9 Tips for Handling Online Criticism as a Business Owner

9 Tips for Handling Online Criticism as a Business Owner

If I am being honest, this has been a post that’s been on my “idea board” for months. Handling online criticism has always been a struggle for me, and I am still constantly learning and maturing as a business owner.

This past week, I had an angry woman orchestrate a coordinated social media attack on my business and me personally, and it left me gutted for hours. I could tell soon after she messaged me that she was attempting to get a rise out of me for social media attention, which was confirmed by the other reviews she had been recently leaving local businesses.

However, I was able to take (most) of my own advice and quickly diffuse the situation. I didn’t handle it perfectly, but I have absolutely come a LONG way from my early years as a business owner, and I am proud of my response to the situation and still stand by it.

My hesitation to write this post stems from the fact that I am not perfect, in this area especially. I have made some major mistakes in dealing with online reviews and criticism that still haunt me to this day. My temper is HOT (like the SUN hot) and I often take reviews very personally because I care so deeply about my business and think of it as an extension of myself.

The 3 Most Common Complaints We Get (And Why I Choose to Ignore Them)

The 3 Most Common Complaints We Get (And Why I Choose to Ignore Them)

Over the last 3 years in business, we have gathered a tremendous amount of feedback from our community. While we try and take all of this into account and make improvements and changes based on the needs of our customers, we sometimes get suggestions that we choose to not implement.

This isn’t to say that we don’t value these suggestions or the customers who make them. However, I firmly believe that if you try to please every person who comes across your business, you will end up diluting your mission and company values until you ultimately end up pleasing no one, including your current customers.

I am going to share the three most common complaints we receive that we choose to ignore. We do thank those who bring them to our attention, and simply explain why we do things the way we do. This will result in the complaining customer taking one of two actions. The first action would be that they listen to why we are choosing NOT to implement their requested change and understand the reasoning. Customers who choose this path will likely appreciate the time you took to address their concerns and remain a customer and fan.

Opening an Indoor Playground- The 6 Main Ways to Make Money

Opening an Indoor Playground- The 6 Main Ways to Make Money

One of the most common questions I get from my students inside Play Cafe Academy and from prospective owners inside my inbox is: how do we make money? So, variations of this question might be, What are our revenue streams? How do they compare to one another? Is there a “right” model to make the most money when operating an indoor playground or play cafe?

And my answer, for my business, is simple. We focus on parties. That is where the majority of our revenue comes from and our birthday party packages are high-end and high-margin, so they are a very profitable revenue stream for our business and we are proud of the experience we give all of our party clients.

3 Ways to Fund an Indoor Playground Business | The Pros and Cons of Each

3 Ways to Fund an Indoor Playground Business | The Pros and Cons of Each

After helping dozens of indoor playground owners and prospective owners get their businesses up and running, I have noticed that the funding phase can be the most difficult part of the process. In fact, of the prospective owners I have worked with that did NOT end up making it to the finish line, most have cited insufficient funding as their reason for halting progress on their plans.

While insufficient funding can certainly be a very real issue you face on this journey, I would like to encourage you to think outside the box when planning your efforts. Also, remember that the funding process can take years depending on your savings.

The 6 Biggest Misconceptions I Hear about Starting an Indoor Playground Businesses

The 6 Biggest Misconceptions I Hear about Starting an Indoor Playground Businesses

Through the years I have gotten hundreds, maybe THOUSANDS of calls, emails, and in-person inquiries from prospective play cafe owners. They generally all start the same, with an innocent, “Hey Michele, I was wondering if I could pick your brain about opening a play cafe in my area?”  When I had more time and only one business, I took close to 100 of these calls and meetings.

This was one of the many reasons I created Play Cafe Academy; because I noticed everyone had the same questions, got stuck at the same parts of the opening process, and had the SAME misconceptions about what it’s really like to start an indoor playground business.

Here are the 6 things I hear from nearly EVERY prospective owner, and I why each statement is not necessarily true.

The 5 BEST Things about Opening an Indoor Playground

The 5 BEST Things about Opening an Indoor Playground

I am constantly scrutinizing my business and making tweaks to our processes and systems to maximize our profits and elevate our clients’ experiences, and often forget to reflect on the immeasurable joy this venture has brought to our family. Yes, there have been tough times-- lots of tears and many hours spent away from my family while getting our business up and running, but I am so happy to look back and say it was ALL worth it. We are at the point in our venture where we have mastered what works and what does not work, and we have an incredible team who runs the show and constantly brings us new ideas to implement. Now that we are into a brand new year I want to share the five BEST things about opening an indoor playground and give you an idea of how opening ours has changed our lives for the better.

4 Ways to Market an Indoor Playground or Play Cafe

4 Ways to Market an Indoor Playground or Play Cafe

Many owners feel like marketing their business online is just putting posts up on Facebook, but there is SO much more to it than that. Marketing is building an email list, it’s having a high-converting website, it’s having a word-of-mouth marketing strategy, and it’s converting your customers with IN-STORE marketing.

Why Should You Open an Indoor Playground or Play Cafe?

Why Should You Open an Indoor Playground or Play Cafe?

If you are considering opening an indoor playground or play cafe, please consider this my vote of confidence in you. When I think about why I began this journey, I remember that it all STARTS and ENDS with family. I have been able to spend thousands more hours watching my children grow up and raising them than I would have had I stayed at my corporate job. And now, my husband has been able to achieve the freedom to accompany us full time as well!

I love that I am able to pick them up every day from school, volunteer in their classroom, and be there to put my youngest down for his nap. It is so fun involving my sons and their interests in our special events as well. This coming weekend, for example, they’ll be able to meet some new friends, visit with Santa in a sensory-friendly environment, and get a nice professional photo taken! They love helping with the set-up and being our special helpers.