A pool hall offers a convenient place for people to socialize, relax, and have fun. Most establishments also serve as bars or restaurants. They frequently provide several entertainment options. The wide range of activities in a pool hall helps to make this an interesting opportunity that involves diverse tasks and experiences.
Learn how to start your own Pool Hall Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start a Pool Hall Business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Pool Hall Business
- Form your Pool Hall Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Pool Hall Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Pool Hall Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Pool Hall Business
- Get Pool Hall Business Insurance
- Define your Pool Hall Business Brand
- Create your Pool Hall Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your Pool Hall Business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
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 will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
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.
What are the costs involved in opening a Pool Hall Business?
You'll need cues, tables, a cash register, and chairs at a minimum. Coin-operated tables frequently sell at prices exceeding $3,000. You can cut costs by purchasing a used unit for $1,200 to $2,800, but remember to test all units thoroughly before buying. Most cues sell for $12 to $45. You'll pay less if you buy them in sets. Cue racks fetch $20 to $130 each.
You could easily spend thousands of dollars on kitchen equipment. If you can't afford expensive commercial appliances or don't have enough space, think about partnering with an adjacent restaurant. You would take orders and accept payments while the restaurant staff prepares food and delivers it at a discounted cost.
What are the ongoing expenses for a Pool Hall Business?
These businesses need a lot of space, so commercial rent will probably cost more than anything else. Numerous lights and machines contribute to substantial electric bills. You'll also need to order bottled beverages, food ingredients, and paper products.
Other costs include equipment upkeep, marketing, taxes, and staff wages. If you have employees and serve alcohol, plan on spending at least $275 per month on insurance. Owners in some regions must pay nominal table-licensing fees each year. For instance, a hall with 10 tables will spend about $63 on average for table-licensing fees.
Who is the target market?
Pool remains most popular among young men. Many halls enforce minimum ages of 18 or 21. Skilled players are valuable repeat customers, but they mostly just spend money on tables. They may take the game too seriously to eat and drink a lot. Families tend to visit on weekends and buy plenty of food. Some of the most desirable customers are people who celebrate special occasions like birthdays. Couples also eat and drink more than the average patron.
How does a Pool Hall Business make money?
Halls let players rent tables on a per-hour or per-game basis. Some offer passes that provide unlimited access for a month. They often sell, repair, and rent out cues. These establishments also produce revenue with coin-operated equipment like pinball machines and jukeboxes. The majority of the income normally comes from beverage sales.
How much can you charge customers?
Rates usually differ depending on the time of day and number of people in a group. An individual might pay $5 to $14 per hour to play pool. One game may cost $0.50, $0.75, or $1. Members typically spend at least $50 per month for unlimited access. While more expensive options exist, most beverages fetch $2 to $8. Meals normally cost under $15. Snack and dessert pricing ranges from $3 to $8.
How much profit can a Pool Hall Business make?
Earnings vary considerably depending on what products and services you offer. Halls attain margins of around 12% when they're well managed.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Consider installing an ATM so that you'll earn a commission every time someone withdraws cash. This machine also gives players easy access to money, encouraging them to spend more. You could boost revenue by offering pool lessons as well. If you don't have enough time, sell instructional videos, CDs, and books instead. Try to attract both male and female customers. People might buy more drinks and visit your business regularly if they see it as a desirable place to meet dating partners. Additional ideas include:
- Expand your customer base by setting up a pro shop with cues, balls, and accessories.
- Use your website to sell a monthly membership with recurring credit card payments.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
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 Pool 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!
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.
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.
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 BILL 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.
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 Pool Hall Business
Special events provide an effective way to attract attention on social networks and local media. Think about scheduling trivia games, movies, tournaments, Halloween parties, or live music performances.
You can use an ID scanner to collect mailing addresses from customers' state identification cards. This gives you an opportunity to send personalized mailings with coupons and news about the latest improvements or events.
If you buy online ads, bid on search terms cautiously. Someone who searches for "Philadelphia pool club" might want to play pool or go swimming — it isn't really clear. Likewise, outdoor signs should use pictures or words that clarify what type of "pool" you offer.
Many halls have "happy hour" to draw in players during the slowest hours. They charge less for drinks as well as tables. You can configure some coin-operated tables to reduce prices at certain times of day.
How to keep customers coming back
A broad variety of menu items and activities will keep players coming back for more. Try to introduce something new from time to time. Ask customers if they'd like to play foosball, air hockey, or arcade games. A simple menu addition can sometimes boost sales. For instance, you could offer french fries with gravy as an alternative to ketchup.
Try to space tables far apart to minimize crowding. Provide seating for people who just want to watch others play pool. If you have coin-operated equipment that doesn't accept bills, make it easy for customers to get change. Most change machines cost over $900, so you might want to handle this task manually at first.
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.
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.
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Is this Business Right For You?
You might consider running a pool hall if you are a talented player, know the jargon, and understand how the equipment works. Successful businesses usually provide much more than pool tables; this occupation is best for a "jack of all trades" who quickly learns new skills.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a Pool Hall Business?
You can plan on talking to customers, collecting payments, maintaining equipment, and promoting your business. Most halls serve food and drinks as well.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Pool Hall Business?
It helps if you know how to fix equipment, serve drinks, and cook basic lunch foods. You could also benefit from any experience with event management. To make sure you'd want to run this type of business, try working as an employee in a pool hall or tavern.
What is the growth potential for a Pool Hall Business?
This business has experienced many ups and downs over the years. More upscale halls have appeared in recent decades, but these businesses are often hit hard during economic recessions. The sector has declined in the last five years, according to IBISWorld. Nonetheless, experts believe that it will continue to innovate and grow in the future.
Although many owners focus on one location, it's possible to expand. The Canadian chain known as Dooly's provides a promising example. It began serving customers in New Brunswick over 25 years ago. The business became so popular that it opened 21 additional halls and developed a franchising program within four years.
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 Pool Hall Business?
Coin-operated tables have several pros and cons. They tend to cost more and need extra maintenance. The mechanism could fail, putting a table out of service until someone fixes it. Highly sophisticated models must draw electrical power from an outlet or battery. On the other hand, they significantly reduce the need for customer service. You can focus on selling lucrative drinks and merchandise. Patrons also appreciate the flexibility because they don't have to pay for an entire hour when they only want to play one or two games.
Pool halls still have a negative image as dark, dingy places known for drinking, smoking, gambling, and crime. To dispel this notion, always perform thorough cleaning and maintenance. Post appealing photos of the interior on social media and your website. Ask people to leave if they insist on swearing or smoking indoors. It's worth losing a few customers to improve the atmosphere and create an environment where women and casual players feel comfortable.
How and when to build a team
It takes a wide range of skills to provide all of the services that customers desire. You may benefit from hiring an employee as soon as your business opens, especially if you don't have coin-operated tables. PayScale.com reports that bartenders and snack bar attendants both earn about $8 to $9 per hour on average. Hire people who have positive attitudes, don't get offended too easily, and show genuine interest in the job.