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scottylmt
04-27-2012, 01:26 PM
Hey everybody! I'm Scott.

I've been obsessed with this site and reading the archives since about November, when I decided to start a haunt in my area. Since then I have been obsessively refining my vision and searching for the needed materials (with a lot of help from this site)

I am already a business owner (a medical massage therapy practice) and have been successful for 3.5 years, so I have some general know how when it comes to running a business; but my dream since I was a kid is to own a professional haunt! We did one at my parents when I was 14 and 15 and I have never had so much fun in my life. Obviously I'm aware that this time around it wouldn't be ME having much of the fun lol but my dream is the same nonetheless.

Even though it's a dream, I'm treating it 100% as a real BUSINESS; I am determined and convinced I can do this. I'm sure many of you may get sick of me during the following months, because I will be incessantly posting questions looking for new answers that may not have been in the archives. What I have seen so far, you guys are a great and helpful community that I feel privileged to be a part of... and one day am hoping to be answering many of the questions I will be posting!

My area is Omaha, NE. I have seen a couple of the owners posting on here in the archives before. They are very successful and I am inspired by them.

The current haunt situation is this: One is a HUGE family haunt (pumpkin patch, small "haunted houses" etc) but is VERY kid oriented; that works for them and I hear they make millions so definite props to them.

Another is just outside of town on an acreage, it has three attractions: two haunts, and one haunted forest walk through. This one also has a huge bonfire area that people can lounge around and hang out. It seems to be geared toward the 14-25 age. I know the owner's daughter, and she says that it is VERY lucrative (tons of work though of course)

A third is another just outside of town, and I hear they are looking to sell their acreage. They are apparently getting old. This one isn't quite as well known, and I haven't heard much about it.

The fourth is actually one I saw posting on here. It's called The Shadows Edge. I haven't been to that one, but I have heard great things. It is a smaller haunt, and seems to be largely based on theatrics and quality.

The last one was a big seller downtown. Thing is, he just sold his "manor" to a nearby university, and word is he is getting out of the business as well. I figure this presents a good opportunity for another haunt to enter the market...

So that's the situation.

My goal is to hit the 14-25 market, but specialize in ONE THEME, and make it super intense! Basically a non stop adrenaline rush with a couple of slow spots for people to get prepared for the next scare. I already have my theme, and found all of the makeup and costumes. I've got well-thought-out ground up marketing and Facebook strategy. I have a pretty good idea of what most of the build-out and props will cost (I'll revise and budget exactly once I've got a location) But that's the problem... LOCATION. So far I am using free-ware to design different possible floorplans, based on what I've seen the standard floorplans of most buildings around here is... but it's just not cutting it and I can't get precise with my budgeting.

Back in November I contacted at least a dozen properties up for lease on loopnet.com. Most didn't even return my calls. I worked with two commercial realtors... one I even met with face to face and was a VIP of a local real estate agency---she knows some of the building owners of places I looked at. Neither one of the realtors ended up calling me back! I understand that they get paid on commission of the total lease price over the normal five years, and I was only looking for three months, but come on!

Some of the leasing agents said that it was too far away, and I should contact them closer to the time of said lease... which is NOW! So I am planning on going another round and making more contact. Is there anything you guys can tell me on HOW to get these realtors to take me seriously? Or maybe how to get into contact with the actual owners??? There are multiple places that HUGE buildings remain vacant (some don't even have real estate signs on them, as if they have given up trying to lease it out)

I have literally half a dozen "perfect" locations (next to malls, old grocery stores, Toys R Us, etc) but I just cant seem to find the appropriate way to approach these people... please help!


Thanks a lot guys, and I'm looking forward to actually interacting with all of you and not just reading idly lol.

Scott

fright
04-27-2012, 04:09 PM
Welcome to the forums! I am fright and I am home haunter from Florida. If you have any questions feel free to pm me!

Fright

HordeOfUndead
04-27-2012, 06:48 PM
We looked at a dozen locations last spring/early summer before opening our first professional season this past October.

You'll probably hear this from more than one person, but there are not many folks in real estate as excited as we are when it comes to opening a haunt in one of their vacant buildings!

First thing that may come out of their mouth is "we had a bad experience with a haunted house before..." and such things like major concerns about insurance, security, crowd control, vandalism, etc, etc. Commercial real estate agents are well aware haunted houses build up, tear down, and are gone in a couple months.

We were very fortunate last summer to have one of the last places we looked at end up being perfect. Building had been vacant for 10 years. Most commercial property will be owned by large national companies like we leased from. Most times the vacant properties will always have signage saying it's available with a local number on it.

Bummer that some of the places you're interested in your area aren't giving you the time of day. We at least had calls returned, meetings setup before hearing no from some commercial real estate companies we dealt with in our search.

When you do get a meeting setup with a local agent and/or have them show you a building come very prepared. Best to have a very, VERY well done business plan, how your plan on financing what it takes to open even a first season professional haunt, and like we also included, and Emergency Action Plan for peace of mind.

If you haven't already, buy Kelly Allen's book, "So You Want to be a Haunt Entrepreneur"

http://www.hauntbook.com/entrepreneur.html

It's like a bible for first season preparation!

Feel free to ask any other questions. There's a wealth of invaluable information on HauntWorld and many, many veteran haunt owners all over the country willing to help out. With just one year of experience under our belt, I'd be glad to help with a lot of the first season obstacles we had to hurdle!

FablesStudios
04-27-2012, 06:52 PM
That site is hit or miss. The realty company may have received other inquires and a haunt is most likely going to be last inline. Its taken me almost 4 years to lock down a location. So one thing I can say is be patience. Don't rush into any location without knowing all the info.

Best of luck to you!

Peter T
FS

Badger
04-27-2012, 08:05 PM
I can NOT stress Kelly Allen's book enough (see above post). If you haven't bought it yet, go do it RIGHT NOW. We'll wait...

scottylmt
04-28-2012, 12:58 PM
Yeah I've definitely noticed it is hit or miss... so far VERY miss lol. I definitely wont be rushing into any location before I get all the ducks in the row with the city planning and fire marshal's office; I want them involved from the VERY beginning so I don't get screwed at the very end.

I also agree with getting my business plan in order. The thing is it's kind of hard to do that without first having a location nailed down! I need floorplans to demonstrate emergency procedures. I suppose with the help of my free ware I've downloaded I could just re-arrange what I've got to meet each specific building... probably would only take a couple hours or so, and would definitely be worth the time to make an impression...

I'm going to look into that book since everybody seems to be recommending it. My concern is whether or not I have TIME! I feel like I should be getting a location secured NOW... from what I've read, a person should be building by August for a first time haunt. I was also thinking I could rent a garage and start putting together walls and drop panels there, and try to make everything as "LEGO-ish" as I can. Then when I actually get a location I can set things up and secure them.

Thoughts on when a first time haunt should be building???

Also regarding location... should I just keep making calls???

Around here I have heard of landlords letting non-profits use their space so they can write it off for taxes... any experience with THAT???

Thanks tons guys!

Scott

HordeOfUndead
04-28-2012, 07:22 PM
We secured our location about this time last year. Attraction was built from scratch starting on August 1st for us. Very small crew and more work than you can imagine! But you'll enjoy that soon enough ;-)

Just keep making calls and setting up appointments to view the locations you're interested in. You'll get through one of these times.

Bradenton Haunted Trail
04-30-2012, 09:17 PM
One thing you can try is look up the addresses at your local tax collectors office or on-line. It should tell you who owns the building. As far as your business plan just use the average price per square foot and double your construction and advertising cost and you should be good...lol

Good Luck
Shawn
Twisted Woods
http://www.twistedwoods.com

scottylmt
05-01-2012, 08:50 AM
I appreciate all the encouragement! Ok im getting back on the phones and looking for places this week!