Wondering how to start an indoor playground? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Industry Snapshot: Indoor Playground Businesses
The indoor playground industry continues to be viable for business savvy entrepreneurs, but it has seen significant changes since its heyday in the 1990s.
The 90s were the boom period for indoor playground/soft play recreation centers. At the time, there were relatively few providers, but strong demand from U.S. families who wanted safe recreation opportunities for kids parties, special events and free play time.
Today, the number of providers has increased while demand has waned, due in part to a "been there, done that" feeling among consumers. To compete, indoor playground startup entrepreneurs need to be at the top of their game and willing to pioneer new fields in the industry.
Essential Value Propositions for Indoor Playground Startups
Across the board, entrepreneurs who are starting a business in 2011 need to know the value propositions they are presenting to consumers. An awareness of value propositions is especially important for entrepreneurs in industries in transition -- like the indoor playground business.
- Innovation. Successful indoor playground startups need to emphasize innovation. If you set out to duplicate someone else's indoor activity center model, it's unlikely that you'll be able to attract enough kids and families to hit revenue targets. Instead, focus on creating a play environment that kids have never seen before.
- Safety. Safety is the number one priority for indoor playground businesses. Parents are more safety conscious than ever before -- they know that good playground equipment is very safe and won't accept playgrounds that sacrifice safety to save a buck.
- Diversity. If you're plan is limited to a few plastic crawl tubes and a ball pit, forget it. Diversity is the name of the game of these days -- and it doesn't come cheap. An indoor playground and fun center that features enough space and activities to keep 200+ kids occupied at once can easily top $250,000 to start, so you'll need a capital plan that is capable of keeping pace with a highly diverse play experience.
Creating a Business Plan for an Indoor Playground
A common mistake for a small business owner is to not create business plan for your startup indoor playground.
A good business plan defines the game plan. Without it, you'll be flying blind, limiting your indoor playground's ability to succeed long-term.
Start by defining your business mission. The process of writing a mission statement doesn't have to be complicated. With a carefully crafted mission statement in place, it's time to initiate the hard work involved with writing the rest of your indoor playground's business plan.
For indoor playgrounds to be successful, the business concept has to fly in the local marketplace. As an aspiring entrepreneur, the most important advice we can give you is to avoid investing in an underperforming, unprofitable location. Low rent puts more companies out of business than high rent. Trust us on this one. It pays to spend a little extra for a great location.
Don't Overlook Competitors
Long before you open an indoor playground in your town, it's a good idea to determine how strong the competition is. Use the link below to find competitors in your area. After clicking on the link, type in your city, state and zip code to get a list of indoor playgrounds near you.
Prior to opening your doors for business, be sure you fully understand the competitive landscape and where your new business will fit in.
Turning Competitors Into Collaborators
If you are seriously contemplating launching an indoor playground, it's a wise move to speak with somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
Thankfully, an owner of a an indoor playground outside of your community may be more than happy to give you a few tips, after they realize you reside far away from them and won't be stealing their local customers. In that case, the business owner may be more than happy to discuss the industry with you. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
The key question new becomes: how to find an owner of an indoor playground in a different locale who can assist you?
Simple. Let your fingers do the walking by using the link below.
Advantages of an Indoor Playground Purchase
On a percentage basis, more entrepreneurs intend to enter indoor playground ownership through a startup than through a business purchase. But the harsh reality is that startup indoor playgrounds experience a high failure rate compared to entrepreneurs who buy existing indoor playgrounds.
There are a lot of factors that need to be considered in buying vs. starting a business. By buying a profitable indoor playground, you'll shorten the amount of time it takes to achieve a return on your investment because you'll have the advantage of a proven operation and an existing customer base.
Explore Franchising Options
Your odds of surviving in business are greatly increased if you purchase a franchise and benefit from the prior work of others and their lessons learned.
If you planning on starting an indoor playground, you may want to check out whether franchising might help you avoid common entrepreneurial mistakes.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing indoor playground, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to indoor playgrounds, this isn't the right place for you. Try these resources instead:
If you are still exploring all of your options, please browse our directory of guides below.