You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your game truck business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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 long it will take you to break even?
- 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 game truck business?
Your business is mobile, so it’s not necessary to lease an actual storefront. Marketing and event booking can be done from the comfort of your own home, making your trailer your sole investment.
If you do not currently have a truck to haul the trailer, this will be one of your first investments. You’ll then need a sizable trailer - one large enough to seat approximately 25 people comfortably. Additional accessories include:
- 3M wrap for trailer
- 1 large commercial generator
- 4 - 7 televisions
- Gaming systems - Wii U, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360
- LED lighting set-up
- Stadium seating
- Bluetooth-enabled sound bars
- A/C and heating system
Rockin’ Rollin’ offers full mobile game theaters ranging from $50,000 to $74,000, depending upon how large of a system you want. Should you choose to construct the build-out yourself, this gives you a good idea as to how much your initial investment will be.
What are the ongoing expenses for a game truck business?
As a game truck business owner, you’re facing low overhead expenses. Fuel and loan payments (should you have one) are your biggest costs. Below, we’ve listed the average monthly costs, which will vary slightly depending upon your region.
- Fuel $900
- Insurance $300
- Trailer parking/storage $75
- Advertising and website maintenance $220
- Payment/merchant fees $300
- New games/technology/truck upgrades and repairs $200
Who is the target market?
This is a highly niche community based on the concept revolving around gaming. The world of gaming, however, has realized rapid growth over the last decade, firmly planting its roots amongst generations both young and old. While your most common clients will be younger children, this unique event concept has quickly gained traction amongst adults as well.
How does a game truck business make money?
While fees vary depending upon the specifics of each party, your business will generate income through each booked and completed event. Successful game truck entrepreneurs host at least 10 parties a week and will need to book multiple events per day on weekends.
How much can you charge customers?
Clients are charged based on a service contract for a number of hours, agreed upon between you and the client. Game trucks typically generate between $250 and $400 per event.
How much profit can a game truck business make?
Game truck businesses that average 40 parties a month, with no truck/loan payment, realize an annual profit of approximately $109,000. The break even point, without a loan payment, is 6 parties per month. To calculate annual profit averaging 40 parties per month with a loan payment, multiply the monthly loan payment by 12 and subtract from $109,000.
How can you make your business more profitable?
There are several strategies you can implement to ensure a more profitable business:
- Add additional party options, such as laser tag.
- Offer snacks for purchase.
- Include options and services geared towards adults, such as a margarita machine.
- Partner with local establishments to provide additional party services, such as pizza and cake delivery.
- Increase weekday revenue by offering a mobile education center for schools who are looking to cut field trip spending.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. 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 prevents you from being personally liable if your game truck business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
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?.
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.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
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.
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.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a Game Truck business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Game Truck businesses may also wish to look into applying for a resale certificate, which allows retailers to purchase goods intended for resale without paying sales tax.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources
If you want to sell alcohol at special events for older participants, like corporate parties, you will need a liquor license from the appropriate state or local agency.
- A comprehensive list of laws by state (including necessary licenses, zoning laws, etc), curated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, is included here
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
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.
How to promote & market a game truck business
As the founder of Rolling Video Games, Chris Hampton, once said: “Two things aren’t going away: video games and parties.” While this is true, promoting your business is essential for ensuring your community even knows such a service exists.
Like many small businesses, mobile game trucks utilize social media platforms as their primary marketing tool. Encourage your users to share the business’ posts, and even offer special discounts once you’ve reached a new level of followers. Consider television ads during your local news slots, ensuring you reach your target audience on a broader scale. Radio ads during the morning and afternoon commute are also a great time to reach a wide audience.
Another great way to get your name recognized is to partner with another local small business for a promotional party. They could provide party refreshments, while you provide the entertainment. Advertise the party in the neighborhood circulator, encouraging those in the community to attend. Your biggest cost for such an event will be gas and time, making the rewards far outweigh the costs.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Word of mouth is often a small business’ most powerful business tool. Ensure you attract repeat customers by delivering a consistently fun experience every time. If the party attendees walk away smiling, they’ll likely share their experience far and wide.
Additionally, you’ll want to be sure you’re listed in all the local directories and that your website is informative and user-friendly. Your biggest source of income will be children’s parties. Remember that parents are busy and often short on time - if prospects don’t have multiple options for booking their event, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Game Truck Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Gamers are the ideal candidate for this niche business. Not all gamers, however, are created equal. This profession also requires an individual who enjoys interacting with others, particularly children. Those who are children at heart will not only realize success, but will truly enjoy their new career.
What happens during a typical day at a game truck business?
Since the bulk of your business will be conducted on the weekends, Monday through Thursday can be dedicated to promoting your business, booking events, and prepping the truck for upcoming parties. On event days, you’ll deliver the game truck and host the party, ensuring attendees have access to the games they’ve requested.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful game truck business?
While it’s important to be knowledgeable about the different gaming systems and games they offer, prior knowledge isn’t required. Since you’ll be working with up to 24 people per party, many of them children, interpersonal skills and patience is critical. Remember, they’re paying you to ensure a great time!
Like any successful entrepreneur, you should be business-minded and competitive in nature, with a strong work ethic. One of the primary reasons small businesses fail is from a lack of listening. Be open to the suggestions of your clients. This will help you identify what’s working and what’s not, within your business, so you can adjust accordingly. This could make or break your business’ profitability.
Strong business management skills, physical stamina, and organizational skills are also beneficial to the game truck entrepreneur. Time management skills are important for ensuring your customers get the most out of their game party experience.
What is the growth potential for a game truck business?
When first starting out, it’s recommended to limit your business to one mobile game truck. While this limits your earning potential, it affords you the opportunity to gauge community response and the necessity for more trucks. Once you’ve determined this is a sound investment, you can then consider adding additional trucks. If your community is currently lacking in this industry, yet you don’t want to juggle multiple trucks, many businesses have found success franchising their organizations.
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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.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a game truck business?
- Get a feel for who will be in attendance before showing up to the party.
- Have a variety of games to suit everyone’s needs.
- If you live in an area that often has dramatic weather, this should be considered. In an area like Florida, you have the potential to book events year round.
- Have a clear set of when going into the business. Know how many parties you need to do per month to realize a profit.
- Develop a manual for yourself to refer to. If something goes wrong in the middle of a party, you need to know what to do to get the party back up and running ASAP.
How and when to build a team
The beauty of this business is that you can be your own boss and employee. Depending upon the size of the party and how well you work under pressure, you can run each event yourself or with one other person. Should you decide to expand your operation to include multiple trucks, you’ll need to start building a team.
Keep in mind that employees will be driving large trucks with a trailer being pulled behind. They’ll also be around children of all ages. Background checks, including MVRs, should be run on each potential employee to ensure you don’t jeopardize the safety of the party goers or your business.