7 keys to running a successful kids activity business

In the past, I’ve run my own activity company and worked in senior management for some international kids franchise brands. I now run a franchise consultancy business. However, my number one job (and favourite thing in the world) is being Dad to my little girl Sienna, who is 18 months old.

I’ve recently been attending some classes with her and here are my thoughts on what separates the best class providers (hope it’s useful!):

1. In 2019 don’t have a clunky website – I have no issue with small independent operators, in fact we’ve attended a class with one for over a year because it’s great, but make sure your website is easy to navigate, has consistent information throughout and allows me to book or contact you super easy. Invest in your website for mobile-friendliness, clean design, content marketing and SEO.

2. Don’t leave it a few days before returning my email – as a business owner myself I can appreciate time can be stretched sometimes but every new customer needs a swift response as that sets the tone for the ongoing relationship. Someone who answers any questions I have and actions things swiftly wins over the slow response. I might be thinking it’s a sign of what’s to come. You also cannot afford to be slow in today’s congested kids market!

3. If you have a membership fee, what’s in it for me? – some providers make you pay a fee to join their class or yearly on top of the class fees. I have no issue with this IF what I’m getting in return is of value. Communicate this clearly and iterate to find the sweet spot in terms of value offering.

4. Don’t leave me standing outside a venue right up until the session is meant to start – this is a big bugbear of mine, but use that time to talk to customers, engage with my child, let them relax into their environment before starting. It also avoids any awkwardness parents may feel waiting outside as a newbie to a class. Try and treat customers to a more well rounded service rather than just a 40 min class; in and out.

5. Make me feel special by treating my child (and every child in the room) like a VIP – I’m less concerned about how much teachers engage with me and build rapport (although this is important), but I do love when my daughter is having fun and building a relationship with the teacher so invest in that more as it will likely be a key reason I stay long term. The longest class we do for Sienna has a teacher who loves each and every child she teaches and that shows with her full/wait listed classes.

6. Have a well developed programme – this should almost go without saying, but I was shocked recently when I attended two classes for very well known national kids companies to see they offered a pretty average programme (maybe the instructor or their lesson plan?). There’s so much competition out there for my business as a parent where I live (SW London), if the programme is under-developed I’ll be able tell.

7. Make me remember you – again, there’s a lot of providers out there offering a wide range of kids activities so like anything in marketing and branding, ensure you are remembered for the right reasons and that by the end of a class or interaction I’m thinking positive thoughts, and ONLY positive thoughts. While it takes years to perfect programmes and develop your teaching style and personal brand, it only takes moments of simple errors and poor practice to mess that all up.