A Day In The Life Of An Escape Room Owner

As an escape room owner, each day is a thrilling puzzle, just like the rooms I create. I juggle not only the enigmatic world of escape rooms but also a demanding day job, family, and life’s surprises.

The key trick in achieving a healthy work-life balance is boosting efficiency – which, as we shall see, is also critical in running our business.

Join me for a glimpse into a typical Friday as I manage the several demands on my time, from the daily escape room operations and my teaching job to making time for family and working on a new project for the escape room!

Rising before dawn – the early hours

rising before dawn
rising before dawn

After a steaming cup of coffee and the morning routine, I find myself in my home office, ready to tackle the day’s challenges, which typically begin with emails and messages from the marketing team. 

Housekeeping for the business

This quiet morning time is also when I dive into the financial aspects of the business, ensuring bills are paid promptly. 

It’s also an opportune moment for other tasks requiring focused concentration, such as crafting blog posts or revising the employee handbook.

Additionally, I use this time to check our escape room’s schedule, even though it’s subject to considerable changes before opening hours.

And right now, with Halloween just around the corner, I also have to look into finalizing the ads and social media campaigns for our upcoming costume contest

Caring for my toddler

I’m done with most of the daily business operations, even though it’s been just an hour since I woke. 

Now, I need to shift focus and attend to my medically complex toddler. I prepare his medication and meals. 

His dependency on a G-tube necessitates a little extra care.

Leaving for my day job (I teach at a university)

Once all is in order, I review my schedule for appointments, meetings, and other obligations tied to my day job. 

Whether I’m teaching or not influences the time I leave the house. 

On teaching days, I’m out the door by 7:30 AM, while on other days, I enjoy a bit more flexibility, usually departing between 7:45 and 8:00 AM.

While half an hour may not seem like a lot of time, it can be a game-changer when balancing business, family, and academic commitments.

A brief glimpse into my day job

glimpse into my day job
glimpse into my day job

As I head for my day job, I like to make every minute count. I usually choose to listen to something productive during the commute. 

Most of the time, it’s content related to technology or programming, offering a light but informative backdrop to my drive. 

Occasionally, I indulge myself by tuning into American football news and commentary – a brief escape from the technical world.

My day job complements the running of the escape room business 

I consider myself fortunate in my day job. A, teaching and engaging with young minds is always a privilege…and B, it allows me to delve into tech-related projects. 

This has proven to be a valuable asset in my ongoing learning journey as an escape room owner.

Today, for instance, I’ll be working on developing automated solutions for various departments within the university. 

While the systems may differ from what I implement in my escape room, the principles of automation remain universal.

What do I mean by that last sentence? How can the university project help with my escape room business?

In the realm of escape rooms, the more automation I can integrate, the less room there is for human error (well, aside from any errors in programming the automation). 

This continuous pursuit of efficiency not only enhances the customer experience but also ensures the seamless operation of our escape room business. 

It’s all part of the intricate puzzle that I, as an escape room owner, must piece together each day. 

Plus, interacting with students offers me insight into how to better engage with players in the escape games and improve the overall experience. It’s proven invaluable, especially in team-building events.

Finding synergies between your various roles can help you better use your time AND achieve better results – in everything.

Arriving at The Escape Adventures

arriving at the escape adventures
arriving at the escape adventures

Our doors open at noon on Fridays, but due to the demands of my university job, I rarely make it in time for the grand opening. 

Today, my dad and son helped me kick-start the day. 

I arrived around 3:30 PM, eager to dive back into the latest project that had been keeping us on our toes.

Our new project for the escape room

our new project
our new project

Without giving away too many secrets, I’ll share that we’re constructing a device that accepts custom coins and dispenses a ball, like the excitement of launching a pinball machine.

Sounds like a simple task, doesn’t it? 

But the project has thrown its fair share of challenges at us in recent weeks. 

Our most recent hurdle involved taming a temperamental stepper motor. 

Despite our attempts to follow others’ experiences, we found ourselves stuck for about two weeks.

Getting the motor to move…finally!

However, last night was a turning point, quite literally. 

I succeeded in getting the stepper motor to move, and the prospect of seeing our machine in action filled me with excitement. 

Yet, as is often the case in our line of work, things rarely go the way you think they will. 

A second hiccup

I was working with a simplified version of the wiring, using only the microcontroller, the stepper motor driver module, and the stepper motor. 

Today, the goal was to expand this to the full machine.

We celebrated a degree of success; the motor turned and even took the correct number of steps. 

But then, it took an unexpected series of tiny steps forward, threatening to throw the entire machine out of alignment. 

Precision is paramount, and any unplanned steps – small or large – could disrupt the experience for our players. So, my dad and I had to initiate a comprehensive diagnostic process.

Dealing with players

To be clear – our escape room is completely family-run. We’re the game masters, guiding our players, assisting them, and ensuring they have a memorable experience. 

Our technical endeavors run alongside our role as hosts.

As it happened, the evening saw only a couple of groups booked for our games, allowing us to dedicate significant time to the project. 

An unusual booking issue, something we hadn’t seen in over two years, demanded our immediate attention and we had to troubleshoot our booking software. 

Balancing long-term projects with everyday customer service – that’s the life of a small business owner in most customer-facing industries.

Did we achieve a breakthrough?

achieving a breakthrough
achieving a breakthrough

We redoubled our efforts on the electrical work, leaving no stone unturned in the diagnostic process. 

After exploring every possible solution, we made the decision to replace the motor driver with a different, more robust model.

Reviewing the schematics and specifications for the new driver

Before we could install the new component, we meticulously reviewed the schematics and component specifications. 

Different components often come with varying power requirements and wire sizes, but fortunately, this new component had few differences from the previous one.

Aside from size and cost (duh!). 

I updated the programming and wiring schematics and prepared to embark on the final steps of installation and wiring.

Dinner, and diving deep into the project

At this point, I was so engrossed in the project that I’d lost track of time. It was already past 9 when my dad asked if I was ready to eat. 

I contemplated skipping dinner as we were tantalizingly close to completing this critical step. 

However, I knew that if I didn’t eat then, I might not get another chance until midnight. And I’ve found that working on fumes doesn’t yield great results.

After a quick meal, I wrapped up the necessary wiring and installation. As is our standard practice, my dad conducted a final double-check to avoid any potential short circuits.

A new problem?

When we powered up the system, the stepper motor turned, but only a quarter of what was intended. 

Panic ensued, but the cause turned out to be a simple oversight – a series of on/off switches on the new motor driver were oriented in the wrong direction. 

We had overlooked the tiny arrow indicating that “on” should be in the down position.

Yeah, sometimes, the solution to a complex problem is – Is the “on” button on?

SUCCESS!!!

A collective sigh of relief followed as we corrected the switches and reactivated the power. This time, the stepper motor spun as expected, with no more unwelcome baby steps. 

The sense of accomplishment was immense, considering that this project constitutes just one of the twelve intricate pieces of the game we’re currently constructing.

Ending the day

ending the day
ending the day

As the clock struck 11, our final booking slot for the night remained vacant, signaling the end of the day. 

Tomorrow is Saturday, a day when I can afford a bit more sleep if my toddler decides to sleep in. 

We’ll open our doors again at noon, and Saturdays are our busiest days. 

I look forward to the opportunities it will bring to engage with customers, hear their laughter, and witness their enjoyment. 

After all, that’s the heart of why we do what we do – to entertain people with captivating interactive stories.

Reflections and takeaways

reflections and takeaways
reflections and takeaways

Time management is key to taste success as an entrepreneur. 

Every minute matters, whether spent on business, family, or self-improvement. 

Achieving precision, whether in complex long-term projects or in daily chores, ensures a business runs smoothly. 

And finding synergies between different roles, in both work and personal life, helps make the most of one’s time and efforts.

Finding my passion in running an escape room

In the world of escape rooms, every day is an adventure, both in solving the puzzles we create and facing the unforeseen challenges of running a business. 

But it’s the thrill of innovation, the joy of sharing our creations with others, and the resolute dedication of my team that makes every twist and turn worth it. 

As the day draws to a close, I’m reminded of our ultimate goal: to craft captivating interactive stories and provide unforgettable experiences for our customers. 

We’ll be back tomorrow to continue our mission, ready to entertain and amaze.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and we can’t wait to see you at The Escape Adventures – the best escape room in Chester, Virginia!

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