the amusement archive for startups
When designed with the end-user in mind, indoor playgrounds can be a great value-add activity that will drive a strong return on your investment. Children love to climb and slide and offering a diverse, well design indoor play structure like this one provided by SoftPlay will have your end-users coming back for more.
Pricing is a unique process with regards to soft contained indoor playgrounds. The first thing you need to know is that 90% of the design work playground equipment manufacturers do for fun centers and children’s entertainment centers are custom designs. There is no charge (or should NOT be a charge for this process) as each design should be different from the next.... your business goals differ from say McDonalds and the Jumpy Jimmy place down the road - so too should your playground design. Companies that claim they will provide you with a “free” design are using marketing bla bla to get your business.
We have all been to the mall and have seen the miles and miles of “Sale” stickers. Are we jaded by that yet? Do we believe there actually is a sale? For most of us not likely. Go to that store this month and again next month and chances are those same signs are still there. We have noted the same trend in the indoor playground business. Offers of “Savings passed on to you”, “Factory Direct Pricing”, “Playground Sale” and other such marketing noise. Indoor playgrounds are simple, yet very sophisticated amusement products. For many new developers, they hold the success of your indoor party business and more importantly the safety of your communities children.
It is true across every line of manufacturing - costs are relevant to your company’s product. If you produce a quality product, chances are your product will cost a little more than the copy-cat or sub-par manufacturer down the road. This is a universal truth, and all of us consumers have experienced this... opting for the wrist-watch that “looks” Swiss, but in fact is from Khazakstan usually delivers the same performance expectation; dead in about 3 months. You get what you pay for...
Thinking about Starting an Indoor Playground Business? Get us on your side with our Startup Academy Progam
When it comes to indoor playgrounds, the same truths apply. Quality manufacturing simply does not allow for factory direct. Cheap prices must come from somewhere, and when manufacturing indoor playgrounds this also holds true. Pipe, foam, vinyl, metal clamps and other hardware are all pretty much the same to each manufacturer. You either provide a quality product or you don’t.
To offer industry low prices you have to cut corners somewhere - either in the construction process, materials used or sub-par design. Low over-head because the president of the company is out on the shop floor makes no difference... if you sell 10 or 12 indoor playgrounds each year, or if you sell 40 each year, the costs of labor and relevant manufacturing costs are equal, especially in an industry where hard costs are similar to each manufacturer.
We have even heard of manufacturers “slipping in” used components as new, and as a new buyer - how would you know? We will discuss this further in future blog posts.
The basic formula for figuring out indoor playground pricing is based on two critical factors:
1) The first factor is Capacity. How big of a playground do you need to handle all of the traffic you expect on your busiest weekend day?
2) The Play-a-bility Factor. This second factor; play-a-bility is the more important of the two, as play-a-bility will determine how much fun it is for your guests and how often that guest will want to return - and that is driven by the kinds and amounts of activities within the playground. The more activities you have the more "playable" and the more fun your playground will be. Ultimately play-a-bility, not only within your soft contained indoor playground, but in your entire center's activity mix, drives a high repeat desire for children to return and play again and again.
On a sliding scale based on play-a-bility, from North American suppliers you can expect to pay from $1,200 - $2,000 per child capacity. For example, if you need a playground that can handle 50 children at one time, on the lower, inexpensive end it could run $60k - $75k and on the higher end $85,000 - $100,000. In this price example, the playground would be exactly the same size, the same color - the only difference would be the play-a-bility factor or the amount and kind of activities contained within the playground and on the very higher end, any amount of themeing added to the play experience.
Unfortunately, you don't get a whole lot of play ability in a $60,000 playground these days. Indoor playgrounds have a lot of petroleum based products, including plastic, vinyl, and some netting and rope components which helps to create the increasing hard costs. By the time you ship to site, include onsite labor, you actually end up with a "real" playground budget of about $48,000 out of that $60,000 price tag. If you are hoping to appeal to children up to 10 years old with this lower budget playground equipment, unless you are in a very rural area without any kind of activity center, you may find that difficult.. Even an 8 year old kid who has an XBox at home will be bored with it after about 30 minutes of play. That lower budget just doesn't afford you the opportunity to create something fun-appropriate for an older age group.
However, if your core age group is say 6 years and under - you can get install a $40,000 playground and offer enough playability to enter that core group of users.
If you think you can spruce it up with themeing, this pricing scale would not include any great amount of themeing, except at the very top end of the budget. Indoor playground themeing can be very expensive and is something most manufacturers want to include, because there are also good margins in themeing. Check out this article on playground themeing to learn more.
There are a lot of very well established playground manufacturers and suppliers - there are also a few to be wary of. Check out Indoor Playground Equipment for a background on suppliers, and choices, and you may want to check out Playground Equipment - Buying From China and why the off-shore option may not be the deal many think it is.
If you have any questions or comments about the above or some feedback for future articles, please leave us a comment below, we would love to hear from you, thanks for reading.
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