February 2, 2022

The ABCs of FECs: How to Start a Family Entertainment Center Business

5 Minute Read

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for fun and entertainment?

If done correctly, opening a family entertainment center can be a rewarding and profitable endeavor. If you're invested in your customers' happiness, you'll be able to provide an unforgettable experience every time.

Doing it for the right reasons will help you get ahead of your competitors and keep smiles on your customers' faces. But that doesn't mean it's going to be easy.

This post will tell you how to start a family entertainment center business with staying power. Family entertainment centers or family fun centers have gone from impromptu roadside stops to destinations in the last few years. Keep reading and learn what you have to do to turn yours into a success.

What Is a Family Entertainment Center Business?

A family entertainment center (FEC) is an umbrella term for several businesses striving toward the same goal. They create a space where kids and adults can have the time of their lives. 

An FEC might incorporate various theme park elements. There aren't specific rules to being a family entertainment center, but opening one requires you to do a lot of market research first. In 2019, the FEC market was valued at $23 billion, with growth projected to reach 10% between 2020 and 2027. There's never been a better time to open up an FEC, so perhaps it’s time to sit down and start thinking about your niche.

Thinking About Your Niche and Types of FECs

It's one thing to have a vision for a family entertainment center, and it's another thing to be opening a Family Entertainment Center that people want to go to. Do your research to determine what other family entertainment centers are open in your city. Find out what types of entertainment they provide. 

If you've got a specific idea in mind - say, an indoor mini-golf course with a virtual driving range and a restaurant - you need to make sure there aren't any similar businesses in your area. It would help if you also considered who your target demographic is against the demographics for your chosen location. Many entertainment options exist, from trampoline parks to virtual reality or laser tag and axe-throwing. Understanding your target audience and opening the right business in the right area is a huge key to any FECs success.

Thinking About Location

When it comes to a physical location, the main thing is finding a building that can accommodate your equipment. If you don't have a firm idea of how large you need a building to be before you buy or lease, you run the risk of having to alter your overall plan.

Find a location that strikes a balance between being the right size and being in a desirable spot. FECs are usually in the middle of the action, as part of malls or other activities. A prime location can help you find customers before starting your marketing efforts.

Also, consider your state and municipal building code laws and how they might impact construction on your building.

Write Your Business Plan

If you've never written a business plan, there are many templates and resources online for you. A business plan outlines the things you need to work on to get your FEC up and running. It should have a market analysis, financial plan, marketing plan, operational plan, and HR plan, among other things. 

A good business plan can guide the first days, weeks, months, and even years of running your business. It doesn't set anything in stone, but when you lose sight of the original vision, a business plan helps keep you on track.

While looking at the logistical side of things, determine your business structure (partnership, corporation, sole proprietorship). Then register for an EIN and get business insurance.

Pulling the Finances Together

Unless you've built up a significant wealth to finance your FEC, you'll need to obtain outside funding. Getting a business loan requires a solid business plan with a thorough budget. A family entertainment center's cost depends on the business you're opening.

A small business loan will allow you complete ownership and control over your FEC. Your other option is to try and find funding from venture capital investors. This protects your personal finances, but you'll probably have to give up shares in the business.

Check out our post on the 4 C's of credit. At Betson, we want to help finance our customers' arcade projects. Fill out a credit application today to see if you qualify.

Purchase Equipment, Start Building, Start Hiring

With funding secured, you can start purchasing your equipment. Family entertainment center equipment will be the most important aspect of opening your business. You'll need to hire experienced designers, equipment experts, and builders to achieve your dreams.

At Betson, we specialize in Arcade Game Room installations and can help consult on the design of your building. We also have a vast product catalog to help outfit your FEC. It features everything from arcade games and vending machines to jukeboxes and prize merchandise.

You'll also need to work with contractors. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and other tradespeople need to help get the building ready. It will be a long, expensive process, but hiring the right people will ensure that your FEC is top-notch upon opening.

Once your building is in order, it's time to sit down with your top brass and hire employees. 

Designing Your Arcade Game Room

The arcade can be the most profitable part of your business, so your layout and design must make the most of your space. Here are some quick numbers to give you an idea of the investment.

  • Average Per Game Budget: $12,000-$15,000
  • Average Per Game Revenue: $200/Week
  • Average Per Game Space Allocation: 65 Square Feet

How many redemption games should you have? Should you be adding VR Arcade Games? These questions are why finding the right game room partner is essential. You may need a consultant or a full-service distributor, but making the right choices will affect your bank account.

Put Resources into Digital Marketing

Before you open, you will have to launch a marketing campaign to promote your new family entertainment center. Start your campaign a few months before opening day to build anticipation. Use digital resources and traditional forms of marketing to get people from every angle.

Billboards, radio spots, and television commercials still have a lot of sway with the public. Get your social media accounts and website together. Start building an audience by creating great content, focusing on SEO and brand building.

The more successful your marketing campaign is, the easier it will be to get people in your doors and spend money. 

Continuing Education

Once your doors open, that isn't the end of the journey, so make sure you focus on your continued education as a business owner. From Facebook Groups to seminars and trade shows, this industry offers tools you should take advantage of. Trade shows are a great way to network and learn about industry trends. See a list of upcoming shows here.

Learning How to Start a Family Entertainment Center Business From Scratch

Now that you have a better idea of how to start a family entertainment center business from scratch, you can get to work on market research and planning your business. If you get all your ducks in a row and choose the type of FEC you're passionate about, you'll start seeing results immediately.

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