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How Much Does It Cost to Run a Bowling Alley?

We might not be able to state the exact amount you will need to run a bowling alley business because certain factors can influence the cost, but you should at least set aside about 35 percent of your initial startup cost.

For example, if you plan to open your bowling alley with a million dollars, then you need to set aside $350,000 as your running cost.

If you are planning to open a bowling alley business, your major concern should not be restricted to how much it will cost you to set up the business, but also how much it will cost to run the business. If you have an idea of how much it will cost you to run a bowling alley business, it will enable you to plan effectively.

In this article, we will look at several ongoing expenses that can influence the running cost of a bowling alley business. These ongoing expenses can be categorized into three main groups:

Operational Expenses

  1. Labor Costs

From available data, labour costs are usually the largest expense for bowling alleys, as they require a significant number of staff to operate and maintain the facilities, including the general manager, assistant manager, head mechanic, front desk staff, lane technicians, food and beverage manager, marketing coordinator, and administrative staff.

The average pay for workers in the entertainment and leisure industry in the United States is about $21.70 per hour and $45,000 per year.

It means that if you have 10 workers, you should look towards budgeting about $450,000 per year on labour costs. Note that it can be more, and it can be less.

  1. Utilities

A bowling alley consumes utilities such as electricity, HVAC systems, and electronic scoring systems. Water is used for restrooms and lane conditioning.

Costs vary based on location, size, and efficiency measures, but an average bowling alley might spend between $20,000 to $150,000 per month to take care of utility bills. Please note that the bigger your bowling alley facility the more you will spend on utilities.

  1. Maintenance and Repairs

Regular maintenance and repairs are major costs that can influence how much it will cost you to run a bowling alley facility yearly.

This is because the constant use of bowling alley facilities can lead to wear and tear, hence it will require regular maintenance and repairs. You are expected to effect maintenance and repair of lane machines, pinsetters, scoring systems, and bowling lanes.

Apart from that, maintaining your bowling alley facility may involve addressing issues in seating areas, flooring, lighting, and HVAC systems.

There is no fixed price on how much you can budget in this regard because the cost of these maintenance and repair activities can vary depending on the size and complexity of the bowling alley.

Available data shows that the average cost of maintenance and repair work in a bowling alley is between 5 to 10 percent of your total operational cost. That will translate to about $300,000 to $500,000 annually.

  1. Insurance

Generally, bowling alleys are at risk of various liabilities, such as accidents, injuries, and property damage. Insurance premiums can be significant to protect the business from these potential losses.

Note that the amount you should budget for insurance premiums will be dependent on the size of your bowling alley, and the risks the business is exposed to.

Averagely, in the United States bowling alleys usually pay about $9,500 annually in premiums, but liability insurance premium usually ranges between $1,000 to $50,000 annually.

So also, you should budget around $40,000 yearly for property insurance, and between $2,000 to $10,000 per year for workers’ compensation insurance.

  1. Marketing and Advertising

Marketing and advertising expenses are necessary for your bowling alley if indeed you want to attract visitors and generate revenue.

Of course, we cannot have a fixed cost on this because the cost of marketing and advertising the business will depend on the park’s location, target audience, and competitive landscape.

Even though you are at liberty to budget any amount for marketing and advertising a bowling alley, available reports show that most standard bowling alleys spend between $50,000 and $240,000 annually on marketing and advertising.

Fixed Costs

  1. Property Taxes and Rent

Under the fixed costs of running a bowling alley business is your budget for property taxes, and rent. In the United States, bowling alleys are often subjected to property taxes or rent payments for the land they occupy.

Of course, we may not be able to put a figure to these fixed costs, but it is certain that this cost can be substantial and can vary depending on the property value and local tax rates.

  1. Loan Payments

The only reason why this should not be part of your running cost is if you generated your startup capital without collecting any loan. But if the bowling alley was financed through a loan, the business would have regular loan payments to make.

Of course, your loan payments are a fixed cost that cannot be easily reduced, and it will depend on how much you loaned, and the payment package.

  1. Depreciation

Under your fixed cost, you should have your depreciation cost. This is important because, over time, your bowling alley facilities and equipment will depreciate. Depreciation is an accounting expense that reflects this decline in value and can impact the business’s profitability.

Key factors that can influence the depreciation value of a bowling alley include the age and condition of equipment, technological advancements affecting scoring systems, facility upgrades, and overall market demand. As rides and facilities age, their value decreases, necessitating periodic adjustments in financial statements.

Accurate depreciation accounting is vital for financial planning, reflecting the wear and tear of assets and aiding in the allocation of funds for future replacements or upgrades to maintain the park’s overall appeal and safety standards.

Other Expenses

  1. Supplies and Amenities

Part of the ongoing costs of a bowling alley that you can place under other expenses are your supplies and amenities costs.

Bowling alleys need to purchase a variety of supplies and amenities, such as bowling pins, bowling balls, lane oil, score sheets, cleaning supplies, shoes (rental), bowling shoes (for sale), pinsetter parts, replacement lane panels, and food and beverage inventory.

Of course, we cannot put a fixed figure to these costs, hence the cost of these supplies can vary depending on the bowling alley’s size and operational needs.

However, available data shows that average, a bowling alley spends between $150,000 to $300,000 per year on supplies and other materials.

  1. Professional Services

You cannot rule out the fact that a bowling alley may need to hire the services of professionals. Hence, the amount of your budget for professional services should be part of the running costs of your bowling alley.

Bowling alleys may need to hire professional services for various tasks, such as legal counsel, accounting, and IT support. The cost of these services can vary depending on the complexity of the park’s operations.

  1. Special Events and Tournament

Most bowling alleys usually organize special events and tournaments, and this can be grouped under “other expenses”. The fact that bowling alleys can host various special events and tournaments, such as themed parties, cosmic bowling nights, corporate team-building events, leagues, charity fundraisers, and competitive tournaments to attract additional visitors means that there should be a budget for this.

We cannot put a figure to how much a bowling alley can spend on special events and programs because the cost of these events can vary depending on the scope of the activities and the number of participants.