Franchise - FAQ
I have my own puzzle and prop ideas. What if I don’t like any of your themes?
Buying a franchise doesn’t have to mean you can’t contribute to your own business. We’re open to developing your custom themes and rooms. As long as we feel they will not hurt the brand and your ideas make sense economically, we’re here to help.
How does the pre-opening process look like, what happens after we sign the franchise agreement?
If you don’t have it yet, start looking for a location. We will create a preliminary floor
plan, and when the lease agreement is signed, we will make a complete (20-30 page long) construction manual for you to share with your local general contractor to start pricing everything. We also begin the puzzle production right after the floor plan is finalized, and of course, you accept it. Your local architect will take local building regulations into consideration and start working based upon our plans, so the final drawings can be approved by the city in order to obtain the building permit.
It shouldn’t take longer than 12-14 weeks for your general contractor to do the hard construction, including most of the thematic work. We only arrive on site when everything is ready to install the puzzles, which normally takes about 1-2 weeks per theme (with multiple rooms). We can certainly help do some of the thematic design as well, but that might take a little longer than if you hired your general contractor.
Once the unit is complete and your website is ready to accept bookings, we will do the local training. The last 3-6 weeks are the most intensive. We will have to coordinate multiple stakeholders in order to have a smooth opening.
How much does an escape room franchise cost?
There are some general rules of thumb that can help ballpark a price, but it mostly depends on the actual real estate being considered (size, location, current condition, etc.). Pricing the actual cost of creating the escape room puzzles/props/furniture is relatively simple, but to figure out the scope of construction and the future conditions of the rental agreement is a bit more difficult.
In general we say that a compact unit with 3-4 latest generation escape room themes will cost between $250,000 and $500,000. If you would like to start with more than 5 themes and add in food and beverage service, the investment cost can run up to over a million dollars. We call these are MEGA units, and while they can be expensive to start, the unit’s capacity and revenue level is also much higher.
Do you help to choose my location? What is the ideal location of a PanIQ Room?
Choosing the right real estate is the single most important factor in location-based entertainment. There are a lot of important factors, but population density probably counts the most. When we try to find a new location, we like to look at median household income, trends in local tourism, Google search trends and local Groupon subscribers. We will also support you during your negotiation process with the landlord; we’re REALLY experienced in real estate.
Do you have any discounts on the franchise fee or royalty?
It should be noted that a special feature of PanIQ is that our franchisees only pay royalty when they turn profitable. But ultimately, discounts would depend on the scope of the project! It’s not a secret that we’re a growing brand; so we’re definitely interested in doing business with you.
Why do I have to pay a 1% marketing fee?
We spend quite a bit on general brand awareness. Every publication or article about PanIQ makes our domain stronger and Google will rank us better. This not only serves us, but it also serves your local business. We also create a lot of digital materials, graphic designs, and expensive marketing promotional videos, that will also guide your traffic and improve your internet presence. Our social media contents are unique, and our website is developing from day to day. We have hired an SEO expert, a PR agency, and a social media agency to continue developing our marketing, and these expenses are all covered by those one
percents (as well as our additional contribution).
What do you charge for using your software and website?
How much does a theme cost?
It depends on the area of the room(s), the actual theme, and the “generation” level of the
game plot. As a rule of thumb, we can say our GEN2 rooms are under $30,000, our GEN3 rooms are around $45,000, and a VR room costs about $30,000 each. Those prices include every puzzle and item that is essential for your game plot, plus some additional props and furniture just to make your theme look more authentic and give you great effects. We will also supply you with backup products as well as some special (operational-related) furniture for your lobby and game areas.
However, our general price excludes shipping and the cost of local theming and construction. That has to be done by your contractor, or we can send someone to you who is capable of doing everything. Building an escape room is not just about placing puzzles in a room. You need to focus on how to create an authentic and appealing environment.
How much is the shipping? Why don’t you manufacture in the US?
Moving our entire production from eastern Europe to the US would be extremely expensive.
Shipping is still lot cheaper than hiring and training American people for puzzle production.
Escape rooms really emerged in Hungary. All of our puzzles are custom made, and they are designed in Europe by some very creative and caring people. Labor and material costs are still significantly cheaper than in most parts of the world, so we can actually save you money by constructing the themes overseas.
As for the shipping, you should calculate somewhere between $2,500 and $5,000 per theme, but it greatly depends on the actual theme and freight method (air or sea).
How does your training program work?
We only do onsite training at your facility, so you don’t have to travel and spend time at one of our locations. It’s very time and cost effective. As soon as your store is ready to open and we’ve finished the puzzle installation, we train your staff for a full 3-5 days.
What marketing tools do you use? Is any of them mandatory?
An escape room is an interesting business model. The actual service occurs at a physical brick-and-mortar location, but most of your tickets are sold online. As such, it is essential that most of your marketing be done online, using every major social media tool and Google. We’re familiar with pretty much every major marketing platform available on the internet, and we’re dedicated to helping you maximize your potential with them.
How do you support us? What if I have a problem during operations?
We use a special project management tool for these kind of issues. You post your problem, and we will respond and try to find a solution within a few days. Just be aware that your puzzles are custom made, so problems with the puzzles themselves might take a few weeks to get a replacement. But this doesn’t mean that you need to shut down operations; we will help you devise creative ways to modify the game plot temporarily so that your customers can enjoy a quality experience while the problem is being fixed.
What is the required time of operations?
Our terms are flexible, but we recommend you to be open from 10AM until midnight. This is especially true if you host walk-in customers with restrictions and you are normally open rather than only when you have reservations.
What is the ticket pricing strategy?
We’re also flexible on pricing. We like to look at several factors before setting up the ticket prices, especially factoring in your local experience.
Can I add food and beverage to the unit?
Definitely. It’s actually a required part of our MEGA units, but it can be utilized in smaller units as well.
How often do I have to change my themes?
Based upon our experience, in a large metropolitan area, where you open up with at least 3 themes, you shouldn’t be worried about this for at least 4-5 years. But we can change any theme, pretty much any time. Bringing back your old customers is always cheaper than finding new players, and one of the key factors for success in the amusement industry is the cost of customer acquisition.
Do I have to use Groupon?
No, but it has potential as an effective way to start generating cash-flow for your business. Please note that we have multiple campaigns running with Groupon, so PanIQ can also get you a special deal structure if you choose to make use of that platform.
What is the expected return on investment?
It depends on the location and the scope of the project, but you should expect a full return at something around 24-48 months. If it’s faster, send us a big bottle of champagne, and we’ll celebrate with you! If it’s slower don’t worry; in general, a return in franchising in under 60 months is considered good. You can also speed up your cash-flow by being the general manager of your own unit.
Can I manage my own store. Is it difficult?
Of course, you can do it with less than 10 hours of work a week. Our systems greatly help you with supervision, and we’re also there to answer your questions and help you with maintenance.
Why would I choose a franchise, instead of just doing everything on my own?
At the end of the day, you will spend less money during your pre-opening phase and earn more during operations. Things like negotiating with landlords or making a discounted deal with
Groupon go smoother with a well-tested system behind your back.
Also, you become part of a proven brand, which will help drive customers to you. We hire a central PR and marketing agency to take care of our brand awareness and reputation. Since we have multiple locations, Google likes us organically.
We have many custom tools that assist your operations. Our website, reservation, and backend system is completely unique and easy-to-use. PanIQ’s kiosk system and media wall also contribute to the customer experience, and you can generate additional revenue with our merchandise line. We care about our franchisees, so always remember that an entire group of experts are constantly working on building better rooms and improve the profitability of your venue.
We look at the big picture, while you can focus on micro-management!