see the house. It was a "Someday" tour. "Someday I will have this and make it like that...'I had a big empty house with a few of my examples of my own artwork on the wall....but this house has a long, supernatural history as told to me by numerous citizens of this, my hometown. Many of them tried to talk me out of buying this house because "It's Haunted!" This is not BS.
I finally really opened for business, still a hard-sell, me in the parking lot , smiling, talking ever so friendly only to hear them say, "Next time."
That fall I opened made good money (for me and this town) told my Dad I was quitting and devoted myself and my time to building this business of mine. I believed if I was here instead, available to talk to passersbys and answer the Ravens Grin phone(after I finally got one) that I could make this work.
I was operating in a knowledge vaccuum. All the JC haunts were gone, all I knew that existed anymore were Disney's.
So with just a few thousand hard-earned dollars (@ $2.00 a head) I hung on dearly to that money and made it through the winter , running the heat for about an hour a day, living in one room, sleeping under a moutain of old blankets at night on an Army cot.
I created the kind of haunted house I thought should work. No blood, gore,or "Hollywood". My ideas instead, my artistic work and I guess? Odd ideas.?
I repaid my two investors at year 4, the $6,000 total money they lent me. I seem to have been able to enthrall, scare and amuse those who come here now for 25 years, being open every night and weekend afternoons.
I sure don't know "everything" about the commonly accepted thing known as "Haunting" but I know what works here , for me and my patrons.
And I have probably done 95 to 98% of ALL the work in this house, so as I tell my customers:"If you like it, I did it, if you don't like it, I Still did IT!"
Here it is, a haunted house in a small, small, town in an under-populated farm county, located behind the old downtown storefronts at the end of a dead-end street, possibly THE world's Worst location (By common thinking) for a haunted attraction business.
People of this area are still amazed that in their travels across this country or around the world they will meet people who have been to my house or have heard about it somehow.(I have been amazingly fortunate to get alot of free publicity over the years, but then, I WAS Home to answer that phone, wasn't I? )

thrilltainment
07-25-2011, 12:30 AM
i would say in the US the odds are against making a profit the first year. but if you take haunting to another country --- that could all change. we opened Shanghai Nightmare the first time in 2009 and came out on top. it's a double edged sword, however, in a new environment there are more potential customers but also a lot more red tape to get through, not to mention a lot more spending on marketing to let people know the idea of haunting.


Does anyone ever think that they will or have made a profit thier very first year?

If you were building a haunt for a client would you ever tell them they would or could make a profit the first year?

I never do....I just would like to hear from the big guys that have been it a while.

Has anyone made a profit from a first year pro haunt.

thank you,
john

Mad Wax Sculptor
07-25-2011, 12:56 AM
Honestly I have been in the position where you are working with other peoples money and know where your coming from . Yes be honest and upfront if I did think there was a problem or something might keep them from making a profit I would tell them. I look at it like this be prepared for the worst and the best always looks that much better.

xtremecreator
07-25-2011, 08:30 AM
Thanks to eveyone . Much appreciated.

John