Play Cafe Ownership Tips

How Our Indoor Play Facility Stands Out From the Rest

How Our Indoor Play Facility Stands Out From the Rest

Indoor playgrounds are gaining popularity because they offer comfortable and secure play areas, and they give kids a chance to burn energy regardless of weather conditions.

As more play cafes begin to pop up around the country and in our own neighborhood, we want to remind you how we think Climbing Vines Cafe & Play is different from other indoor play spaces...

Climbing Vines Cafe’ & Play is a place for parents to bring their children for low-key, imaginative play while they can indulge in a gourmet coffee and snacks, interaction with other parents, and some much-needed unwind time. We strive to add as much value to our customers’ experience as possible. After all, why pay to play if we only offer things children can find in their own homes?

15 Frequently Asked Questions About Our Indoor Playground Facility

15 Frequently Asked Questions About Our Indoor Playground Facility

Our family-owned and operated 2,500 sq. foot space features a clean, imaginative play-area for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, as well as a barista-staffed gourmet coffee, tea, and espresso cafe for adults. It is large enough for the children to run & play, yet intimate enough for adults and caregivers to relax, have a conversation, or catch-up on work.

If you’re a regular at Climbing Vines Cafe and Play, this information should be familiar, but today we want to share some frequently asked questions in case you missed them or you are a prospective play cafe owner looking for your own FAQ inspiration.

What to Do When A Customer Attacks Your Business Online

What to Do When A Customer Attacks Your Business Online

If this is as far as you get in this post, just remember: online criticism will happen NO MATTER WHAT. And it will all be ok.

Earlier this year, a woman orchestrated a coordinated social media attack on my business and me personally. 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.

How to Deal with Copycat Competitors in Your Indoor Playground Business

How to Deal with Copycat Competitors in Your Indoor Playground Business

For a year or so after Climbing Vines opened, I could barely go one day without checking the websites and social media accounts of my local competitors. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, hoping and praying that no one would “copy” my business idea and steal all of my customers.

After two direct “copycats” opened within the first few years, it turns out that I was right about one thing: when someone finds success doing something, others will quickly recognize that and attempt to emulate it as best as they can.

However, I was wrong in thinking that these “copycats” would have an impact on my own business.

5 Ways We Prepare our Indoor Playground For Emergencies

5 Ways We Prepare our Indoor Playground For Emergencies

These days, especially if you are in the U.S., even minor injuries like a finger jam or a slip and fall can have devastating effects on your small business, so the recreational aspect of an indoor playground makes us especially vulnerable to injuries, lawsuits, and disgruntled customers.

We also of course want to prioritize the safety of our guests as much as we possibly can.

Remaining prepared during any sort of personal-injury emergency should be self-explanatory but it’s, unfortunately, one of those things that we all think is never going to happen to us until it does. That’s why today I want to lay out exactly what we did so that our indoor playground facility is as safe as possible and is prepared for emergencies, and specifically, customer injuries, and I want to share the following 5 tips so you can do the same.

The Only Time We've Had to FIRE a Customer at our Indoor Playground Business

The Only Time We've Had to FIRE a Customer at our Indoor Playground Business

The only time we’ve “fired” a customer happened a little over 6 months ago. While this was a difficult decision to make, it was necessary for the well-being and safety of our other customers. Unfortunately, not every family is going to share our philosophies or feel obligated to abide by our policies, so we have found it is easier to let those customers go and focus on the customers that do love and respect our space and our rules.

Speaking of rules, we at Climbing Vines Cafe & Play are big proponents of black-and-white rules with NO grey area, meaning that we work very hard every day to enforce our rules consistently. We currently have a “3 strikes, you’re out-for-the-day” policy, which seems to work well in most cases. Given that we serve mainly families with preschoolers and younger children, we understand that children in this age range can have difficult days.

Should you Consider Opening an Indoor Playground Franchise?

Should you Consider Opening an Indoor Playground Franchise?

If you dream of going into business for yourself but you’d rather not build your business from scratch, franchising might be the right choice for you! However, it can also have a variety of drawbacks.

Franchising (and all the legal jargon that goes with it) can be confusing for first time business-owners, so today I’m going to break down the advantages and disadvantages and how franchising differs from licensing.

How Much Does it Cost to Open an Indoor Playground Business?

How Much Does it Cost to Open an Indoor Playground Business?

Even after you’ve negotiated your lease and exposed any hidden pitfalls or money “traps,” there are still ways to accidentally underestimate your costs. For example, when we were getting ready to open our doors, we underestimated the amount we would need to train our staff. Labor costs add up quickly-- before any revenue even starts coming in. We also underestimated the amount and cost of paper products, inventory, cleaning supplies, and cleaning equipment we would need prior to making our first sale.

This miscalculation caused us to dip into our cash reserve, which was a financial cushion we were hoping to save. I recommend OVER-estimating whenever possible, as this can only have a positive outcome.

Operating costs are also easy to underestimate. For example, when signing our lease, I asked the electric company to estimate the cost to heat our 2,500 square foot space. I knew we would need to heat the cafe most of the year because of our cold climate, so I was careful to get an exact estimate.