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If you grew up in the 80’s, roller skating rinks were an integral part of your childhood. You looked forward to the weekend, anticipating that feeling of excitement you felt from lacing up those skates. Over the last few years, skating rinks have recaptured the hearts of adults and children, offering a safe and entertaining environment for everyone.
Who is this business right for?
To build a successful skating rink business, it’s important that you not only enjoy skating, but are knowledgeable in every facet of the business. This is a very social profession, so someone who genuinely enjoys being around people, particularly school-age children. Your consumers come to escape the concerns of everyday life, so your job is to be in party mode, while still ensuring the safety of every skater.
What happens during a typical day at a roller skating rink?
A great deal of your clientele will be children, which narrows the amount of time the rink is open and filled with people. If you market appropriately, however, there are a number of ways to regulate this downtime and ensure a profitable business.
Your duties will vary, depending upon what’s on the day’s agenda. A typical day will look something like this:
- Cleaning the skating rink, both inside and out, to ensure a safe and orderly environment for your customers
- Checking all equipment and skates to ensure they’re working properly and that nothing is in need of repair
- Answering phone calls and emails for prospective clients
- Meeting with customers who are interested in holding events at the arena
- Building relationships with members of the community who could play a roll in bringing steady business to the rink
- Marketing the business and re-strategizing when necessary
- Planning events that will attract new business
- Meeting with employees to ensure they understand your mission and goals, and that they’re educated on skating rink safety standards
Additionally, there will be administrative duties to attend to, such as ordering supplies and paying bills. Once the business is running at a steady pace, you’ll want to hire a trusted manager in order to delegate your responsibilities.
What is the target market?
Customers for this type of business will be anyone looking for a fun and safe place to gather with friends and family. You’ll get a spectrum of customers; from those who’ve never put on a pair of skates all the way to enthusiasts who enjoy skating every chance they get. Roller skating rinks are also popular amongst teenagers who are looking for a more entertaining option than being dropped off at the mall for a few hours with friends.
How does a roller skating rink make money?
Your business generates revenue by charging an admission price to the skating rink, as well as renting out skates to your customers. Most arenas also offer party packages and sell food and drinks, which helps attract customers and increases the business’ profitability.
What is the growth potential for a roller skating rink?
This industry offers great potential for growth. Since opening multiple locations within the same town will force you to compete with yourself, this strategy is only advisable if you live in a large town where you’re able to spread out your locations. However, if you’re able to invest in enough space, offering additional activities will attract a more diverse crowd and ensure your business meets short and long-term goals. While there’s much interest in the skating rink business, there are few franchising options available. Once you’ve established a name for yourself and fully understand the intricacies of running a successful rink, offering franchising opportunities could significantly expand your enterprise.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful roller skating rink?
To ensure a positive and safe experience for every customer, it’s important that you understand the different facets of skating. The rink must be designed so that skaters of every level can intermingle, without getting in each other’s way. Beginners will have questions on everything from skating techniques to the difference from one skate to another. This business requires you to interact with people day in and day out, so it’s also critical that you’re patient and good with the public.
Most skating rinks realize a greater profit by offering additional recreational activities, as well as food and drink. Thus, a creative mind and experience in the service industry would prove beneficial. Strong business and marketing acumen will also be fundamental to your rink’s success.
What are the costs involved in opening a roller skating rink?
As with every business, the skating arena’s location will define your success. If you’re unable to find an old roller rink, be sure you choose a space that is large and offers ample parking. Due to the size of space needed, the building will be your largest expense, both in the beginning and moving forward. Current successful skating rink owners recommend setting aside approximately $4,000/month for rent.
Once you’ve found a prime location, you’ll be facing a number of additional start-up costs, which will set you back approximately $30,000:
- If the building wasn’t originally designed for a skating rink, you’ll need to design and build the arena. Skating floors should be wood to ensure you attract both beginners and novice skaters.
- Depending upon the space you have to work with, hiring an engineer might be your best option for safeguarding against any spatial and safety snafus along the way.
- Equipment: lockers, benches, roller skates, music system, lighting system, tables, and food and drink equipment.
- Software: accounting and inventory management software would both be beneficial
- Marketing supplies
What are the steps to start a roller skating rink?
Once you're ready to start your roller skating rink, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your roller skating rink is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your roller skating rink keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Establish a 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. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I 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.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a roller skating rink?
The following are a few insider tips from well-established roller skating rinks:
- Invest in your space. Making sure it’s visually appealing to skaters of all ages. Keep in mind that “a skating rink is designed for children but is financed by their parents.” Many parents drop their children off, never setting foot inside, so outside appearance is just as important as the inside.
- Make sure the rink is clean, both inside and out, at all times.
- Keep the parking lot safe and strictly enforce rules on loitering.
- Make sure the music played is something everyone can enjoy and invest in a good lighting system.
- Spend 10-12 hours a week on preventative maintenance. This will save you financially in the long run
- Management should be well-versed in all forms of skate maintenance and that all maintenance is well documented.
- Design a well-thought-out set of rules and make sure they’re enforced at all times.
How to promote & market a roller skating rink
While your primary focus should be on groups who cater to children, your marketing efforts should be somewhat diverse. Start with a grand opening celebration. Send out mailers and hit the streets, putting flyers on cars around town. Advertise your grand opening in community newsletters and on radio stations. Offer special pricing for a specified length of time, and invite the press to the grand opening event. The more positive publicity, the better.
Keep in mind, that your goal is to create a wholesome atmosphere that will attract families and large groups. For long-term success, focus on building relationships with school representatives, civic organizations, and church groups. Offer to do fundraisers and really get involved in the community. Hand out “honor roll coupons,” rewarding local students for doing well in school. If parents and leaders associate your name and face with positivity and family, they’ll consider you when holding their next youth group or birthday party. Some rinks have even found success offering their space to schools who don’t have enough space for unrelated sports activities such as floor hockey and gym class.
It’s also a great idea to become a member of organizations such as the International Roller Skating Association. Their annual events are great educational and networking opportunities and their website has a “location” feature that assists consumers in finding roller skating rinks nearby.
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How to keep customers coming back
Getting people in the door is your first step. What you do after that defines your business’ long-term success. Your goal is to ensure your customers have a positive experience every time they visit your facility. This means offering a clean, safe, and wholesome experience, with customer service your top priority.
How and when to build a team
Unlike some small businesses, you’ll need a team prior to the grand opening. Your staff can make or break your success, so carefully consider how you construct your team. Since you’ll be catering to a younger audience, your staff should include both high school students and adults.
There are two very important things to remember when building your team:
- Make sure your staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and trained to handle medical emergencies.
- Hire floor guards who are reliable enough to strictly enforce the rink’s safety rules.
Read our roller skating rink hiring guide to learn about the different roles a roller skating rink typically fills, how much to budget for employee salaries, and how to build your team exactly how you want it.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a bead store business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
For 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.
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.
If you plan to sell food at your rink, you will need licensing from a local health department. All establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection. Tips for faring well on a health inspection can be found here.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
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.
Release of Liability
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, XXX businesses should have their clients sign a release of liability. Here is an example of one such form.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional release of liability form for your roller skating business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
To sell alcohol at a bar, a liquor license will be required. The type of license that must be obtained will vary depending on the kind of liquor you intend to serve, whether or not you intend to sell food, the percentage of your sales that will come from alcohol vs. food, the average amount of people that will be served per night, the bar’s closing time, and whether or not consumers will be allowed to take their alcohol to-go. Licenses will also vary by state and individual state pages should be referenced during the application process. More information on obtaining a liquor license can be found here.
In order to play music in a public setting, permission must be acquired from the composer or license holder. Typically, it is possible to obtain a “blanket” license allowing a businesses to play music owned by a large catalog of artists and recording studios. Such licenses can be obtained from Performance Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP and BMI. Learn more about music licensing requirements and how to obtain a blanket license here.
Liability waivers are essential since consumers will be in high risk environments.
Certificate of Occupancy
Roller Skating Rinks operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
If you plan to lease a rink location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a roller skating rink.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
If you plan to purchase or build a rink:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your rink will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
How much can you charge customers?
This is a tricky question, as fees largely depend upon the customer’s unique needs. Individual skaters are charged between $7-$11, which typically include 3-4 hours of skating. Skate rentals average $5.
The bulk of your revenue will be generated from larger parties. If the party rents the entire space out, rinks charge a minimum of $350. Parties who share the rink with your other customers charge a fee of no less than $150 for 10 guests, with an additional fee for each additional guest. You’ll want to consider your overhead expenses and goals for attracting customers when constructing your fee structure.
What are the ongoing expenses for a roller skating rink?
A roller skating rink’s overhead expenses vary, depending upon the services they offer. Rent, insurance, and payroll will take up a large portion of your budget. It also takes a great deal of energy to keep something like this going, so budget for a significant electric bill.
You’ll want to make refreshments available for your customers. Carefully consider your menu options before opening the business, as the items you offer will define your budget.
Dedicating a portion of your budget for ongoing and preventative maintenance should also be part of your business plan. There are many components to a skating rink and they should all be considered invaluable. Preventative maintenance ensures the entire operations runs smoothly, reducing the number of unexpected incidents.
How much profit can a roller skating rink make?
Your annual profit is defined by your fee structure, demographic, and what other activities the facility offers. Those who have found success in this industry suggest offering enough activities to attract consumers who are interested in more than skating. Entrepreneurs who have found the right balance have reported an annual profit of over $200,000 after just a few short years.
How can you make your business more profitable?
As indicated, offering skating as the only entertainment option will result in a low profit margin. The following are a few strategies and services other rinks have implemented to ensure a more profitable business:
- Offer a food and beverage selection that appeals to consumers of all ages
- If affordable, obtain a liquor license. Parents who are attending parties with their children will thank you.
- Some roller skating rinks have found success as a night club on “off” nights.
- Design your floor so it meets the size requirements for speed and figure skating competitions. One national event could pay your overhead expenses for the year.
- Sell skates.
- Offer skating lessons, segmented into different age and/experience levels.
- Coach speed skating.
- Offer exercise classes that incorporate skating.
- Host roller derby events and market to roller derby teams in the area.
- Make it more of a recreational facility. You can offer arcade games, laser tag, and/or rock climbing. Some owners even install retracting basketball goals for basketball events, while others rent their space to cheerleading or volleyball teams. By doing research and identifying what your area is lacking, you can cater to the needs of your specific community.