Never old

Waiting for the "next big thing" to come along and make your LBE an instant success? It's been our industry experience that this is a recipe for disaster. A formula for greater success focuses on what's old - not on what's new.

Don't tell me what's new; tell me what's never old.
Henry David Thoreau

Great words of wisdom, especially for the location-based leisure (LBE) industry. Too often, we hear of start-up entrepreneurs and existing operators searching for the "next big thing" -- the latest technology or attraction -- that will make their business successful. Our observation of the industry is just the opposite: You build success on what's old, the evergreen attractions that are timeless. That lays the foundation, and then it's the execution of all the details that makes the difference.

When you look around at the more successful LBEs, those that have been around for a while, they built their concepts around evergreen attractions and then executed their business concepts with precision. Take concepts like pizza and games where Chuck E. Cheese's after 30 years and Peter Piper Pizza after 34 years are still highly successful on using the old - food and games. Or take a look at Dave and Buster's 25-year track record. Then there are new concepts built on the old. Main Event and Lucky Strike have both built very successful businesses based on bowling, billiards, food and drink.

The oldest elements of all are things that will never change -- people's needs to eat and to socialize. This includes families' and adults' needs to go out together and have a good time. All the businesses mentioned above have focused on these needs. Give consumers a great atmosphere with good food and drink and some evergreen attractions, and you have the basic formula for success (like Knuckleheads Bowling & Family Entertainment Center in the preceding story). Then it all comes down to the execution of details. That's what ultimately makes or breaks a business. (See this issue's story, Restaurant failures, the truth and reasons.)