Are you passionate about creating a fun, safe space for children to play, learn, and explore but need help determining where and how to start?
Don’t worry if you have little-to-no experience in this industry. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps to launch and operate an indoor playground, bringing smiles to kids, team members, and parents alike.
Step 1. Do your research and create a business plan
When deciding whether or not opening an indoor playground is a viable business opportunity for you, it’s worthwhile to conduct extensive market reseach, gather insights and data before creating a business plan.
Here’s what prospective operators should consider:
Identify the target demographic for the indoor playground, including age groups, income levels, and family characteristics. Analyze the local population to understand the potential customer base.
Study the area's existing indoor playgrounds and family entertainment centers. Assess their offerings, pricing, customer reviews, and strengths and weaknesses to identify opportunities for differentiation.
Research current market trends in indoor play and family entertainment to understand consumer preferences and demands.
And then use all of that information to build your business plan, which should give a concise overview of the indoor playground, it’s mission, vision, target market and unique selling points. You’ll also want to include:
- Company Description: Describe the business model, the type of indoor playground, and the experience you aim to create for customers.
- Market Analysis: Summarize the findings from the market research, including the target demographic, competitive landscape, and market trends.
- Marketing and Sales Strategy: Outline the marketing and promotional efforts to attract customers, including digital marketing, partnerships, and special events.
- Services and Offerings: Detail the range of services and attractions in the indoor playground, such as play structures, party packages, café offerings, etc.
- Operational Plan: Explain the day-to-day operations of the indoor playground, staffing requirements, and safety protocols.
- Financial Projections: Include projected revenue, expenses, and cash flow for the first few years of operation. Also, outline the sources of funding and potential return on investment.
- Risk Assessment: Identify potential risks and challenges affecting the business and provide mitigation strategies.
- Implementation Timeline: Create a timeline outlining the steps to launch the indoor playground, from location selection to opening day.
- Sustainability and Growth: Outline plans for maintaining the indoor playground's success, customer loyalty, and future growth and expansion opportunities.
By conducting thorough market research and creating a well-structured business plan, I can position the indoor playground for success and effectively address the needs and expectations of the target audience.
Step 2. Choose the right location
Choosing the right location for an indoor playground is critical for ensuring seamless business operations, delivering great guest experiences, and maximizing profitability. Here are some essential factors for attractions business operators to consider:
- Accessibility and Visibility: Select a location that is easily accessible to the target audience, preferably in a high-traffic area. A visible location increases the chances of attracting passing foot traffic.
- Proximity to Residential Areas and Schools: A location near residential areas or schools can attract a higher number of families, making it convenient for parents to bring their children for playtime and events.
- Parking Facilities: Adequate and easily accessible parking is essential to provide a hassle-free experience for guests, especially families with young children.
- Safety and Zoning Regulations: Ensure the location complies with safety and zoning regulations for indoor play areas. Consult with local authorities to understand any restrictions or requirements.
- Size and Layout: Choose a venue that can accommodate the desired number of attractions and activities. Consider the layout for efficient traffic flow and visibility of play areas.
- Nearby Amenities: Check for nearby amenities such as restaurants, cafes, and retail outlets. Being close to complementary businesses can increase foot traffic and enhance the overall guest experience.
- Cost and Lease Terms: Analyze the costs associated with the location, including rent, utilities, and renovation expenses. Negotiate lease terms that align with the long-term business plan.
An optimal location, combined with well-planned operations and excellent guest experiences, will contribute to the success and profitability of the business.
Step 3. Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Opening an indoor playground or playcenter typically requires various permits and licenses to ensure compliance with local regulations and safety standards.
The specific permits and licenses needed may vary depending on the location and the scope of the business. Here are some common ones to consider:
- Business License: A general business license is required to operate any commercial establishment, including an indoor playground. This license is typically obtained from the local city or county government.
- Zoning Permit: Verify that the location you have chosen is properly zoned for an indoor playground or entertainment facility. Zoning regulations may vary, so it's important to check with the local zoning department.
- Building Permit: If any structural modifications or renovations are needed for the indoor playground, a building permit is likely required. This permit ensures that the facility meets safety and construction standards.
- Health and Safety Permits: Indoor playgrounds are subject to health and safety regulations to protect the well-being of visitors. Health department permits may be necessary, covering issues like food handling (if a café or food service is included), sanitation, and water quality.
- Fire Safety Permit: Fire safety permits may be required to ensure compliance with fire codes and safety standards in the event of an emergency.
- Occupancy Permit: An occupancy permit ensures that the venue meets specific safety and capacity requirements for the number of people allowed inside at one time.
It's important to remember that the permitting process can be time-consuming, so start early and be prepared to follow any additional requirements specific to your location.
Working with a business consultant or attorney familiar with local regulations can also be beneficial in navigating the permit and licensing process smoothly.
Step 4. Identify the equipment providers and suppliers
When opening an indoor playground or playcenter, attraction venue operators need to work with various equipment manufacturers and suppliers to source the necessary play equipment and materials.
Here are the types of manufacturers and suppliers you may need to collaborate with:
Indoor Playground & Softplay Equipment Manufacturers
These manufacturers specialize in producing play structures, climbing frames, slides, ball pits, tunnels, and other play equipment designed for indoor use. They offer a wide range of products suitable for different age groups and play themes.
Soft play equipment suppliers provide padded and cushioned play items like foam blocks, mats, and interactive soft play elements to enhance safety and creativity.
Furniture and Seating Suppliers
Collaborating with furniture suppliers is essential to furnish seating areas for parents, café areas, party rooms, and other spaces within the playcenter.
Safety Surface Suppliers
Safety surface suppliers provide materials like rubberized tiles or poured-in-place surfaces that offer cushioning and protection in case of falls.
Party Supplies and Decorations Suppliers
Suppliers of party supplies and decorations can provide themed party items, balloons, and other accessories for birthday parties and special events.
Cleaning and Sanitization Product Suppliers
Collaborating with suppliers of cleaning and sanitization products is crucial for maintaining a safe and hygienic indoor play environment.
Maintenance and Repair Services
Establishing partnerships with maintenance and repair services is essential to keep play equipment and facility infrastructure in excellent condition.
When selecting manufacturers and suppliers, operators should consider factors such as product quality, safety standards, pricing, delivery timelines, customer support, and post-sales services.
Step 5. Choose a venue management solution
When choosing a venue management solution for a new indoor playground or playcenter, operators should consider think about how the system meets their specific needs and enhances overall business operations.
Here are some important considerations:
- Functionality and Features: Evaluate the functionality and features of the venue management solution. Ensure it includes essential modules such as ticketing, admissions, POS, scheduling, reporting, waivers, and customer relationship management (CRM).
- User-Friendly Interface: Choose a solution with an intuitive and user-friendly interface that can be easily navigated by staff, reducing the learning curve and minimizing errors. A well-designed U/I can also help increase your online conversion rates at the point of checkout.
- Scalability: Consider the scalability of the solution to accommodate potential business growth and expansion in the future. It should be able to handle increased transactions, customer data, and additional locations if needed.
- Integration Capabilities: Check if the venue management solution can integrate with other systems or applications or has an open API.
- Reporting and Analytics: Ensure the system provides comprehensive reporting and analytics features to track sales, attendance, customer behavior, and other performance metrics.
- Data Security: Prioritize data security and compliance with data protection regulations to safeguard customer information and maintain trust.
- Payment Processing: Check if the solution offers a built-in payment gateway to offer convenient payment options to customers.
By carefully considering these factors, operators can select a venue management solution that efficiently manages day-to-day operations, enhances guest experiences, and contributes to the success and profitability of the indoor playground or playcenter.
All-in-one systems help streamline and simplify your business operations, and systems like ROLLER also offer many features that help operators manage indoor playgrounds, like the ability to sell tickets in-store and online, powerful POS, reporting and reconciliation functionality, a robust payments processor, guest feedback collection and analysis tool, and much more.
It’s all in the planning
Opening an indoor playground with little-to-no experience is an exciting journey that requires dedication, research, and careful planning.
By understanding your target market, creating a safe and captivating environment, and providing exceptional guest experiences, you can create a thriving and fulfilling business that your guests want to revisit over and over again.
Contact us at ROLLER if there’s anything we can do to help make your indoor playground business journey more seamless, profitable, and enjoyable.