Indoor soft play

(21 Posts)
Ellarose85 Tue 20-Sep-16 15:48:45

Hi.

I'm thinking of starting up my own indoor soft play business as it's something that my end of town is missing.

Has anyone done anything similar that could give me a few pointers?

It's very earlier days, I'm meeting with the princes trust soon for help and advice and I'm in the process of putting a business plan together

Mybeardeddragonjustdied2016 Tue 20-Sep-16 15:51:12

Tip for getting the customers back - serve nice coffee coz I don't know a bloody soft play that does!! Good luck with your venture!

mypropertea Tue 20-Sep-16 15:58:31

No shoes, must where socks and clean clean clean!!!
split the area into age groups so the tinys don't get squashed.
Coffee's served with lids
Clean highchairs and tables
Have a supply of all sizes of nappy and sell them individually really cheap- there is always someone who has run out.
Tell parents that don't watch there kids to leave, they stop other people coming back.
Good food and drinks.

Did I mention clean?

AppleMagic Tue 20-Sep-16 16:03:36

I live abroad now and there are lots of "soft play" type places here that just have large inflatables (assault course, giant slide etc) instead of a permanent frame.

Parietal Tue 20-Sep-16 16:08:46

have an imagination corner with dress-up hats (crown / construction worker etc). get cheap ones & replace them often, but I think it would be v. popular & different from other soft plays.

justabigdisco Tue 20-Sep-16 16:12:06

Wifi and decent coffee

Ellarose85 Tue 20-Sep-16 16:12:41

Thank you for all your ideas and suggestions, I'm loving the imagination corner idea and also the decent coffee grin

KP86 Tue 20-Sep-16 16:24:51

Possibly charge a slightly higher price to get in (say £7-8) but include £1-2 of food/drink credit. People will then spend a couple of extra pounds, total of £10-11 to get a coffee and maybe a snack for the kids without feeling like they've been completely ripped off. I'd rather that than £5-6 to get in and then £3 for coffee and another £3-4 for a ham sandwich.

Definitely keep it clean and in good repair.

Make it tall enough that a normal sized adult can climb in with small child if needed.

Small bikes on a marked track can be fun.

Love the dressing up corner idea.

Enidblyton1 Tue 20-Sep-16 16:27:22

The best one I've been too is a fairly small soft play for 5 and under which had little sheds with different play stuff inside eg. Tool kits, toy kitchen, dressing up... There was also a 'sensory' space with mirrors, disco ball and floor that lights up when you walk on it. They have a small 'traditional' soft play frame with a slide etc. The whole thing fits in a fairly small space with about 10 cafe tables - room for maximum 30 adults.
Brilliant for pre school age and a real change from the other soft play places I've been too.
They also give you a little card on the way in. Every time you buy some food/drink they mark the card and you pay at the end. I've been there for lunch and always end up spending almost £20 when you include entrance fee, coffee, lunch for me and DC. I think people are more likely to spend if they only have to get their wallet out once at the end.
Agree with others that you need cleanliness, good coffee and wifi!

duskonthelawn Tue 20-Sep-16 16:33:07

Second sensory area, if done properly they can be lovely and something many children don't get to experience anywhere else
Also agree with seperating the areas into age groups and successfully making sure kids stick to the right area!

Toffeelatteplease Tue 20-Sep-16 16:51:35

Have an adult sized walkway around the ground floor of the playframe (works well around the centre side). Have an adult sized route up onto the second (or third) floor of the play frame. Have a walk way around the outside (or down one side) of the play frame with a clear view of the inside (IE nets not foam sides)

Make sure your adult seating has a good view of this "open" side or sides.

Kids behave significantly better the more visible they are within the playframe and if it's easy for parents to get in and out of the frame. Parents are more likely to keep an eye open if you make it easy for them to do so.

Toffeelatteplease Tue 20-Sep-16 16:52:17

Centre slide not side

Soubriquet Tue 20-Sep-16 16:53:49

Make sure there are identical features in each age zone

One of ours has a toddler section with a ball pool. It is supposed to be for up to 4 year olds only but it regularly gets hijacked by older children because they don't have a ball pool in their section

When they are in it, younger ones can't go as they are extremely rough. Jumping in from heights, throwing balls as hard as they can etc

Toffeelatteplease Tue 20-Sep-16 17:02:39

oh yeah don't have a ball pit. But if you really must do make sure they are really open and visable and not very deep. And never at the bottom of slides

elliejjtiny Tue 20-Sep-16 17:08:18

Love the sensory area idea, also the adult sized walk way. Decent area for babies/toddlers.

Ellarose85 Tue 20-Sep-16 17:49:16

These suggestions are great and really helpful, thank you.

A sensory play area is something that I will definitely look in to as we don't have anything like that in our town.

The adult sized walkway - also a fab idea (I got stuck trying to chase my toddler in a soft play area on holiday this year blush)

mypropertea Tue 20-Sep-16 19:14:20

Separate Room(s) you can rent out for baby sensory, yoga, jo jingles etc.

milpool Tue 20-Sep-16 19:19:09

One near us has a lovely baby sensory room.

I would definitely decide whether you want to pitch at baby-toddler or toddler-plus as I think it's difficult to cover all ages.

What toffee said - visibility. The one I go to most often is pricier, but the cafe is next to the (gated) soft play area, with a whole glass wall so you can drink coffee and watch without actually being roped into climbing etc. And it keeps bigger kids in check, being visible.

Toffeelatteplease Tue 20-Sep-16 21:00:55

I have one with SN who I spent a long time following around play areas. One thing that puts people off is badly behaved children and without exception you get badly behaved children if there is less chance of a grown up (any grown up!!) seeing you or getting to you. some play frames are impossible to supervise or get into. They were always the worst for behaviour.

also retrieving a child who has given up in exhaustion (SN) is a nightmare when you can't really get to them.

Nice coffee is awesome (would much rather pay £3 for nice coffee than two for the horrible machine stuff) but a properly accessible play frame is worth its weight in gold.

Ellarose85 Wed 21-Sep-16 08:10:48

milpool that's a good point about the two age groups. I have a baby and a toddler and struggle to find anything suitable for them both near me so I have been thinking about aiming it at under 5s.

Good coffee is a must and I would like to offer healthy/organic meals and snacks for the little ones as the only similar places nearby off sugar filled and processed foods. I have a brilliant mum friend on board who is awesome with baby and toddler nutrition so she has given me some great pointers and advice.

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