Carrie Sagel | CEO
Atlanta Movie Tours
Q: Why did you start your business?
A: I was giving tours of filming locations to friends visiting Atlanta, when The Walking Dead started up that started to be a focus. Our co-founder, Patti Davis, invited me to a dinner in January, 2012 and we started talking about this, she said we needed to do this as a business and the rest was history. Fast forward 5 years later and we have about 10 different tours, 4 based on The Walking Dead, a retail shop in Castleberry Hill in Downtown Atlanta, we are #2 on TripAdvisor and we were recently named one of the Georgia Small Business Rockstars for 2017.
Q: What are some key factors or decisions that contributed to the success of your business?
A: We started with the idea that we wanted the experience to be as first-hand as possible and decided the guides needed to have industry experience. Georgia is in the top 3 for filming so we have a lot of folks who have been extras and in other roles that are perfect for this gig. We built a great team who is now more like a family and that’s felt in the tours and overall experience and therefore is reflected in the reviews. Making the decision to move into a retail space was pretty easy and there was a convenient spot in Castleberry Hill, which is truly Atlanta’s “backlot” as just about every production comes through here.
Q: What are some challenging aspects of your business?
A: Getting used to the expenses as they relate to profits and finding the balance and perfect budget are key so, as most small businesses face, financial concerns and ensuring we have the funds to run and grow is key. Working on better budgeting, putting profits first and focusing on the bigger picture of how to maximize those profits has put us on track for overcoming the feast-or-famine cycle. Our growth was pretty extreme and it’s still very positive and aggressive, but there’s so much more we can do so staying focused and intentional on specific goals helps.
Q: Do you feel you made any serious mistakes as you were starting or growing your business? Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
A: Absolutely! I would have spent much more time on the overall budgeting in the beginning to maximize profits and help keep my sanity when the famine cycle hits, which is inevitable. We worked a lot with the GA Small Business Development Center to get things in a great place, but just need to build more on that and really consider profits first. In the beginning we had zero knowledge of the tourism industry, especially as it relates to film so the learning curve was pretty steep. Atlanta is also a unique tourism spot where it’s constantly changing and growing as a destination rather than a pass-through so growing and learning with that is also happening on a regular basis.
Q: What other advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
A: Always be willing to learn and grow! You don’t know what you don’t know and if you ask questions you’ll find that you not only grow your business, but you grow as a person and business leader.
About Atlanta Movie Tours
We are the leading movie location tour company in Metro Atlanta and are excited to show travelers and locals alike all the great streets, neighborhoods and businesses that make up what you see on film. The booming entertainment industry here in Georgia isn’t just a passing fad it’s the new norm and we bring the excitement of the industry to the fans.
"Fast forward 5 years later and we have about 10 different tours, 4 based on The Walking Dead, a retail shop in Castleberry Hill in Downtown Atlanta, we are #2 on TripAdvisor and we were recently named one of the Georgia Small Business Rockstars for 2017."—Carrie Sagel