Cable Park Consulting and Sales -
Mile High Wakeboarding
Things to Consider
What Can Mile High Wakeboarding Do For Me?
What Are The Costs?
Are you looking for information on building a wakeboard cable park, or do you want to purchase what we believe, is the best 2-tower wakeboard cable system on the market? Whether you are working on a smaller 2-tower wake park or your grand vision for the ultimate destination with every activity and idea under the sun... or under a roof, we hope to help save you time, money, and energy as you follow your passion. At the very least, we hope you won't make the same mistakes we made or try to reinvent the wheel. Many ideas have been put to paper but there are still some "firsts" that could be all yours.
We certainly didn't have any intentions of getting into the cable consulting or manufacturing business (heaven knows we had absolutely zero experience) but that old proverb "necessity is the mother of invention" couldn't hit the nail more firmly on the proverbial head. For various reasons - all of which could and should have been prevented - we made countless, expensive and unnecessary mistakes, in addition to many repetitive repairs. As we sorted, identified, and solved our own (multiple) mechanical, technical, operational and other challenges - in every single category you can imagine, we started receiving calls from other friends, co-enthusiasts, and owners experiencing difficulty. After we solved their issues, invented and re-engineered some parts, and improved their cable systems, we naturally fell into the problem-solving and engineering side of the business - which surprisingly, is a blast. Tinkering and testing is actually fun!
We are always learning and creating, but looking back, our trial-by-fire and very expensive education gave us the know-how and ability to help build additional parks quickly, more efficiently, with better cable systems, and all for much less money. We know how to do things, how to run things, how to prevent bad things from happening, and what it takes to be successful. Whether you are just starting out, or are adding on to an existing operation, we are happy to help. From planning to presentations to detailed business how to's (well beyond and much more detailed than a business plan) to speaking engagements and city meetings, to much, much more, MHW can help you at any or every step of the way.
There isn't much free and unrestricted information available in the industry so to get you off on the right foot, we assembled enough information here to be able to put together a rough idea of what you are getting into without even having to pick up a phone. Hopefully something here can help you; and if it does, give us a shout and let us know! (mhwinfo -at- milehighwakeboarding.com)
Wakeboarding is in our blood and the more cable parks that get built, the better for everyone in the sport! Let us know if we can help.
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Things to Consider
Setting aside the 2-tower backyard scenario and thinking more about commercial applications for a moment, here are some basic topics to think about as you start off on your adventure. Just the information shown here could save you considerable time, energy, and frustration.
Location: You've heard this before but location is very important. While some die hard riders may be willing to drive up to an hour to go to a cable park, most of your customers will want to stay within about 30 minutes (or less) of home. There are 100's of studies and variables on this, but in general, the closer you are to the population, the better chance you have of succeeding. Consider the 10/10 marketing rule: for every 10 miles you move out from the center of a population, you lose 10% of your potential customers - much more if traffic is congested. If needed and if we are not conflicted out by another agreement, we can help you in selecting the right location, and even help you negotiate a purchase or lease.
Water and Water Rights
In every state we've worked in we've heard that "our state has the worst water laws in the nation". We'll it's tough to say which state is the worst, but simply said, the property you acquire needs to have plenty of clean water and the rights to use it to keep your lakes full. No water or bad water equals no cable wake park.
After operating our own cable park for several years, and being forced to repair, improve, and re-engineer our cable systems purchased from another vendor, we are obviously a little biased to our own cable systems. Out of necessity, then experience, then from an improvement mind-set, we picked apart the good and the bad from every known system on the market and combined it all with our own operational experience, known needs, annoyances, and wish list to come up with what we feel is the best 2 tower system available. After another year of consistent improvements and testing - in summer and winter - we came up with a final design that will be public in 2014. We are exceptionally excited about our programming software - engineered by MicroSoft. It's probably safe to say that no one else has tested or thought through the various issues you will inevitably incur to the extent we have. Not only is our system reliable and priced right, it's easier to work on, drive, maintain, inspect, and it will absolutely hold up to your uses and the elements.
The above said, there are several cable manufacturer options out there and all have their pros and cons. Much like buying anything else, you'll want to weigh out the up front costs with long-term factors such as maintenance, customer service, warranties, United States product liability insurance, etc. In many cases, you get what you pay for, so ask around, talk to people that have the system you are looking at, and evaluate carefully. Customer service after the sale should be your primary concern. Everyone will tout their own system so we encourage you to do your research and sort through the fluff. Even if you select another cable provider, we are happy to help you with consulting to ensure you get the best start possible.
Sliders and Jumps (Features)
You've seen the videos right? Just slap something together in 12 minutes and hit it! Mmmm... if it were only that easy. We had to learn the hard way, about materials, plastics, plastic welding, wood/steel/aluminum construction, and radical temperature changes that absolutely will cause damage and necessary repairs if you don't plan for it. If your budget doesn't allow you to spend 1000's on the highly advertised custom-built features, we can provide you with the information and plans to help you build your own and do it right the first time. A well built feature will outlast its entertainment value but if you cut corners, it's a one-way ticket to a lawsuit.
Legal and Insurance
From participant liability, to theft, to vandalism, to acts of nature, you want to be insured properly and prepared to handle whatever might come up. There are obviously things you can do to reduce your risk, losses, and liability, but rest assured, at one point or another, someone will try to rip you off or sue you for something. Expect it, prepare for it, and do everything you can to prevent and protect yourself.
While we feel the rest of the industry is still playing catchup to us rookies, we have what we would argue, are the best tasks, processes, checklists, waivers, and signage in the industry, all created from scratch (from day one) and endorsed by our insurance company. And while we regularly improve upon our materials based on real experience and forethought, it is still shocking to us that we were the first cable park to require a simple orientation and safety meeting (again, from day one).
In regards to insurance, the cable park world is growing as are the insurance options. After a lengthy selection process, we found a provider that is not only knowledgeable, but intimate with your needs and primary concerns. If you use our processes, safety checklists, waivers, and signage, they are also one of, if not, the least expensive which can save you 1000's per year.
Just one additional note on legal: Just because your buddies don't "think about legal terms" and "would never sue you", you should prepare and protect yourself from all angles, especially if your buddy doesn't have insurance and gets hit with a $60,000 bill to fix his boo boo. People don't always sue, but insurance companies ALWAYS sue, and if your company name is mentioned when your best friend gets hurt, you WILL be sued. Under no circumstances should you let anyone drive/operate your cable systems other than qualified and properly-trained drivers. Under no circumstances should anyone ever ride your cable system (regardless of who they are) without signing the proper release forms. We've witnessed this with another cable park so you've been warned to not take chances. There is a reason why our insurance rates are low. Do not take chances.
Start Up and Operating Costs
Each unique location has it's own start up and operating costs, so we'll only list a few items here to get your wheels turning. This list is in no way complete, and is merely an example of what one could expect. We know what you need to be successful and as one of our services, we are happy to help you plan, select and prioritize the needs for your specific site(s) based on your budget and site needs. We can also help you set up and code your accounting software to make your end-of-year and pulling reports a breeze. This alone can save you 100's of hours and/or 1000's of dollars in setup and ongoing accounting fees.
Here are some common items to expect.
Site Acquisition and Prep
Permits and Licenses
Landscaping, Fencing, Lake and Water Improvements
Concrete, Electrical, Water/Sewer/ Utility Lines
Buildings and Restrooms
Retail Fixtures and Counters, Displays, Etc.
Cable System(s) and Features
Shade Structures and Other Park Amenities
Banking & Merchant Services
Payroll and Payroll Taxes
Repairs and Maintenance
Taxes and Licenses
Advertising (Marketing, Website, Media, Collateral, Etc.)
Equipment (New and Replacement)
Water & Other Utilities (Phone, Electric, Garbage, Internet)
There are too many specific topics to list here but a business plan doesn't even touch on what the realities are of the day-to-day operations. We know how to run a cable park and what you should expect. We can help you with daily tasks, checklists, how to's, and preparedness in every single category from safety to marketing to keeping the books to what to look for in an employee.
One of the most common inquiry's we receive is "what kind of revenue can we expect". We can tell you from experience that not one single cable park owner is likely to share their real numbers without a mountain of non-disclosures, but after several years of operating and building trusted relationships, we can get you in the ball park so you can plan accordingly. Based on several factors we can research and calculate, we also developed a unique algorithm that has been proven to be within 5% of pro forma prediction in 4 different markets, and over 3 complete seasons. In short, we can help you put real numbers together for yourself or an investor, likely better than anyone else.
Access to Money:Traditional methods of business financing are most likely out of the question, even if you have absolutely perfect credit and existing company assets. If you are willing to tie your home or other substantial personal asset(s) to a loan, it's more doable from a bank's perspective, but the areas of accessible money will most likely be in angel or other private investments. Without getting into too much detail, money can be one of the 2 biggest hang ups, and the ROI (you should know this term) is longer than you will think. Most investors can make a much faster return in any number of ways so your market of potential investors is very slim. That said, depending on your location and some other factors we deem important, we may be able to help you raise financing or even fund some or all of the project internally.
Your Salary: Unless you have access to unlimited funds, building and operating a cable park is a full time job with zero pay for at least 3 years. Until you open and make that first sale, your income with your project is also absolute zero - and could stay minimal for the first 3-5 years. If you are doing this for a paycheck, you should reconsider and at least have some alternate sources of revenue to live on. We don't want to discourage you but the idea that you will be any different from the many other projects we've seen and been involved with would be naive. Not one single owner has ever "retired rich" from the wakeboard industry.
Stay Focused - Don't Get Distracted: It's easy to get wrapped up in the 100's of cool ideas or others opinions on what you should do, but don't get distracted from "getting it done" by being a democracy or focusing on items you can do later, if you get that far. If you choose to work with us, we can help you prioritize and task what's really important now and later.
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What Can Mile High Wakeboarding Do For Me?
After you have done your homework and are ready to move on to the next step, here are some things we do exceptionally well and can help you with.
Financial Plans: Usually 1 of the 3 major parts of the business plan, the financial plan covers all of the related income and expenses and can be as detailed as you need to make it. Most projections are just that, an educated (or non-educated) guess; but we can help you focus on what to really expect for P&L and help you plan accordingly based on the real, here and now. We know the industry numbers extremely well and also developed a unique algorithm that has been proven highly accurate.
Business Plans: There are 2 types of business plans. The very pretty, stocked with pictures, graphs, supporting demographics, references, and other nice details you present to those that you wish to loan you money - and the real, down to earth, how do I do and run things on a daily basis, extremely detailed, nitty gritty, exact, to-the-penny, every single detail plan that you will ultimately have to come up with for every area of your business - and teach to your staff. This will make more sense once you have the go ahead for your project so in short, we can help you with both types of plans or do them for you. You can avoid 1000's of man hours with the right help.
Presentation Materials: You must have pretty pictures, videos, and presentations to quickly convey your message, and sell your project, especially to those that have no idea what wakeboarding is and those that have no interest in working with you. We can create or help you create these presentations and talking points to capture their attention and help you pitch your project.
Actual Presentations: If you are not comfortable standing in front of 10 or 1000 people, we can help. Every pitch we have made has been approved so lets just say that we do this very well. You may need to pitch your idea to a City, Town, or County at any and all levels, and we can assure you that there are very few things we haven't heard at least once, and can't prepare you for. We are very capable of any presentation you may need done, at any level, with anyone, period. And if this is the one -do or die- presentation to make or break your project, you want to make sure you have the right people standing next to you. We are all riders, but your typical wakeboarder is certainly not going to convince a city official that you are the right person for a project if he or she thinks you are an inexperienced, young punk kid. (Hint: know your audience and try to remove all reasons for people to prejudge you. Use common sense and dress appropriately, cut your hair, remove all facial hair and visible jewelry, and cover any tattoos. Something as simple as bad breath could kill your presentation.)
Detailed Business Planning: What exact prices do you have? What are the variables with each? What happens if you are "slammed" and there is a line and upset people? What happens if something breaks and you have downtime? What products will you have outside of the cable? Do you really understand where your money and customers come from? What are the daily procedures for your staff? How and when does your staff get paid? Security for your retail shop and park? (Better have video!) Insurance? Legal budget when someone stubs their toe and wants to sue you? You are probably starting to get the idea and we've only slightly touched on this area. We can save you many man hours on this alone and can virtually guarantee we have the best systems, practices, procedures, checklists, and how to's of anyone out there, bar none. The devil is in the details.
Marketing Plan: This only really matters once you get your final approval but we know this really well and have exact numbers for every idea you can or will think of to back it up. A hint, your target customer is not who you think it is, and many of your buddies will not want to pay to ride at your cable park.
Think about this: Is Group On / Living Social and similar deals, an income or expense item?
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What Are The Costs?
We will update this component as needed to include more detail, but below are some approximate and realistic numbers to have in mind for building out a small or large cable park. Know and understand these figures before jumping in. The numbers never lie, so if you are "not a numbers guy" or leave that to someone else, get with the program and learn to be involved (unless of course, you are infinitely wealthy and have people that do this for you). There are a 1000 considerations and each project is different so these numbers are only to be used as very rough guidelines.
Each 2-tower system will end up costing you up to approximately $60,000 to get up and running. This will get you a 2-tower system ($35,000 to as high as $50,000 depending on the brand), the needed concrete or other anchors ($3000 to $10,000), and the electrical ($10,000 to $30,000 depending on how long of a run the electrical stretch is and what is needed for your site. Electrical is a big cost so it changes greatly depending on a variety of site-specific needs.)
This estimated cost does not include permits, land, docks, water, lake or site prep, obstacles, buildings, improvements, payroll, taxes, rental equipment, insurance, or anything else - just one 2-tower system that functions.
Each 5 or 6-tower (full size) system will end up costing you approximately $350,000 or more. This cost will vary wildly depending on the brand of system used, the land and lake requirements, whether or not there is land or docks around the perimeter of the cable for the walk-back, whether or not you have an island or another water break in the middle and on exposed sides, and whether you need to place towers in the water or on land.
Add the other normal costs (some are listed above with the 2-towers) and start thinking about ROI and you'll see what a tough option this can be unless you have plenty of funding from day one that doesn't have to be paid back within a short time, and a long enough season to make it work - or you are "crazy" enough to slap a building over the whole thing and make it year round.....:)
Each slider, rail, or kicker (collectively called features) will vary wildly in cost, and can cost as much as $50,000 for one single feature that is custom made (no joke). If you choose wood, or aluminum (our preference over wood), are conservative, and learn about plastics, you can reduce and/or offset the costs considerably. A safe estimate is to plan up to 10k per item, and much more for the really cool pool gaps and such that the big boys will want to jib on. There are various opinions on what's better but the basics are a made up of boxes, kickers and inclines (single and double sided), rails (flat, rooftop, rainbows, a-frames), funboxes and transfer boxes (multi level and/or multi directional hits) and a smaller versions of each to learn on. MHW has several plans that we can help you with to get you off to the right start.
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