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Start a Family Entertainment Center

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The Operations Side of an Indoor FEC

Business Bloom

When running a successful and competitive family entertainment center you have to generally plan out everything you wish to accomplish, and that includes landscape.  Presentation is among the most important factors family entertainment center operators flourish in the entertainment industry. Take going on a job interview for instance; you would obviously want to make sure you make a great first impression in order to get a call back for the job. So you would not only go dressed in a professional manner but make sure to wear the correct hair due and make up or sharp hair cut and cologne in order to prove you are the best choice.  The importance of maintaining your indoor FEC looking nice is just as important as looking sharp for that first job interview. You always want to give that refreshing first impression and stand out in order to make your family entertainment center rank high in the terms of maintenance.

One concern that may come to mind for those of you who may be starting out is expense. How does one generally provide the leisure of elegant presentation when on a budget or juggling expenses?  To answer the question you simply want to take your general plans into consideration. If you wish to have a miniature golf course or race track as a part of your indoor FEC then artificial grass should be taken into serious consideration. You wouldn’t want to invest a large amount of money in real grass to have it destroyed in a matter of a week as a result of everybody stepping all over it. In the long run you can come to the conclusion that artificial grass is much more affordable and convenient than what real grass would come out to.

Planting artificial flowers, bushes, and trees on the other hand would be a bit different. You wouldn’t want to lose your entire landscape exposure to fake elements. Make sure to place close attention to areas you wish to make a part of the beautiful landscape you plan to design. For FECs that include waterfalls or outdoor snack bars you can defiantly design a garden sanctuary that fits perfectly with the soft and warm atmosphere you wish to portray.  

Choosing the right plants is also something taken to be extremely difficult by most when really it can be very affordable. You can stick to as many different plants as you wish to have such as orcas and daffodils or lantanas and perennials then design them to blend well together in colors and size. You don’t have to spend a fortune to accomplish beautiful landscape, you simply have to take the time to make the most of what you have and work miracles with that.

Keep in mind that apart from the investing in getting started you have to be able to keep up the process. You will need to employ somebody for a full time job in order to correctly water, weed and fertilize those plants. You can also become of a partnership with local nurseries to help maintain your landscape in some cases. Many indoor FECs will do so while also promoting the company of their choice with advertising signs that promote the nursery in which you work with.

Great Expectations

Moving on to great expectations it is always wise to play close attention to quality customer service. People generally go to restaurants or movie theatres ext. not because of the particular attraction or location, but because of how comfortable they feel when they go there. Just imagine, you get ready to go out with your family and friends to an outdoor festival for example. You ask a park employee where the restrooms might be and he decides to completely ignore you because “his job is not giving directions”. I’m absolutely positive that anyone put in that situation would feel extremely disrespected and want to complain to the manager as soon as possible. Not only that but that one employee has now left a completely new image of the company you once knew. Customer service is the number one leading reason customers want to come back. If you come into an family entertainment center with a smiling and peppy host ready to hold the door open for you and happily greet you, you would definitely want to come back. It’s all a matter of giving the customer what they need. The customer needs to feel as important as ever because after all your business exist because of your returning customers.

In order to make sure that your business has that quality customer service, you have to first find the right team to do so. When looking for these spunky and wide eyed employees your main focus should not always be the over the top resume’s and experience but the people who you know have the potential to do great. You can provide your employees with motivational speeches and pep talks in order to keep them on the right track. Offering company bonuses to those who get the most positive feedback or work the child area can become even better workers and grow into much more then employees but supervisors for your indoor FEC and even operations mangers. You always want to keep your employees happy because the happier and more motivated they are to work well, the better your family entertainment center does in customer service.  

The Complete Package

Most indoor FEC’s these days focus on coming up with more new ways to keep their customers spending. Have as much as you can available to them so that they can stay longer and not have to go anywhere else to spend. Take food and drinks for instance, FEC’s with indoor food Courts generally make more of a profit margin because customers stay and eat. With the luxury of not having to leave the facility to get something to eat is always a plus to the children. Even adding a mini shopping center for parents and kids to enjoy is a positive way to ensure customers spend their money. People love to get a lot for their buck, so being able to include even some kind of special package deal on games, food, and rides is a perfect way to both make the customer happy and boost up your profits.

Rides and attractions are generally the best way to make profits when it comes to FEC’s.  So it is extremely recommended to think of a couple of neat packages. People tend to lean more towards the discounts and special features then normal features. For example, say your family entertainment center has a water park, arcade, golf course, and coaster attractions. It would be smart to generate a package that includes two parks of their choice for a price of 40-50 dollars a person, when normally entrance to one park is 27.99. People will flock to that savings and most likely spend the extra cash in both parks anyways because for one they wouldn’t want to leave the park and lose their return access, and two because they already saved a lot so why not.

Good Morning FEC’s

Along with positive must haves in FEC facilities, the ability to plan ahead is extremely important. An indoor FEC should already be done with cleaning and prepping by the time guests begin to pull in. Which is why it is so important to have your employee’s up and ready to go an hour or two prior to opening. All walk through and spot checks should be carefully checked off your day’s to-do list and all employees should make sure that there is nothing out of the ordinary that should be taken care of.  Learning to be a step ahead is one of the major qualities family entertainment center employees have, everything has to be perfect so that business could go smoothly and keep flowing.

One great tip is to learn to follow routine so that everyone can be familiar with what they are doing and not confused and all over the place trying to take care of three or four things at once. It is always better for a person to be great at what they do than struggle to keep up. When developing a routine, employees generally learn to work together and know what to expect from each other rather than unclear of what they should be doing. A routine helps determine an employee’s everyday duties and allows them to become experts at their job.  Everyone learns to distinguish who is in charge of what and where to go if anything needs to be taken care of.

It never stops

Having an indoor FEC usually has its busy summer seasons and slower winter season like all businesses. There are always certain times where people are able to come out more because of good weather or simply because school breaks and summer vacation such as when the summer time hits.  More around the winter season FECs chose to either permanently close around early October and only have landscaping working during the season in order to keep up with the trees, bushes, and plants. It is strongly recommended to stay in touch with your business even though it isn’t always the busy season. Make sure you are well aware of your inventory and on top of your attractions when it comes time to turn off for some months.

One example can be with water rides, you always need to take the time to shut off the watergames, but also be prepared to turn them back on and working 100% at any time. Always keep inventory updated because you never want to come back into the season not knowing what you have to account for. Staying organized is really important just because when you’re not organized it causes for a whole lot of chaos in your family entertainment center and between your employees. You have to be conscious of your FEC progress even though you might not be fully up in running yet. You will be eternally grateful you were on top of everything during the off season when the busy season comes around in the long run.

The Brains of the Operation

Coming now to the major golden boy to any family entertainment center is the point of sale (POS) system. This system is the number one operations manager, sales operator, money cruncher and ultimate cash register all in one. This system can do just about anything for you. You can make sure that your sales are all accounted for, that every wrist band and ticket dispensed is accounted for and even get detailed sales information from certain time frames a person is on the cash register. With these new POS systems you can count on employee theft being minimized to an all new low. You could never have counted on systems like these a decade ago because employees would simply print out blank receipts with no purchase actually being made. With POS systems you could now make sure that nothing is ran through the system until an actual purchase is made.

Keep in mind that this new system can be a bit “scary” to some at first, with pricing from 10,000 to 500,000 it is no wonder employees as well as chef executive operators are a bit intimidated by the machine. It takes just a couple minutes to learn and recognize the system because the system is designed to just find the item, touch the monitor, or scan the item. Of course though you also want to keep your own data count just in case you get one of those horrifying nights where your POS shuts down. You want to be independent and not always be relying on the system to keep things running smoothly. You wouldn’t want complete chaos when that might happen, so design a backup system just in case that ever does happen.

Eating It Up

Chow time at an family entertainment center means more fun time for both children and yourself in the sense that more time to play means more money for you. Being able to know exactly what makes the children’s tummy say yummy all while being smart in profitable menus is a completely different story. It is always a difficult task to decide what exactly you want to sell at your snack shop or food court but never too hard to think logical. What is it that can be quick and easy but tasty and profitable? Just think fast foods like pizza, hotdogs, candy bars, and cotton candy for instance. These foods are all popular in the children category and easy to make as well. There is no worrying about employees not knowing how to make it or taking too long to take out an order. For the older audience like parents and teenagers it’s always good to have easy to make burgers and tacos on hand along with fountain drinks and water on hand. You can even add a couple of nice fruit salads and green salads along the way for the summer time. There is nothing more profitable then food, because after all everyone does have to eat.

Alongside making the correct food production decisions for your family entertainment center comes food safety. You never want to forget about your employee’s safety because after all they are what keep your business going full throttle. Being able to provide safety mats to prevent slips and falls in the kitchen is a great way to start in the right direction. Providing close wash stations or hand sanitizers is another way to keep your employees both clean and healthy. A clean kitchen leads to quality food leaving the kitchen and minimizes negative feedback from the customers purchasing the food. No one would want to buy from a kitchen that looks dirty or improperly taken care of, which is why you should always make sure that your indoor FEC meets all the required food safety regulations required by the health department.

Making Displays Shine

Another factor contributing to dramatic increase in sales is making displays pop. Just think for a second to a time where you walked into a store and bought who knows how many things simply because of what caught your eye in the display case. A lot of people walk into toy stores or clothes stores because of what is on display; whi8ch is why your display case should be marvelous. You want to draw your customers in with popular toys or T-shirts. Whatever might be popular at the time has to be on display. Take Disneyland for example, every store in the park promotes their characters such as the princesses and Mickey mouse and tinker bell. All of these characters are what everybody knows from movies and shows and toys so of course the most logical thing to do is to promote them in sales. Whatever your family entertainment center is now for, whether it be rides or arcade games, make your brand and make it strive in your displays for customer feedback.

Become creative with how you stock your items; make them as colorful and friendly as possible. People love to see colorful and absolutely adorable things. Take women for example, they love to look at things like cute stuffed animals or nice sunglasses, and sometimes even adorable trinkets to take home to the family. Now take teenagers for example, they tend to be into more of the teenage things like the oh so popular miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber seem to always catch attention. Or even things like rings and bracelets catch a lot of attention within the teenage crowd. No matter what it is always remember to stay fresh and new as much as possible. Mix your inventory as often as possible so that you maintain that new feeling to everyone who walks in. Stay as creative as possible with all of your displays, and keep pushing towards popular categories.

Efficient FEC’s

In today’s society it is becoming just as important to saving money and making profits as it is to contribute in saving our environment. More and more people are looking at new ways to do their part in their own businesses such as FECs. Saving on electricity and water bills with energy saving and water recycling games is one example of doing so. You can even provide recycling bins outside or inside your facility to increase the recycling function. You would be surprised at how many people actually choose to recycle with just a big bin all colorful and eco friendly sitting in front of them.

People in general need to begin to look at the bigger purpose here. Educate yourself on just how much you would actually save on eco friendly toilets or ceilings. Even solar powered games are becoming a possibility these days. With so many potential saving in a more eco friendly business it is no wonder more and more people are doing their part to go green. You must simply be able to maintain control of the three basic money spenders which are lighting, heating, and air conditioner. These are the three basic things indoor FECs everywhere need to use but waste tons on as well. Make sure that you can have the main control on this and not customers and employees who like to change it to their liking. You would be surprised at just how much you actually spend on these three when you really should be spending a fraction of it on what you actually need.

Keeping Up Appearances

Family entertainment center's these days have many ways of staying relevant and new to the customer’s eye. It is simply about knowing how to work with what you have got and making a lot of it in some cases. One example can be re arranging the arcade room to give it a different look, or maybe even moving around one fun room to a different location. You can even decide to make your indoor basketball court or inflatable room an indoor glow in the dark basketball or inflatable room to give it an extra push. Another way is to think up affordable new games like mechanical units or inflatable games. The units are usually one of the most affordable units you can purchase all while still providing ultimate entertainment to children of all ages.

Another thing is to completely remodel an entire room you might have. Create it into something amazing and new for everyone to become excited of what is soon to come. The renovations, forget about it, customers will be able to become anxious for what they see in the making in front of them. Also make sure to have a roadmap for this redesign, you wouldn’t want to go into it blindsided to come out with something less exciting than what you already had.   You should always take a second to think up this master plan because after all you are the one investing in it. Make sure you stick to something VIP and mature because that is the way you can attract customers of all ages, including older college students and provide something for the entire family. The warm upscale feel is what is more appealing now days. People like to feel that they are spending at a nice upscale venue and at the same time all at an affordable price, so you have to learn to mix those together.

Starting from Scratch

When it comes to starting a new family entertainment center with little to no knowledge of everything, it is best to your homework on FECs in general. You have to look into how the economy is working at the moment. You have to figure out exactly how the feasibility report will come out in order to further your process and look into site selection, expenses, potential revenue and profits. You must really be aware of how long you should expect to wait. Generally the entire process can take up to two years to get started if you do it right and take it slow. You never want to rush into something you’re not informed about. You want to be completely sure of what you’re going to be doing in order to have a successful indoor FEC.

Most importantly you must have a financial plan and manage your stress levels. A financial plan will give you somewhat of a blue print of what’s to come. Managing your stress levels will allow you to continue making smart decisions and not instinct or over analyzed decisions due to stress. A financial plan is the key to managing your business. With money comes success and with-out money lays a downward spiral, so you always want to make sure you are aware of your financial progress. Make sure you have enough if not extra for all of your family entertainment center expenses and always be prepared for quick and slow profits with each season.

Air Play

Keep in mind the games you would like your family entertainment center to be focused on as well. Think of what you will be providing, maybe a certain type of game for Birthday party themes or more of a general theme. A good example of popular FEC attractions these days is inflatable entertainment centers. These inflatable attractions have grown to become very popular among younger children and adults alike. People agree that it is a great new form of creative and safe play. Not only do these inflatable attractions create for maximum entertainment but also make a good investment in the affordable sense. These units are generally placed in building with higher ceiling and spacious areas. More of a warehouse type of location instead of the higher class type of buildings usual indoor FECs look at getting.

You can easily maintain these inflatables by just properly cleaning them on a daily bases and making sure you inspect any wearing or tearing before any actual damage is done to the unit. On average a commercial inflatable unit of good quality can last you up to 7 years if properly taken care of. Most people see the interest in these units both because they do great for birthday party centered family entertainment center's and also because they can be moved around fairly easily. These units primarily keep up with any growing trend because they can be unisex, themed, and even designed to have as many as eight and maybe ten games at once. 

Today’s Special

In today’s society it is more common to see that people look to get a lot for their buck. Money can get pretty tight at times when the economy strikes, but it doesn’t mean you have no business. You can try to negotiate your prices down to something that fits your customers just a bit more. Maybe lowering a certain package for a couple dollars off on a weekday can bring in some of that money back. You can also create certain specials and coupons to get the attention of some of the newer customers, therefore bringing more repeat customers because of the great price.

You can also try something a little bit more creative with some of your party packages to generally bring more customers. You can offer package deals that go for 200 dollars for the larger groups with a limit of 20. You would still be getting about 50 to 60 percent profits in the long run. You also want to be making sure you market these specials at the same time you aim for affordable marketing matters. You can try with sending out monthly specials to let the customers know exactly how much they could be saving in that month. Or even post them on your company web site. It is all just a matter of getting the word out and that could be done at a very affordable price if determined.

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