Expert helps parents I.D. family venue red flags; Spotlights avoidable facility and operational debacles exacerbating safety issues
The facts are sobering, gut-wrenching and indisputable. America’s children are needlessly suffering—and even dying—due to subpar safety standards at family entertainment venues across the board. This as evidenced, for one, by the ceaseless glut of reports on recent amusement and trampoline park adolescent deaths (many with details too horrific to recount), paralysis and a litany of other catastrophic injuries. But the problem is far more pervasive than that, as an array of other types of family-oriented centers and activities fraught with downright unacceptable facility flaws and inadequate policies, or a lack of suitable safety measures or policies all-together.
Enter family entertainment venue executive Tim Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of Rebounderz Family Entertainment Centers. He’s on a mission to significantly improve safety standards not only within the trampoline park industry (having developed and wholeheartedly enforcing a litany of perfect patents related thereto), but with amusement/theme/activity park, playground, concert hall, and other such family establishments at large.
As part of his goal to help keep kids safe from needless injury and death, Murphy is also advising parents on how they can better assess if a facility they are frequenting has safety concerns—warning signs that, not only should the parent heed with caution, but also should be brought to management’s attention for the collective benefit of patrons.
Below, Murphy highlights four key red flags that a family entertainment venue needs to be immediately vetted for safety shortcomings:
- Lack of Proper Management.
The number one safety protocol starts with suitable management. Does it
appear that the managers are properly trained? Are they engaged with their
attention to the facility, employees and its patrons or are they indelibly
sequestered “in the back” somewhere? Does there appear to be safety checks
and measures in place based on signage, how staffers are managing the
floor and regularly checking on equipment and facilities?If the bathrooms
are a mess, what might this say about property equipment care and upkeep?
If any of these are apparent issues, it’s a major red flag and perhaps the
tip of the iceberg among other issues you may find at the location.
- Lack of Properly Trained Team Members. Floor
staffers are a direct reflection of the management’s training style, depth
and frequency.Without proper staff training and experience on the grounds,
it becomes problematic for everyone. One wrong or missed action by the
team member could be detrimental to any family member or even employees.Is
the attraction led by trained staff members that are demonstrably and
thoroughly engaged in all aspects of the post for which they are
responsible? Are they appropriately managing patrons who are engaging with
people or equipment improperly? Are they actively ensuring any safety
protocols are being adhered to by guests and continuing to check back? Are
they demonstrating proper techniques on how to use equipment? Are they
picking up litter or otherwise resolving problems and exuding pride in
their role and environment? Are they interacting with customers
professionally and with a genuine smile? An absence of these qualities,
certainly in combination, is a red flag that attentiveness may be lacking.
- Improper Equipment and Standards. Does
the equipment appear clean, properly installed and in good working
condition at the venue? Or, do you see stains on the equipment or floors,
rips, tears, and other obvious signs of equipment use and wear and tear?
It’s a sign of poor management and maybe even location cash flow issues.
Properly run facilities do daily inspections of all equipment and
attractions to ensure that guests receive the best possible experience, as
well as keep them safe while using the equipment in the space.
Additionally, facility rules are paramount—extremely visible parameters of
use that will ensure guests know exactly what not to do, also with
staffers proactively ensuring every guest follows these rules. Ensuring
there’s no question about what to do, or not to do, helps minimize the
opportunity for injury, but also serves as a visual cue for the guest to
follow to help aid in preventing injury.
Finally, if the venue serves food, is the equipment (vending machines, counters, tables, ice cream machines, restrooms, etc.) clean, appear to be in good working order, and has received a formal state inspection posted? If the location serves alcohol, is the business properly licensed by the city, county and state? Cleanliness, good equipment operation and proper inspection signage gives patrons a good indication of the condition of the facility and how well both the staff and management is performing.
- Improper Facility & Safety Standards. Firstly and highly fundamentally, warning and rules signs should always be displayed, both in the activity areas, at each attraction, and in the restrooms. If there is few or entirely absent signage in this regard, safety is a concern. This is a baseline standard and if it’s sub-par it’s indicative that safety isn’t a priority for the location. Also, are team members verbally instructing guests on how to use equipment, and intervening when that is not the case? Or are they chatting amongst themselves letting patrons run amuck? Also, when applicable, are smaller kids segregated from more aggressive teenagers and adults, which can help prevent injuries to younger guests? And, do employee uniforms aptly differentiate team members from guests? This allows all guests to know who is in control of the facility and who to talk to, and as well as who is the authority at each attraction. As well, does the facility avail First Aid Kits (including defibrillators), team member headsets and PA systems that also help facilitate a safe and properly supervised environment? If management has taken care of all standards of safety, then all guests should have “maximum” fun with little safety concerns.
Exacerbating unresolved safety concerns like the above is a litany of operational debacles that are equally avoidable. This often includes things like:
- Small problems going unreported by staff and/or patrons
- Equipment and condition problems going unnoticed or unattended
- Deficiencies showing up in audits and inspections not being addressed
- Less time taken when doing pre-shift checks
- Fewer people participating in safety meeting discussions and ongoing education/training sessions
- Company and its leaders spending increasingly less time being proactive about safety
- Safety is never completely under control, because people are never under complete control
- Safety performance “flatlines”—even when the line goes through zero
"Ultimately, ongoing formal and informal inspections, staff and management training, safety videos, ongoing personnel evaluations and other safeguards are absolutely fundamental measures that can help a facility quickly identify and rectify structural and policy issues and ensure employees are aptly educated for the type venue at hand,” Murphy underscores. “Not only will this mitigate the chance of injury, but also help owners avoid expensive liability lawsuits.”
About the Expert, Tim Murphy
Tim Murphy is Chief Executive Officer, principal and exclusive commercial real estate broker of Rebounderz family entertainment centers. Tim joined Rebounderz in 2016, and is a seasoned franchise and restaurant executive who brings 30+ years of experience to Rebounderz. Tim has coached executives & businesses best practices from 30+ years with 120+ brands and 8,500+ locations as CEO, President, COO, CFO & Advisor with international franchise, entertainment, restaurant, food, retail, resort, theme park, service, manufacturing, development and real estate for public, private, startup and private equity companies. Tim has mentored CEOs, executives, franchises, founders, small businesses & entrepreneurs. And Tim brings strategic leadership, focused growth, operations, finance and real estate development to Rebounderz.
Tim previously worked and consulted in various roles as CEO, COO, CFO, and other senior leadership positions with companies including Applebee’s, Sonny’s Bar-B-Q, Jimmy Johns, Advantica Restaurants (Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, Hardee’s, Coco’s, Carrows, etc.), Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, formerly Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, etc.), and Walt Disney World restaurants. Thus, Murphy understands the intricacies involved in successfully growing a large franchise company. Tim is dedicated to strategically increasing profitability, cutting costs, and growing the Rebounderz brand through strategic alignment, joint ventures, enhanced operations, superior finance, and value-added real estate development.
Additionally, Tim is an international keynote speaker, best-selling author, has a MBA in Finance, and an undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of Central Florida. And over ten years ago, Tim set out on an “eat less, move more” journey. He lost 50 pounds by eating well and running 19 marathons, which all helped him on his path to Rebounderz, where fitness is part of the fun! Learn more at www.rebounderz.com.