Business ideas
8 min read

How to Start a Profitable Pool Hall Business [11 Steps]

Learn how to start a profitable pool hall business with our 11+ step guide. From location to marketing, we cover all the essential aspects. Keywords: pool hall, business, profitable, guide.

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 02, 2024

image of a pool hall business
This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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1. Perform market analysis.

Embarking on the journey of starting a pool hall business requires a thorough understanding of the market. A comprehensive market analysis is crucial for gauging customer demand, scoping out competition, and identifying potential challenges and opportunities. Here's how to perform an effective market analysis:

  • Research the local demographic: Identify the age, income levels, and leisure interests of the population in your targeted area to ensure there's a customer base for your pool hall.
  • Analyze competitors: Visit nearby pool halls and entertainment venues to understand their offerings, pricing, and customer experience. Assess what you can do differently or better.
  • Understand industry trends: Look into national and regional trends in the entertainment and leisure industry, particularly those relating to pool and billiards.
  • Estimate market size: Calculate the number of potential customers by considering the population of your target area and the prevalence of pool players within that population.
  • Assess the regulatory environment: Investigate any zoning laws, licensing requirements, and other regulations that could affect your pool hall business.
  • Survey potential customers: Collect feedback through surveys or focus groups to understand what features, services, and experiences customers would value in a pool hall.
image of a pool hall business

Are pool hall businesses profitable?

Yes, pool hall businesses can be profitable if they are managed well, have a good location and customer base, keep costs down and have a competitive pricing strategy.

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2. Draft a pool hall business plan.

Creating a comprehensive business plan is a crucial step when starting a pool hall. It serves as a roadmap for your business's financial health, growth, and operational strategy. Here's a guide to help you draft an effective business plan:

  • Begin with an executive summary that encapsulates your pool hall's vision, mission, and key selling points.
  • Describe your business structure, ownership, and the legal considerations pertinent to your pool hall.
  • Perform a market analysis to identify your target demographic, competition, and market needs.
  • Outline your services, including the number of pool tables, additional entertainment options, and any unique offerings.
  • Develop a marketing plan detailing how you will attract and retain customers through advertising, promotions, and community involvement.
  • Present a thorough financial plan, including startup costs, projected income, expenses, and profitability analysis.
  • Detail your operational plan, addressing staffing needs, supplier relationships, equipment maintenance, and day-to-day management.
  • Include an appendix with any supporting documents, such as resumes of key personnel, legal documents, and detailed financial forecasts.

How does a pool hall business make money?

Pool hall businesses generate income through services such as billiards, food and drinks. Customers pay for access to the pool tables, purchase food and drinks from the bar, and may compete in tournaments for entry fees. An ideal target audience for a pool hall business is young adults aged 18-35 who enjoy socializing and competing in games of billiards. Furthermore, hosting pool tournaments can also be a great way to attract potential customers while also providing additional income for the business.

3. Develop a pool hall brand.

Developing a strong brand for your pool hall is essential to stand out in the market and attract your target audience. Your brand encompasses your hall's identity, from its visual elements to the experience you offer. Consider the following points to create a cohesive and appealing brand:

  • Define Your Brand Personality: Choose a personality that resonates with your target demographic, whether it's upscale and sophisticated, retro and nostalgic, or energetic and modern.
  • Create a Memorable Name and Logo: The name should be catchy and the logo visually striking, making them easily recognizable and reflective of your pool hall's character.
  • Select a Theme and Decor: The theme should align with your brand personality and be consistently applied throughout the decor, music, and even staff uniforms to provide a unique and immersive experience.
  • Develop a Brand Message: Craft a clear message that communicates what your pool hall stands for and what customers can expect, differentiating you from competitors.
  • Consistency Across Platforms: Ensure your branding is uniform across all customer touchpoints, including your physical location, website, social media, and advertising materials.
  • Engage with Your Community: Build brand loyalty by engaging with your local community, sponsoring events, and creating partnerships that elevate your pool hall's presence and reputation.

How to come up with a name for your pool hall business?

Brainstorming a creative and unique name for your pool hall business can be a fun and exciting process. Begin by thinking of what you want your business to represent, such as the location, the type of customers you want to attract, and the atmosphere you want to create. Once you have established this, start jotting down ideas that come to mind. Consider combining words, such as ‘Lucky Break’ or ‘Spare Time’. You could even use a phrase from your favorite movie or song. Additionally, using online tools like the Thesaurus can help you generate ideas for different words related to your vision. Finally, research your area and make sure that no other businesses have already taken the name you’re considering. After completing all this research, select the name that best encapsulates the identity and mission of your pool hall business.

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4. Formalize your business registration.

Formalizing your business registration is a crucial step in making your pool hall venture official and legally compliant. This process will vary depending on your location, but it typically involves registering with local and state authorities. Here's a guide to help you navigate this stage:

  • Choose your business structure (e.g., Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation) and ensure it aligns with your long-term business goals.
  • Register your business name through your local county clerk's office or state government, ensuring it is unique and not already in use.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax purposes, especially if you plan to hire employees.
  • Register for state taxes that may apply to your business, such as sales tax or unemployment insurance tax.
  • Apply for any required local business licenses or permits specific to operating a pool hall, such as a liquor license or amusement permit.
  • Consider consulting with a business attorney or accountant to ensure all legal and financial aspects of your registration are in order.

Resources to help get you started:

Explore invaluable resources designed specifically for pool hall entrepreneurs, including publications, industry reports, newsletters, and more for insights on market trends, best practices, and expert strategies to foster business growth:

  • Billiard Retailer Magazine: This publication offers insights on the latest trends in the billiard industry, operational advice, and marketing strategies. Visit site.
  • The National Billiard News: An essential newsletter providing updates on billiard competitions, product launches, and industry developments. Visit site.
  • American Poolplayers Association (APA): Offers extensive resources, including industry reports, networking opportunities, and business growth strategies for pool hall owners. Visit site.
  • Billiards Digest: Dive into expert articles on managing a successful pool hall, along with tips from successful entrepreneurs in the pool and billiard industry. Visit site.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA): Provides general small business advice, including financial planning and management strategies, particularly useful for new entrepreneurs in the recreational sector. Visit site.

5. Acquire necessary licenses and permits for pool hall.

Before you rack the balls and chalk the cues, it's essential to ensure that your pool hall business is operating within the legal framework. Acquiring the necessary licenses and permits is a crucial step to avoid any legal troubles and to provide a safe, enjoyable environment for your patrons. Here's a rundown of what you might need:

  • Business License: Register your pool hall with the local city or county to obtain a general business license.
  • Liquor License: If you plan to serve alcohol, apply for a liquor license through your state's alcoholic beverage commission.
  • Food Service Permit: Should your establishment serve food, you'll need to get a health department permit after passing a health inspection.
  • Entertainment License: Some areas require a specific entertainment license for establishments offering games, music, or live performances.
  • Building Permit: If you're constructing a new space or altering an existing one, you'll need a permit from the city planning or building department.
  • Fire Department Permit: To ensure compliance with fire safety regulations, a permit from the fire department may be necessary.
  • Zoning Permit: Check with local zoning authorities to ensure your pool hall is in a properly zoned area for your type of business.
  • Signage Permit: If you intend to put up a sign for your business, you might need a permit based on size and location regulations.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a pool hall business?

A pool hall business typically requires a combination of licenses and permits. Depending on the location of the pool hall, additional permits or licenses may also be required. Generally speaking, to run a pool hall business, you should apply for the following:

  • Business license and/or permit from the local government authority
  • Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) license if your pool hall will offer alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco permits from the state and local government if you plan to serve tobacco products
  • Health permit from the Department of Health and Human Services
  • Food service license from local health department if food will be served

6. Open a business bank account and secure funding as needed.

Securing your financial infrastructure is crucial when starting a pool hall business. A dedicated business bank account will help you manage your finances effectively, while securing funding ensures you have the necessary capital to cover startup costs and maintain cash flow. Follow these steps:

  • Research banks: Look for a bank that offers services tailored to small businesses, such as low fees, online banking, and merchant services.
  • Prepare documentation: Gather required documents which typically include your business plan, EIN, formation documents, and personal identification.
  • Open the account: Visit your chosen bank with your documents to open the business bank account. Be clear about your business needs to get the right account type.
  • Explore funding options: Consider loans, investors, crowdfunding, or government grants. Prepare a strong pitch and financial projections to attract funding.
  • Apply for credit: If eligible, apply for a business credit card to help with purchasing power and to build your business credit history.
  • Monitor cash flow: Keep a close eye on your finances with regular reviews of your business bank account to ensure you remain on track.

7. Set pricing for pool hall services.

Setting the right pricing for your pool hall services is crucial for balancing affordability for customers and profitability for your business. It's important to research local competition and consider various pricing strategies that align with your business goals and customer expectations. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluate the pricing of nearby pool halls and entertainment venues to ensure your rates are competitive yet profitable.
  • Hourly vs. Per Game: Decide whether you will charge by the hour or per game. Hourly rates encourage longer stays, while per-game rates may attract casual players.
  • Membership Options: Offer memberships or loyalty programs that provide discounts or perks, encouraging repeat business and customer loyalty.
  • Dynamic Pricing: Consider implementing peak and off-peak pricing to maximize revenue during busy times and attract customers during slower periods.
  • Group Packages: Create special rates for group events, parties, or corporate bookings, which can provide a steady stream of larger bookings.
  • Additional Services: Set prices for any additional services such as food and beverage, equipment rentals, or lessons, ensuring they are in line with the perceived value.
  • Cost Analysis: Regularly review your costs and adjust pricing accordingly to maintain profitability without compromising on customer satisfaction.

What does it cost to start a pool hall business?

Initiating a pool hall business can involve substantial financial commitment, the scale of which is significantly influenced by factors such as geographical location, market dynamics, and operational expenses, among others. Nonetheless, our extensive research and hands-on experience have revealed an estimated starting cost of approximately $35000 for launching such an business. Please note, not all of these costs may be necessary to start up your pool hall business.

8. Acquire pool hall equipment and supplies.

Setting up your pool hall with the right equipment and supplies is crucial in providing a top-notch experience for your patrons. From high-quality pool tables to comfortable seating, each item plays a role in creating an inviting atmosphere. Below is a checklist to ensure you have all the essentials for your pool hall business:

  • Pool Tables: Purchase professional-grade pool tables, including both standard and smaller sizes if space allows.
  • Cues and Accessories: Stock up on a variety of cue sticks, chalk, racks, cue maintenance tools, and replacement tips.
  • Seating and Furniture: Provide comfortable chairs, bar stools, and couches for lounging, along with tables for drinks and snacks.
  • Lighting: Install proper overhead lighting fixtures above each pool table to ensure well-lit play areas.
  • Scoring Systems: Have scoring boards or electronic systems available for keeping track of game results.
  • Decor: Add aesthetic touches that match your theme, such as posters, neon signs, and decorative shelving.
  • Bar Supplies: If serving drinks, include a well-stocked bar with glassware, refrigeration, and mixology tools.
  • Entertainment: Consider additional entertainment options like music systems, TVs, arcade games, and darts.
  • Cleaning Supplies: Maintain cleanliness with brushes for table surfaces, cloths for wiping down cues, and general cleaning products.
  • POS System: Choose an efficient point-of-sale system for transactions and inventory management.

List of software, tools and supplies needed to start a pool hall business:

  • Pool Tables - Estimated Pricing: $3,000.00 - $7,000.00 per table
  • Billiards Accessories - Estimated Pricing: $100.00 - $500.00 per set
  • Cue Racks - Estimated Pricing: $200.00 - $500.00 per rack
  • Balls and Cue Sticks - Estimated Pricing: $50.00 - $150.00 per set
  • Scoreboards/Table Covers - Estimated Pricing: $100.00+
  • Pool Hall Furniture (Chairs, Tables, etc.) Estimated Pricing: $500.00+
  • Table Lighting/Illumination System - Estimated Pricing: $200.00+
  • Computer and Printer System for daily operations/memberships/etc. – Estimated Pricing:$750.00 – $1,000.00
  • Cash Register/Credit Card Processing System – Estimated Pricing:Depends on system and features chosen.
  • POS Software for Billing/Inventory Accounting – Estimated Pricing: Depends on system and features chosen.

9. Obtain business insurance for pool hall, if required.

Securing the right business insurance is a critical step in protecting your pool hall against potential risks. It can safeguard your investment from unforeseen events such as property damage, theft, or liability claims. Below are key insurance policies you may need to consider:

  • General Liability Insurance: This coverage is essential for protecting your business from claims of bodily injury or property damage that can occur on your premises.
  • Property Insurance: To cover damages to your building, pool tables, and other equipment, property insurance is vital, especially in the case of fire, theft, or natural disasters.
  • Liquor Liability Insurance: If you plan to serve alcohol at your pool hall, this insurance is crucial to protect against claims resulting from the actions of intoxicated customers.
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance: Required in most states if you have employees, this insurance covers medical costs and lost wages for work-related injuries or illnesses.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: This helps you keep your business afloat financially if you are forced to close temporarily due to a covered event.

10. Begin marketing your pool hall services.

Marketing your pool hall is crucial for attracting customers and creating a loyal following. A strategic approach that combines both online and offline marketing efforts can help you reach a wider audience and promote your services effectively. Consider these tactics to get the word out and make your pool hall the go-to spot for billiards enthusiasts.

  • Develop a strong brand identity and logo that resonates with your target audience and use it consistently across all marketing materials.
  • Create a professional website with details of your services, location, and hours of operation, and optimize it for search engines (SEO).
  • Leverage social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage with your community, share promotions, and showcase events.
  • Partner with local businesses and organizations to cross-promote each other's services and host joint events.
  • Offer opening specials, discounts, and loyalty programs to incentivize first-time customers and reward regular visitors.
  • Host tournaments, leagues, and special events to draw in competitive players and groups looking for a fun outing.
  • Invest in targeted online advertising to reach potential customers based on their interests and location.
  • Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google My Business and Yelp to build your online reputation.
>> MORE:

What licenses and permits are needed to run a pool hall business?

  • Pool Tables - Estimated Pricing: $3,000.00 - $7,000.00 per table
  • Billiards Accessories - Estimated Pricing: $100.00 - $500.00 per set
  • Cue Racks - Estimated Pricing: $200.00 - $500.00 per rack
  • Balls and Cue Sticks - Estimated Pricing: $50.00 - $150.00 per set
  • Scoreboards/Table Covers - Estimated Pricing: $100.00+
  • Pool Hall Furniture (Chairs, Tables, etc.) Estimated Pricing: $500.00+
  • Table Lighting/Illumination System - Estimated Pricing: $200.00+
  • Computer and Printer System for daily operations/memberships/etc. – Estimated Pricing:$750.00 – $1,000.00
  • Cash Register/Credit Card Processing System – Estimated Pricing:Depends on system and features chosen.
  • POS Software for Billing/Inventory Accounting – Estimated Pricing: Depends on system and features chosen.

11. Expand your pool hall business.

Expanding your pool hall business requires strategic planning and innovative ideas to increase revenue and attract a wider audience. Here's how to take your business to the next level and create a more dynamic and engaging environment for your customers.

  • Diversify Your Offerings: Add more games such as darts, shuffleboard, or arcade games to cater to a broader clientele.
  • Host Tournaments and Events: Organize regular pool tournaments, leagues, and special events to increase foot traffic and encourage repeat business.
  • Upgrade Your Facility: Invest in high-quality tables, comfortable seating, and a top-notch sound system to enhance the customer experience.
  • Offer Lessons and Workshops: Partner with experienced players to offer pool lessons, which can attract newbies and improve the skills of regular patrons.
  • Expand Your Menu: Consider adding or upgrading a kitchen to serve food and drinks, turning your pool hall into a one-stop entertainment venue.
  • Marketing and Promotions: Utilize social media, local advertising, and loyalty programs to promote your expanded services and attract new customers.
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses and sponsors to host joint events or offer mutual promotions, expanding your reach.