One of the most common questions asked of us in the VR Arcade industry is this:
“How much throughput can you really have in a VR arcade?”
In other words, how quickly can you put a large amount of people through VR? The simple answer is, you can have large amounts, or you can have next to none. There are some very simple factors to determine how many customers you can put through your system in a specific amount of time.
It nearly all comes down to Time Management. As vague or general as that sounds, it’s actually very involved. And isn’t something we learned overnight.
Let’s break it down into a few key points:
1. Understanding the time-cost relationship
2. Customer psychographics
3. The “Sweet Spot” - Ideal amounts of gametime
1) Understanding the time-cost relationship
This is arguably the most important point. The more efficiently you can manage time and cost and understand their direct relationship, the better. For example, you wouldn't want to spend 10 minutes teaching someone a game they’ll be playing for 5 minutes. Conversely, you may want to spend some good time with a customer who just purchased an entire hour of gametime for themselves. Teach someone just enough for them to have a good, memorable time. This is not only key to using your time wisely as an employee, it’s also how you get return customers - which are extraordinarily common in this industry.
But on that note… Don't go overboard. People love to discover things for themselves, and if employees can teach customers just enough about a game to enable them to discover the rest in an intuitive manner, they are much more likely to return with their friends later.
So what does the first point really come down to? Employee proficiency. This may seem like common sense to some, but if your employees aren’t explicitly trained on this concept… Well, I’ve witnessed many employees making the very mistakes mentioned above, over and over again. I’ve seen this single concept make or break entire arcades. We’ll talk more about that in a later article, but employees need to know the games well enough to teach them efficiently. Yes, that means you’re going to need to allow employees to play the games every now and then. This isn’t always a bad thing, and can even be used for some decent marketing or advertising for passer-by traffic!
And one last thought - Spend the busy weekend hours focusing on getting large amounts of people through, and spend the slower weekday hours focusing on customer service and retention. In other words, weekends=quantity, weekdays=quality.
2) Customer Psychographics
If there was one thing we have noticed while working in VR arcades, it’s that our customers had a lot of similar habits and tendencies. They would ask the same questions, and they would all get hung up at the same spots in the same games.
Was this initially frustrating? Beyond measure. But over time, I learned how to utilize this knowledge to improve my store’s efficiency. If you know how someone is going to react and/or what problems they may encounter, then you know how to prepare for those problems and ensure the customer leaves happy. Nothing is worse than a customer getting into a game, completely forgetting the controls, and leaving your store unhappy. While there are reminders in-place with the PLVR system to help them out, that doesn’t compare to personal employee interaction, right?
Let me give an example: The Brookhaven Experiment. A wonderful game, a classic staple in most of our arcades. Its concept is simple enough - kill zombies until you die. However, I noticed that over 90% of customers specifically forgot how to reload their gun after I personally taught them. And when you get swarmed by zombies with an empty gun… you die. And you don’t die happy. Which results in a disappointed customer. So how did I overcome this? The solution was stupidly simple: I changed how I taught them. All I added was, “Alright, this is how you reload. Make sure you don’t forget this, because everyone forgets it. So don’t forget it.” Surprisingly enough, the percentage of people that forgot this control dropped from 90% to nearly 0%. And those customers had a noticeably better time.
Observe and learn. You’ll be glad you did.
3) The “Sweet Spot” - Ideal amounts of gametime
What’s better for your business, selling 1 hour to an individual for $35, or selling 5 minutes to 12 different individuals for $5 each? This is another incredibly important principle I’ve seen arcades simply eliminate the “5 minutes for $5” option because it doesn’t become very cost-effective. Other arcades don’t offer time over 30 minutes, because you’re cutting the customer too much of a deal with $35/hour or something similar.
The goal here is to find the “Sweet Spot” - the amount of time that is providing the most profit for the least effort. As was inferred before, spending a good length of time getting someone set up in an overly-complicated game they’ll play for 5 minutes is a bad idea. Not only will the customer become overwhelmed, but you’ll have wasted time, which almost directly correlates to money.
So what is the “Sweet Spot?” Well, it will vary, based on your location and what type of business you run (dedicated arcade vs. FEC, for example). From our experience, this spot falls between 15 and 20 minutes. That’s about the highest amount of time someone will pay full-price for before they begin expecting some sort of discount. It’s enough time to allow the customer to learn the controls, have a memorable experience, maybe even play a multiplayer game with a friend, and it gives the employee enough time to address other concerns in the arcade. The more time you’re able to sell around the Sweet Spot, the more efficiently and quickly you will bring in revenue.
Mark Twain once said, “If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got.” I wish more arcades (and people in general) would internalize this saying. If arcades and arcade owners would take the time to truly observe and learn from their facility and their customers (and even the employees), they would be able to increase their revenue almost immediately. Although I do not work firsthand in a VR arcade anymore, I still make it a priority to visit one several times a week. In the “high-and-mighty” office, it’s so easy to think you know what people want. Then you visit an arcade and are astonished when it’s something completely different. Always be observing.
There are numerous other items that contribute to a high throughput, and I could go on, but these 3 are the most crucial from my extensive experience. Others will be learned with time. I was still learning new ideas and improvements by the time I left my first arcade to help others.
With that being said, I’m full of ideas and suggestions for help. Everyone in this company is, because we’ve been around long enough to see what works. If you need further assistance making your system more profitable, we at Private Label VR are more than happy to help you. Feel free to contact us! Your success is our priority.
As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.