profitable indoor playground

Why I Created Play Cafe Academy | Open a Profitable Indoor Playground

Why I Created Play Cafe Academy | Open a Profitable Indoor Playground

If you've been keeping up with my weekly blogs or watching me over on YouTube for a while, you know that I tend to talk about opening a profitable indoor playground-- my recommendations based on what we did right and what we did wrong with Climbing Vines Cafe & Play.

Today, I really wanna take a step back and share a little bit about why I create this content and began Play Cafe Academy. (My paid program where I teach people step-by-step how to open an indoor playground and also hold their hand through the opening process!)

I will never forget four years ago when I was researching this business model. When my newborn was only 11 weeks old, I went back to work full-time and I just remember sitting at my desk thinking, "This is just not me. This is not what I want. I want to own my business."

But I had no idea where to start.

5 Ways We Make School Break Weeks as Smooth as Possible

5 Ways We Make School Break Weeks as Smooth as Possible

If you are a parent whose child is preschool-age or above, you understand how “break weeks” can be. Routines go out-the-window, and it’s easy to get stir-crazy, especially if you live in an area that stays cold well-through spring break like it does here in Western New York!

It can be very tempting to plan a fun outing for every day of the week, yet here’s the thing; Everyone else is also planning to do the same.

That can mean difficult parking, lots of crowds, and tantrum-inducing lines. However, we have implemented some strategies at Climbing Vines Cafe & Play to help make even the busiest week as smooth as possible for families that choose to visit us. While we have added tons of little touches that keep customers happy, even while they’re waiting, it really comes down to communication.

6 Ways we Deliver an Above-and-Beyond Birthday Party Experience

6 Ways we Deliver an Above-and-Beyond Birthday Party Experience

At Climbing Vines Cafe & Play, we offer a variety of services from classes and camps to open-play and private events. It’s our adult and child-friendly birthday parties, though, that we have chosen as our focus.

While we, of course, put time and resources towards making each aspect of our business the best it can be, I have found that having one primary focus helps us best serve our customers. Having one top priority has also helped our indoor playground stand out against our local competition because we have established ourselves as the “go-to” premier venue for private birthday parties, particularly for children turning ages one, two, and three.

But creating a stellar reputation takes more than simply declaring a focus. It’s essential that you plan your entire process, from the very first customer touch point to the last, with this priority in mind. There are a few different ways that we go above and beyond with our birthday party process that gives our clients such an excellent experience that they not only book their events with us year after year, but they also refer their friends and family.

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.