As of 23 January 2002 there were a little over 320 indoor soccer facilities in the United States, that I'm aware of. Of those 320 we have 17 of them. I think there's one more company that has 6 facilities, and then several that have 2 or 3 or 4. Most everyone else stands alone.
We have had quite a few competitors in our various cities. Some we have bought and most of which have gone under. Mostly it’s bad management, many times bad location, and sometimes, it’s just over saturation. Sometimes you do most things right and it still doesn’t work. Even Wal Mart has a list of over a hundred empty buildings for sale.
In most cities, a result of heat, cold, or moisture, indoors is a requirement. In Southern California most indoor fields are outside because of the price of real estate and weather.
Several years ago one of our kids was moving out of the house and we were cleaning out the attic next to his room and we found the very first business plan that I did regarding indoor soccer. Since I was trying to find an excuse not to have to clean anyway, I started reading it. About half way through the business plan I was laughing so hard I went downstairs, grabbed a beer, and stretched out on the couch. By the end of the night I had laughed so hard my stomach hurt.
We didn't know if we were going to be any good at indoor soccer so for our first facility, we did an existing structure. We leased an ice skating rink in Salt Lake City. The boards were already there so we found some turf we had shipped up from Phoenix, modified the dasher boards for goals, and we were pretty much there. Three years later a competitor came along with a better building than us. We asked our landlord to fix some stuff up and they wouldn't or couldn't do it. We didn’t want to put alot of money into something we didn’t own. We bought a building in the central (at that time) part of the Salt Lake Valley.
We did the same deal twice. That wastes a lot of time. We sent out letters to all of our players telling them our new location. We had to build the field again. We did the same deal twice. Then, doing the same deal twice was kind of exciting. Today, 20 years later, it's not. Now it's hard to imagine a scenario that we might do without owning the building or the land.
I read a lot of business books. Still I go through web sites all the time reading as much as I can about business. Just looking for one thing that will help the company, increase our odds of success. I'm trying real hard to get simple. Simplicity increases the odds of success and we try and get 1 or 2% better every time we put up a new facility. After 16 facilities, that's a pretty big edge. Plus, building the same building over and over made it easier to remodel them if you came up with a new sport or technology that required adding on. I tried to predict population trends, 5, 10, and 15 years away. The water and planning departments are best. Especially the water department, If they are sending water there, people aren’t far behind.
With this new reasoning, I changed my strategy to build new facilities from the ground up. Because I learned (or relearned) the value of the people around you I decided to build new facilities around managers. If I had a manager that was good, and he/she was deep in personnel I would build them a facility. Nothing worse than building a new facility and failing because you were weak in management.