Ready, Set, Operate!
Success Is When Luck, Opportunity & Preparedness Meet
by Adam Pratt, Game Grid Arcade & ArcadeHeroes.com
Among the variety of aspects that make up running a successful business, opportunity plays an important role. At a glance, the idea can appear to be nothing more than “luck,” but that only seems to be the case when something good happens. The rest depends on you. If you’re unprepared for what can come your way, then missing an opportunity will be chalked up to bad luck or bad timing. But when the entrepreneur is properly ready, he can take appropriate action when it arrives.
The end of last year presented such a time for me. An operator in California needed the help of an arcade owner in Utah to place and maintain games in the lobby of a tech company located in that state. They already had an arcade in place, but the owner of some of the equipment was in California, making service next to impossible. A case in point: A Theatre of Magic pinball machine had been sitting in a state of disrepair for as long as many employees had been working there (at least six months, by what we could gather).
Needing someone local, we answered the California operator’s call and set out to bring new life to the location. Admittedly, operations weren’t the first thing on my mind –– I’ve focused on keeping my mall arcade going and growing –– and it was an unusual location, not the more typical restaurant, gas station or other traditional stop. At any rate, we found the project quite enticing and since we’d been doing well with the arcade recently, we felt we were in a position to expand.
The tech company had quite the setup to reward their employees and help them find a temporary escape (when it’s break time, of course) by offering arcade games on free play. The employees had several game requests. We were fortunate to have a few of the titles they initially asked for; others we had to search for and buy. The first was a pair of pinball machines that a local collector was parting with; then it was a pair of Cruis’n Exoticas that we found through local classifieds.
While it didn’t take long to get everything we needed, the arrival of the Exoticas began a cascade of breakdowns that has taken me weeks to catch up on. In my 10 years in business, I haven’t experienced so many game and part failures in such a short space of time –– not only at this new location, but also in my arcade. Monitors died, switches failed, welds cracked and hard-to-trace rebooting loops have occurred, resulting in a flurry of parts ordered in my attempt to get it all under control. There are still a few things to figure out, but at least everything at the new location is running properly as of this writing (knock on wood!).
This has meant that the new chapter in my endeavors has been a bit stressful to get going, but hopefully the dust will settle soon. Operating a “route” –– even a route of just one location –– is a bit of a different beast for me, mainly because it involves a bit more travel and moving games back and forth than I am used to. But so far, it is an interesting adventure, and hopefully soon, a prosperous one. Thankfully, we were in a position to take advantage of the opportunity that came our way. Now the question is, what’s next?!
Adam Pratt is the owner and operator of the Game Grid arcade near Salt Lake City, Utah. He also publishes the Arcade Heroes blog site and serves as an advisor for the web-based game supplier BMI Worldwide. He can be reached at [email protected].