I’ve been in old rinks and newer rinks, and learned from all of them. The things I loved. The things that drove me crazy. And whether the experience was wonderful, or not so great, either as a customer or when I was on the payroll as an employee. I learned along the way how to mitigate issues before they crop up to keep everyone safe, and foster a great atmosphere that creates positive memories.
Here are some things to consider when building or upgrading your roller rink.
Big Box retailers and other businesses reduce risk by using bollards, those sturdy barriers placed in the parking lot, around the building’s exterior to prevent vehicles from crashing through it, whether accidental, or not. And those prefabricated open span metal buildings, can end up with a lot of dents caused by inexperienced drivers. That’s why companies like Ideal Shield offer several options in building protection and parking lot safety, including custom branding, sign systems and decorative covers. Just make sure to choose a bright color that stands out – like RED or bright YELLOW, so it can catch the attention of a distracted driver full of excited kids.
Great Rental Skates
Customers who rent skates are typically beginners. Some are trying roller skating for the first time. That’s why good equipment matters. When skaters have a great experience in a pair of comfortable rentals, they will pick up the activity more quickly and have fun. If the equipment is beat up, old, and with little support, it’s much harder to learn to skate. It’s a myth that when someone doesn’t like their rental skates, they will go purchase a pair instead. Nope. They will turn in those skates and never come back. Those that find skating enjoyable, will want to purchase their own equipment. It happens all the time. Plus, quality rental skates that cost more are actually a better value because they last longer.
Uneven tops on Barrier Walls
I like barrier walls around the rink floor. What I don’t like is having to constantly remind customers not to park their butts there or set their drinks on top of it. With a flat top, they do it all the time. And no customer enjoys be reprimanded for doing so. However, a spilled beverage on a rink floor is dangerous, and can destroy the surface if not quickly mopped up. An easy way to prevent this situation from happening altogether is to forego the flat surface, in favor of a domed (∩) or a pointed top (Λ). Rink Operators who have done this report great results. It’s two fewer problems to deal with during a crazy busy session.
Traffic signs on the floor
Back in the heyday of roller skating, every rink had a light up sign board to indicate what was happening on the skate floor. You could easily see it was an All Skate, Reverse, Trio, Couples Only, or Special. Few rinks still have these nostalgic signs, and I’ve seen even fewer in operating order. It seems no one uses them anymore. However, the signage helps skaters figure out which direction to go, or if it’s a backwards skate. Understand that they don’t always hear the DJ announcements. They could have been in the arcade, the restroom, snack bar, or flirting. They quickly head for the floor when they hear a favorite song. Or they arrive late to the rink, mid-song and not know what’s going on.
With a large TV Monitor attached to a wall within the rink and connected to a laptop or tablet in the DJ Booth, it’s easy to make fun signs alerting the crowd using Canva or PowerPoint. You can even animate arrows to help newbies understand which direction is an All-SKATE and which is REVERSE. Plus, these electronic sign boards can be personalized with names of the Birthday Party Stars. Or give further directions to exit the floor. The key is to make them READABLE (no fancy fonts or long text) and to the point. Avoid using the screen to show music videos. Skaters should be paying attention to who’s in front of them, and not looking elsewhere.
A skate mate lane
If you want to know why I love a Skate Mate Lane, I devoted a whole article to it. It keeps beginners and advanced skaters from colliding. That means fewer accidents and fewer pissed off people. The marked lane designates boundaries that kids can follow. The wall helps them feel secure and confident. And skaters are more likely to slow down when exiting the floor instead of flying into a bystander. Further, it deters people from congregating in groups along the wall with all the traffic coming through. Another problem solved.
Service Access to Party Rooms
When party rooms are faraway from the kitchen, that means moving food through groups of skaters (who may not be that stable) to serve the guests. Anything can happen during the short journey. A sneeze. A teen flipping their long hair around. Or your party host getting knocked over by an unstable skater. One rink I visited solved that issue by including a service hallway from the kitchen to the rooms, much like hotel banquet halls are designed. The food magically appears, without staffers having to navigate through a crowd of customers standing around on roller skates.
From time-to-time medical assistance will be needed. It’s inherent to any business. People fall. Or have existing health issues and are not in good physical condition. Therefore, it’s inevitable, there is going to be an ambulance coming in to the parking lot. Rather than have them come through the front door for all to see, EMTs should have a dedicated entrance. Imagine a mom driving up, seeing the flashing lights right out front, and deciding right then and there, to take the kids somewhere else. Having a private entrance, perhaps around back, means the paramedics can quickly get in and out, without making a scene. It’s also easier to keep gawkers from recording the incident.
This is just a short list of how to effectively handle customers while keeping rink operations running smoothly. Please come back for more tips on how to run a roller rink without losing your mind.