ACS Goes International, Eh?


So our company has finally crossed the United States Border!  I can’t tell if the significance of this has quite hit me yet, or if it is something significant enough to have importance in the grand scheme of things. About 8 years ago, Jim and I decided to take this company to limits that it had not yet reached. My father, who started ACS over 40 years ago, had a drive in him that my brother and I looked up to. The drive that we saw in him then was just a simple thing; an ethic to provide for his family that consisted of the kids and my mother. After many years of decision-making, traveling, and making commitments to this company that my father started, I have realized that it was much more that actually drove my father.

When I write these posts, I make sure to be authentic and honest. Because that is what business partnership needs. Honesty is something that the arcade industry has lacked since it has existed. But honesty is something that my company guarantees. I can’t even count the times that I have seen honest people make dishonest companions in this industry, only to get screwed over later. My dad knew that partnerships, in which both parties were equally profitable, would create healthy, honest relationships. That is why ACS has continued partnerships with customers over the years throughout this country, and now across the border.

Now I am not much of bragging man, because we like to keep our company’s most recent moves away from our competitors. But now that we operate internationally I finally have realized what the significance of ACS operating arcade games internationally is: we are the best at what we do. Within the past 5 years, we have successfully operated arcade game rooms on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. Now in 2016, we operate games in the United States and the Province of Alberta, Canada. I want to know how many operators in this industry can say that they have done these things. The negative reputation of some game room operators has driven family entertainment center startups to consider operating their own games. Well I want to say that you don’t need to do that. The capital to do so is not something feasible for all entrepreneurs. So that’s why ACS is here. We can bring the most popular, awesome games into your family entertainment center.

Traveling up to Canada a few weeks ago, something that I hadn’t done since I was 19 so I could legally drink beer, was something I was looking forward to since this deal broke ground. Not because of nervousness, but more curiosity. I have met people all over the US, so I was excited to see what doing business in Canada would be all about. To be honest there wasn’t any major culture shock or anything like that. Everything and everyone was really nice. Really the only difference was the amount of snow. I guess it is mandatory to own a truck up there, because my rental was a white Hyundai sedan and it didn’t fare well in the snow. Everyone had trucks. The people were all really nice and welcoming. Everything went well and they have a really great location set up.

So it was just like any other game room install but it wasn’t in the United States. Now we get to say we operate arcades in multiple countries as well as all across the US. What is our next goal you ask? I’m not entirely sure, but maybe we will be operating in two continents by the end of the year.



Innovative Technology and Customer Service at ACS

Technology is advancing at an ever increasing pace, particularly in the arcade and vending industry, and it’s easy to lose sight of the rock solid foundation that brought the industry here in the first place. With the advancement of cashless payment systems, point-of-sale solutions, data capture, and redemption management, it is easy to get caught in the chaotic world of technology, and ignore the important – dedication to the customer. At ACS, we strive to master both.

I recall an incident I had with a client just a few weeks ago. She was having difficulty getting her UPC scanners to work correctly, thus she could not scan and give out prizes. I worked with her for almost two full hours until we got the scanners working correctly again, which required a tremendous amount of patience from both ends. This episode was a brutal reminder that while technology is leading us into a greater unexplored unknown, it will routinely fail us. These failures are why so many companies are required to promise “high quality customer service.” Here at ACS, we guarantee the same, but to a new client this may seem like a bland or empty statement. Here at ACS, we promise more than just great customer care; we guarantee a continual push to the future whilst embracing technological advancement; all the while still relying on the foundation that allowed us to get where we are today.

So, what exactly does that mean? “I would argue that added value today, which is an attribute that differentiates a product or company from its competition, is primarily the outcome of targeted, well-planned innovation and creativity,” Hank Schlesinger writes in his article Imagination Adds Value to Operation. With our innovative and integrated programs, ServiceTrac 3 and TicketXchange, we are able to help run your arcade or entertainment center in an efficient and profitable manner. Our easy to use service program, TicketXchange, allows for data capture that is simple, efficient, and allows you to see profitable margins. ServiceTrac 3 allows for an interconnected and interactive experience when it comes to arcade repairs, and allows us to be with you every step of the way to get any machine working properly again. Overall, in today’s ever changing market, ACS will be an unfaltering support system for any arcade or entertainment needs you have.

The ACS Infrastructure: Trust, Reputation, and Ethics

Reputation means everything. Creating a good one is only in the hands of the individual or entity taking the action. And the same goes for creating a bad reputation, for oneself or a company. What creates a bad reputation? Poor decisions making for financial and personal gain. What I am getting at here is that if there are a few companies/individuals in a specific industry creating bad reputations for themselves, then that entire industry is viewed as polluted ethically.

In the game vending industry, it seems to be an unfortunate truth that bad business practices have led to a somewhat poor reputation for the industry. Any industry that deals predominantly in cash transactions is vulnerable to manipulation of a relationship between businesses. And this is taken advantage of by people and businesses for short-term financial gain. I say short-term because this sort of action in the long run creates a bad reputation which will then effect how your business is viewed. Eventually nobody will trust or use your service. All of these factors construct a paranoia and sense of hesitance when looking to make new partnerships from a business-to-business standpoint.

This is the part where I boast about ACS as a business regarding trust, reputation, and ethics. Why be so confident? Because since the company was founded by my father Jim Ernst almost 40 years ago, nobody has been swindled or cheated. He always held up his end of the deal and that has remained consistent ever since my brother and I have taken the wheel of the operations since his passing in 2007. ACS sticks out from the crowd among operators in the industry because we understand the simple concept that trust is established by being trustworthy. We were never taught to dupe anyone. It’s not in our DNA. We are transparent with transactions, providing weekly reporting showing our partners where every single penny comes from. What we want to attain from these actions is long-term success, for our company, our families, and our partners.

The bottom line here is that the more profitable your entertainment center is, the more profitable our company is. And every business’ goal is to be profitable. But to do that and have a healthy future for a business, the foundation must be built by trust and ethics, which in turn creates a solid reputation.

-Jeff Ernst

LaserTAG360 Convention

Several weeks ago I attended the LaserTAG360 Convention in Indianapolis held by Creative Works. The two-day event was both informative and interesting on many levels. Every single aspect of an entertainment center were presented, from gathering a business plan all the way to everyday operations. The more detailed sections of the event were obviously all facets of a laser tag in an entertainment center. I had heard many good things about Creative Works and this event, and wow did they deliver.

The convention was both organized and lively. I won’t get into the details, because I recommend you attend yourself. The passes to go were not expensive, and held great value You will learn more than anything you will learn online about laser tag. One of the best parts was going to Creative Works’ model arena, which showed off different software from suppliers within the industry, equipment, and standalone laser related games. The coolest part for me was to see Creative Works’ arena equipment that they create, from design to manufacture. The time and money they put into the model arena had to be incredible, and like I said earlier it is something you have to see for yourself.

Why were facility operators like us at ACS attending this event you ask? An opportunity arose in a nearby town to open a laser tag, which would have been owned and run by our company. So we went to Indy to get more informed because knowledge is power and power is pizza and pizza is money. As we learned more about the aspects of how to run a successful laser tag and what qualified as a fitting space, we realized the building we were looking at did not quite fit the bill. The location was fantastic, but the square footage deemed a bit too small. And there is a great deal of competition present in the area.

Figuring these things out is the exact reason why we are glad we attended, because if we just went ahead and signed the lease and opened the location, we now believe it may have not been the best idea. And this is why it’s so important to take opportunities like the LaserTAG360 Convention so you can LEARN and garner KNOWLEDGE. After you have created a business plan you have to make sure you are confident and knowledgeable with every detail of what’s inside of it.

If you ever want more information on laser tag I strongly suggest attending this event. Creative Works will not disappoint with the options they offer for the themes, designs, and props they can build for your arena.

– Justin