Saturday, November 26, 2016

Where Do We Go From Here?

With construction complete, our new game center sits at around 2,000 square feet with 121 seats, double what we had before. It's really more than double, since that 121 is 121 civilized, fire inspector approved seats, with plenty of room to move around. That's what struck me once we had the tables and chairs put in. So the question some might ask (including me) is where do we go next?

The answer is nowhere. Part of the construction included a seven year lease extension. Seven years is a huge number of years. When I was 18 I turned down the Marine Corps because they changed their program from a four year program to a six year program. Who knows where they'll be in six years? Well, I know. After that seven year lease, we'll have another five year option. Personally, I will have just spent a bunch of money putting a kid through college at this point and I'll be eyeing retirement.

Lets forget about after for a moment. What does a store like ours do for the next 7-12 years? A sentence strikingly similar to armed robbery? We mostly do a lot of behind the scenes boring stuff, which includes paying off our construction loans as quickly as possible. There are no big plans while we have a couple thousand dollars a month of loan payments. We need to get rid of those, along with a lot of what I call "running debt" that will hopefully go away by the end of next month.

As we get the loans paid off or we comfortably grow into our new economic reality (we make more money because we invested in the space), it's likely the first thing we'll do is increase inventory. We've been increasing inventory about 10% a year for many years now and it's an economic engine that results in increased sales each year of around ... wait for it ... 10%.  I think we could easily double our offerings right now, without any more thoughts of expansion. We could spend six figures on new games without blinking. So that's a solid plan going forward.

Once the loans are gone, common sense will likely get thrown out the window and I'll fantasize about things like coffee shops, second stores (bought or started), and other boondoggles, but really, that's years down the road and a lot can change by then. For now we're trying to get our events dialed in, transition staff from part time to full time (over the next couple of years), and work on running the store like a grown up business, rather than the seat of the pants start-up mentality we've always had (a profitable model with a lot of missed opportunities).

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