How to Start an Escape Room Franchise, Even When Competition is Fierce

Americans’ obsession with escape rooms has grown by leaps and bounds in the last four years. There were 20 escape rooms across the country in 2014. Today, there are well over 2,000.

If you weren’t intrigued by them, you wouldn’t be thinking about opening your own escape room franchise, would you?

But starting your own escape room business is a real-life adventure puzzle in itself. In this guide, we share some tips to make sure yours stands out in a market that’s only getting more crowded.

Get Inspired by Other Escape Rooms

If you’re interested in starting an escape room business, you got inspired by one you attended. Ask yourself what you liked about it and what you would improve if you had your own.

Did they have one room and theme or several? Were their puzzles too easy or too difficult to solve? Did you have fun?

Don’t be afraid to look at other escape room businesses for inspiration. Use what makes your town unique and craft an escape room experience around it.

One of the most successful of its kind in Lexington, Kentucky consists of many themes and experiences. They take advantage of what makes their city popular and created a Kentucky Derby-themed puzzle. They also have a runaway train, mystery mansion, and casino experience among others.

This escape room business model may be a little ambitious when you’re first starting out, but at least you know there are no limits to how far you can take it!

Tap Into Your Own Imagination

Once you pick a theme, research it online and join escape room groups on social media. Ask questions if you need to! There’s no shame in admitting you need help.

The escape room community is full of other entrepreneurs who are supportive and want to share what they’ve learned. They’re a great resource for getting advice on locations that work best.

Ask friends and co-workers what they liked about their escape room adventure. What you thought would be a slam dunk idea may actually be a dud.

Sketch ideas and create puzzles. Write a script including the clues you’ll give out. Then review it and ask yourself if you have enough content for a 60-minute experience.

Invite friends and family over for a dry run. You won’t have your set or props yet but you’ll know if your imagination and puzzle-writing skills need to get tweaked.

Create a Business Plan for Your Escape Room Franchise

Like all entrepreneurs, you’ll need to write a business plan. If you’ve never started a business, this means:

  • An executive summary
  • The company description
  • A marketing plan
  • An operational plan
  • Management and organization
  • Your startup expenses and capital
  • A financial plan

If you’re looking to outside investors a business plan is a must. But it’s also helpful for staying organized and on track to reach your goals.

Write a Budget

You need to fund your start-up and that means figuring how much money you need to build. How much space do you need to rent? Will you DIY or outsource the build?

Depending on how detailed you get and how creative you are, escape rooms franchise costs vary. Some invest as little as $7,000 while others can cost almost 10 times that amount.

The difference is overhead. If you’re pulling out all the stops like the Lexington, Kentucky escape rooms, then you’ll need more than a room, some paint, and the help of a couple friends.

Don’t Get Puzzled Starting Your Escape Room, Find a Business That…

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If you need more help and advice on opening your escape room franchise, check out our business resources page.