Practical Advice to … Setting Up An Indoor Playcentre


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Presentation from the PPA New Start Ups Seminar Day which took place on Tuesday 13th March 2012 linked to the INPAS Show at Stoneleigh Park

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  • Six years ago, when I first opened my centre, this would be a different set of slides. Is the future of the Industry bleak, or is this opportunity for optimism? There is still potential to do well in this industry, but careful planning is vitally important. Writing you business plan, convincing lenders, organising leases..all these things are small hurdles compared to the daily running of a centre. Don’t underestimate the impact it can have on your lives. If you are opening soon, come back next year and let me know if I am talking nonsense, I would love to be proved wrong. I would love to see centres opening with fresh ideas, but still covering the basics. Be unique and kick ass!
  • Introductions
  • KC New operators- do any of these ring a bell? How many existing operators thought this and now know the realities? If you are about to open a centre…speak, to some existing operators, the PPA, and take information provided by some manufacturers with a pinch of salt! Impartial Advice is worth its weight in gold!
  • NS New operators- do any of these ring a bell? How many existing operators thought this and now know the realities? If you are about to open a centre…speak, to some existing operators, the PPA, and take information provided by some manufacturers with a pinch of salt! Impartial Advice is worth its weight in gold!
  • NS A typical play centre at 3pm on a weekday, or a sunny day during the holidays! Business is very weather dependant!! Business can be affected by lots of different things! (End of month, credit crunch, competition, Christmas plays, holidays…) Typical investment of £200,000 Credit crunch affecting business in existing sites- banks not keen to lend
  • KC A depressing indication of operators caught in the Great Ball Pool Rush…like the gold rush, without the gold! Opportunities to purchase failing sites, older style sites requiring updating…and in some cases new sites, which may have failed to meet their repayments. All opportunities, but buyers beware!
  • KC A depressing indication of operators caught in the Great Ball Pool Rush…like the gold rush, without the gold! Opportunities to purchase failing sites, older style sites requiring updating…and in some cases new sites, which may have failed to meet their repayments. All opportunities, but buyers beware!
  • NS Recently we are seeing more and more competition. In America the range of venues offering parties is extraordinary, from shops, to bakers, to garages to hairdressers. We now see parties in the UK becoming an attractive addition to many venues…churches, yes churches, to gyms. Offers, new concepts, new attractions all come with the threat of taking away our target market!
  • NS Enough doom and gloom…If at the end of all this you still think that the indoor play centre is the right career choice for you, then this quote may fill you with optimism? Can the new style of play centre, like those operated by majority of our members, see the rise out of the ashes…a professional product. Low lying fruit will be picked off, only those that grow in the top braches will survive. Mediocrity will not exist…only the best will survive.
  • KC
  • KC
  • NS
  • KC
  • NS Stand out from the rest, The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." — Albert Einstein ... Even if something seems to be working well in one centre, it may not transfer to your location. All these things are vitally important, but this list is only a small selection, get one of these wrong, and the results can be disastrous .
  • Background: Architecture and Planning Play Industry Civil Engineering and Construction Play Concepts - Consultancy
  • Landlords keen to fill leisure units… ie- old nightclubs Rent 51% of sites paying £5-£10 … 38% paying £3-£5 but down 9% on the previous year. Retail/ Leisure units more pricey generally
  • NS
  • Introductions
  • Introductions
  • Introductions
  • Introductions
  • Introductions
  • Introductions
  • Introductions
  • KC
  • If you choose to go ahead, the second choice you should make is to join the PPA If you want to be involved with the sea change this industry is gong through, to be ahead of the game, and get the support to do so, then joining the PPA is the only way.
  • Practical Advice to … Setting Up An Indoor Playcentre

    1. 1. Practical Advice to … Setting Up An Indoor PlaycentrePlay Providers Association (PPA) Seminar 13th March 2012
    2. 2. Welcome and Introductions Tracey Bancroft PPA Exec Member + Ezeeeplay
    3. 3. Aims:• Provide an insight into the realities of operating an indoor play centre• Learn from existing operators and leading industry suppliers• Cover standards, guidelines, statistics and best practice• Discuss future industry trends and innovations• Opportunity to ask questions to the panel and speakers• Information to allow your to make an informed decision on your start up
    4. 4. Seminar Outline:3. Introductions (Tracey Bancroft) - 11am4. Researching the Market: (Neil Scott and Kate Costin)5. Location and Planning (Neil Scott)6. Raising finance in the current climate (Mark Johnson) – 12:15 Networking Lunch at 12-3010. Case Study – Indoor High Ropes (Sarah Ansell) at 1pm11. Play Standard’s & choosing a manufacturer (Graham Robinson)12. Creating your brand and marketing your site (Kate Costin)13. Ongoing considerations of operating a Play Centre (Tracey Bancroft)14. PANEL - Question and Answer Session -1:45 pm
    5. 5. Researching the MarketIs there an opportunity??Neil Scott and Kate Costin
    6. 6. What does the market look like?• Highly fragmented supply structure (700~ Private Operators)• A new breed of operator creating higher customers expectations• However MANY business failures• Current sites having to diversify to survive• Tough economic conditions for both existingoperators & potential start ups raising finance• Increased competition and costs for operators
    7. 7. Why might you want to open a play centre?• The centre near me is always heaving “they must be making loads of money”??• I want to start my own business to spend more time with my young family??• A local play centre closed- there is a gap in the market??• There are no play facilities here and so no competition??• Running a play centre looks easy and I can do better than what’s already there!?
    8. 8. BUT the realities are…
    9. 9. Many sites closing or changing hands … UK’s largest multi-site operator into liquidation September 2011 “CASH FLOW IS KING”
    10. 10. The economy hitting spend per head
    11. 11. Others are seeing potential!Party / leisure spend competition in all forms …
    12. 12. Any cause for optimism ??“We are seeing a lot of entrepreneurs recognizing that they need to start workingon their projects now, even though we are still in the tail end of the recession, sothey can have the projects open when economic conditions improve.”“The Great Recession resulted in many previously marginally performing projectsgoing into the red. Owners are now calling us in to audit and analyze the projects,determine the root cause of their poor performance and develop strategies toimprove performance with everything from management and marketing torenovations and rebranding. “
    13. 13. Still some great new sites opening
    14. 14. Industry Trends
    15. 15. Are play centres profitable ?• Only 54% reporting a profit in 2009• 192 play centres “for sale” on Dalton’s• Opportunity for failing sites to be purchased
    16. 16. Industry Benchmarks ?• 33% Benchmark• Admissions and F+B up• Parties down• 2011/12 Spend per Headreduced
    17. 17. Don’t be just another play centre …“DIFFERENT IS GOOD”• Product, be unique• Create a visitor experience with extended dwell times• Business Model – what’s yours?• Branding• Food and Beverage, Party, Secondary Spend• Customer Service
    18. 18. Location, Location, Location and Planning Neil Scott Play Concepts
    19. 19. Where are play centres located? 20 15 10 5 Frequency 0 Retail/ Industrial Town Other Leisure Centre Type of Location
    20. 20. What size of site’s are currently trading? 35 30 25 20 15 10 Percenta ge 5 0 0-7,500 7,500-10,00 10,000- 12,500- 15,000- 20,000+ 12,500 15,000 20,000 Si ze
    21. 21. Industrial Estate Retail/ Leisure Churches!! Town Centre Shopping Centre
    22. 22. The Bubbles Factory: Case StudyThe Bubbles Factory opened on the 3rd November 2010 in Carluke, ScotlandA 500sqm - community based indoor soft play and cafeThe £1.1million delivered a very high quality, sensitively designed, environmentallyconsiderate building including a Scottish government grant of £550,370.00Local regeneration to drive footfall to other businesses in the town centre
    23. 23. What makes a good location? • High Footfall = Large Catchment Area • Lack of Competition • Height of unit • Car Park Don’t settle for anything less than perfect!!
    24. 24. Invest in Good Design The design of the physical facility has a profound impact on not only the cost of the facility, but just as, if not more important, the quality of the guest experience which directly impacts on revenues and the cost efficiency of operating the business. Design directly affects: •Development cost •How much your guests enjoy the experience of visiting •How much they spend •Whether and how often they return •What it costs to operate the business
    25. 25. Invest in Good DesignMost design decisions are permanent, or at the least, very costly to correct if theycan be corrected. In most cases, the cost of developing a center with a flaweddesign is the same as developing one with a good design. So getting the design rightin the beginning is very important to long-term success.
    26. 26. Planning • Policy … Town Centres • Employment • Highways… Access • Car Parking • Public Transport • Sequential Approach Do you need professional help? Change of Use? How long does it take? How much will it cost?
    27. 27. Planning Recommendations… • Have a robust approach • Take early pre-planning advice • Discuss your proposal with highways • Establish the availability of Public Transport links • Demonstrate a need for your proposal • Understand previous planning approval / refusals
    28. 28. Financing Business Growth Presenter Mark Johnson
    29. 29. Bamboo TreeFastest growing woody plant in the world grows very little until year 4In the 5th year, the tree can grow 80 feetBUT they don’t grow up every year – but continue growing under ground.Build your foundations!!
    30. 30. Key points for today•Bank funds, equipment leasing & EFG loans (replaced the old DTI) andother local grants or just use your own cash•Information required from all lenders•Recession has severely impacted on niche sectors like Soft play but withgood housekeeping, funding is out there•Market conditions – UK recovery stuttering, rates are set to be on holdfor the foreseeable future.•But this creates opportunities
    31. 31. Cash Flow ?• Most small businesses that fail within the first 3 years do so because of lack of cash-flow, not because of a bad product.• Up to 50% of businesses fail in the first 12 months & 70% within 5 years• Know your numbers ‘Dragons Den’ type questions, T/O, P&L, GP, net profit, margins• Key is; planning, planning & planning!
    32. 32. Information Required?• Business plan; directors background & CV, SWOT analysis, location details, (serviceability security ability)• Financial projections; be realistic with accurate assumptions, ask your accountant for help• Personal net worth statements for all directors - none home owners will not get finance without a suitable guarantor• Common sense underwriting
    33. 33. Information Required?• Personal bank statements for all directors - not including any unpaid items or missed mortgage repayments• Investment, clarity ref bank and personal, (often lenders look for match funding)• Clean credit search• Other commitments e.g. cards, HP, should be limited• NO CCJ’s or x bankrupt
    34. 34. Bank V’s Leasing• Bank normally take security on your property• Bank normally used for working cap and refurbishment work• Leasing is secured on the asset only with a personal guarantee• Leasing for equipment only• Repayment periods; Bank loans 5-7 yrs, equipment leasing over 3 yrs normal for a new business up to 5 for established• Lenders like to see match funding i.e 100k loan with either 100k cash contribution / 100k equity in the back ground
    35. 35. Types of equipment one can lease QURIKY KIT FINANCE!• The Play Structure• Catering Equipment• Furniture• EPOS• CCTV• Air con
    36. 36. A good advisor• Able to provide a mix of bank and equipment finance• Package your file professionally to both bank and leasing houses• Have access to a number of funding institutes• A good business may have a healthy mix of bank funds, equipment leasing & personal cash, with head room on each.
    37. 37. Summary• Common-sense underwriting• Do not over borrow• Be committed from the start & once open thats just the start!• Clearly the market is still challenged but this also creates opportunities• Recent case studies; The play factory / Yellow Sub, Play arena, The Zone, Treasure chest• Look up enterprise funding magazine• Find a trusted advisor
    38. 38. Presenter Mark JohnsonJohnson
    39. 39. Networking Lunch 12-30 until 1pm
    40. 40. PPA Supplier Member’s
    41. 41. Case Study- Indoor High Ropes
    42. 42. A journey to "Kaos"a case study
    43. 43. Aims• Highlight some areas and unexpected issues that we experienced as a new start up business.• Encourage information sharing among new starters. It can work......• Provoke a lively discussion........particularly when I get to health and safety !
    44. 44. From the beginning........• The idea• The drawing• The research and development• The Business Plan and Finance
    45. 45. • The Building• The Planning Department• The Lease and Legal• Fit out, general building, toilets, cafe, seating area, office• staff recruitment, policies• Construction Health and Safety
    46. 46. The marketing
    47. 47. • Marketing strategy• FREE !!!!!!Press and radio coverage• SOCIAL MEDIA• Community interest
    48. 48. • Staff ropes course training, general induction• E. R. C. A inaugural inspection, accreditation• Local government Health and Safety
    49. 49. One week following signing of lease
    50. 50. Eight weeks later . . .Anything is possible !!
    51. 51. What is kaos?• An indoor ropes course based in Lytham, Lancashire• Innovative whole family activity and experience from the age of six• Cafe and seating area• Birthday parties, Leavers proms• Corporate Events
    52. 52. Some of our clients to date ? • General Public, families, • Youth football and rugby teams • Schools • Youth groups, Guides, Scouts, 6-24 • Companies • Charitable youth organisations, government funded. • Adult groups • Primary Care Trust.
    53. 53. What is the bestadvice I could give? Research Plan Revisit Be different
    54. 54. How do I feel ? Knackered!
    55. 55. Would I do it again? Absolutely
    56. 56. Indoor PlaySetting the Standard Graham Robinson
    57. 57. BS 8409: 2009 - Code of Practice• Fully enclosed play areas that offer children attractive opportunities aregenerally those presenting different levels of challenge and difficulty.• Children can explore solutions to these challenges and practise their newlyacquired abilities in competently designed and managed settings, where the levelsof risk have been assessed and, through supervision or design, are managed.• Precautions need to be taken by play providers to reduce the severityof injuries if children make the wrong judgement but the possibilityof harm cannot be completely removed.• This British Standard aims to help play providers develop facilitiesthat children find enjoyable and reduce the risk of serious or disablinginjury.
    58. 58. Why do Play Areas need inspections?• Risk Assessment is clear legal requirement…Health & Safety at Work Act 1994 & Management of H&S at Work Regs 1999• Systematic safety inspections are recommended as Best Practice in theaccepted standard• BS EN 1176 and HASAW Act (playground equipment)• Note: BS EN 1177 (is the test method for safer surfacing)• Insurers prefer Safety Inspection & Risk Assessment• Parents, carers & play providers want safe playgrounds• Play providers also want to avoid litigation.
    59. 59. Why do Play Providers need inspections?• For peace of mind• To ensure compliance with HSE requirements for best practice• To avoid risk of injury to children & young people• To operate legally regarding H&S & DDA (Disability Discrimination Act)• To have valid insurance against risk• To avoid litigation
    60. 60. BECAUSE they want:• To determine priorities for routine inspections and confirm compliance withchanging standardsB. Help with preventative maintenanceC. Identify worn parts needing replacement or refurbishment to maintainrequired levels of safetyD. Provide a written record and/or evidence of continuous safety checks andmaintenance.E. Provide defence and/or evidence in legal cases/insurance claims
    61. 61. There are Benefits• Achieve good value from capital costs of equipment• Keep down costs of preventative maintenance• Maintenance to extend working life• Improve safetyWhy do they need RPII Inspectors?
    62. 62. BECAUSE: -The H&S Act & Regulations specify ‘Competent’The BS EN Standards specify ‘Competent’RPII Annual Inspectors are: - • Examined/Certificated Competent • Re-examined every three years • Independent Third Parties • Experienced Professional Inspectors
    63. 63. BECAUSE: -• RPII Examinations: • Are rigorous & to BS EN Standards•RPII Inspectors: • Are kept up-to-date & exchange info. • Are bound by RPII Code of Conduct • Hold all relevant insurances • Write comprehensive reports• Using RPII inspectors aids consistent interpretation• Insurers / Risk Managers prefer & may specify ‘Competent CertificatedInspectors’ and CRB Checked
    64. 64. Types of Inspections:Routine Visual Inspection• Looking at the equipment’s basic condition, especially faults due to recentvandalism, breakages and also cleanliness of the playframe.• These inspections can be carried out by the manager or his/her staff andshould be recorded on a simple sheet or book.• The equipment supplier should provide a checklist.• Dependant on usage, these inspections should be carried out either daily orweekly as a minimum.
    65. 65. Operational Inspection• Looking in more detail at the condition of the equipment, providing aquality control check on the more regular inspections and identifying wearand tear on the equipment.• Such inspections should be carried out by an appropriately trained memberof staff, or alternatively by a suitably qualified specialist and should berecorded.• These inspections should be carried out at least on a monthly or quarterlybasis.
    66. 66. Annual Main Inspection• To be carried out by an RPII (Register of Play Inspectors) Indoor AnnualInspector not connected with the playground operator or manager.• Essentially looking at vandalism, wear and tear, long-term structuralproblems, standards compliance and design, along with risk assessment etc.• This report essentially covers the overall safety of the playground.• Inspection should also include an annual oversight of the internal proceduresand documentation to ensure that the correct procedures are in place.
    67. 67. Choosing a Manufacturer
    68. 68. Key Considerations• At what stage do you need to speak to a manufacturer ??• What is your budget??• Equipment : Building Ratio … maximise your profit per square foot• New TrendsIssues with funding play centres• Current economic climate means banks are not keen to lend• Presenting the business case• Proving demand
    69. 69. Establish that the Play Provider can…• Provide product information and assistance• Demonstrate a quality control system for design, manufacture, installation,maintenance and repair• Offer an independent post installation inspection service, to be carried outbefore the facility is first open for public use• Provide documented confirmation that the play equipment has beeninstalled in accordance both with relevant standards and manufacturersinstructions• Provide an after-sales inspection, repair and maintenance service, includingan emergency response and a warranty covering defects in design,manufacture and installation• Demonstrate that they are covered by appropriate and adequateprofessional and product indemnity insurance• Take new clients to existing facilities and/ or provide a list of reference sites
    70. 70. Why use an API Member?API membership signifies professional competence and performance• Strict admission criteria : Ensures that all members have the necessaryexperience, financial status and quality of workmanship.• Professional code of conduct : Members are committed to high standards ofcustomer service and business practice.• Standards: Delivering to clearly defined EN, BS standards, guidelines andDDA requirements to maximise play value and accessibility and minimize riskto users. Buyers can also rely on API members being at the forefront of newthinking on play value, accessibility, risk and challenge.• Technical mediation service: Impartial assistance in the resolution ofcomplaints and disputes, if necessary, between Members and their customers.
    71. 71. How much will it cost?• Industry average is 10k per 1,000sqft of play centre for soft play… So normallysoft play will cost you 90K for 9,000 Sq Ft• 3 months landlord rent as a deposit upfront? + service charge plus solicitors fees.EG= £6 per Sq ft x 9000=54k year. Stamp Duty on lease• Building reg’s / engineer, planning permission (EG- Plan 10k inc complications),design drawings for the whole centre to pass planning & building reg’s. Fire Riskassessment as required by law. DDA, labour.• Doing the actual building works (??£$), Building materials, electrical (equipment,plus installing plus testing), plumber, gas engineer, fire alarm , security systems(alarm, cctv), disabled toilet. Fire marshall , Food Hygiene training
    72. 72. How much will it cost? Continued• Extractor (~3K), cooker / oven, griddles, microwaves.... Fridge& freezer (~ 1K)• Toilets, hand wash, hand dry, DDA toilet equipment• Carpet & flooring commercial non slip• Tables, chairs and sofas.... EG -9,000 Sq Ft centre ~10k also high chairs, nappychanging ? lockers?• 1st aid equipment, 1st aid training. CRB checks. PRS license, PPL License, TVLicense, Entrainment License?• Advertise for staff, T-shirts, clothing, Chef clothes. General kitchen tools.vending machines / rides / Arcade machines.• Hoovers, Cleaning Equipment• Menus, Print and Design•EPOS Systems, Online Party Booking software?
    73. 73. • Party room set up, Disco lights, music system. Large PA system.Coffee machine EG ~2k• Hot water machine, hot choc machine, reserve coffee machine forwhen the main on breaks Heating ?? Again thousands of pounds, myrecent air conditioning additional cost EG ~£28 K• Decoration (labour & materials), Cherry picker lift hire, PC systems, BTinstall / connection,• Insurance? Staff opening cost? Business rates? Your wages whilebuilding? Sage accounts system? Accountant ?• Interest payments & repayments on loans ?•Opening day stock & materials… All needs paying before opening & money come rolling in
    74. 74. API, PPA, RPII – A New Partnership …• Play Providers Association (PPA)• Association of Play Industries (API)• Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII)
    75. 75. Marketing and Creating your Brand Kate Costin
    76. 76. Creating your Brand • The face of your business • Brand Values – what do you stand for? • What is your target market? • What do you want customers to think about your business? • Be consistent throughout • Invest in professionalism • TOOLS … Ie- SWOT analysis, Marketing Plan, Briefing external companies
    77. 77. Key Challenges of Brand Management Brand MapYou and your competitors Not just play centres!
    78. 78. Great Brands in the Indoor Play Sector Belper, Derbyshire Putney, Wimbledon, Newbury
    79. 79. Pre Launch • Website • Literature • Staff and Uniform • Signage • VIP Event- Golden Ticket •Where will people be looking to find you? Have a budget and stick to it…
    80. 80. Best forms of Marketing • WORD OF MOUTH • Good PR (and bad!) • Mascots • Local Events • Group Marketing • Local Parenting Magazines / Websites – eg Primary Times, • Less Effective : Radio, Buses, Flyers • Stick to budget • Have a Marketing Plan and MEASURE
    81. 81. Social Media • 2,013 Facebook Fans • 1,757 Twitter Followers
    82. 82. Operating your Centre Tracey Bancroft
    83. 83. Playcentre Usage FactorsSetting up your play centre is the easy bit!! Continuing the journey… • THE WEATHER!!! • Competition … All forms Market Saturation • Repeat Business … Customer Service • Marketing your centre • The economy • Time of Year … Peak – Off Peak and Holidays
    84. 84. Turnover vs Size of Site•CapacityMaximising secondary spend•Effective use of spaceOff peak•Play Value VS turnover•3 RsReview, Reinvent, Review
    85. 85. Ongoing Considerations• Tight management of all your overheads - utilities , suppliers , resources• Maximise opportunities to negotiate with suppliers to drive down costs• PEOPLE = 20 - 30% OVERALL COSTS - but also most beneficial resource!!• Rota structures /controls - match anticipated demand -• Policies/procedures - legislative and business• 3 Rs - Review, Review, Review• NETWORK - PPA - organisations, associations, local authority members, MP’s• Educate yourself, staff - understand the industry/understand your customers• Partnerships with other organisations, business• BE PROUD - SELL YOUR BUSINESS - SELL YOU !!
    86. 86. Legal Requirements vs Best Practice•UNCRC - Rights Of The Child - includes right to PLAY, leisure & rest•Responsibility for PLAY - devolved to Local Government - constant review ineach member country•Health & Safety at Work Act 1994 & Management of H&S at Work Regs 1999•Anticipated change to legislative demands•PPA members best placed to absorb changes - e.g CRBs, annual safety checks,operational checks•Peace of mind - professional /conscientious PLAY PROVISION PROVIDER•Robust against litigation•Able to meet customers expectations and allay fears•Best placed to meet future opportunities
    87. 87. Re-invest to survive and grow• Party package offering ie- Laser Guns, Build a Bear• Add new attractions ie- Playbus, Climbing Wall, GO OUTDOORS• Diversifying• Again having a USP and focusing onyour key market’s ie- Toddlers• Keep customers returning by addingsomething newWhen to Reinvest??How often to Reinvest??Doesn’t need to be expensive!!
    88. 88. About the Play Providers Association• Background• Code of Practice and Standards• Cost Saving Benefits• Campaigns• Networking Events• How to join …
    89. 89. The PPA - Pushing the Industry forward!
    90. 90. The PPA- Associate MembershipCost Saving BenefitsJOIN TODAY ONLY FOR £50 +VAT FOR THE REST OF 2012Network SupportIndustry News and EventsHow to join … and upgrading
    91. 91. Session 7- Question and Answer Panel: Kate Costin Sarah Ansell PPA Association Kaos Manger New OperatorTracey Bancroft Neil Scott Mark Johnson Ezeeeplay Play Concepts Johnson Reed PPA Vice Chair Consultant Ex PPA Chair
    92. 92. Conclusions• Invest in market research - speak to existing play operators, industry expertsand reputable suppliers• Ensure you are able to invest at the right level without undue risk• Be different, Be unique and Be professional• Be knowledgeable on industry standards and know your responsibilities• Bring your site to life with a consistent engaging branding and marketingactivities. Opening a play centre is just the start…• Join the PPA !!