Opening a soft play business can be a fun and rewarding venture for entrepreneurs looking to bring safe, active play spaces to their communities. With the right planning and hard work, your soft play arena can become a popular destination for children’s birthday parties, school field trips, open play times, and more. Follow these key steps to get your soft play business up and running successfully.
Research the Market
The first step to starting any small business is conducting thorough market research. This will help you determine if there is sufficient demand for a soft play venue in your area. Consider the demographics of local families – are there a lot of young children? Scope out potential competition – are there existing indoor playgrounds nearby? Try surveying parents to gauge interest and get feedback on what features they would like to see. Your market research will guide important decisions like location, size, attractions to offer, and pricing.
Create a Business Plan
Every new business needs a detailed business plan to estimate costs, secure funding, and guide operations. Your soft play business plan should include your business concept, market analysis, projected revenue and expenses, operations plan, marketing strategy, and funding requirements. Outline your startup costs for construction, equipment, inventory, insurance, licensing, etc. Define your staffing needs and pay rates. Having a well-researched business plan is crucial when seeking loans or investors to get your business off the ground.
Find a Good Location
One of the most important decisions you’ll make is where to locate your soft play business. You’ll need a commercial space of at least 2,000 sq ft for most operations. Proximity to families is key – consider busy areas near schools, neighborhoods, shopping centers, and entertainment areas. Make sure the space is accessible for people with disabilities and suits a layout with play structures, cafes, party rooms, and restrooms. Check zoning laws and get required permits and inspections for commercial construction.
Design and Build Out the Space
The fun part is designing your soft play space! Choose playground vendors and select exciting play structures like multi-level platforms, slides, ball pits, climbing walls, obstacle courses, etc. Maximize fun and safety with padded flooring, mesh barriers, vibrant colors, and interactive elements. Hire reputable contractors to handle any necessary construction and renovations to the space. Don’t forget to also design a welcoming lobby, ticketing counter, private party rooms, seating areas, restrooms, and a cafe if desired.
Purchase Equipment and Safety Tools
Shop around for high-quality soft play equipment that meets industry safety standards. When purchasing soft play equipment, look for a provider that prioritizes durability, ease of cleaning, and safety features like rounded edges and cushioned materials. Invest in special lighting and sound systems to enhance the atmosphere. You’ll also need to stock first aid kits, establish emergency protocols, install security cameras, and train staff on safety procedures. Plan where fire exits, water stations, and defibrillators will be located.
Hire and Train Exceptional Staff
The success of any business depends on building a great team. Hire energetic employees with some childcare experience to actively supervise play areas. Offer competitive pay and training on safety protocols, customer service, food handling (if applicable), emergency response, etc. Make sure staff are CPR certified. Define each position’s duties clearly. Foster a fun, safe work environment so employees enjoy their job and provide excellent service.
Market Your Business
Start spreading the word about your fabulous new soft play space! Create flyers, coupons, and events to distribute at local schools, daycares, community centers, and pediatricians’ offices. Launch a website and social media pages showcasing your attractions. Offer discounts on introductory open play sessions. Place ads in local newspapers, magazines, and online. Partner with popular kids’ brands. Satisfied customers will spread positive word-of-mouth reviews.
By following these key steps and dedicating hard work, you can turn your dream of owning a thriving soft play business into a reality.