You don’t need a college degree to be a great rink operator, but you do need a great attitude and a passion for entertaining on wheels. If rink ownership is a dream, here are tips on how to break into the business, rise among the ranks, and be ready when an ownership opportunity presents itself.
From Rink Rat to First Job
With hiring being extremely competitive for the best employees right now, you need to stand out, and in a good way. That means if you’re a rink rat looking for your first job, don’t be a dick when you’re a customer at the rink. Every day is your job interview. If you’re leaving a big mess at the snack bar tables, using foul language among your friends, not following rules, or exhibiting poor behavior, don’t expect to get hired. Why would they want to pay someone who needs additional training on how to behave in civil society? Working in a rink is not as easy as it looks.
Once you’re hired
Many rink operators don’t have time for a full-blown training workshop. I wish they did, but it’s the reality of the gig. There can be a lot of turnover, so hiring the right staff matters. Here are tips on how to rise to management in short order, and learn a lot along the way.
1. Don’t hang out and socialize with only your friends when you’re on the clock. Your job is to greet and help all customers. Sure, you can spend a few minutes catching up, but it’s up to you to politely let your pals know you have to get back to work.
2. Put away your phone and stay busy. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s said, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” If things are slow and you find yourself with “nothing to do,” then find some tables to wipe down, video games to clean, trash barrels that need emptying, rental skates that need maintenance, and bathroom inspections. There is always work to be done in a roller rink. Not sure? Ask a manager. They will love your initiative and gladly show you what needs to be done.
3. Ask to learn new roles. Do you want to be a DJ, or learn how to build skates? Being cross-utilized makes you more valuable and you can add it to your resume!
4. Be ready for customer requests. I’m not talking about song requests; I’m talking about what they typically ask for. At my rink, Band-Aids are a common request. Keeping a Band-aid or two in your pocket, or stocks of them at the rental counter, stuff shop, DJ Booth, and snack bar means you can quickly solve a problem, especially when someone is hurting. You don’t want to send them all the way across the rink for an adhesive bandage when their foot hurts from a blister.
5. Keep things tidy. Roller rinks are known for shoes and skates strewn all over the place during a busy session, causing a tripping hazard for others. Kids aren’t very good at using cubbies or lockers, so you’ll need to keep an eye out and move them under a bench or some other place where they are out of the way.
6. Be on time to your shifts. If you’re running late or can’t make it, let someone know. And wear a clean, wrinkle-free uniform and check yourself in the mirror before starting your shift.
7. Don’t eat or chew gum in front of customers. It’s unprofessional and gross.
8. Be mindful of cleaning in front of customers. If someone at a nearby snack bar table is eating, don’t use spray cleaner. The vapor travels and the smell can be off-putting to those enjoying a meal.
9. Don’t steal. Anything. If the rink is disposing of old skates or furniture, and you’re interested, ask. Never help yourself.
10. Don’t take things personally. If you do something wrong, own it. Don’t blame, deny, or lie about it. Things happen, and you’re learning. A good manager will let you know and then drop it. You should, too. Leave your drama at the door and don’t kvetch to your co-workers or on social media.
If you follow these guidelines, you can move into rink management in no time. Once you get enough experience, and it’s time to buy your own business, you’ll have related skills and experience to add to your resume, which you will need to include in your business plan to secure financing for your first property.