Starting a Paintball Business Warning
In these pages, I’m going to tell the real story about starting a paintball field, and for some that think they can make a million dollars in paintball because they “love paintball”, I’m going to give you a reality check. Maybe you’ll simply learn from this that you should not try to open a paintball field – and that’s fine. Or maybe you’ll think I don’t have a clue – and that’s fine too. But I’m going to put it down as I see it.
This will almost be more of a Business Blog than a book, and depending on when you visit – there may not be much info here… it’s a work in progress, and I will probably be going back, editing, adding, and re-arranging this information as I go through this process.
I first started a paintball field over 10 years ago. I now own several indoor paintball fields, and offer franchises for starting a field. When I was getting ready to start my indoor paintball field, it seemed as though there was not a lot of handy information available on how to go about doing this. I found some good resources on some paintball forums, like PBNation.com Field/Store Owners and starting posting there, asking questions, and offering thoughts on what I was doing. Unfortunately, it turned out that a lot of the folks posting there – did not really know much. As with a lot of internet forums, you have to weed out information that is coming from someone who knows what they are talking about, and a 12 year old kid that is talking a big story, and pretending to know much more than he does.
Having a pretty extensive business background, I was able to sort through the trash and treasures, and glean some good information. As I went through my startup, I also posted many comments on our progress and learning process. I received many comments from other field owners, and individuals who were trying to start fields, that thanked me for my insight and information.
I also receive numerous emails and personal messages from people asking questions, and have had several ask if I have compiled all my posts into one place that they could go through to learn from our success and mistakes.
If is from these requests, that I have decided to write these pages, and post them as I go. I want to point out that I do not claim to know it all when it comes to paintball. This is not about paintball. This is about business. In fact, I’ve played very little paintball myself. Perhaps a few dozen games in my life. Going in to this business I knew I did not have a vast paintball background – but being able to look at a business model from an outside view may have helped – not hurt our success. And I made sure I hired guys that knew paintball to work for me, and it turns out… that was a mistake and useless. You want business people and customer service people, not paintball people.
And while I’m going to concentrate on our indoor paintball field, a lot of the information I’m going to talk about could be applied to an outdoor field, and for that matter – a lot can translate to any business.
As I said, “It’s business.” And that I have experience in. So a here’s a quick section on:
About the Author – Larry Dague
So going back in history, after graduating high school, I took a stab at college… lasted about a year and a half, and decided instead to be a full time traveling road musician. I did that for 6 years, then settled in Dallas. Soon after, I realized, no one wanted to hire someone with no degree whose work experience on a resume consisted of “Played Guitar and Bass” so I started my own business. I had a referral service for musicians – helping guys find a guitarist, or singer, etc. Then started a rehearsal studio where bands could practice. About 4 years later, since I was a Scuba Diver, I invented a little scuba product called a Scuba Tool and filed a patent on it and started a manufacturing company making and selling it. I sold that company after 3 years, then a short stint working corporate America as a computer tech support guy (the one you’d call when your new computer wouldn’t boot) and quit that after about 7 months.
Since I was still into the scuba thing, I got a job working at a dive shop, where the customer service was so bad, I decided I could do better, so I opened up my own dive shop. Starting that on a shoe string budget ($5,000) it has grown to one of the largest dedicated dive shops in the country ScubaToys.com, with annual sales in the 5+ million range. Because of the success of the dive shop, I won Cisco’s Growing with Technology Award for Sales & Marketing, been written up in Business Week, Entrepreneur Magazine, UPS Magazine, The Dallas Business Journal, and The Wall Street Journal to name a few.
Presently, I own GatSplat.com which at this time owns 3 indoor Paintball fields, and am working with individuals that want to own GatSplat Franchises and additionally, I run several other websites including Vantora.net. Vantora is a booking, waiver, promo, and POS software written specifically for optimizing paintball fields.
I also do work for companies in Search Engine Optimization and do speaking and consulting for different companies and organizations on customer service, business, and internet strategies for businesses, both domestically, and as far away as Australia where I have conducted multiple seminars.
I also have recently filed patents on a new paintball filler system to make filling easier for younger players.
I welcome your comments and suggestions as I go through this – and if you would like to send a note with your thoughts or comments – good or bad, feel free. You can reach me at Info@GatSplat.com.
So here comes the big question you need to ask yourself…