Indoor playgrounds for children are popular locations for parents with toddlers and young kids. These gyms offer a fun secure location where kids can challenge themselves, meet new friends and learn new skills. Options to open a children's indoor playground include buying into a franchise or starting your own independent gym. Once you know the brand direction, you need to acquire equipment and all the proper state registrations.
Franchise or Independent Brand
Many franchise opportunities are available when it comes to indoor playgrounds. The Gymboree franchises developed Mommy and Me classes that made the franchise sought after. MyGym offers classes but has more unstructured playtime hours. We Rock the Spectrum specializes in children on the autism spectrum and other special needs, though anyone is welcome to come and play. All of these franchises have a proven system that works. If you want to operate as a franchise of a well-known chain, you pay a franchise fee plus royalties from your business to the parent company in exchange for the use of the company's name and startup assistance.
Even with a franchise, you still have other out-of-pocket costs such as a lease, labor and insurance. You need a location that is large enough and meets all building code and safety standards. If after looking at the franchise opportunities that are available, you decide to establish your own brand, develop a concept that kids will want to flock to. Perhaps you supplement playtime with princess parties or craft classes. Establish something that makes your brand unique.
Register the Business
The administrative part of starting the business means registering it with the secretary of state and then obtaining a tax identification number. These are required before you can obtain any of the state licensing needed. Contact a commercial insurance agent to obtain the proper liability and property insurance. If you have employees, you're required to have workers' compensation insurance as well.
Indoor Playground Licensing
Indoor playgrounds are not child care facilities. Parents don't drop off their children to be watched by someone else. Because of this, most states don't have specific licensing requirements, but you should check with your local city business planning department to confirm. For example, Chicago requires a Children's Activity Facility permit.
Operations and Equipment
Secure the location and design the layout. Make sure the equipment you purchase fits in the location and that the place doesn't get too crowded. Most indoor playgrounds have a mix of bounce houses, slides, rock walls and jungle gyms as well as ball pits, puzzle areas and dress up sections.
Determine your pricing structure for day passes, sibling discounts and punch cards or monthly passes. Also, establish prices for any classes or parties and what those include.
Make sure parents understand that supervision is required of their children at all times. To keep everything clean and everyone healthy, require all patrons – kids and parents – to remove their shoes before entering the gym and to wear socks. Create a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the gym. Have sections away from the play area for food and drinks and set up changing stations in the bathrooms.
Advertising the New Gym
Any new venture won't succeed without a solid marketing and advertising plan. Look for local parent organizations such as mom's clubs or lactation providers where new parents meet and share ideas. Give a special introductory offer to the group and maybe host a special play date afternoon just for their children.
Take to social media. While ads and general announcements work, find parent groups to join. Share useful tips on parenting and teaching positive play. Be a participant – not just someone trying to sell playground tickets. Offer specials for parties or special rainy day offers. Become a resource for parents, and they will help spread the word for your new facility.