How to Successfully Start and Operate a Bowling Alley Business

You’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, you want to be your own boss and run your own business.

More importantly, you want your business to matter. You want people to get joy out of the business that you’re running and look forward to visiting it. If so, then you’d be the perfect person to start a bowling alley in your town.

If you like the entertainment business and providing a service that spreads smiles as well as breeds competition, there is no better option.

Here’s how to start a bowling alley business and get things up and running the right way.

1. Study the Market

In order for your bowling alley to flourish, you’ll need to have a firm understanding of what’s working in the industry these days.

The old-timey bowling alleys that you have in your youth aren’t as high of a commodity as they once were. If you’re strictly a bowling alley, you’re limiting yourself while the competition has other forms of entertainment.

Those bowling alleys that are highly-successful today are ones that include such things as laser tag, modern arcades, and even glow in the dark mini-golf.

Which do you think a customer will choose? The bowling alley with only a bowling alley or the bowling alley with other fun activities they can play if they desire? The latter will win almost every time.

Consider either adding a few more things to your bowling alley business for entertainment or focus your alley on bowling competitions, bingo nights, happy hours, and other ways to draw people in.

2. Choose the Right Location

Now that you have an understanding of the market and a plan to draw customers, it’s time to figure out where you’ll set up a shop.

The location that you choose should be in a highly-populated area, thus giving you the highest chance of attracting business. Gone are the days where customers are willing to go out of their way to visit a physical location, you must bring it to them.

Also, find a location where the bowling alley won’t be a disturbance to the surrounding residential life.

Whatever community you choose to have your alley in, you don’t want to rub feathers with the local neighbors. Consider the noise levels your business will attract and take precautions ahead of time.

3. Buy Your Equipment and Build Your Alley

Once the location has been decided, it’s time to purchase all of the equipment that you’ll need and build your alley.

To start, you’ll want to create a budget that’s within your means. If you’re taking out a business loan, make sure you stay within that dollar range.

Reach out to a trusted bowling equipment company to supply and build your bowling alley from the ground up.

They can walk you through all of the necessary equipment you’ll need, start to help you plan the layout of your bowling alley, and even give you a quote for their services.

As previously mentioned, you want to make sure your bowling alley looks modern and has the layout of a one-stop-shop for fun! Team up with a provider that has state of the art equipment and you’ll be readying yourself for success.

4. Consider Your Concessions

As you may already know, bowling alleys can be a phenomenal place for offering food and beverage to its clients.

If you’re considering this, you’ll want to plan out how to properly handle the concession side of your business. It should almost be treated as a separate business that ties into your alley.

Think about whether you’ll have a bar, where you’ll cook the food, where you’ll store the food, how you’ll keep inventory, what you’ll sell, etc. 

This may sound overwhelming, but know that you can outsource your concession needs to a third-party provider. You might also consider taking advantage of the huge food truck movement to provide food without storing it and making it yourself.

5. Gather the Proper Permits

Some of the permits you’ll need to gather depend on whether you’ll serve liquor at your bowling alley. If so, you’ll need a liquor license. You’ll also need permits for cooking and serving food.

Then there are the permits that every business requires such as your general business license, building permits, construction permits, etc. 

Check your state requirements and see what all will be necessary. Make sure to complete this step before your bowling alley opens its doors.

6. Hire a Staff

You might have proper experience with working in bowling or you might not. If you don’t, then you’ll want to hire staff members who have the experience.

Find a healthy mixture between experienced staffers and those eager to learn. Remember, if you serve liquor, you’ll need your employees to all be over 21 years of age.

You’ll want to find servers, maintenance workers, customer service workers, party coordinators, management staff, and bartenders, to name a few.

Start Your Bowling Alley Journey Today!

Now that you’ve seen the steps it will take to starting a bowling alley, it’s time to begin the process today.

The best part is that you’ll look forward to going to work every day. You get to own and operate a bowling alley that will bring joy to many peoples’ lives. What’s better than that?

Be sure to read this article for more reasons why your bowling alley needs an arcade.

Are you looking for world-class equipment for your bowling alley? If so, please begin by filling out our online form for a free quote and we’ll be glad to help you further. 

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