A pool hall can serve as more than an entertainment venue in rural communities and small cities. Pool halls are places where friends can chat over drinks, billiard players can hone their skills, and birthday parties can be held at relatively low prices. The reputations that pool halls have gained as dens of bad behavior apply to a minority of establishments with inattentive owners. Your pool hall can be a central meeting place for the entire community if you keep a close eye on your clientele, pool tables and daily revenues.
Observe local and state laws dictating liquor licensing to keep your pool hall running. Post your hall's liquor license in a prominent place to show your qualifications to police officers, inspectors and customers. Reinforce rules against underage drinking and overserving adults with bartenders before starting each shift.
Request maintenance quotes from pool and arcade game suppliers like Rockwell Billiards when installing new tables. Look for a billiards supplier that offers service packages for table repair, felt replacement and periodic checkups to get the best value for your investment. If you rent tables and games from a vending machine company, ask their percentage of monthly revenues to protect your profits from undue service charges.
Recruit part-time bartenders, maintenance workers and wait staff to keep your pool hall's overhead costs low. Your bartenders and wait staff should be capable of switching jobs when necessary to account for high staff turnover at pool halls. Maintenance workers will be asked to clean, make basic repairs to equipment and maintain the hall's exterior to attract customers.
Invest early revenues in an alarm system for your pool hall to protect equipment, bar supplies and nightly earnings. Brinks Business Security offers security cameras, burglar alarms and remote security monitoring that are ideal for pool halls. Work with a local security company to hire event security and guards for your pool hall during tournaments, teen dances and other events.
Create a modest menu of beers, alcohol and snack foods for your pool hall in consultation with your bar supplier. Focus on popular beer and drink options as well as finger foods like pizza and peanuts when developing your menu. Use an online supplier database like Food Master to find alcohol and food suppliers in your area that can keep your bar supplied each month.
Organize billiards, darts and arcade tournaments every month to generate buzz for your pool hall. Promote these tournaments with quick spots on local radio and print ads every month until your pool hall is known among active billiards players. Ask players to provide small entry fees with the chance to win the grand prize consisting of collected entry fees minus your cut.
Collect quarters from your coin-operated pool tables, arcade games and pinball machines several times each day. Regular collections will deter potential thieves from trying to break into machines and make breaking paper money into change possible. Gather multiple collections in your back office for an end-of-day deposit at your bank.
Keep billiards players entertained between shots with TVs and a jukebox in your pool hall. Satellite and cable operators offer special monthly rates for businesses to outfit multiple TVs with sports, sitcoms and news channels. Request a mixture of classic rock, country and newer pop songs from your jukebox supplier to reach multiple age groups at your pool hall.
Attract parents to your pool hall by offering activities and events for patrons under 21 years old. Your pool hall can host under-21 dances, billiards games and arcade tournaments to give kids a place to hang out and spend their money. The initial expenses of trophies, event staff and free drinks can be made up through the money spent by parents playing billiards and drinking.
Work closely with your landlord and neighboring businesses to address concerns about noise, parking and patron behavior. Landlords offering their spaces to pool hall owners may include termination provisions in their leases for police calls, poor behavior by patrons and failure to maintain properties. A pool hall that hosts more fights than billiards tournaments will earn a bad reputation with local businesses and consumers.
- Photo by Josh Dionne (Flickr)