Long time no see. I have been out searching for a loctaion for 2013 or 2014 with no luck and what I have found would make a mega haunt go broke.
I have really been a big fan of business co-operation and I dont really see any haunts doing it. Please give me some feed back on the topic.
I really feel it would be a great opertunity for two haunts to work together, i.e. a already existing haunt teams up with a new start up haunt, to then be able to offer two haunts at one location without having to put out to offer said second haunted attraction (each haunt would take care of there own moeny)
If two haunts are at one location it will draw to different crowds right? and each crowd will go to both haunts... so if one haunt draws 3000 peole two should draw more right? and this way if give a current haunt a way to make more money and have more crowd apeal... and a new start up haut wont have to face a 200K rent bill the first year and already has a crowd it can somewhat count on while benefiting the main haunt... haunters helping haunters out and benefiting from it....
Any feedback would help... Im pulling my hair out right now... It seems like when you ask anyone they say start small just like all the big haunts did but 200K plus for rent doesnt seem soo "SMALL" and the industry as narture doesnt take too well to bank loans.... Help?
I hear your frusteration on location, and money needed to spend. This is something that I have been trying to figure out for years location location location. When it comes to a place to haunt, everyone wants to make some money out of the deal.
The hardest goal to reach in my mind anyway, why can't someone just say sure you can use the space to haunt. At least you would have a location and if you made some extra money you could offer to give the space or land owner some money for being so kind to let you use their property.
I've talked with my other local haunts, generaly I think it's mostly a trust thing, but if it were me with the esstablished haunt and a newbe came to me with the same problem I might help them out. Most of the esstablished haunts have started out small, but they will never come out and tell ya how they pulled it off.
Been home haunting for 10 years+ and want to move to comercial and just can't find the break that I need, nor the interested help.
If all you are finding are places that cost $200,000 per year, you are looking at too big or in the wrong side of town or the wrong town all together. Plus having it in your mind you need to rent, it costs money is just a mental limitation society has put on you. You need to find the situation that you don't have to pay any rent or fork out money at all from the proceeds to begin with.
Before I even knew there were haunted houses that were actually pro, I was helping a motorcycle shop with the occasional custom paint job as an airbrush artist. I got into doing pin striping and and gold leafing and from all accounts there seemed to be lots of people across the country making money doing this. For me it was a side job. Still no matter what the motorcycle shop needed in the way of designs I did for free. I would go to all the bike gatherings just to hang out and out of 3,000 people there might have only been one conversation about what to airbrush or how much it would cost.
SO as a promotion they decided to have a halloween party. We spent 6 weeks making silly crap and decorating a 2400 SF shop and a yard that was about 3/4 of an acre. With motor cycles you don't have the parking space needed but we were still using another 3 acre field up a side road to park cars after a few year. My shop became like a miniature year round haunted house. Just to get to my office to lool at drawings or talk about what was possible, you had to go through a garage into a creepy door that had a suspended bridge that looped through a dirt floor section of the building to a submarine door you had to open. The into another room that you had to go past a coffin and all kinds of props hanging or on tables. The only lights I had on were the cheap purple home decor light strings and to get across the bridge was only a strobe light. The office was just un painted drywall and I would air brush anything I felt like on the walls. I was teaching myself 3D and so it looked pretty cool, graffiti that you had to put on glasses. The whole weirdness sold lots of $175 to $400 paint jobs.
After a few of these parties I knew I could make anything I wanted to. It was fun and there were all kinds of ways to make things out of junk or materials available anywhere. Then I got crazy and started buying used wall panels and tearing them apart and painting them again. My first haunt was a fire hall I had passed many times before and discovered they just had black plastic. I had this thing and all these skills in storage and it came together the following year. I set it up that I kept the haunt and they could store all my masks and props for a percentage of the ticket sales.
What it came down to it I went about 8 years haunting and never paid rent at all. Never was the one that had to insure the event, but because I owned and stored everything I was the man. I even figured out how to set up a triangular grid back before anyone knew the proper floor measurements by helping to set on up for free that knew how. Instead of spending $2500 for some magic drawing. It wasn't in any books or web sites.
So I began making money, not spending money. I did a cave with cement materials I use in another business for a haunted trail outdoors, got paid for my crews work and the tip of where other haunted houses were. SO I spent a few years going to every one I could find and hit the Transworld thing once. I was more intrested in how they did the scultping and the previous people sent me to Lance Pope to talk about that.
At some point it was no mystery. I saw a big haunt and knew I could do this because it has all the skills I have and actually would love to get paid for doing. I didn't see yet that there were lines of people with money in their hands, I saw the craftmanship and making things and being creative, and appreciated as something that could actually happen.
Back in the airbrush days, I quit the last job I would ever have where someone told me when I had to be somewhere and how much my pay would be. I only had that job because I was kind of burnt out on trying to run businesses that were going to fail anyhow because their founders all seemed to buy houses and cars and not pay bills and taxes or put everything they could back into their businesses. This putting all you can back into what you do for a living is actually the big thing. This is how you totally get around all the advice all the catchy news articles tell you to do. You don't actually save money, you spend any extra money and time on what it takes to have your business. The tools, the materials and even then you try to do it cheaply like how a backward country might do it to save money.
I could have spent $2,000 to have all the things a wood shop has but I built a really nice wood coffin with all the trim and hardware with a cheap skill saw and finished all the strange angles with a grinder. Like how a chainsaw artist would do it. I still ave that coffin in my living room. It has had thousands of people in it, the door has opened and closed that many more thousands, it had floated in a flood, been dropped and rolled and it still fine. No wood shop, no just call up a contractor to see how much this is going to cost. Just make it. Everyone doing anything haunted or halloween wants such a thing. They call you.
No signing leases, no becoming a corporation or becoming a republican, no anything. You have made a bunch of unique things that are the elements to have an event. You are at this point for real. I bought a nice hearse, the crap I accumulated and modified, things I made started to become a storage expense I had to over come every year. I did what ever with just enjoying it and the deals were to pay the storage for the year and what ever labor my helpers put into moving things around.
It is a lot tougher when you do have an income, maybe no expendable income and how does everyone get all this stuff? Well the moment you stop working for some low paying company, you all of a sudden just saved $5,000 to $10,000 in not driving to work everyday and putting parts on your vehicle to do this. You can have a much cheaper less reliable car. You can go years without a car and do a $100 bicycle for fun and profit. Everyone else is used to everything should pay you $30 an hour or $100 per little job and you take it. You don't have a car payment that is $600 per month needed anymore. I have mechanical skills and like what I'm driving right now I never would have had the taste to go buy but for $1200 I am going on the 4th year driving a 90 model dodge van complete with the rust it came with.
Do you want me to make something for you or am I trying to talk you into paying me just so I can make a car payment? I want to work and eat.
For two reasons you get rid of a lot of other things. Do you want your own business or do you want a TV watching addiction plus a $40 a month cable bill. DO you want an alcohol addiction and $40 to $75 per week gone or do you want your own business. Do you want to eat 11,000 calories a day and spend hours at buffets critiquing the food expiration dates and spend $300 a week just eating and buying sodas or do you want your own business.
Do you really need an iphone that costs $100 a month or would $9 a month on a disposable cell phone do the same thing? Well everyone that has some professional job making $50,000 or more a year calculates that they are making or costing their employer $200 a day and up. You can live like a king on half of that. If you pay rent, it is on your work shop that also happens to be the kind of place you can live at. I watch even in the Halloween trades people decide they are going to start making masks and costumes and they rent a shop that costs $10,000 per year in addition to their living place and after just a few months they figure out quick they can only sell and make enough to pay just that rent. They get rid of the extra shop expense and work out of their back yard sheds and car ports. Some acclaimed prop buisnesses are in the out buildings on someone's property. You have to have low overhead and not live like a rock star in the real world. Other vendors after one season out are living with their parents because they flew everywhere and stayed in the nicest hotels and somehow spent all the money.
Similar spending things effect haunted houses. For many years you don't spend $200,000 per year. You set up in a month, be open for a month and tear down and take it away to a storage location in 2 weeks. No year long lease. If there is a landlord, you are maybe helping him making money in cash for just two months, not show boating like you are someone with a tremendous credit score and a trust fund. You need to make money and know how to do it. You aren't talking to him to ask for a cigarette or a job or anything weasely. Do you want to make some money starts a shit load more conversations. You have all the walls, the decor, the costumes the make up and masks, all the stuff, the props and the know how. All you need is someone that wants to make money.
I watched a lot of people's reaction and in their heads they could get out of their having to pay rent thing, or they could make some money just with their deciding to, they could actually buy one of these whole things and have me run it! How great would that be for them? It isn't happening, I did build it and the making money thing is a limited opportunity by who it is that is going to make money and by what percentage. Because I starved to death for years to build it.
If you don't need it, it isn't going to happen. And nothing lasts forever. The motorcycle shop went through a divorce and the guy retired, the charity haunt had two of their main guys die in a fire and then the board of directors took over the event and thought it was like running a 4 night community service instead of a fund raiser. Another trail after 13 years the people want to move to another city where their other businesses make so much more money dong so much less. Plus they are a trail in the woods and didn't open for risk of fire last year. Another haunt has blown through about $600,000 over the past maybe 4 years and they have no money right now. They still haven't even taken a personal salary but they have paid their rent on time.
As things deteriorated, including the haunts, I sold things over time, sold all the semi trailers and all. I had originally gotten into haunts and buying them to possibly buy and sell used haunts instead I got into 4 major events and being a consultant to another 3 haunts that actually paid more money from giving investors good advice than actually having a haunt. Now, I'm starting all over making things.
And making things isn't really happening because the other businesses I have are making me really work in 102 degree temperatures and they are paying the $30 to $100 per hour with no problem. It seems other markets saw me having these side deals and something in competion with making them money and made sure I have things to do. And this is in supposedly hard times. Because I can do things, am trusted to do things unsupervised and charge actually a little less than all the people that have fancy trucks. These companies will used talking to the customers rather than going to micro manage what I have done and pay me. This is all over 20 years but, it could have grown to be anything.
There are limitations on a certain area as far as how many customers there really are. There are points where spending more than you actually are going to get for customers is a waste of money. There is some kind of formula relative to your area about how much the real estate is worth and how much money you can make. Most buildings are within the $18,000 to $50,000 per year range and there aren't many people that can pay that. If there really is nothing less than $200,000 per year then you need your first year to be 4 times that, or make $800,000 per year, year one. You better have lots of stuff already to fill that space and make it happen. Paying rent AND making things isn't going to happen unless you are Bruce Wayne.
So you spend years and years making things, doing parties or small charity haunts, untill you have enough stuff and all the skills to fill that place that is going to see 40,000 people at $20 a pop right out of the box.
A place that has already gone through many years of starving to death is not going to just hand you a way to make an income the first year you show up anywhere. Still these same semi cooperative haunts are who will buy all the things you have left over or are not going to use. They will buy a whole haunt to be their second haunt before they let you set one up and take money away from THEIR customers. So there it is, at worst case you can build and sell entire haunts. How to run them, all the artifacts in them. Never pay rent, buy insurance, be on the hook for paying actors, worry about the fire inspections turning out just right and still make a living or partial income for the year doing what you want to do, not doing what you don't want to do.
Everyone that made it went decades not really partying. Wondering if they were going to make it through, spending as little as possible. On the other end of the spectrum, I see people ask what percentage of the money do you reinvest in your haunt when you do have some money. The answer is 100% less a few cheeseburgers.How much do you want to pay taxes on. If you put all but say $8500 into your business there are no taxes. So as a business owner, even some of those 65 billion dollar guys are driving 10 year old volvos, live in a house that cost $50,000 20 years ago and limit themselves to $30 per day. They would love to talk to you over lunch if you are buying.
Right now in this election year, they say they need to educate people to do these jobs of the future. They need to reeducate the once that are out of work from the jobs of the past. That gives them control of the people, the tax income and so on. Don't teach anyone ever to not be an employee or not fill out applications for either a job or some kind of assistance. Don't mention to anyone that there are people living in fine homes that were paid for in cash only working 30 hours a week. And a lot of them not because they got some degree.
You have to break away and learn something that is not like the other things. Learn it as well or better than anyone else doing it. Have a 4 year degree in haunting and that doesn't mean you worked as an actor 30 hours a year for 4 years and have put in your 120 hours. It means become a designer complete with sketches of what it is going to look like, how much it is going to cost, how long it takes to set up, a complete estimated job.
Even if you are a billionaire and money is no object, it will take 10 years just in full time hours to do all the successful purchasing to fill three haunts that can see 40,000 people. So you have to scale it back to your own real situation, your own real budget and skills. If you don't have any of those, you can develop all of them. It just takes time. Just don't bullshit yourself, actually do the stuff on a small scale and quizz yourself, yes, I am good at this or that or all of the above. Partners usually don't work because you are going to do what, have 4 people that don't know anything try to all evolve at the same time? And not hate each other or think they did more than anyone else?
Everyone that made is did it with no family or a family that just watched. They may have had #1 helpers that later became in charge of this or that but mostly it was one guy who kept control of everything even if he had to do something himself. Just like owning a Subway sandwich shop, whether you like it or not, you at some time are going to be a sandwich artist to make up for people not showing up. So you might as well be doing things with your hands from day one. Or not. There are different styles to operate and some venues don't offer the time to have anything less than a production line of skilled people doing things.
If you can't hang in a big expensive city, set up shop in the country where overhead is lower. You might have to store things 40 miles out of town just to keep it affordable. Instead of looking for a place to rent, look for existing venues that would like to make some money. You can set a haunt up any city park or stadium under belly, you can set up on any fancy membership place that has tennis courts or really large pool deck. You can set up in an airplane hanger or a loading dock for trucks or rail or ships. YOu can set up in a parking garage that isn't quite making it or a closed down theater. You talk to property managers not real estate agents or companies that call themselves property management companies, you want the dude that manages the old retired guy that hoses things off. The tennis pro, the board of directors, the chamber of commerce, the local builders association.
Everyone wants to make money. They want to talk to someone that has the tools to make the money next month, not a dream that is going to take 5 years to play out. Otherwise yes, do you have $200,000? No, well end of conversation, that seems to work every time.