Starting a rock climbing gym can be an exciting opportunity, but it also comes with some challenges that you should prepare for.
Before you decide to start a company like this, there are specific questions that you should ask yourself. Let’s help answer those questions and see how much it will set you back when starting your business.
Rock Climbing gyms are the newest trend in commercial recreation, with unprecedented growth and popularity. Subsequently, you have a great niche market to target that is only growing bigger each day.
Starting your very own rock climbing gym will cost you an average of $75,000. You can set up a gym for as low as $50,000 and up to $750,000, depending on the size of your space and the number of climbing walls you offer.
There is a lot of helpful information out there about the total cost associated with starting your rock climbing business. Make sure that you take all of this into consideration before making your final decision.
Rock Climbing Costs
The cost to open a rock climbing gym depends on its size, location, and amenities.
An introductory climbing wall can cost around $35,000 and needs to be at least 15 feet tall to allow ropes.
The actual rock walls vary in price depending on their height, material, color scheme, texture, and slope angle. The larger the wall, the more expensive it will be.
A 50- to 60-degree overhanging wall at least 20 feet high can cost up to $150 per square foot. For example, a 100- by 100-foot wall designed for roped climbing might cost as much as $150,000.
A bouldering wall can run about $40 per square foot, and a vertical or slab wall can be half that price. A beginner’s terrain park set at a low angle might only cost $10 to $12 per square foot.
Climbing gyms might have to pay a rental fee for space, but this will generally run from $4 to $20 per square foot. This will cost you an average of $5,000 to $20,000 per month.
Renting the land or building where a climbing gym is located also has other related costs, such as taxes and insurance. The insurance cost varies widely depending on location, price of services provided, and past claims history.
You can expect insurance to cost around $5,000 to $10,000 per year.
Startup costs for the equipment needed to open a rock climbing gym will vary greatly depending on the type of facility. Indoor bouldering walls need only minimal equipment, such as different types of holds.
On the other hand, gyms that cater to experienced climbers and allow roped climbing require much more specialized equipment, including harnesses, ropes, belay devices, auto-belays, and other gear.
Licensing requirements vary by location. The cost of the license will depend on how much it costs your local government to process applications and monitor gym operations.
You should budget about $1,000 to $5,000 for licenses.
When starting a rock climbing business, one of the first things you will need to consider is equipment cost.
Rock climbing ropes range from $150 to $500 depending on the brand and durability. Harnesses run around the same price.
Climbing shoes can go from $40-$200 depending on what kind of shoes they are. You can rent shoes, sell shoes or require participants to bring their own shoes.
Renting and selling shoes adds another source of income.
Depending on the size of your facility, expect to pay between $15,000 and $65,000 for basic facility equipment.
Many indoor climbing places will offer concessions such as drinks and bagged snacks.
You can keep the expenses low by buying your own concessions, but you need to make sure that people will buy them.
Adding concessions can cost from $1500 to $5,000, depending on what your setup will be.
In addition to the equipment, you will also need a place for your climbers to climb.
Most climbing gyms have walls that are 20 feet high and 60 feet wide with padded floors.
The cost of installing these types of walls can run from $5,000 to $100,0000, depending on how long you want them and if there are composites or not.
A typical rock climbing business will need at least one wall to start with. Most likely two or three if you want to make any money.
You can also buy free-standing walls, which are great for kids and intermediate climbers. This will cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $45,000.
Another factor that you should consider when starting a rock-climbing business is employees.
If you find suitable employees, keep them employed by offering them incentives and bonuses. Expect to pay anywhere from $10-18 an hour, depending on how many employees you have.
You should also employ people that are enthusiastic about the sport of rock climbing, so they’re a better help to your guests.
Hiring some trained climbing instructors is an excellent idea in addition to your employees. Instructors can teach beginners and help climbers with their form.
These instructors make a great addition because the cost of training them isn’t too high, and they tend to be passionate about climbing.
A trained climbing instructor will cost you from $30,000 to $45,000 a year for full-time trainers.
There are also expenses for employee benefits. Make sure you know what kind of insurance your employees need and how much it will cost you.
Employee health benefits will cost you an extra $300 to $650 a month per employee.
Worker compensation will cost anywhere from $225 to $1,200 a month, depending on what state your business is located in.
You will need to do some advertising in order for people to find out about your business.
Advertising can cost anywhere from $500 a month on the low end, up to $3,000 a month, depending on your location.
Location is critical when it comes to people being able to find your business.
Having a business near a popular place is almost a must if you want to make any money. You also want to get your business listed on Google maps and Yahoo Local.
These listings are free, but they help people find out about your business when they search for things in their area.
Another advertising tool is social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re going to purchase social media ads, expect it to be around $0.50 to $2.00 per click for each type of site. For example, if you target only Facebook, you can pay $0.50 per click, but it might cost more if you advertise on multiple social media sites.
You can also use the website of one of your climbing gear suppliers as a marketing tool by putting up an advertisement for your business on it. Doing this will help increase traffic to your store and can cost you $650 to $1,200 per month.
All of the different types of advertising can add up. This makes it very important for you to research where your target audience spends their time online and how much each type of advertisement will cost you.
You will also need to spend some money on miscellaneous expenses.
These expenses can be things like toiletries for the bathrooms, office supplies, and cleaning products.
Cleaning supplies can cost your business anywhere from $120 to $360 a month, depending on how much you use each product and how big your space is.
Office expenses will cost you a minimum of $50 a month for items such as printer paper and pens.
You should also think about the expense associated with maintenance, such as repainting the walls, fixing holes in the wall, and landscaping.
You should plan on budgeting $500 to $1000 a month for this type of expense.
Equipment will break as well, especially if your facility is busy. It is wise to budget $350 to $600 a month for equipment maintenance/replacement.
Choose Your Pricing
You also need to make sure you choose a reasonable price for your services.
Rock climbing is a very competitive sport, and if you want people to start going to your facility, you will have to make sure they get value for their money.
Your prices may be based on per hour or day of rock climbing. This price should consider the cost for your facility, liability insurance, and paying employees to manage the place.
And remember, all of the advertising you choose will add to your expenses. You need to factor these costs into how much it will cost you per hour or day.
You should plan on charging anywhere from $10 to $15 per hour of climbing space. Many climbing businesses use memberships as a way to bring in consistent income.
You should plan to charge $150 to $375 per month for this type of membership. You can also choose to offer a punch card to reward users for coming to your facility more frequently.
These cards will cost you $0.05 to $1.00 per card and can be a great way to generate consistent income throughout the year.
Protecting Your Patrons
You also need to spend money on protecting your patrons.
You can protect them by having personal liability insurance that will cost you $300 to $1,500 per year.
People may also want lessons in learning how to rock climb before they join one of your programs. This will be an additional expense because you will be paying your employees to teach the class.
You should plan on spending between $5 and $10 per person on lesson fees.
Make sure you are doing regular maintenance on all of your equipment to protect your patrons. If you are not doing routine maintenance, it might cause injury to your climbers, leading to expensive lawsuits.
Having padded floors and climbing walls will help to keep your patrons safe and can be an excellent investment.
You will also want signage such as wet floor signs, handicap signs, and exit signs. All of these signs will help keep everyone in your building safe and protect them from accidents.
You should plan on spending $1,000 or more on this type of signage.
Make sure you cover all of the bases before opening a rock climbing business to ensure you are not putting yourself or customers at risk.
Rock Climbing Gym Basics
A rock climbing gym is usually built indoors and is designed to offer a rock climbing experience for all ages and experience levels.
The term rock-climbing gym can refer to just the walls within the facility, or it can refer to the entire complex, including other features such as locker rooms, weight rooms, yoga studios, and equipment stores.
All rock climbing gyms must contain tall and strong walls to support the use of ropes for ascending, and ideally, should be designed with all experience level climbers in mind.
Rock climbing gyms vary significantly in shape and size, ranging from large complexes like Brooklyn Boulders, which can be as tall as 4-5 stories, to smaller gyms like The Cliffs of LIC and Central Rock Gym fit inside a warehouse or large building.
Size depends on the city and its primary demographics. Gyms located in big cities with strong youth populations will be larger than those in smaller towns.
In addition, outdoor climbing companies have been adding indoor locations to take advantage of year-round revenue and grow their brand by reaching new customers locally.
Is This the Right Business For You?
If you are thinking about opening a rock climbing center, make sure you calculate your expenses and research how much you should charge to ensure you will be profitable.
Before opening a rock climbing business, make certain you are prepared for all of the costs associated with having this type of facility and factor everything from advertising costs to liability insurance into your pricing structure.
Guarantee that your customers are safe and secure by using proper signage and safety equipment.
In the end, if everything aligns and makes sense, you’re likely ready to open your very first rock climbing gym!