According to the Haunted House Association, there are about 1,200 haunted attractions in the United States that charge admission fees and another 3,000 charity events that open for only one or two days around Halloween. The HHA also estimates that the industry brings in about $500 million each year in sales of tickets. The average price of a ticket is about $15.00. Although this sounds like a highly profitable venture, the cost of props, costumes, a venue to hold the event and employee pay can run in the thousands. Having a solid plan to start your haunted house business can ensure success.
Steps to Start a Haunted House Business
Write a Business Plan
Write a business plan for your haunted house. This step is often overlooked by new business owners, but can be vital in helping you understand all of the steps and costs involved in getting your business up and running. You’ll also want to take a close look at your financial statements within the business plan, including where you plan to come up with the money for initial start-up costs. Get free sample business plans through sites like Sample Business Plan and The Finance Resource.
Obtain financial backing. Once you’ve written your business plan, you should have a good idea of how much money you need to get started and keep your business running until it turns a profit. Next, you’ll need to decide where this money is coming from. Ask yourself: How much can you afford to invest personally? Do you want to take out any personal loans? Once you know how much you can invest, you can subtract that amount from the total you need. The amount left is what you’ll need to get from investors. You can find investors through local corporations and family and friends. Request a meeting and simply let them know how much you want and what their reward will be. If you are planning to operate the haunted house as part of a charity, the charity may back the entire cost of starting. In this case, the charity receives the profit from the business. You may want to negotiate a salary and long-term contract.
Find a Location
Find a location. There really isn’t one type of location that works best for haunted houses, which means that the door is wide open for where you can locate your haunted house. They have been held in old houses, closed mental institutions, bars and even in fields and forests. Chances are that you already have a potential location or two in mind for your attraction. Once you choose a place, you will need to contact the owners of that property and secure a lease or purchase the building or land outright.
Design the Layout
Choose a layout for your haunted house and make any renovations. If you are on a tight budget, you may choose to stick with the rooms as they are already laid out. You will still need a set of floor plans, so you can designate different areas for specific frights. For example, the kitchen might be a good location for a mad butcher set of props. If you have a bigger budget, you may choose to knock out walls or lay out the house in a different way. You will want a safety expert and a fire marshall to okay your plans to ensure that your guests will be as safe as possible. Most states have very strict regulations on haunted houses, so check with your state to see what is required.
Get Props and Set the Scene
Purchase props and set the scene. Purchase or build your props and set the scene in each location within your haunted house. You will also want to add any black lights or other features during this time. Walls may need to be painted black and windows covered over to keep light from filtering in. Set up each scene the way you wish for it to appear as your visitors navigate your house.
Hire employees. Choose actors for each scene. You will also want people to sell tickets, a couple of security guards for crowd control, emergency personnel and someone to advertise your business. A good PR person will get the word out so that all of your hard work attracts plenty of customers.