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.
The second action these customers can choose to take is to stand their ground and scoff at your reasoning. This group of customers will simply never “get” your mission or your values as a business owner and company. We MUST let these customers go, and forget about them. Every time a customer decides that your business is NOT for them, space is opened up for new, ideal clients, who will love and appreciate all you do.
Remember, a bakery could make the BEST, most delicious peach pie on the planet, and they will always come across a customer who simply hates peaches.
The 3 Complaints we Get Frequently that we Choose to Ignore:
1) “You should extend your weekend hours!”
If you recall my blog about the 6 different areas of focus indoor playgrounds can choose from, you know that we choose to focus primarily on birthday parties. Birthday parties are both our main revenue source AND what we are most known for in our community, which we love.
However, because we choose to focus on birthday parties, this means that we must limit our weekend open-play hours, since most birthdays are hosted on weekends. The small size of our space paired with the fact that most of the parties we host are first or second birthdays with more than 50 adults (which require a large amount of space!) means that we must shut down for every party. We ensure that we charge enough for parties (almost double what our competitors charge!) to justify each party being private. Allowing private rentals is one of the aspects that makes us stand out against our competitors in the area.
Our only available open-play time on the weekend is Saturday from 8:30am-12:00 pm. This upsets some customers, especially working parents.
However, we have found that even when we extend our open-play hours on Saturdays, we still cannot put a dent into the amount of revenue we could potentially be making with private parties.
Therefore, we have stuck with Saturday morning open play and it is working well for us, despite some customers wanting us to change. We know that if we did NOT close for private parties we would NOT have enough cash flow or profit to operate, which we explain to these customers so they can better understand.
We also appease these customers (again, mainly working parents) by adding weeknight classes, events, and extended open-play hours whenever possible, so they have more they can participate in.
2. “I hate taking my shoes off to go inside the play area!”
This is a complaint we hear daily. However, we will continue requiring that socks be worn inside our play area. This is for a few different reasons.
The first reason is that we cater mainly to babies and young toddlers. At that age, children are constantly putting things in their mouths. If we had dirt, snow salt, and outside debris scattered around the play area from guests’ shoes, it would be very likely that a young child would ingest them. In upstate New York, it rains and snows frequently. Allowing guests so wear shoes in carpeted areas after they had trekked through the elements would prevent us from maintaining a clean space AND add to our staffing needs since we would require more cleaning time to be spent each day.
Cleanliness is of utmost importance to us and is one of the main reasons our loyal customers continue to return day after day. If we were to allow customers to wear wet, dirty, soiled shoes inside of the carpeted and padded play area, it would surely derail this priority. I would much rather customers complain about the slight inconvenience of removing their shoes than have customers complain about our facility be anything less than sparkling clean.
Ways we help to lessen the complaints is by ensuring our policies regarding footwear are clearly posted on our website and social media pages. We also have affordable socks available for purchase should someone forget. If a guest has shoes they can NOT remove for medical or health reasons, we have shoe covers available for them to use at no charge.
The time we hear this complaint the most is during the summertime when sandals are prevalent. When guests ask if they can play barefoot, we make a copy of our county’s health code available which clearly states that all employees and patrons must NOT be barefoot in places food is prepared and served.
As long as you make your policies clear and communicate effectively, most guests will be understanding and comply.
3. “You should serve full meals!”
When we first opened, we served pastries, sandwiches, and other fresh snacks that were provided by a local bakery. However, this bakery charged us upfront for the cost of the food, and we were often left with leftover stock that we lost a significant amount of money on.
Discontinuing the majority of our food-service and trimming our menu WAY down was certainly met with some disdain from a small group of customers.
However, I have found that even though people say they want specific services, does NOT mean they are willing or able to pay for it. The only way we could potentially make money from serving anything other than our snack menu is to include a commercial kitchen in our space, which we do not have room for.
Instead, we offer a snack menu AND allow customers to bring in their own food. Not having a commercial kitchen allows us to keep payroll lean and operating costs down.
We have also found that by not offering food, guests tend to not stay as long at our facility. Because of this, we are able to accommodate more families inside our play area per day, which is helpful especially during busy times like spring and winter breaks.
To prevent complaints about this, we allow re-entry with our play passes, meaning guests can leave and return multiple times in one day for one price. While customers use this benefit very infrequently, it definitely helps to boost satisfaction and allows us to charge a higher price for open play.
If we were to cave in and make adjustments based on these three complaints, not only would we let our ideal customers down, but we would quickly lose what makes us unique and special.
As long as your rules and policies make sense for your ideal customer and set your business up to be sustainable and profitable, then keep them in place and be sure to have enough educational support and documentation (like the FAQ page we have on our website with ALL of our policies!) to explain WHY they are in place.
Not everyone will appreciate or enjoy your business-- and that’s OK. As they leave, they will likely be opening the door to an ideal client that will follow AND appreciate your policies.