I'm currently a nanny but have been thinking of starting a play cafe for some time. Im looking into this a lot more seriously but have a few questions.
There are many other soft plays in my area, within 10 miles there are 6 of a similar style to what I want (minus the café) and 3 large framed soft plays. they all have their downfalls, which using softplay regularly as a nanny, I plan on addressing within my setup.
I intend to start this on a sunday as an alternative to the football (there is a social club above the premisis I'm interested in) I think that by opening Sundays, when all of the others are closed, I can draw in some customers and win them over before expanding to a 6/7 day play area.
I'd like to know what downfalls you've experienced within your play area and what you'd like to see within one.
Any input would be greatly recieved as I'm going to begin my Business plan soon!
- reasonably priced - good mix of equipment - baby/toddler bit away from main sectiob - clean - parking - a cafe that doesn't just sell chips - seating (for those that are watching) that moves, fixed means you cannot configure to match your party size - easily accessible toliets
I do have to say that I generally go to a few different places so that DS isn't bored of the same place.
I can tell you from the one that has just opened up around here what you shouldn't do: charge adults for entry (no adult wants to go to a softplay) and then have an overly expensive cafe. It narks people. I haven't been becuase I get put off by people complaining about the expense.
cost is the biggest factor, rarely go these days as with 3 under 9 the cost is high. Paying £2 for an instant coffee is madness, adult drinks should be reasonable price - as others have said the adult does not really want to be there.
We travel past several soft plays to get to one which has reasonable food/drink prices and does a loyalty scheme for admission.
Sunday opening may appeal to some, expect you will soon do all weekend.
Consider what age range it willbe suitable for, I find hall based groups are for under 5's so creates a problem when one or more siblings are older.
(We met at a conference a few years ago at horsley towers, hru?)
I intend on keeping costs low and want to appeal to parents before nannies hence the Sunday thing. Eventually I want a permanent premisis but what with there being so many in my area I want to test the market first.
Price is always an issue for me, one in particular is so over priced and disgusting that I will refuse to meet nannies there out of principle. The faults I've noticed over the past 7 years are; Cleanliness Prices Availability of good/healthy food Car parking Visibility from seating Size And loyalty.
We go to maybe 1/2 a week (esp if its rainy) and get nothing back for our loyalty. Whizz kids offered a loyalty scheme but its my second let favourite due to its size.
You won't know how Sunday opening goes until you try. Lookout (though many may just be playing in the playground and woods) and Coral Reef carparks were crammed today - not indoor plays but places used by parents, so there is demand for things to do and as winter starts then demand for indoor places I feel increases.
Would targeting a specific market work well? I feel providing something for children in a large age range will be tricky, so maybe making it clearly say an under 5's facility would go down well with some people, though will put off others. Consider the area it is in, who the target customer is, can you get a focus group together to see what parents in the target group would want?
I avoid places with food myself and ds (fussy eater) won't eat. So anywhere that does chips is fine by us. Fancy sandwiches with salad and fashionable dips are a big no no. Though dd who doesnt like chips wpuld be fine. Ds eats cream cheese sandwiches only/pitta/wrapsI don't like butter, mayonnaise or other spreads
My kids don't like fuzzy drinks and are intolerant to sweeteners so proper fruit juice plus the option of having tap water.
Proper tea served in a cup/mug not a plastic/cardboard cup would keep me happy.
Oh and nice home made plain ish cakes too. Not pre packaged dry muffins or fancy cup cakes with goo that look good but the kids will make a mess with.
Plain iced fairy cakes/rice crispy cakes for the kids and chic cake/Victoria sandwich for me please.
My thoughts entirely. It'll be worth a try at least I feel. Then expanding to Saturdays and Fridays will be easyish.
With regards to food, due to it being a village hall, the likelyhood is I'll be limited to a toaster and a kettle haha. Thankfully I have a coffee machine (nespresso) so can make an espresso/latte/hotchoclate and tea. Mugs are a must for me also. Nothing worse than a polystyrene cup. I'm attempting at least civilised, verging on classy.
As an avid baker there WILL be cake. Adult and child. Probably crispy cakes/muffins/biscuits for the children and something more sophisticated for the grown ups. I'd assume I'd get staples like fruit and drinks (diet coke and juice are always a fave) from the local cash and carry.
It's fairly cheap The food is good It serves real coffee And tea The staff are very quick to act on complaints
I've bolded that last point because that to me is the most important part. You can sell all the lovely food and have all the greatest equipment but if a misbehaving child isn't removed as soon as the staff is alerted? Then I won't go back.
We had one instance where a child hit my son's friend out of no where and that child was removed and given to his mother ASAP and they were asked to leave. No arguments allowed.
That's how soft play should be, since parents don't seem to pay attention any more!