Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Making mistakes is common amongst many business owners but it’s how you learn from those errors that really counts. The trampoline park sector is a relatively young industry that hasn’t been around for long. Therefore many owners and operators have had to learn while growing their business. At the International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP) European conference in London in May 2017 we interviewed a few clients and industry experts to get feedback on what mistakes they have made along the way. I hope the following information is interesting and if you can provide any additional feedback on any mistakes or lessons learnt from running a trampoline park in the comments below, they would be very welcome.
The actual question we asked followed by the responses is below:
What is the biggest mistake you made with regard to your trampoline park?
Harvey Jenkinson, Co-Owner, Gravity Trampoline Parks
It probably relates to under estimating the change in the market. The speed it would change. For us this was about the timing between the opening of the 3rd to 4th park. Had I known, I don’t think we would rushed to get it open for the summer. In hindsight there was no need. We put the business under a lot of pressure, including some of the staff as well as ourselves, to do something that wasn’t really needed. With hindsight we would have waited, taken our time and opened in October.
Louis Freeman, Business Development Manager, Jump 360
I think and most park owners are probably guilty of this is the layout of the park not being correct as you don’t understand the mechanics of it. Once you open one you realise you should put certain activities somewhere else. We were finding that when we were opening our 2nd and 3rd parks we were getting layout a lot better. This means the parks are easier to manage and a lot safer. You try to put new activities (in new parks) as there are certain activities you wish you hadn’t put in to the first park. Sometimes because of accidents or because they are difficult to monitor so it’s more so when it comes to a structural and layout plan.
Michelle Ball & Matthew Ball, Managing Directors, Jump Nation
Believing that the income levels would be the same as our first park. I know a lot of people made similar assumptions on that basis which didn’t ring true. It’s made your financial modelling of future parks flawed from the outset. As well as that not anticipating the level of growth and competition, and the speed at which it has come into the market. Had we known that perhaps we would have set off down a different path with a different business model from the start, which we are now adapting to but ultimately had we taken that different path when we set out 3 years ago we would be in a very different place than we are now. Hindsight!
Peter Brown, Managing Director, Freedome Trampoline Parks
That is a tough question. The way that you target and market your business is vitally important. I don’t think we’ve made any massive mistakes. I’m in the fortunate position that I work for a big network. We have 200 parks, we operate in 10 countries so therefore a lot of the learning, a lot of the mistakes that an individual operator may make we haven’t had to do that as we have a huge network behind us.
Lewis Thompson, National Operations and Business Manager, Better Extreme
We’re a leisure operator and we operate 250 plus leisure centres across the country (UK) so building trampoline parks into those centres brings up a lot of challenges in itself. We’ve brought a lot of traditional leisure values into what we do and it’s had a positive impact and a negative impact. Sometimes we may not be seen as ‘cool’ for the children using these parks but what we do offer is a completely safe, family friendly park and it brings a different USP to it so it’s been a positive and a negative.
Christian Short, Indoor 45
As the first person to open a park in France that has to have all the products made in France means I’ve had to adhere to a lot of French norms and conformities so it’s taken me a lot longer to get to where I wanted to. You see other parks like in the UK that don’t have the same problem’s we’ve had here in France. Meeting someone like Samurai removes many of those problems because they have the experience which I didn’t have in 2015. In 2017 meeting Samurai has helped me develop my park.
As stated earlier I would appreciate any feedback regarding your own experiences of running a trampoline park. What mistakes did you make and what did you learn? Please leave me a comment below.
My name is David Woodward and I head up the European and US trampoline park division at Samurai Trampoline Products. At Samurai we specialise in trampoline socks, party packs, custom clothing, key accessories and retail products. We are the #1 global supplier of branded merchandising products for trampoline parks. Please contact me to find out why more park owners choose Samurai than anyone else.