What to Do if One of Your Indoor Playground Business Ideas FAILS

What to Do if One of Your Indoor Playground Business Ideas FAILS

If you are considering opening an indoor playground or if you own one already, it is your job as the visionary and the owner of the business to think about the big picture ideas and initiatives and really perfect the revenue streams in your business.

But what happens when you make a decision that doesn’t pan out?

Let’s say you had a great idea for a service offering, or a class, or an event that you were REALLY excited about. You spent tons of time creating it, promoting it, and executing it.

However, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. Maybe it wasn’t as profitable or as well attended as you expected, or perhaps people just didn’t seem interested.

In this blog I want to give you 2 examples of things that either just did NOT turn out to be profitable for us and why, and let you know what we did to pivot and either make changes, or even scrap the initiatives altogether.


1) Cafe Food

First of all, we don’t have a full kitchen. We do have a permit to serve food and drink, but we do not have a set-up that is adequate enough to function as a full restaurant. When we first opened, we had a local bakery deliver sandwiches and baked goods to us and would in turn sell them to our customers.

Now, you MAY be thinking that because the food was brought to us pre-made by a vendor that we did not make enough profit to justify the cost. And you’d be partially correct. We only made a small amount on each item, but for us, the convenience factor for our customers made it worth it.

HOWEVER, what I did not anticipate was that serving full meals would actually affect our open play profits. Since we are a smaller facility and can only accommodate about 20 children at a time inside our play area, it’s important to our success that we are continuously welcoming new families in all day. This works for us since we typically accommodate babies and toddlers, who aren't keen on playing for hours and hours anyway.

When we were serving full meals, though, we noticed that families were staying HOURS longer than they previously were, which limited our ability to welcome anyone new into the facility. Parents were letting their kiddos nap in the cafe and then returning to the play area after. 

While we’d love to be accommodating for as long as families need us to be, we would NOT be able to sustain our business that way, so we made some changes.

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Instead of offering meals we allowed families to bring in their own snacks, which turned out to be a much better (and more profitable!) choice for us. We did understand, though, that parents valued being able to play all day. What we did for our customers is instead allowed re-entry with every play pass. So families can now leave, head home for nap and lunch, and then return to play. While that family is gone, we are available to serve more families. We still sell a limited menu that is prepared in-house, that is a win-win for all involved!

This small change has made a HUGE impact on our business!


2) Special Events

All of our special events, such as our Puppy Adoption party, take an incredible amount of time and effort to put together and execute. There are sales pages and social media events to put together, supplies to purchase, and decor to assemble.

We were finding, after our first year in business, that our events were taking up SO much time, effort, and resources that we were not making much in terms of profit.

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However, one small tweak changed the game for us.

Instead of doing one-off events during a slot where we didn’t have a party booked, we instead blocked an entire half-day off and dedicated it entirely to that event. We offered MULTIPLE time slots on the SAME day for each event meaning we only had to set up once, which saved a lot of time and money.

By offering multiple time slots were were also able to accommodate the schedules of more families and in turn sold MANY more tickets.

We were also able to buy supplies in bulk which helped keep our costs down as well.

I am so glad that I did not give up on either of the initiatives I mentioned once I noticed they were not as profitable as I expected. By making a few simple tweaks to our offerings, we were able to completely change the game for ourselves. 

So if something you are working on is not panning out -- don’t be afraid to pivot or try something new. You never know which tweak will be the one that changes everything for YOU!


If you are considering opening an indoor playground business, Play Cafe Academy can give you the confidence you need to open a profitable indoor playground business!

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