Piran's Playful Piskies Ltd

Affordable, all weather fun 
& homemade food

  Indoor soft play centre in East Cornwall

In 2013, I was 23 and Dan was 25 so we were young and fairly naive. Dan wanted to set up a small coffee shop - before I jumped on ship - adding "why don't you add a little soft play corner for the kids" 

Well, that little soft play corner turned in to Piran's. 

An Idea is Born

We had the idea about Piran's, did lots of market research, we had Olivia and Harrison (aged about 2 & 3) so went round Devon & Cornwall going to soft play centres. We held a fun day where we hired a hall and soft play to get essential feedback, I went on a Princes trust business course and had some coaching from mentors. We then found the unit and spent months building it up and putting all our energy & time in to it. Our builder & friend from Rugby, Neil, came to stay with us between him, Dan and our families we started work. 

Designs

Safety, quality and design layout were key to us - so we used the leading soft play company and they manufacture their soft play here in the UK. Slightly more expensive but worth it for us. They are also regulated (as were we) by ROSPA - we have had safety checks from them and our soft play company throughout the years.  

Family support

We are a really small business, it is just Dan and I - we've had lots of help from both of our parents and grand-parents, and certainly wouldn't be here without them. We are very grateful to them. My step-dad Colin, in particular, who does our accounts day in and out, puts so much time in to it - and is always on hand for advice. 

Nerve wracking

There were so many things that went wrong, got delayed and cost more than should of - but as they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. We finally opened on July 5th 2014, the night before we had been laying carpet til 1am in the morning. I was so scared - what if no-one comes, what if 100 people come. Younger and a lot thinner in this pic - bloody twins ;) this was a few weeks after we opened (with Dan's sister Yas) 

Business is booming

We started off so well, we were busy. It was wet and the summer holidays. We didn't have half the equipment to cope (we were using pen, paper and walking it to the kitchen for food orders), we were understaffed, we had our parents and dan's grandad coming in to help with dishes. It was a whirlwind. We invested in an epos till system, full time staff and kitchen equipment. 

Not all sunshine

We started having problems with parking, not having enough - our landlord and the other units were fed up of having cars blocking their units and a parking ticket enforcement was put in place - this was a huge blow to us and knocked us sideways. We lost so much sleep, tears and probably customers to this. We tried everything we could to combat this - minibus, booking systems - it just didn't work. It was tough, we couldn't do events that we wanted to do, we had to turn customers away, move & block cars it was really, really tough. 

Working through it

Over the next few years, we plodded on. Understanding our trends, our quiet times, managing the parking issues, and generally trying to improve where we can. Piran's, as you may see, is constantly evolving, I get itchy, I can't stay still - poor Dan always has me giving him to do list. 

New arrivals

Along the time-line, Millie and Jake were born. They are an amazing addition, we had such a perfect little tribe to be proud of.
The twins have come to the unit with us from a few days old really, it is home to us. I spent most of the first 6 months feeding, glued to the sofa. The girls that worked for us were a God send, they were so helpful when I needed a loo break or a drink - I am not sure I would have coped as well without company. Motherhood is certainly lonely. 

Time to be strong

Having the twins was great but I struggled, it was really hard being away from the business or managing from the sidelines. I felt like everything I worked for was slipping away, we had competition opening up near us, I was panicking. But, there is always enough children to support lots of small business. 
So I picked up my sorry ass, and got back to work and business. 

Listen to feedback

I knew something was up, we were down on last year. It was time to work out the problem so we could do something about it. We did a survey and had well over 100 responses. Some were very critical but it what we needed. From there we worked out the key areas we had to improve. Parking, heating & customer service. 

Light at the end of the tunnel

We FINALLY managed to get additional parking arranged. We now have a large overflow carpark. 
I used to come in to work with tights under my jeans it was that cold, but last year we had a heater installed - my gosh it is brilliant. When the sales rep was talking about how warm it was I was dubious as it's such a big unit, but it really is effective and the feedback for the temperature has been great - we've even had comments in the winter that it's too warm would you believe!
We've been on customer service course, had barrista training and have been on other course with the skills hub. 

5 years - happy birthday

So, here we are 5 years in. I can't count how many times we've been pennies away from not making another week or bill. It's genuinely such hard work, at the moment I work 6 days a week and Dan is working full time at Piran's and a part time job too. Just in case we have another hot summer, we need to make sure we survive at home too. 

But it is worth it!! Piran's is genuinely a little community and I feel genuinely proud of what we have achieved. We have made so many friends and get to see children doing what children do best - play!!

The future

I feel positive, I am understanding our trends. We've had to make changes to adapt to the seasons. 

I have so many ideas for our next 5 years. Thank you so much to everyone that has supported us, it is really appreciated. Even to this day, I still love getting messages people booking parties or reviews.