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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.

What We USED to do when an Employee Quit

What We USED to do when an Employee Quit

As any business that employs part-time team members, we see a fair amount of employee turnover at Climbing Vines. This is true for any local business, but especially for an indoor playground. Many people will apply and join your team without fully understanding what to expect, or what’s expected of them since the business concept is relatively new.

While I felt business was a strong suit of mine, when I first opened my play cafe, I was in no way prepared to manage a team or to develop efficient processes. After all, in business school, we learned a LOT of theory without a lot of application. Everything I knew assumed “perfect conditions.” However, in a real brick-and-mortar business, perfection is not the case. Appliances break, humans make errors, and customers are unpredictable.

So, I’m not proud to say, managers or key employees have left our business unexpectedly and I was left to scramble to replace them.

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.

The Profitable Indoor Playground Business Plan: 5 Red Flags I Look Out For

The Profitable Indoor Playground Business Plan: 5 Red Flags I Look Out For

Since I opened the doors to my indoor playground in early 2016, I have had hundreds of prospective owners reach out to me asking to “take a quick look” at their business plan. Now, not all of them have gone as in-depth as I did when creating a business plan, but most business plans are major documents that take a great deal of time to review.

While I no longer offer one-on-one consulting because I have chosen to dedicate my time and energy towards helping my Play Cafe Academy students achieve success in their businesses, I do still peek at the occasional business plan that comes across my “virtual” desk.

The reason I am still able (and willing!) to do this is because I can typically glance at some key areas and get a quick gauge on whether or not the prospective owner has done thorough research and if they have realistic expectations.

While I don’t review every plan in-depth (unless you’re one of my students), I wanted to share with all of the play-cafe hopefuls out there the few key sections I look at first and usually have some immediate feedback on.

5 Things I Still Do Myself in My Indoor Playground Business

5 Things I Still Do Myself in My Indoor Playground Business

In an earlier blog post, I discussed the 7 things I no longer do in my indoor playground business as I have grown and matured as a business owner.

I referenced Michael Hyatt, who, in many of his books and programs continuously refers to designing your ideal days and weeks as “the desire zone.” Operating within your desire zone, as he describes it, simply means you are spending the bulk of your time doing what you both love AND are good at.
While there are many tasks I cut completely and some I delegate to better-suited team members, there are several duties that still lie within my “desire zone,” and that I feel are important for me to handle personally.  While this is constantly shifting as my priorities (both professionally and personally) evolve, these are 5 of the tasks that I’m not giving up just yet as a business owner.

7 Things I did the First Year of Owning My Indoor Playground Business that I DON’T Do Now

7 Things I did the First Year of Owning My Indoor Playground Business that I DON’T Do Now

As I have grown and matured as a business owner, one of the most important things I have learned is what to spend my time and energy on, and what I am better off delegating.  Michael Hyatt, in many of his books and programs, continuously refers to “the desire zone” when it comes to designing your ideal days and weeks. Operating within your desire zone simply means you are spending the bulk of your time doing what you both love AND are good at.

For me, a great example of something I was doing that was OUTSIDE of my desire zone was payroll and bookkeeping. I neither enjoyed these tasks nor did them efficiently. Hiring a bookkeeper and accountant was expensive, which is why I held off on making the hire for so long, but once I did offload those tasks, the benefit I brought to my business and the additional sales I generated as a result made it well worth the investment.