Need to attract more customers to your business and breathe new life into your bottom line? Miniature golf might be just the ticket.
For many businesses, adding a mini golf course can help drive traffic to your door and rejuvenate your bottom line. At Harris Miniature Golf Courses, Inc., we have seen mini golf revitalize all kinds of businesses, from traditional family attractions like ice cream stands, campgrounds and driving ranges to restaurants, car washes and even a furniture store. In fact, more than half the courses we design and build are add-ons to existing attractions and businesses.
A beautifully designed mini golf course creates curb appeal and draws attention to your existing business. Curb appeal means more walk-in traffic, and more walk-in traffic means more sales. For businesses that rely heavily on group sales, such as bowling alleys and skating rinks, a mini golf course can be a huge boost. It also creates buzz in your community, demonstrates that you are reinvesting in your business and gives people more reasons to come.
In the case of campgrounds, for instance, a mini golf course is the second most requested amenity behind a swimming pool, so customers will always choose a campground that has mini golf over one that doesn’t. For a family restaurant, a mini golf course means families can enjoy a whole evening of family fun in one place.
Without exception, our customers’ businesses have benefited by the addition of a mini golf course. One of our customers, Tom Kerber, owner of Kerber Dairy, saw a 40 percent jump in ice cream sales by adding a mini golf course, and the course paid for itself within two years. “Adding miniature golf to our 50-year-old family business was the best decision we could have made,” he said.
Mini Golf Profits Often Trump Existing Business
Many of our customers say profits from their mini golf courses far surpass profits from other areas of their businesses. “We have seven attractions and miniature golf is, by far, the most profitable,” said Mark Blasko, owner of Chuckster’s. “I wish I had built a miniature golf course first and stopped.”
Mini golf is a natural add-on for many family recreation businesses. We have designed and built courses for campgrounds, family parks, go-cart tracks, bowling alleys, batting cages, driving ranges, roller rinks and arcades, to name a few. But we have also added them to family-owned grocery stores, strip malls, pizza parlors, car washes and even a furniture store.
The feedback from customers who have added mini golf to their existing businesses has been overwhelmingly positive. Most of them said the addition of mini golf was a worthwhile investment, and found that the course paid for itself in a year or two. Our furniture store owner, who was nearing retirement, told us he wished he had built his mini golf course earlier because the business was so much fun to operate and so profitable.
Existing Businesses Have a Leg Up
In contrast to miniature golf course startups, existing business owners have a leg up. They have an existing customer base and already own land that is zoned for commercial purposes. They have existing infrastructure like buildings, parking lots, utilities and lighting, existing staff and established channels for marketing and promotion.
If you own an existing attraction or business and are interested in adding a mini golf course, we recommend a minimum of 15,000 to 22,000 square feet of property for an 18-hole course. While prices may vary depending on the developer, the average total investment for one of our beautifully designed courses is between $200,000 and $300,000.
Why Mini Golf?
While there are lots of family business opportunities out there, few are as profitable as miniature golf. More than 130 million people play mini golf every year with industry revenues in excess of $1 billion annually. From small children to senior citizens, mini golf appeals to players of all ages.
Depending on location, mini golf can be a seasonal business. It also carries low overhead (usually one minimum-wage staff person to collect fees) and requires a small inventory of clubs, balls and scorecards. In addition, liability insurance is relatively inexpensive. While payback time varies depending on the course design, location and project scope, many of our customers recoup their initial investment within the first 18 months of operation. However, it is important to note that the most successful courses are in good locations, wellrun and marketed aggressively.
Choosing the Right Developer
As we always say, mistakes cost money. Choosing the right developer for your mini golf course is critical to your project’s long term success. Just b cause a contractor can pour concrete doesn’t mean he can build a miniature golf course. Make sure the company has designers who are experts at designing miniature golf courses, not just general architects and/or engineers. A course that is visually attractive and fun to play will keep customers coming back. In many areas, contractors won’t have construction crews available during the peak spring and early summer construction seasons when you will be building your course. Every day waiting for a construction crew is another day you aren’t making money.
Make sure your developer is fully licensed, bonded and insured. Hiring an unlicensed contractor may limit your legal recourse in a claim for nonperformance, and may result in fines and other penalties. Make sure your developer will meet all of your state’s licensing requirements, is financially capable of completing your project, and will assume all liability in the event someone on the construction crew gets hurt during the building process.
Your developer should also make sure your project complies with local zoning and land-use regulations. If a problem arises and something in the course design needs to be changed, you need a developer that can turn around a revised blueprint within 24 hours, so your project stays on time and on budget.
Consider Miniature Golf
If you are in the family entertainment industry, and even if you’re not, there’s a good chance that mini golf can breathe new life into your business. If you are interested in exploring miniature golf opportunities further, seek out additional information from a professional developer like Harris. Take a long, hard look at your existing business, run the numbers and see if mini golf makes sense for you.