11 Most Commonly Asked Questions I Get From Prospective Indoor Playground Owners

As you know we just wrapped up 2019 and I want to give you guys a kind of year-end wrap up as we head into the new year and I wanted to answer the 11 most frequently asked questions I get from prospective indoor playground owners!

So I dug through my email inbox, my youtube channel comments, my Instagram & Facebook messages AND all the questions inside of my group coaching program Play Maker Society and THESE are the eleven questions that come up again and again and again.



This is definitely by FAR the number one question that I get. I get this question all the time and it's a little bit tricky to answer actually because we're located in western New York so it's very very cold in the winter and very mild in the summer. So, even though I typically answer this question with, “about 20 to 25 families per day” as a typical day that is pretty rare. In the summer we're a little bit slower.  However, our busy indoor play season ranges from November all the way through May so we're a LOT busier during those months and we can serve between 50 and 80 families every single day!

In the summer a typical day is more like 10 to 12 families so even though I usually answer with “20 to 25 customers a day” that's because I'm averaging our busy months and our slower months and that's usually about what we can expect in terms of yearly revenue.  I always urge people, when they ask this question, to really look at their area and ask themselves if they have a consistent indoor play season or if they have, like us, very seasonal weather.



This is another question that I get a lot NOT ONLY from people looking to open an indoor playground but also from customers. BUT I'll give you the answer that you give to other business owners because it's really a business decision.

While we really would LOVE, ideally, to be the one-stop-shop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner AND family fun, it just wasn't in the business model for us.

We're a pretty cozy indoor playground at 2,500 square feet and our kitchen is therefore also very COZY.  We don't have the kind of room, unfortunately, in our facility for a stove, oven, and all of the prep tables and sinks that would be required for a full kitchen.

And, given the chance, I wouldn't add one or add more space.

I like the way this business model operates because it is much lower overhead for us. Not

only are we not having to purchase that equipment or have the extra space for a full kitchen but we also don't need to employ extra staff to operate a full cafe menu.

We have a lot of indoor playgrounds in our area that do serve a full menu and they're required to have two three four staff members on all the time just to make sure that they can get those cafe orders prepared in a timely manner so for us I really just didn't want the extra overhead.

Also, I've noticed that when facilities serve a full menu (including us in the beginning when we did serve sandwiches and soups brought in by a local bakery) that people were spending all day there. For us,  in the winter especially people would come at 9:00 a.m. right when we opened and then they would stay all the way through lunch. They would get a sandwich or soup and then they would say a couple of hours after lunch.

And while we did make a small profit on the food items, it was really hard on us for two reasons.

Number one, we really rely on turnover during those busier months. As I mentioned we can serve between 50 and 70 families on a typical winter day. If people are staying all day and our play area capacity is only between 20 and 25 children,  then that maxes us out at only being able to serve between 20 and 25 families a day. 

Because we NO LONGER offer a full menu, a lot of people will only stay for a couple of hours and then go home at lunch. That works out a lot better for us because we're able to serve more families every single day. Indoor play is much more profitable for us than food because it is what we are focused on.



I mentioned this in previous answers, but since I get this question so often, I figured it deserved it’s own space! Our Victor location is 2,500 square feet and our Chili location is closer to 3,500 square feet because it has an extra-large party/ class/ event room.

4. What order should I go in when I'm planning to open?

This question is VERY detailed and while I cannot answer fully in this blog, this is EXACTLY why I created Play Cafe Academy!

Opening a brick-and-mortar business with a lease and build-out and insurance is a very complicated process so I actually have all of the modules inside the program laid

out such that you begin your process at module one you end at module 10 and you fill out your workbook along the way.

By the time you're done with the content you know exactly what steps you need to take in order to not only OPEN-- but open a successful, profitable indoor playground.

I created this course because there is so much confusion around the process (and SO MANY mistakes people can possibly make!) and I hate seeing new indoor playgrounds open and then close within the first year because they skipped a step or maybe they rushed through a step. 

Maybe they signed the wrong type of lease, maybe they chose the wrong location, maybe they didn't design their space for profitability, maybe they didn't train their staff, right--

There are SO MANY things that can go wrong in this equation so that is exactly why I created Play Cafe Academy.

However, I do always recommend first validating your business concept and creating a business plan.

You will NOT be able to engage potential landlords or approach banks or investors without taking those steps.

If you aren’t ready to invest in Play Cafe Academy but would like some help validating your business idea or completing your business plans, I have amazing, proven resources starting at JUST $7!

Click here to see all of my free & paid resources.



This is actually the same as when we opened! We currently have six employees and we also started with six employees. We generally have a staff that works during the week and then a

staff that works on the weekends for parties. However,  all of our employees are cross-trained so if anybody is on vacation or calls in sick we do have many employees to step into any role. 

We also do have a supervisor and she's been with us for two years. We didn't have a

supervisor to start with, though. We waited about six months before making our first supervisor hire. If I could  go back I would probably hire a supervisor closer to the three-month-mark.

Three months would have given me enough time to get my foundation as the owner and start establishing and documenting our business processes and really figuring out how I work best and where I needed more support.



We did when we first opened, but no longer do. 

It was pretty awkward because parents weren't sure if they were supposed to step in

and discipline or confront a parent if there was some sort of issue or if they should leave it up to our staff. Similarly, our staff member didn't really know what her role was.

She, of course, knew her job description and duties but when it came to practical application, she didn't know if or when she was supposed step in.

It ended up creating a bad experience for everyone.

It gave customers the notion that they could “zone out” on their phone or on their computer and not watch their child and for us that is just NOT our business model and it didn't really work out. 

Once we removed that employee from the play area it not only reduced our payroll by almost HALF but it also let parents know that THEY were responsible for making sure that theirchild follows the rules and it made parents a lot more attentive which gave everybody a much better experience.

If you are a much bigger space you might need to have somebody walking around tidying up all the time but I found that with even one staff member working they have enough 10-15 minute gaps in their day to be able to walk in the play area and just make sure everything is operating correctly and make sure that they are tidying enough.


This goes back to our business focus. I created an entire video about this HERE.

Even though we're open six days a week for open play, we close promptly at NOON on Saturdays and that's our only weekend open-play hours.

We are 100% focused on birthday parties so birthday parties are our biggest revenue and profit generator and it is the main driver in our business success.

As long as we have a full birthday calendar, everything that comes in through open-play can almost be considered “extra”. 

One of the questions that I get a lot is if I get a lot of pushback from customers about our weekend hours. While once every few months a disappointed customer does reach out to us asking us to extend weekend hours, we generally don’t get much push-back and people have adapted to our hours.

That's likely because I am completely open and transparent about our hours. When we sell memberships or when we sell packs of play passes we are very clear.

t's all about communication and being upfront about your hours and explaining to people WHY you chose those hours. If you share that insight, they will likely be more understanding.


This is a tricky one. This comes up a lot and it's very tricky during both open play and during birthday parties.  A lot of times 8, 9, and 10-year-olds will want to go in the play area during

a birthday party or open play.

My answer is typically that if they are going to be helping a younger child in the play area that's absolutely fine to do. However, we do not allow older children on any of our equipment (slides, climbers, push toys) for safety reasons, as well as to prevent our toys from breaking!

I am again very upfront. I let people know that if they have an older child that's going to be joining for either a birthday party or open play to please bring activities for them to do while they’re visiting. We do have board games and coloring books and things like that for older children to use but again we try to communicate as effectively as possible on our website that if you have another child coming to please bring activities.



I have done a video about this before but I still get this question all the time!

The answer is no I do not do one-on-one consulting anymore and the reason that is is that typically consultants will charge between $125 and $200 an hour. 

I was really finding that after I DOZENS of these consultations that everybody was asking the same questions and also that, even after a couple of hours of talking to someone, that I was not even putting a DENT into the amount of information that I needed to relay to them in order for them to have a real chance at a profitable indoor playground business.

I knew that I wouldn't be able to spend 16-20 hours with every person and have them spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on my consulting services.

That just wasn't going to be realistic for somebody just getting started in this journey-- so that's how  Play Cafe Academy was actually born!

I took all of the information and tips that I wanted to give to prospective Indoor Playground owners.

Plus, I included all of the checklists and documents that I would have killed for when I was getting started in this business.

I'm not saying that I've done everything perfectly on this journey.

In fact, a lot of the course is shaped around learning from my mistakes and helping my Play Cafe  Academy members avoid a lot of the mistakes that I made altogether. 

I also have my group coaching program so I'm still working with individuals every single day and  I'm still answering questions and doing coaching calls-- I just do it in a group capacity.

There's over 100 people in there right now and I love that I'm able to help a lot more people than

I was previously able to with one-on-one consulting.

All of the members help and support each other as well and it is AMAZING to have hundreds of people on the SAME path as you to lean on for constant support/ inspiration.



This is a really common question that I get and it's different now than when we first started.

When we first got started my husband Chris played a much more active role. He went to a lot of the meetings with me and he made a lot of the space-planning decisions with me.

Once we were open for a couple of months he really didn't support the business other than helping me to run payroll once a week.

He did leave his full-time job for about a year to work with me but we found that our marriage was much more solid and we were much happier when we weren’t working completely side-by-side every day.

Also, if you have ever had to get benefits for your family when you & your spouse are both unemployed-- it’s EXPENSIVE!



First I want to give you a little bit more honesty. Owning an indoor playground

business is definitely a very difficult way to make money.

Now, that's not saying that you can't provide a very comfortable living for your family doing so.

But don't forget this is a brick and mortar business-- you are going to have to pay rent regardless of whether or not you're working. The bills are going to keep coming even if YOU or your family needs a break.

However, having said all that, can't tell you how much of a gift this business has been to what my family and I for the last five years. We have grown so much together and I have been able

to spend all day every day (pretty much!) with my kids.

When we first opened my now-five-year-old was just a little baby an now he's about to be going to kindergarten!

I got pregnant while I was in my first year of business with my second son Silas and now he's

three-- so being able to go through that process and being able to not miss a single moment with them has been absolutely the biggest gift to our family and really no amount of money

could replace that for me.

I am so, so thankful that I left my corporate job and dove into this business.

I was making good money at my corporate job (I was there for 10 years, had a Master’s Degree-- etc etc) and-- I'm not going to lie-- I didn’t replace that income for several years.

BUT-- I was able to save on daycare costs AND I get to be with my kids full-time.

When I look back at these five years there is no amount of money that could replace

how close I've grown with my children and I know that when they get older they're going to look back at all of these moments and feel the exact same way.



Those were the eleven most common questions that I get through all of my social media channels and my blog and so if you have any additional questions or topics that you want me to cover please feel free to comment below-- I would love to hear your suggestions!





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Can I Send You My NEW Free 2024 "What's Working In The Indoor Play Industry" Guide?

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