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How to Start Up a Tenpin Bowling Centre

Updated March 23, 2017

Bowling remains a popular leisure activity for people of all ages. Equipped with arcades, pool tables, darts, lounges and lanes, bowling centres are a fun and relatively inexpensive way for seniors, families and young people to pass the time. However, they're also costly to construct. Each lane may cost about £3,900. If building your centre from the ground up, you may need as much as £0.6 million. Instead, look for an existing centre to significantly reduce your costs.

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  1. Write a business plan. You'll need a good deal of capital to get your tenpin bowling centre up and running. To procure that capital, you'll need a thorough business plan that you can present to investors and financiers. In the plan, prove there is a demand for your bowling centre. If your area is saturated with bowling alleys, visit each one and identify how yours will differ. You might target a different crowd, offer more family-friendly events or singles nights, offer a smoking section or prohibit smoking to set your establishment apart.

  2. Find a high-visibility location. Save thousands on building permits and construction costs by moving into a closed bowling centre. Hire a licensed contractor who knows your city's building code regulations to help you renovate your building. If the renovations are significant, you must submit building plans and receive approval before altering your bowling centre. Before submitting building plans, you'll need to obtain a business license. If your lanes are in bad shape, find a contractor who specialises in constructing bowling centres to replace your lanes. Update scoring systems with more convenient and integrated systems.

  3. Hire an interior design or commission savvy friends and family members to help you select a theme and design your bowling centre.

  4. Contact your health department and set up an inspection of your cafe. Apply for your liquor license if you plan to sell alcoholic beverages.

  5. Hire cooks and wait staff for your cafe, as well as a team to service the lanes and work the cash wrap. Ensure each carries a food handler's permit. Create a menu of popular comfort foods. Visit local meat, produce and dairy farmers. Sticking with local suppliers is a great way to get your name out into the community and garner additional business.

  6. Purchase or rent arcade games and vending machines. Purchase additional equipment and supplies: quality bowling shoes in a variety of sizes, pool tables, stools, tables, chairs, refrigeration, kitchen equipment, bumpers, bowling balls, pins, bowling ball racks and benches.

  7. Tip

    Purchase liability insurance. Contact your local news and radio stations to inform them of your grand opening. Offer a smoking area. With more businesses making measures to restrict smokers from lighting up indoors, being the only business in town to offer a smoking section is a great way to reel in smokers and friends of smokers. Offer league bowling and cosmic bowling. Have family night discounts. Give discounts to college students and military members, which may be your No. 1 clientele. If room allows, set up a pro shop and sell bowling bags and bowling attire.

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Things You'll Need

  • Liability insurance
  • Business license
  • Zoning approval
  • Building permit
  • Liquor license
  • Food establishment permit
  • Lanes
  • Bowling balls
  • Furniture
  • Cook
  • Menu

About the Author

Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.

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