Thinking about opening a bowling alley? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Finding a Space for a Bowling Alley Startup
The right space is one of the biggest hurdles you encounter in your quest to launch a successful bowling alleys business. There are two ways to approach the space dilemma: (1) Build from scratch, or (2) Lease/buy a space that has previously been used as a bowling alley.
Building from scratch has certain advantages, specifically the ability to customize your business space to your startup's needs and personal preferences. But it also has a downside: Cost. Since most startup business owners have limited startup capital, new construction may not be a realistic option.
If you can find it, buying or leasing a space that has already been outfitted for a bowling alley is a more financially palatable alternative. Here, the trick is to find a bowling alley that has been vacant for a certain amount of time so you can leverage the space without incurring the cost of the business itself. Retrofits and remodeling may be necessary, but because you will only be paying for the asset, you can avoid many of the costs built into a typical business-for-sale transaction.
Bowling Alley Revenue Streams
Smart bowling center business owners know that in order to hit revenue targets, they will need to create multiple streams of revenue. Although bowling may represent the backbone of their business plan, alley receipts need to be augmented by other profit centers.
A food and beverage operation is a natural complement to a bowling alleys venture. A liquor license is definitely helpful, but even without it you should be able to design a "snack bar" capable of generating net income for the operation.
Other potential revenue streams include a video game center, bowling ball/accessory sales, lessons and tournaments. Periodically monitor each revenue stream independently to ensure that the business is receiving an acceptable ROI from each profit center.
How to Market a New Bowling Alley Business
Leagues and special events are the bread and butter of successful bowling alleys. Free lanes are important for walk-in traffic, but for the most part, your bowling alley startup will generate the most traffic and business by offering seasonal leagues (recurring revenue streams) and events like Friday night "bowling in the dark" parties for teens.
Consider harnessing the power of social media to encourage participation in leagues and special events. In many ways, social media is the word of mouth mechanism of the 21st century. Social media marketing initiates a dialogue with your customers and encourages them to become advocates who promote your bowling alley to their friends and family members.
For additional marketing ideas and support, contact the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA).
Tips for Generating a Top Quality Bowling Alley Business Plan
A good business plan is the foundation of your entrepreneurial journey. Despite the diversity that exists in business plan writing, there are several essential elements that good business plans simply must include.
Business plan software eliminates the guesswork, insulating your bowling alley from the possibility of critical omissions. The best business plan solutions can be tailored by industry, incorporating highly relevant metrics into your bowling alley's business plan.
Our list of business plan software packages offers a comprehensive guide to the best solutions on the market.
Take a Look at the Competition
Prior to launching a bowling alley within your community, it's a smart move to determine how you will fit in the competitive landscape. Use the link below to get a list of local competitors nearby. After clicking on the link, type in your city, state and zip code to get a list of bowling alleys near you.
Prior to opening your doors for business, be sure you fully understand the competitive landscape and where your new business will fit in.
Turning Competitors Into Collaborators
If you are seriously contemplating launching a bowling alley, the next step is to speak with somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. It'd be crazy for them to teach you the business.
Fortunately, somebody who runs a bowling alley on the other side of the country will be much more likely to talk with you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. In fact, they are often very willing to share startup advice with you. If you are persistent, you can find a business mentor who is willing to help you out.
How do you locate a bowling alley owner in another community?
Here's one way to do it. Just use our link below, find somebody and call them.
Reasons to Pursue a Bowling Alley Acquisition
Many would-be bowling alley owners are perplexed by those who encourage them to buy a business rather than starting one from scratch. But what's so great about a bowling alley acquisition?
The availability of acquisition capital should be a major factor in your decision. Investors and lenders have it and you need it. Yet many are hesitant to fund startups, preferring instead to fund business purchases.
Although there are a lot of factors to consider, the decision to buy a business to get acquisition capital almost always pays off.
Franchising May Be a Better Way to Go
To improve your chances of business success, consider the advantages associated with purchasing a franchise.
Before starting a bowling alley, you should assess whether buying a franchise could alleviate your startup process.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you sell to bowling alleys, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.