Steering the Ship

In the past few months, Max and I have had a lot of conversations about the difficulty of being designers and owners/managers at the same time. Max gets to do a little more of the fun stuff than me — he’s the Chief Engineer, after all, and he’s better at it — but we both find ourselves bogged down in day-to-day operations, putting out fires, dealing with insurance/taxes, updating social media, etc. We also have to stay involved in our sister locations, Escape Sacramento and Escape Rhode Island, especially during game builds or when things go wrong. (I spent six weeks in Sacramento this fall working on lease renewal negotiations and hiring/training a new General Manager; Max spent several weeks redesigning and installing Escape The Space Station in Rhode Island and Sacramento as well.)

So in November, we finally sat down for the First Annual Escape Industries Management Summit™ — that is to say, we hunkered down in a co-working space in Philadelphia for three days and did our best to catalogue everything that needs to be done to keep the company running, who should be responsible for it, and what actually needed to be on our own plates. With this in mind, our top items and outcomes were…

1. Hiring.

This winter, we recruited for four new positions, and filled three of them, bringing our CT staff to a grand total of 9 members (not counting Max or me). We used this opportunity to redefine some roles, offer training and advancement to our existing staff, and restructure the schedule a bit where people were stretched too thin. Our new engineer is now officially in charge of tech maintenance; our General Manager, of finance; and our new quartermaster, of inventory.

Staff retreat
We celebrated with our first ever Staff Retreat, complete with fireplace, board games, DDR, and too many chocolate chip waffles. What did we discuss at Retreat? Read more here.

2. Infrastructure.

The other major product of our Summit™ was a prioritized list of 60-some business-related tasks that Max and I wanted to complete for Escape. A lot of these had to do with infrastructure in some way. For instance, our file sharing system worked well when we were just starting out, but had been bursting at the seams for a while. Also, there were several other aspects of the company (password management, training documents, etc.) that were slapped together ad hoc and needed to be revisited, improved, and/or replaced. We came up with items to address in marketing, merchandise, tech and beyond as well. As of today, we’ve completed about half of those infrastructure items, and we’re happy leaving most of the remaining (lower-priority) items to “someday in the future when we have time.” Because it’s still way more fun to design new games.

So what does this mean for you, our adoring fans? We hope that our bigger, more specialized staff can bring higher quality to all the little details that comprise the Escape New Haven experience: online and social media presence, customer service, coordinating large private events, recurring events (stay tuned for our annual Easter Egg hunt!), and of course, the games!

– Ethan, and the rest of the Escape New Haven team