Fixing My Son’s Favorite Business

This project was inspired by my 4-year old whose favorite place in the world was this huge indoor “Jungle Jim” type facility with slides and ball pits, and swings and all kinds of places for him to burn off energy. It was also inspired by my love of morning coffee, dislike of wet feet, and frustration at a good thing that could be great.

The play facility is called “Jungle Magique” (Magic Jungle) and is part of the Mont Blanc ski resort – a client of mine. In time spent there with my son I couldn’t help but observe several areas where improvement could be beneficial beginning with a lack of cohesive branding, as well as the lack of toilet facilities, a complete restriction on food which meant I couldn’t sit with a coffee while my son ran around, nowhere to put the hundreds of pairs of shoes and boots that sometimes littered the floor (socks only!), and more. I always say that

Painting_jungle_JM_300While its rare that you get the opportunity to ‘fix’ a business, because this was a client facility I created a list of recommendations and had that chance. Over the next 3 months I directed the following changes and improvements:

  • I hired a cartoonist to create a logo and a set of characters and then brought in an artist to put those characters on freshly painted walls and doors.
  • I replaced the mismatched signage throughout the facility with cleaner, matching signage including creating a simple, inexpensive process for making image-matched wooden doorplates.
  • I helped to design boot, shoe, and jacket storage compartments so that the passageways were not longer blocked with a sea of footwear.
  • I had the counter at the entranceway moved to the opposite side of the hallway so that staff (often just 1 person during slow periods) didn’t have their back to the facility; instead they could keep an eye on things as they manned their station.
  • I had an ‘unnecessary’ wall cut down and the remaining half-wall fitted with a long ‘coffee bar’ type counter so that parents could sit in a food-permitted area and watch their children play over the wall.
  • I had a washroom built in a small ‘dead zone’ area of the facility; previous to this the closest washroom was downstairs right next to the ski facility. In winter this sometimes meant walking downstairs in sock feet (no shoes allowed remember) across floors covered with melting snow from ski rental traffic.

Quite a list. The total cost of these changes was roughly 10k. This investment has been returned many times over as the facility served twice as many customers in the following year and continued to grow each year afterwards.

Though it was an unusual project, the project itself, and the results reflect my holistic interest in businesses. I’m always frustrated by missed opportunities for business improvement and for situations where the customers’ voice is not being heard. If your business is successful based on one strong core product or feature, think of how much more successful you could be if you solved problems and strengthened the supporting cast around it.



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