Halloween is the second biggest holiday in the United States, bringing in over $300,000 of revenue in September and October. But, the incredible popularity of zombies, voodoo, and hauntings on television, cable, and video, as well as books, does not wane. Today almost any holiday can be a haunted holiday.

Creepy asylums and ancient hospitals are hallowed on their own, no holiday required. Abandoned warehouses, barns, schools, factories, mills, and prisons are all excellent venues, and it helps if they have a reputation of being haunted in actuality.

Old dental chairs, gym lockers, gurneys, and wheelchairs are a good place to start for props. Fog machines and dim, flickering lights set the tone for suspense.

But just because you love to be scared, that doesn't mean you are ready to Run your own spook house. According to Forbes, to make a living, over 80 percent of people who run haunted-themed attractions do it as a full-time business.

Location, Location, Location!

  • The venue you choose should be zoned for commercial use and be accessible from highways and main roads in the areas. Easy access can make or break your business. Here are some things to think about when you start your due diligence.
  • Finances - To raise sufficient capital, bank loans, partners, family and friends all have their advantages and disadvantages. Research and carefully consider the pros and cons of each type of financial relationship. Demographics show teens and young adults 18-34 make up the majority of thrill seekers. Can you pull in enough young people in your area? It's a big plus to be in a college town.
  • Ticket prices and attendance can vary from the scary number $13.00 entry fee up to $100 for a major theme park. Most successful attractions charge around $20.00 for approximately 10,000 attendees in the Halloween season.
  • Insurance - Liability insurance is necessary to obtain permits and licenses. Also, policies for theft, fire, and medical liability for any injuries will be required. A Cost of Income policy can cover losses due to interruption of shows and is highly recommended.
  • Security - Hire a professional security team. The ticket booth must have security coverage at all times, with a security guard to accompany daily receipts from booth to office. Keep cash in a locked safe. Armed guards are needed to transport monies from your site to the bank.
  • Marketing and Advertising - Have an advertising budget and get sponsors to promote positive publicity for your business. Billboards, signs, and banners showing times and prices are noticeable to passersby. But, you can't run a business today without a web page and social media interaction. Link to professional haunted house directories. Join local and national associations to get on their registers.
  • Safety - Involve building and fire officials to inspect each step of construction to meet their specifications and keep everything up to code. Do any repairs daily before each performance. Maintain sprinkler systems, smoke and fire alarms, fire extinguishers and emergency lights. And the site must be ADA compliant.

Your success depends on your talent

Managing Talent - Make a list of employees necessary to make your haunted house come to life and write a job description for each.

Then, write an employee manual to give to each person and have them sign they have read it. Hold auditions and hire the most experienced and enthusiastic actors available. Train a few understudies. Pay performers on time and offer a bonus at the end of the run. Have a clean and comfortable cast area where they can check in and out, and take breaks.

Water and snacks keep the energy up. Show your employees respect, and they will give their best performances consistently.

Of course, this only skims the surface. There is a lot more to running this business, financially and creatively. If this sounds like an occupation that you can love, sharpen your pencil and start writing a business plan you can take to the bank.