Opening a New Snooker Club
With all the snooker club closures nowadays it’s certainly refreshing when we hear of new snooker clubs opening. There are many reasons why snooker clubs have closed over the last few years or have become less popular. I guess we should take a look at a few of these before we consider what a new snooker club may need to stand a good chance of success.
Why do Snooker Clubs Close?
Without getting too deep, we have to accept that snooker in the 1980’s was insanely popular and it will always be measured against this period by people who experienced it’s rapid growth. At that time, pubs and clubs were all regularly packed as it was a way of life. Working class people frequented social clubs and there were many Gentlemen’s clubs, Conservative clubs and British Legions. The sheer quantity of cinema’s at this time meant that some would sit empty for a while and those vacant were quickly snapped up because of their size and shape; certainly a no brainer as they were very easy to convert to a snooker club.
Rising alcohol costs in pubs and clubs, the emergence of home computing games and a couple of recessions thrown in has made staying at home a growing culture. It’s been tough for snooker clubs over the last 30 years and the lack of consistent and adequate income has contributed to many of them now disappearing from our local communities.
Without getting too deep, the maths just didn’t add up in a large establishment when you couldn’t sell major table time or sufficient alcohol to pay the bills.
With that said, the game is certainly making it’s mark more and more in Asia and the sport is growing globally even if it is struggling to match previous successes in the UK.
So, if you are keen and want to open a new snooker club, we have tried to put together a few ideas to consider that may help you out in your thought process. If you have more ideas of your own then please feel free to post us an email and they will be added to the list and hopefully will provide some foundations to those contributing to sustaining this great game.
Opening a New Snooker Club
When considering opening a new snooker club, firstly, you really need to find a premise that ticks as many boxes as possible with the least amount of effort, why not consider some of the following:
- When opening a new snooker club, it must be somewhere that is easily accessible
- Snooker clubs close to town centre’s will attract people later at night
- Existing Building’s
- Function room to provide some addition income
- Is there potential expansion into other areas of the building if possible
- A lounge area so people can watch tv and have a chat away from the snooker room
- Hopefully you will have a waiting list for tables so the customers can wait here
- Either an old snooker club or a cinema would be a popular choice and a lot easier to convert
- Choose a building that already has parking for your visitors or this will be a problem
Advertising Your New Snooker Club
- Create a Snooker Club Facebook page to keep everyone up to date
- Ensure you start a Facebook page well in advance of the opening date so you can build traffic and update potential customers on progress
- Create a ‘Google my business’ page and a Google plus page as these are free
- Only start a website if you can do this with reasonable costs to start with
- Create a poster and place it in every hall, club and community centre in the immediate area
- When opening a new snooker club, you must get it in the local newspaper
- Take out an advert on the local leagues home page for a period of time
- Buy those plastic 4×2 posters with your club details on and tie it to the railings of the busiest roundabout (they are cheap). Always put them on with those electrical tie tags as they are very difficult get off by any idiots!
- Approach all local companies with bulk membership discount rates
- Approach larger local companies to have an events evening using all the facilities
- Ensure that when someone types in your town and snooker club that you are all over the top results!
- Register your snooker club in as many directories as you can. Directories mostly have a free listing so don’t pay anyone as you don’t need to. Here’s an example of 30 free listings – click here – They may ring you to confirm details and upgrade you but don’t sign up for upgrades as you don’t need to.
Identify Specifically what Pays the Bills (and where you can save money)…
- Before opening a new snooker club, you must identify all fixed and potential costs
- Try and drill all costs down to an hourly rate so you can identify what earnings are required to pay them
- e.g. annual costs to be divided by 52 weeks and then the amount of hours you are open in a week
- What pulls the money in?
- Alcohol – clubs without alcohol will struggle unless they have top notch income plan
- High margin simple food – simple means staff can do this and the bar area in addition when required
- Fruit machines – these continue to be very popular and pull in a regular income
- Correctly priced tables – If you can off-set most of your bills with table income you will be halfway there
- Work out what you need to sell a week in table time to off-set most bills
- Sell various bulk times to members so they get a discount and you get financial commitment
- Sell a few annual bulk table times so you get commitments from regular players
- Single player table rates attract people for solo practice
- Function rooms – A well organised function room is not only good for regular income but advertises what the club has to offer to all the people attending the function
- Get a commercial company in to save energy costs (this can be critical and the savings can be immense).
- Here is an example of a company that can look into this – click here
- Ensure your heating and lighting systems are energy efficient
- If warm air systems are used then they have a quick heat up time so can be left off when the club is empty but are quick to heat up when turned on
- Here is an example of a company that can look into this – click here
Getting the Club off the Ground
When opening a new snooker club, you will need to give something up to entice your initial customers in!
- Do 2 hours of free snooker for the first couple of days of the launch date to get interest from local club players so they can see what all the fuss is about and compare it to their existing clubs
- Do free hours for the 50th, 100th, 150th member to join and advertise the winners on Facebook
- There will probably be spare tables at the beginning, winners can redeem their hours at less popular times
- Invite a snooker pro or an ex snooker pro to the launch day
- Do a quick advert on the local leagues home and results page with your opening day and offers available
- It will be tough without alcohol as this sells for good margins
- Simple and reasonably priced food (costs to prepare are low if you utilise a simple menu)
- Ensure you have reasonably priced soft drinks for your younger members
- Consider discounts for pensioners
- On the less popular days do package deals:
- All day snooker with dinner
- Half day session with dinner
- Include kids dinners in these as they are likely to take them up at half terms
Recruit the Right Staff
- When opening a new snooker club, look for upbeat snooker loving staff
- Preferably with a previous knowledge of working a club
- Ensure staff are prepared to cover additional hours or other shift patterns
- Use a staff rota to cover hours
- Employ full and part time staff to reduce costs (or all part time if possible)
- Ensure you are involved and know every function to run the club as you may have to cover sickness / holidays
Quality and Equipment
- When opening a new snooker club, try and ensure tables are brushed and blocked as a minimum every day
- Take advise from a table fitter as to how often to iron each table dependent on their cloth
- Make sure you strive for a quality establishment or it will quickly turn into a spit and sawdust one
- Make sure each table has adequate equipment
- Ensure food is not consumed at the tables or the cloths will be a haven for grease and crumbs
- If you have a couple of the best tables in the league with a reasonable snooker area this may attract league finals, competitions and professional player challenge matches
- Ensure there are a selection of in house snooker cues that are suitably tipped
- Poker evenings are popular in many snooker clubs
- Ensure you have a couple of quality darts boards and an area where a team may play in the league
- Decent pool tables will enable people to practice and take part in a local league
- Satellite TV
- Music in the days
- Sports events in the evenings
- Advertise on your Facebook page for every Premiership game (or local pro team)
- Boxing and MMA events etc are also popular
People need to feel part of something so ensure you celebrate every little success. Consider some of the following:
- Use your Facebook page for all updates, very easy to use and utlised by most people nowadays
- Ensure your club page is a public one and not a group so everyone can read it
- If you have multiple social media outlets then consider something like Buffer as you write one post and it updates all of them in one go
- When opening a new snooker club, ensure you use a noticeboard by the door or the bar so that people can plan for upcoming events
- Use a high break board as everyone wants to get on it (pegboards are the best type)
Get People Committed…..and in a habit
- Enter local snooker teams in the league
- Run regular in house individual snooker leagues
- Run over 50’s snooker competitions on the day for retired people (the days should be less popular and many have that time spare)
- Ensure you start a junior section
- Consider half term snooker competitions
- Saturday competitions every week
- Coaching sessions one evening a week (not on a league night)
- Home grow your snooker talent to provide regular income
- Check this junior set up success out as an example of how to grow a junior section – click here
- Employ the services of an in house snooker pro if possible
- Utilise the services of a qualified (WPBSA) snooker coach – click here
- Run lots of individual competitions – click here for some example entry sheets
- Ensure you run amateur scratch and handicap competitions to entice all standards of player
- Look at doing various age group tournaments and seeing if there are any already running in local clubs; get some ideas from this one which is very popular – click here
- Get into the local schools and community and organise events; the WPBSA run a short course which will help provide some pointers – click here
Apply the same thinking for the snooker to your darts, pool, 9 ball, poker sections. When opening a new snooker club, I would seriously consider trying to find interested parties to run each section as they become more popular. If you have retired people to run some sections they generally really commit to it’s success if they used to running things in their previous working lives.
What else should you consider?
- When opening a new snooker club, talk to other snooker clubs across the country to see what makes them successful; they will probably discuss it as you aren’t local
- Try and find people on snooker forums who have had to shut snooker clubs and find out what the main causes were
- Set your club up as a limited company – clubs are hard enough to run nowadays without risking everything!
- Purchase the financial details of other snooker clubs that are limited companies to get an idea of costs (especially fuel)
- This will help you confirm some of your fixed costs
- Lottery funding – consider this as an option as if the club will help toward bringing people together and enhancing communities then it is worth considering
- Try and trade services for table time if possible e.g.
- Facebook pages, websites, painting, plumbing, advertising etc. etc.
Here is an example of a newly opened club’s Facebook page – click here
Still considering opening a new snooker club?
Hopefully this article has helped highlight a few ideas so you can go through with your project and help grow this great game. If you have anything that you think may be useful to add then please don’t hesitate to contact us by using our ‘Contact Us’ page.