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Old 05-17-2013, 08:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Field Owners: What are your days of operation?

There's a new field opening in my area (backwater, Alaska) and while I'm not associated with them in any way (not an owner, investor, operator or employee) I have been offering what advice and technical expertise I can.

Occasionally, however, we get into a bit of disagreement; the main bit at the moment is basically when should they be open.

It's my impression that they should focus, at least at the beginning, on being open just one day of the weekend, typically meaning Saturday. They think there's enough demand that they want to be open Saturday and Sunday, as well as occasionally even on Fridays.

For my side of the argument, this is a pretty small area, maybe 15K total population in a 50-ish mile radius. That's not a big market to pull from in the first place, and from my admittedly long-ago experience running a field, it's better to have, say, 12 people on Saturday, rather than 8 on Saturday and 4 on Sunday. (And we virtually never had anyone show on non-weekend days, when we'd try that.)

For their side, they say they're getting lots of positive responses from people, and thanks to things like Facebook and Craigslist (which didn't exist back when I ran a field) they can advertise better and more widely than we could.

I can see both sides of the issue, and I am by no means convinced I'm "right". I would love to see enough interest for them to be open all weekend, but I'm also afraid they might be setting themselves up for a fall by overextending on time, effort and materials.

So let's gather a bit more data; tell me about your local field. One, what's a rough population size for your area.

Two, how big and organized is the field. (In other words, is it just a couple acres of old tires out behind Bobby's cow pasture, or is it forty acres of concept fields with paved parking and a real brick-and-mortar pro-shop/office?)

Three, how often are they open? Just Saturdays? Saturday and Sunday? All week? Do they have occasional weekday games?

Four, what's an average number of players per day? Ten? Eighty? Eight per field and there's four fields?

And as a bonus, as a player, what do you prefer? Saturdays? Sundays? Would you play both days if the field was open? Would you play, say, a Friday afternoon/evening game instead of (as an example) going to a movie or to the bar? (This is a small town area- one of the owners says a Friday afternoon opening would give people something to do. I think they already have something to do, and it's not paintball. )

Doc.
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Old 05-17-2013, 09:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Fridays are a bad idea, but I think Sat. and Sun. is the correct option for most fields. If the turnout is really that bad, they should then change their business model to Saturdays only.
Open play doesn't really make or break most PB fields anyways, the key is whether or not the population is big enough to draw large private rental groups.
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Many of the fields down here only do private groups, with an open walk-on day once a month (usually on a Sunday). I haven't played yet here in Dunedin (only moved here in January), but near Wellington (pop. nearly 400k) there was one reasonably big operation (five fields of different types) and two or three other smaller fields that all worked on this model.

Edit: I should add that the open day at the big field drew 20-60 gun owners, plus some additional renters. I never went to the smaller fields (for some reason they all did their open days on the same Sunday of each month) so I'm not sure what numbers they drew.
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Doc,
My experience is about as out dated as yours is but Here in backwater South Dakota my population was about the same within 50 miles. I would start by being open only on Saturday. Then make other days open ONLY with prepayment of field fee. I have had arguments with many local field owners about prepayments but everyone I could get to follow my advice agreed that it worked. Raise the field fee $10 to 15 and then offer a $10 or 15 discount for prepayments. I even made this the only to get a discount. The field owner can decide if he will allow non prepaid people to play ( I did).
I am sure you found much like me that no matter who you were talking to, if 20 people said they would be out to play on a given day, if they were not prepaid you could count on over half not showing up. This is the thing that most new field owners do not want to believe but it was consistently true for the 13 years I was open. Another thing most owners don't want to hear, but I am sure you saw too, is that 75% of those who excitedly encourage you to start so they can play will never show up.
In my early years many of my games were 8 to14 people total, and I had many days when nobody showed up at all (prepayment ended that). Later on I could count on 25-40 players both days of the weekend but it took several years to build enough customer base for that to happen.
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I've dealt with canadians several times and I usually undercharge by 2-5 dollars cause I feel bad for them sometimes. Just my 2cents.

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Old 05-18-2013, 02:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I am sure you found much like me that no matter who you were talking to, if 20 people said they would be out to play on a given day, if they were not prepaid you could count on over half not showing up.
-Oh yeah. That was a running gag when my place was open... Talk to fifteen people, ten will say they'll be there, five will actually show up.

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Old 05-18-2013, 08:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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-Oh yeah. That was a running gag when my place was open... Talk to fifteen people, ten will say they'll be there, five will actually show up.

Doc.
That's the problem with the fields around me. The always plan these awesome games and such but they never consult me beforehand about the date. Then they go and advertise it on a day I have to work! :P
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Old 05-18-2013, 10:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
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We're open Saturdays and Sundays and on weekday sonly if we get enough prepaid players in advance. When we first started many years ago, we had no official open times and only opened when we had enough customers. We tood deposits right from the start and offered a discount when people paid the deposit. This really does help to know who is serious about coming. People are flakey and without a deposit, many, many who say they are going to come, don't come.

Being open and not having enough players for a decent game sucks for the owner because he's going to lose money but also sucks for those that do show up. They won't have as much fun and feel they wasted their time and money leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth. As a business owner, you don't want that. So in my opinion, with a new field and small population base and an unestablished clientelle, there is no way I would consider being open every Saturday and Sunday and hope enough people show up.
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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but also sucks for those that do show up. They won't have as much fun and feel they wasted their time and money leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth. As a business owner, you don't want that. So in my opinion, with a new field and small population base and an unestablished clientelle, there is no way I would consider being open every Saturday and Sunday and hope enough people show up.
This is absolutely correct!
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I've dealt with canadians several times and I usually undercharge by 2-5 dollars cause I feel bad for them sometimes. Just my 2cents.

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Old 05-19-2013, 08:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm going to go the other way on this, mostly just as Devil's Advocate.

The owner is asking for your advice, but ultimately it's (their) money, time, and effort. If they are any manner of smart and have a real business plan then (they) should have enough capital to cover operations for (x amount) time till revenue comes in. Given that they have such a cheery outlook on the affect social media will have in an area with such a small population, let them see what happens.
If nothing else, they loose their *** for a while and cut back to operating hours that will sustain them, or close. And in the meantime you have a wordless I told you so card without being to blame for anything.
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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With such a small town I would only be open on sat to start with. Then if it picks up be open on sun. Do private games whenever customer's wants them.

I live in a area with a lot more people then your area (Pensacola, FL) and Sundays are dead compared to Saturdays. Sat we get about 30-45 and Sundays we get about 10-15. The type of field is a bit between your description its a few acres big with 2 small forts, trenches and random crap thrown and built between. It also has a speedball course as well. reason why Sunday is always dead is because everyone's in church and in smaller rual areas a bigger percentage of people attend church compared to lager cities.

When I go to Orlando to visit my family I always play there and they have fields open 7 days a week with proper pro shops, hell they have one that's open 24hrs on Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate the drunks getting out of the clubs and bars lol. But that's Orlando lol
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