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Old 07-28-2005, 03:30 PM #1
JxTxCxNx
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Let's Pretend We Have A Field

I'm getting so many e-mails and PMs from wannabe future field owners I figured I'd post a message straight from my guide to the PB biz:

Here's a run down of running a small outdoor airball field. This is based on being open 8 months a year (34 weeks). Permanent items (air supply, bunkers, etc) are amortized over 3 years as a monthly cost, designated with a '&&'. We're assuming being open 3 days per week average.

Initial Investment&&
Land Security Deposit: $250/month
Zoning costs: $100/month
Netting: $100/month
Netting Supports: $100/month
Compressor: $300/month
Bulk Tank Station: $150/month
Rentals: $150/month
Total Outlay: $41,500, $1150/month amortized

Recurring Costs
Land Rental: $4000 / month
Insurance: $200/month
Electricity: $200/month
Phone: $100/month
Website/Webmaster: $150/month
Field Manager: $1500/month
Head Ref: $1000/month
Referees: $1500/month
Air Management labor: $1500/month
Registration/Service labor: $2000/month
Advertising: $1500/month
Bunker/netting/compressor maintenance: $300/month
Recurring Total: $13,950/month

Gross overhead: $15,100/month
Weekly average overhead: $3552

To break even weekly we need to make $20 profit each on 178 players.

Show me how you do that. Rain, heat, cold, and holidays can hurt you, badly. One weekend of only 40 players @ $20/head (BYOP?) means you'll lose $2752.

How would you make it happen?

--dada
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Old 07-28-2005, 03:34 PM #2
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you could cut a few things out to make it cheaper, website, or use a free hosting serivce. cut down on the adveritisng after 6 months when people know about it, but its just ideas. feel free to debunk them.
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Old 07-28-2005, 04:11 PM #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mousek801
you could cut a few things out to make it cheaper, website, or use a free hosting serivce. cut down on the adveritisng after 6 months when people know about it, but its just ideas. feel free to debunk them.
Good questions, easily debunked

First, a free website makes you look cheap. Very embarassing. You NEED a decent domain name with a decent host. If you want to do regular updates, photos, weather notifications, and make it look nice, expect to pay someone to do it. $150 a month for hosting + webmaster is about 6 hours a month of actual updates. I bet you far overrun the budget here.

Advertising, to work, has to be "established." That means consistent ads over a consistent period of time. For us, 25 ads (20-second spots) a week over a year costs $15,000. It brings in more people than spending $15,000 on 50 ads (60-second spots) for 2 weeks. Being established gives people the impression that you're here and you've been here and you always will be here.

I think I lowballed MOST of the costs. If I put in what I really spent on my field, no one would ever open a field

--dada
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Old 07-28-2005, 07:57 PM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JxTxCxNx
I think I lowballed MOST of the costs. If I put in what I really spent on my field, no one would ever open a field
--dada
You did. A very wise pb veteran (field & store) once told me: "You can make a million in paintball. Just start out with two million."
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Old 07-28-2005, 08:27 PM #5
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True on that quote!

I posted "best possible" costs as the minimum. Trying to prove that you're putting up nearly $400,00 over 3 years. IF you manage to bring in 200 people average per weekend (good luck), at $25 per head profitover 3 years you might see a net profit of $35,000 per year. This is if the owner works for free 60 hours per week+.

If you have 4 bad weeks per year, you're hurt. 8 bad weeks, you're broke.

Some people think a bigger field = bigger profits. This is false! Your overhead goes WAY up, and bad weekends hurt more.

--dada
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Old 07-28-2005, 09:03 PM #6
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wow i never knew feilds cost so much to set up
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Old 07-28-2005, 09:33 PM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JxTxCxNx
Good questions, easily debunked

First, a free website makes you look cheap. Very embarassing. You NEED a decent domain name with a decent host. If you want to do regular updates, photos, weather notifications, and make it look nice, expect to pay someone to do it. $150 a month for hosting + webmaster is about 6 hours a month of actual updates. I bet you far overrun the budget here.
In case anyone is saying "Good grief that's a lot of money" there are other options.
What I would do is this:
Learn html
Buy a domain
Try to get at least one local college student to ref/play regularly.

Most colleges give their students webspace to use (my school gives us 100MB) for free. If you give a discount to that college student, they will probably let you use their webspace. You then direct the domain to the university webspace and voila, a fancy "official" looking website with no banners or flash ads (unless you put them there). If they don't trust you with their password, you could even write the pages and put them on disc or email them to the student.

Lots of people make lots of money as webmasters, but I'll let you in on a little secret. If you're halfway profficient with writing code, and you're willing to take a little time to learn, it's really not a difficult job.
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Old 07-28-2005, 09:45 PM #8
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I wish it was that simple!

As a multi-store and field owner, my time is too valuable to interact with my website. I find way more value paying someone properly.

Refs who work for paint don't excel as those who get paid properly. The same is true for someone who takes pride in their web skills.

Pay fair and you'll get a fair product.

--dada
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Old 07-28-2005, 09:56 PM #9
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Right, but if you're just opening your first store you should already be anticipating spending lots of time, and if you are decent with programming, it wouldn't be that much to do your own site. The point was that a person *could* save a couple extra bucks by doing it themselves. Whether or not they prefer to let someone else do it is the individual's preference. I've built/maintained several websites, so I would deffinitely do my own web work.
Also, I wasn't suggesting to pay the webmaster with paint, I was suggesting a discount for a student letting you use their university webspace.


Edit: Because my first posts are usually incoherant... to *try* to clarify my point further. If I were opening my own field/store, I would do my own webspace because I have the know-how and don't mind spending some extra time on the computer (I usually spend my spare time on the computer if I have nothing else to do).

Edit 2: I'm not saying it's for everyone, but I am saying it is possible.
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Last edited by ubermich : 07-28-2005 at 10:07 PM.
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Old 07-28-2005, 11:13 PM #10
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Could you give some more specs regading this hypothetical field?
How many fields? And what player capacity on each?
Is the field attached to a shop or does it 'stand alone'?
If it stands alone, what are the existing facilities (if any) on the site?
Are there existing rest room facilities? Storage for paint? A small shop for storing/maintaining rental equipment? A registration area and/or small store for selling paint, etc.

These are all things that would obviously make a difference in startup cost and maintenance costs. However, depending on the existing facilities there may be ways to generate some revenue to offset other costs.

Now, as far as your buget goes nothing stands out as excessive, but if you wanted to there are a couple of areas you might be able to cut back on without a major sacrifice in quality of service.

I would add that I would not expect the business to be profitable initially. Building a successful business is a long, sometimes painfull process and any business owner who isn't prepared for that (especially by being under capitalized) is bound to fail.

That being said, here's some random thoughts:

I'd probably cut back on the advertising budget and try more of a targeted marketing approach. Rather than spending lots on expensive ads directed toward large random groups I'd try targeting potential private game customers (in the advertising thread I suggested church groups while others suggested business outings). In these cases when you make a sale it's not just for one customer but for a group. Also, these groups would typically be comprised of more new players requiring rental gear and would probably buy field paint. (Exactly the players who generate the greatest profit).

Also, if this hypothetical field is not already hooked up with a local shop, I'd make that a high priority. Any cross promotion you can do will be mutually beneficial, less expensive, and probably more effective than any mass advertising campain.

Other than that, I'd try to do anything that would make the experience enjoyable for a first timer, and refreshing to an experienced player. Things like:
- Friendly, helpful refs who are willing to give advice to new players without sounding condesending. (I agree that the refs should be paid well, but wonder if there are any 'creative' payment options that could reduce or defer some of this cost).
- A simple price structure without lots of optional fees. For example, all day air is simply included in the field fee. (pay-per-fill, while being more profitable is a royal pain for everyone involved). BYOP (if that's opted for by the owner) is also built into the fee. (You can offer 'special deals or discounts' attached to buying field paint from time to time if you want).
- The option of some different games to change things up a bit. For a crowd of first timers, a game where you must move to another bunker on a signal from the ref makes for fun fast game and can be an 'ice breaker' for some who might otherwise just hunker down behind a bunker and never move. It forces new players to experience the most exciting and strategic aspect of the game.
- Have some food/drink/snacks/etc. available.
- An adequate staging/chrono area with enough benches/tables.

One of my goals would be to provide an experience for both new and experienced players that will result in return visits (hopefully with friends). I'd love to have a reputation as being an awesome place to take a group. I know a lot of this is not very specific as far as fees go, but that would vary somewhat depending on the competition in the area.

Last edited by MikeM : 07-29-2005 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 07-28-2005, 11:39 PM #11
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I have a question, I live near IL & would like to possibly play at your field, what's your guys website for your field?
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Old 07-28-2005, 11:48 PM #12
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dada's fields website is www.danukepaintballgames.com
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:17 AM #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeM
- Have some food/drink/snacks/etc. available.
BIG idea. It's not huge, but it's almost pure profit. DFWAP has a concession setup and they make a killing on it. And the overhead is low too... Just a refridgerator, sam's card, and the little bit of cash for cases of gatoraide, water, chips, and candy... Partly due to the hot summers here in Texas, they get away with selling small bottles of gatoraide for $1.50 each! $1.50 might not look big in the grand scheme of things, but consider that cost to be $14/24, at $1.50 that means they're making $22 *profit* for every case sold... and that's just the gatoraide...
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Old 07-29-2005, 12:52 AM #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JxTxCxNx
I'm getting so many e-mails and PMs from wannabe future field owners I figured I'd post a message straight from my guide to the PB biz:

Here's a run down of running a small outdoor airball field. This is based on being open 8 months a year (34 weeks). Permanent items (air supply, bunkers, etc) are amortized over 3 years as a monthly cost, designated with a '&&'. We're assuming being open 3 days per week average.

Initial Investment&&
Land Security Deposit: $250/month
Zoning costs: $100/month
Netting: $100/month
Netting Supports: $100/month
Compressor: $300/month
Bulk Tank Station: $150/month
Rentals: $150/month
Total Outlay: $41,500, $1150/month amortized
Ok to this not sure were u get some of these #'s.
Netting supports, im assuming these are the pole that hold the netting up? you can get poles from you power company for about $25 these wont be the best of stock and arnt always the strongest b/c there used but will have no problem holding up netting. lets say even if u need 100 of these wich is a lot thats $2500
$300/month for a compressor? i hope thats a $15,000 compressor...

our whole setup wich includes everything above except the land security and zoning could all be purchased new for about 20k


Recurring Costs
Land Rental: $4000 / month OK
Insurance: $200/month Ok
Electricity: $200/month um a little high my field pays 125 at most and we have lighted fields
Phone: $100/month wow way off if your paying that much u should find another company
Website/Webmaster: $150/month Now this is what i use to do... $5/month for hosting and $125 1 time fee not recurring for a good site with extremly user friendly updating software, if u pay 150/month ur just getting ripped.
Field Manager: $1500/month (ok i see why you have one but if u own it and thats what you do u dont need a field manager)
Head Ref: $1000/month (u pay your head ref over $13/hour?!)
Referees: $1500/month (99% of the places i know give them a 1000 paintballs per day. figure if ur a decent size field u have 6 refs working per day thats 8.5 cases/day wich would cost you 400-500$/month)
Air Management labor: $1500/month (not realy sure what this is)
Registration/Service labor: $2000/month (not sure what this is either but if ur talking about the guys who sign every one in at your field then this is what 2 of the oldest ref/headref dose and most of the time its the owner that dose it)
Advertising: $1500/month
Bunker/netting/compressor maintenance: $300/month (only on high months, we never have had to repair netting, and bunkers RARELY get puntured, but i could see compressor matinence but not $300/month maby 150.)
Recurring Total: $13,950/month

Gross overhead: $15,100/month
Weekly average overhead: $3552

To break even weekly we need to make $20 profit each on 178 players.

Show me how you do that. Rain, heat, cold, and holidays can hurt you, badly. One weekend of only 40 players @ $20/head (BYOP?) means you'll lose $2752.

How would you make it happen?

--dada
To me your either extremely overpaying, wich may be why you say ur field isnt making any profit.. or you just throwing up prices to discurage people from starting a field.
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Last edited by pbdude911 : 07-29-2005 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 07-29-2005, 01:03 AM #15
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A few more random/general thoughts:

I would definately try to cater to the rec crowd. I would try to include things that have impressed me as a long time rec player. Things like:
- I'd like to provide a variety of fields if possible rather than airball only. Having one or two scenario type fields or if that's not posssible at least different types of bunkers would provide the variety that a new player usually enjoys. A woods field would be even better, but that probably breaches the limits of what you're proposing.
- I would have my own "in house" bunker rule (stolen from now defunct Friendly Fire). You can eliminate a player who is defending a bunker by physical contact with the bunker. (If he let's you get that close he deserves to be out!) This rule has a few benefits...it eliminates lots of close range firing associated with 'bunkering'. Most players I've seen actually prefer to eliminate an opponent this way (without shooting!). It protects the new player who is hiding from getting overshot and allows players who run out of ammo or have guns go down to continue to play and contribute.
- I would have very few 'elimination' only games. These games mainly accomplish using lots of paint, and if we're BYOP I wouldn't care so much about that. 'Elimination' is usually pretty boring and always ends many-on-one. Elimination is always an optional way to win, but I've always prefered flag games or scenario games (presidents, etc.) where you can still win if you're down numbers.

I believe the new player & rec crown is where the money is, so if my rules/fields don't attract the tourney crowd, so be it. (Tourney players and equipement are very intimidating to most new players and some rec players so I wouldn't loose sleep over that crowd not participating in open play.)

There's nothing wrong with tourney players, but I think they'd be the toughest crowd to profit from. They would all want to bring their own paint (understandably) and would expect 'a deal' on field use for team practices. So, here's what I'd try to do for them:
- Have a practice schedule for days we are closed for open play. We'd only need a skeleton crew (no refs, etc.) and that crew could use those days to perform maintenance on our rental gear. I would not plan to make much profit on those days, but would want to at least cover costs (if that's not a good enough deal...too bad). I'd give a break to any team we 'sponsored' and would have to figure out what that sponsorship would look like.
- I'd try to organize some 'practice tourneys' (tourney experience at much closer to practice prices). Obviously, no prizes other than bragging rights, but great practice against other teams.

That's it for now.

Last edited by MikeM : 07-29-2005 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 07-29-2005, 08:47 AM #16
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pbdude911: The numbers are realistic. Who said my field isn't making money?

MikeM: Basic 2 airball fields. Port-o-potties are extra. Sheds, storage, staging all extra.

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from starting a field. If you've got some options covered (maybe you own land) you'll do it cheaper.

I just posted t is because I received numerous e-mails and PMs asking "how much?" I also hear, all the time, "I can do it better."

Food concessions seem to be a good idea, but they include new ove head. Shed, more electricity, staff, supplies, garbage cans/bags/labor. Don't think $1.50/Gatorade is so great. Cooked food might require city health code changes (sinks, fire extinguishers, etc).

Paintball is not a huge money maker, and takes years and years to see a decent profit. Your money is better invested elsewhere, usually.

--dada
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Old 07-29-2005, 09:11 AM #17
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My field doen't have any cooked food. Seriously, it's gatoraide, water, chips, and a little candy. I just used the gatoraide as an example of how a little extra profit can be made off of a little extra thought.
My field operates out of a barn, and as such, they just cut a window facing the staging area... The staff working the counter inside also work the concessions. It's pretty layed-back, but they all work together to get everything done in a timely manner.

But back to the idea, if you include the concession stand with another building, as they've done, and keep it close to where you already have a fair number of employees and maybe the occasional extra employee... then the only overhead is the refridgerator, product, and electricity.

Ideally, you wouldn't want a seperate building for everything. The closer all of your product is to each other, the more likely you are to have compulsive buys. "I need some more paint... ooooo a bob long torpedo... and BUTTERFINGER!"
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Old 07-29-2005, 09:36 AM #18
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They're definitely lucky for having the infrastructure in place. Not all fields have it, but I kept it out of the basic overhead.

Your administration staff can handle concessions for sure. Profits from value added product is key. Squeegees, swabs, barrel socks, drinks, watee, snacks, lens cleaner, pods, and low priced extras help keep field costs down.

At our field, we're looking to get rid of CO2 because of the high labor and supply cost. Air tanks are cheap now, and self fill stations are simple. We're looking into renting air systems for free.

Other decent ways to earn an extra buck are rented tables for staging, private tents and even lockers.

--dada
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Old 07-29-2005, 09:54 AM #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JxTxCxNx
They're definitely lucky for having the infrastructure in place. Not all fields have it, but I kept it out of the basic overhead.

Your administration staff can handle concessions for sure. Profits from value added product is key. Squeegees, swabs, barrel socks, drinks, watee, snacks, lens cleaner, pods, and low priced extras help keep field costs down.

At our field, we're looking to get rid of CO2 because of the high labor and supply cost. Air tanks are cheap now, and self fill stations are simple. We're looking into renting air systems for free.

Other decent ways to earn an extra buck are rented tables for staging, private tents and even lockers.

--dada
As far as air goes, in this area you have the added problem of not being able to use CO2 when it gets too cold out. I know some fields 'switch over' to air depending on the temp. It seems to me that if you've got a compressor you have access to an unlimited supply of compressed air and would be wise move to eliminate CO2 to the extent you can. Will you still provide CO2 (at additional cost perhaps) to players who've got their own equipment and want to use it?

A place with easily accessable lockers (especially close to or part of the staging area) would 'curl my toes'. Back in the day I remember leaving tons of gear completely unsecured on picnic tables. We were never concerned with or heard of any theft (this was when paintball was played in the woods by a bunch of 20-something and up 'soldier-of-fortune' types...ahhh the good old days!). Security seems to be a much bigger problem today than it was 10-12 years ago. I know I would enjoy myself more if I knew I didn't have to leave backup gear, tools, etc. locked in my car!

Last edited by MikeM : 07-29-2005 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 07-29-2005, 10:07 AM #20
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MikeM:

Used lockers can be bought at auction cheap. We've looked into it quite regularly.

Many people don't consider their field a "service product." Many complain about paint prices and wrongly believe th t BYOP means more players. In my experience (and through numerous market surveys) distance, layout, and pricing were all important.

We have 3 BYOP fields within 90 minutes of our stores and 6 FPO fields within 30 minutes. MOST of my retail customers prefer the closer ones. In fact, I've heard more complaints about service & cleanliness at the BYOP fields than complaints about pricing at the FPO fields.

--dada
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Old 07-29-2005, 10:41 AM #21
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As far as BYOP vs FPO goes, I think it's all about pricing. I place zero value on the freedom to use my paint of choice. But, if there's only a $10 difference in entry fee and I can get the same paint for $30/case cheaper than at the FPO place, all else being equal I choose the BYOP place.

If the total price is comperable (reasonably priced FP), my choice would be based on other factors...types of fields to play, friendliness of staff (and of other players...yes, I've seen differences from place to place), and how well organized they are...these are all factors that are way more important to me than whether I can use my own paint or not.

BTW, if the entry fee does not include all-day air, I will not play at that field, period. For me, that's a 'show stopper'!
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