Soft play start up - advice wanted please(7 Posts)
I'm currently on maternity leave and due to return to work in December. My role has changed (restructuring) and I can work for 12 weeks and take redundancy if I don't get on with the new role.
If I take the money and leave I'm considering starting a new soft play hire business. Should I buy a franchise? What are the potential money earners aside from kids parties (wondering where to research marketing)? Any advice and guidance gratefully received. TIA.
Why soft play?
Is that definitely the most profitable business that you can apply your skills and industry experience to?
Do you mean a franchise, where you hire premises and set up a branded soft play place or hiring out some sort of soft play equipment, like ball pools?
I have to say I wouldn't work with this sort of market - you'd need to work when the young children / partied are happening, so weekends and school holidays, exactly when you need to be with your own baby.
Other revenue streams could be character appearances at charity events to promote your brand. Santa and elf visits to houses (booking essential so you can map it out!). Weddings - entertainment for the children. Similarly christenings. You could link in with party entertainers who dress up like characters eg Elsa and do a joint venture where you provide a 2 hour party where they lead games and then the second half is soft play. Festivals often have children's areas, you could provide the equipment for that. Summer fetes - charge per 5 mins for a turn.
I wouldn't do a franchise as they will strip most of your profits and leave you with a wage amount of income and you could earn much more than that. Facebook is the way to go. Get on the selling pages for children's things. Local village pages etc. posters in community centres. Don't go mad, it quickly racks up and doesn't always pay in work.
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As a small business owner who targets the preschool market... (Different area however)
Please don't take this as patronising... I'm aware it may read as such but:
Think of the overheads of setting up a soft play or similar company.
Start up costs for your equipment.
Insurance (public liability and equipment)
Vehicle large enough to transport equipment about in.
Insurance for aforementioned vehicle
And that's just the start of it. There's also cleaning equipment, replacing, becoming first aid certified, ensuring you and any assistants you pay have police checks
If you run soft play then in addition to working weekends for parties (less family time) you would probably run weekly "drop in sessions" at different venues
One week you may have 20 families
One week you way have 2
It's incredibly unreliable income model.
On top of that, if you opt for a franchise, they will take a percentage of your takings.
But. If your hearts in it then go for it! Just don't think "ooh, soft play" because it looks fun and like relatively little work. Trust me, my soft play associates are absolute swans paddling frantically under water to push the business forward.
Does your current business experience translate over?
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