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Expanding Your Venue: Knowing When and How to Add a New Location

Expanding Your Venue: Knowing When and How to Add a New Location

Expanding a business is like adding a new chapter to an already exciting book. If done right, it can bring fresh opportunities, attract a larger audience, and keep your brand vibrant and innovative. But remember, successful expansion hinges on strategic planning and thorough market analysis. 

If you’re gearing up to expand your business, then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we dive into the thrilling world of venue expansion with insights from industry expert David Wallace, President and Founder of Turfway Entertainment Management

Understanding the key signs for expansion

Opening a new venue isn’t an exact science, but there are signs to look out for. So, how do you know it’s time to spread your wings and open a new location? Look for these key indicators:

  1. Overcapacity: If your venue is consistently packed and you’re turning customers away, it might be time to think bigger.
  2. Strong financial performance: Healthy finances are a green light for expansion. If your current location is thriving, that’s a good sign.
  3. Customer demand: Are customers begging you to open a new spot closer to them? Listen to your audience – especially if they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is. 

David’s expert insights on the key signs 

Even if you’re getting all the signs, it’s important to remember that a successful brand in one area doesn’t necessarily guarantee the same results in another. For instance, placing the same 35,000 sqft facility in three different locations can yield vastly different results. Understanding the specifics within each market and what makes your current brand successful is crucial for the best opportunity!

Conduct market research 

Before jumping into action mode, here’s what you need to do to ensure you’re fully prepared for venue expansion:

  • Demographics: Identify your primary audience’s age range and other demographics such as gender, income, lifestyle, and geographical location, and use that information to consider your potential audience at a new location. 
  • Guest expectations: Understand what your guests want from your venue and its possible expansion. Are they seeking fun, family bonding, fitness, or a mix of the two? Once you know their preferences, tailor your offerings accordingly.
  • Competitor analysis: Research your main competitors to learn from their successes and mistakes. This will help improve your strategy and guest satisfaction levels. Examine their corporate background, market presence, competitive stance, and customer evaluations. You can do this by conducting online research, secret shopping experiences, and inquiring within your network.
  • Financial projections: Estimate costs and revenues to understand your venue expansion's potential profitability. Be prepared for a few months of very little income while starting and establishing your venue expansion, and ensure you have money set aside for this period.

David’s expert insights on research   

Knowing your market and target audience is the cornerstone of a successful venue expansion. If you’re targeting the same audience across multiple locations, be cautious. A narrow audience could mean you’re just spreading the same revenue over multiple attractions instead of growing your brand. 

Think about diversifying your offering. For instance, age groups behave differently, and choosing the right attractions is essential for long-term growth. A 16-year-old with a driver’s license won’t want to hang out with their 12-year-old sibling, who definitely doesn’t want to hang out with a 7-year-old! 

Choosing the right location for your venue expansion 

Now the pieces are starting to fall into place, it’s time to pick the location of your new venue. Here’s what you need to consider when choosing a site:

  • Area demographics: Analyze age groups, income levels, and population trends in potential locations. A detailed demographic report will guide you to the right spot. This report will segment ages appropriately and show trends to determine if your target age segment is expanding or shrinking.
  • Local competition: Know who you’re up against. Assess competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in the local area, and remember that you’ll potentially be competing for the same dollars. 
  • Accessibility: Ensure your new location is easy to get to and visible from major roads or public transportation routes. A 20-minute drive represents 80% of your audience in most markets (outside of tourist areas).

David’s expert insights on understanding location metrics    

Running a detailed demographic report is essential for determining the right location and your potential revenue. For instance, with a population of 200,000 within a 20-minute drive radius, a trampoline park targeting 10-14-year-olds (6-7% of the population) would have a relevant audience of 12,000-14,000.

After accounting for income and interest factors, this number might drop to 6,000-7,000. Sub-targets like parents and siblings could increase participation from 9,000 to 10,500. On average, each visitor might come 2.9 times a year, spending $25 per visit, generating $652,000 to $761,250 annually. Adding birthday parties could increase this from $746,500 to $945,000. 

It’s also crucial to consider disposable income in the market, as high living costs and mortgage rates can reduce disposable income opportunities. Typically, households earning under $50,000 either do not visit entertainment centers or do so infrequently. Also, account for the fact that about 15% of your targeted audience may not visit due to lack of interest or time. 

Timing your venue expansion

With your location set, it’s now time to look at establishing your venue expansion! If you’ve ever watched a renovation show, you’ll know that even the best plans can have a rocky timeline. Here are some ballpark timings on how long a build can take: 

Construction timings.
Construction timings when adding an additional venue. 

David’s expert insights on timing your opening  

The best time to open your venue varies depending on the type of attraction you operate. For a birthday party-driven business (ages 0-14), aim to open by the third week of October to capitalize on peak season through April. Ensure all advertising and assets are ready by August to secure pre-opening bookings.

If targeting adults and social engagement, July is ideal, especially in primary or secondary markets, as many large organizations book holiday parties during this time. They need to visit the location to understand space allocation and opportunities.

Generally, the worst months to open are August and September, as foot traffic is lower. Opening during these months requires additional advertising to boost awareness.

Leveraging technology and tools for a smooth expansion

Technology is your best friend during an expansion, and today’s entertainment centers thrive on integrated systems. Here’s what you need to streamline operations, delight customers, and boost revenue across multiple locations:

  • Robust point of sale system: Ensure your POS supports food and beverages, merchandise, and can quickly manage online bookings and walk-ins. 
  • QR and kiosk ordering: For a modern experience, make ordering seamless and fast by offering guests access to self-service options.
  • Online tools: Implement online booking, allow online group and party bookings, and use your website to upsell memberships.
  • Multi-site management: Now that you have multiple locations to operate, look for technology that makes this easy – such as ROLLER’s HQ offering

David’s expert insights on venue technology 

Technology is the backbone of modern entertainment centers. Millennials, being digitally native, have high expectations. A robust point of sale system should include capabilities for full-service dining, QR and kiosk ordering, waivers, digital communication logs, payroll, ticketing, online booking, reservations, seating charts, wait lists, memberships, and inventory applications.

Integrations with debit card systems, invoicing, and profit and loss accounting are also essential. In fact, technology integrations in general can make your life so much easier. For example, integrating ROLLER's all-in-one platform with Amusement Connect for pay-to-play attractions and to streamline roster management can create a full system, making your venue easier to manage.

Post-expansion: Ensuring success

After opening your new location, maintaining quality and service is key. Here’s how:

  • Strong management team: Hire specialized managers for different operations—kitchen, bar, and overall venue management.
  • Consistent communication: Regular meetings between managers and the general manager ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Enterprise solutions: Use cloud-based systems for real-time data and comparative analysis.

David’s expert insights on post-expansion success 

Consistency is key to success! A clear organizational structure with defined responsibilities ensures consistency and efficiency. For example, having separate managers for the kitchen and retail spaces can optimize operations, given that these areas often contribute significantly to revenue. 

Operators should operate, salespeople should sell, and marketers should market. Avoid cross-pollination of roles to maintain brand consistency. And build a routine that helps you achieve success. For instance, weekly one-on-one meetings between managers and the general manager help consolidate performance metrics and address needs. 

Final thoughts on venue expansion 

Expanding your brand is exciting but requires thorough planning and execution. Do your homework, understand your market, and ensure all aspects of your business are aligned for success. Remember, a successful brand doesn’t happen by accident. Walk cautiously and plan meticulously for a smooth expansion journey.

Ready to expand your venue? Visit Turfway for your consulting needs, and book a demo with ROLLER to discover how the right technology can help your venue thrive.