A billiard hall (also known as a pool hall) business rents out pool tables and typically serves alcoholic beverages. Patrons usually rent tables by the hour and play with friends while drinking – and possibly eating if the business offers food. These businesses are often primarily cash businesses, which can be appealing to certain entrepreneurs. Whether cash-based or not, billiard halls can offer business owners a reliable source of income if located in the right area.
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Learn how to start your own Billiards Hall Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a Billiards Hall Business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Billiards Hall Business
- Form your Billiards Hall Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Billiards Hall Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Billiards Hall Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Billiards Hall Business
- Get Billiards Hall Business Insurance
- Define your Billiards Hall Business Brand
- Create your Billiards Hall Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your Billiards Hall Business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a Billiards Hall Business?
A single pool table designed for use in a pool hall costs an average of $3,000 - $4,000. That’s one major reason why starting a pool hall requires significant capital. You need multiple tables, as well as a rental space, a bar, beverage inventory, furniture, and more to serve customers. You can expect to spend $50,000+ to open up your billiard hall business.
What are the ongoing expenses for a Billiards Hall Business?
There are multiple ongoing expenses that you need to prepare for in the billiards business. Table maintenance is a big expense. Pool tables can last 25 years in the right conditions. But in a pool hall setting, you will need to repair/replace felt regularly, and you can expect other parts – like rail rubber and pockets – to require repairs as well. Maintenance costs can be several thousand dollars a year.
Who is the target market?
The target market for billiard halls is typically men who are under the age of 35. There are of course exceptions – and you could always attempt to reach a different market using creative marketing efforts – but generally, younger men are your target market.
How does a Billiards Hall Business make money?
Billiard halls make money from pool table rental fees and alcohol sales. Billiard tables require a large upfront investment, but as long as you have steady patrons, they will generate solid income hour after hour, year after year. Alcohol sales are also an excellent source of income because you can generally mark up your beverages significantly.
How much can you charge customers?
Most billiard halls charge between $10 to $15 an hour for table rentals. The bar section of the business charges the going rate for beverages in the area – although the bar is generally focused on more affordable drinks like beers and basic cocktails instead of high-end drinks.
How much profit can a Billiards Hall Business make?
According to Entrepreneur, a billiard hall with 10 tables could generate as much as $200,000 a year. It will take time to get to that point, though. Much of your first few year’s profits will go towards paying off debt, maintenance, and other costs. Eventually, though, you can expect to earn good money from your billiard hall business.
How can you make your business more profitable?
You can make your business more profitable by attracting more customers. If you operate a clean, comfortable, professionally-managed billiard hall, you can build a good reputation in your area. You may have competitors, but you can often set yourself apart simply by paying careful attention to the quality of the experience you offer customers. If customers know that your tables are always in good condition, your cues are straight, and the customer service is reliable, they will keep coming back for more.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your Billiards Hall Business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a Billiards Hall Business
If you know your target market, you can identify marketing angles and channels that are most likely to reach that market. Men between the age of 21 and 35 use social media, for example. Social media marketing is likely to be effective in reaching this market.
Billiard halls often use promotions like drink specials, happy hours, food specials, and table rental specials to attract business. These businesses will also host pool-related events, such as contests, to bring in business.
How to keep customers coming back
Customers are coming to your billiard hall to play pool and similar games – not just to drink because they could go to any bar to do that. So, while good bar service is important, your main focus should be on the gaming experience you offer your customers. Keep your tables well-maintained, and know what is important to pool enthusiasts. Make the game accessible to newcomers as well – such as by offering classes and/or instructional materials.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Billiards Hall Business in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
This business is right for entrepreneurs who love billiards and the nightlife. It’s also a good fit for those that enjoy socializing. Billiards has been around in one form or another since the 15th century, so you will be operating a classic gaming hall combined with a bar – which means you should probably have a passion for both.
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Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a Billiards Hall Business?
Billiard halls are usually open in the late afternoon until midnight or later. Much like other bars, operating a billiard hall requires working late nights. A typical day may start in the late morning, with general cleanup, billiards table maintenance, and replenishing inventory. When you open your doors for business, you will juggle bartending and billiard rental duties. At the end of the night, you will break down the bar, cash out the till, and lock up until the next day’s business begins.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Billiards Hall Business?
You don’t have to be an expert pool player to own a successful pool hall – but the more experience with the game you have, the easier it will be to operate your business. If you have experience with billiards, it will be easier to choose the right tables and equipment, answer customer questions, and perform maintenance as needed.
Having bar and/or hospitality experience will also be helpful. Many people assume operating a bar is easy, but it takes hard work and attention to detail to smoothly run this type of business.
What is the growth potential for a Billiards Hall Business?
The market for pool and billiard halls has been shrinking in recent years. It is only expected to grow by about 1% in 2021. That does not mean that your pool hall cannot grow into a strong business, though. But, you do need to go into business with realistic expectations.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a Billiards Hall Business?
The most surefire way to keep your billiard hall open long enough to start earning a profit is to start with a comprehensive financial plan. You most definitely do not want to “wing it.” Your initial investment in the tables will likely take several years to start turning a profit. Aim to have alternative sources of revenue – like your bar – to keep the business going.
Another important aspect of this business is bookkeeping. Take your accounting seriously so you know how much you are making and, more importantly, how much you are spending. Many hospitality businesses fail because they don’t take bookkeeping seriously. Don’t make the same mistake.
How and when to build a team
Operating a billiard hall is difficult – and may be impossible – to do on your own. There is too much ground to cover and too many different tasks to juggle. For instance, you can’t expect the bartender to keep track of all the tables and take care of all the bar customers on a busy Friday night. All this is to say that your initial business plan should probably include employees and the budget to pay those employees.
Plan to have at least a bartender and a person to work the door – in addition to you as a manager – to ensure the best experience for customers. Ideally, you should have enough employees to fill all required roles so that you can focus on management and have someone to manage the business when you need a day off.