When one Delaware woman took her family out for a night of family fun, she wasn’t expecting it to lead to a lucrative business opportunity, but that’s just what happened.
Launch Trampoline franchisee Stephanie Eldridge got her start with the company when her family went to the grand opening of the first Launch location.
She knows Launch co-founder Ty Law and thought it would be fun for the entire family to go. And was she ever right.
“My family and I attended the grand opening of the first Launch Trampoline Park in Warwick, RI and we had a great time,” Eldridge said from her home in Middletown, DE. “It is the one entertainment outing that my entire family — and I have kids that are 19, eight and five, and my husband — thoroughly enjoyed.”
After the visit, the couple decided they needed a trampoline park in Delaware and purchased their franchise in February 2014 and opened on August 16, 2014.
However, prior to deciding to go with Launch, the couple did their due diligence and talked to other trampoline park franchises in nearby states. Just because she knew one of the co-founders didn’t mean that she wanted to invest a considerable amount of money in his company, she explained.
But, as it turned out, Launch Trampoline was the best option to go with for the couple. The difference with Launch, the franchisee explained, is their focus on safety and providing family fun beyond just the concept of the trampoline park.
Eldridge said she asked all the trampoline park franchises what they planned to do to keep their offering fresh for people and many of them simply held the belief that trampolines would never go out of style and didn’t really have a plan to keep their businesses fresh for customers.
Launch Trampoline, however, had a strategic plan in place to keep rolling out new family entertainment concepts to add to the parks.
“I didn’t feel like I was buying into something that would be considered a fad,” she said. “I felt like I was buying into safe, fun, and ever evolving family entertainment. Family entertainment will always be relevant.”
An engineer by education who also holds an MBA in Technology and Operations, Eldridge, who currently works as an Executive Director in the financial industry, has been used to dealing with strategic plans almost her whole life. So, the fact that Launch had one to keep their family entertainment offerings fresh was comforting to her.
Her experience with strategic planning also influences her life outside of work, as she and her husband had planned for several years to open their own company so they wouldn’t have to work their whole lives.
They knew they wanted to do something with a family aspect and when they went to the first Launch location grand opening, it was the turning point, as they had found something that resonated with them.
As Eldridge’s Launch Trampoline Park was one of the first Launch franchises, she and her husband were privy to a lot of attention from co-founders Law and Rob Arnold, who actually came to Delaware to look at buildings with them. That turned out to be extremely helpful because it’s not easy to find a building that will house a trampoline park.
Even though Launch has more locations now, Eldridge said, she is still able to easily speak to the heads of the company.
In fact, just the evening before, Eldridge was driving home from work and received a phone call from Arnold asking how everything was going with the park. Eldridge said she quickly found out from other franchisees that it’s not common for the CEO of the company to call and keep in touch a few times per month.
As for training, she and her husband went through Launch’s owner training in New England and learned about the individual positions in the park. They also underwent operational training and learned about inventory, reporting, customer service, understanding their customer base and working through the seasonal changes of the business.
Their general managers were also trained by Launch and worked at the corporate location before working at the Newark location.
Ongoing support includes having a dedicated relationship manager that is assigned to their store who they can speak with any time. Plus, they have a monthly franchise call with head office where they go over strategy, receive operational information and news on what’s in development and have a Q&A session between franchisees.
When their location first opened, Eldridge said, she and her husband were heavily involved in the park, but that dropped off to a few times per week after a while and the prior evening was actually the first time she had been at the park in a couple of weeks, and she was only there specifically so her kids could jump.
The reason she and her husband are able to take a step back from the daily operations of the park, the franchisee said, is because the managers they’ve hired are so good at what they do.
The couple is looking at opening two additional parks and Eldridge said with such a great system in place and with a company so willing to listen to ideas from their franchisees, she would encourage anyone to go for it.
For Eldridge and her family, it turns out that family fun night can open some pretty impressive doors.