Hitting The Mark

Jeff Platt, President, Sky Zone Franchise Group

Episode Summary

My guest today is Sky Zone's President, Jeff Platt, who has grown the beloved indoor trampoline experience founded by his father into more than 200 franchises across the world. I recorded my session with Jeff on March 2nd when life was still relatively normal. Fast forward to today, March 20th, where I record this introduction from a makeshift home studio and all of Sky Zone's locations are closed due to the coronavirus. Just another example of how every entrepreneur today is faced with an unprecedented challenge. It is bittersweet to listen to Jeff, but I urge you to soak up his wisdom, to apply it to your own brand, to follow Sky Zone on social media and to add it to your list of to-do’s to visit one of his indoor trampoline experiences when we are allowed to do so.

Episode Notes

Learn more about Sky Zone

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Full Transcript:

F Geyrhalter:

Welcome to the show, Jeff.

J Platt:

Thanks for having me.

F Geyrhalter:

Absolutely. Look, I usually only have founders and cofounders on Hitting The Mark and your company Sky Zone which a lot of people listening know very well, it was technically founded by your dad, but it was you who actually came in and pivoted it. You are now considered a cofounder at this point because you really made the company what it is today. Tell us a little bit about that pivotal moment of what actually happened when you came in or what you realized.

J Platt:

I definitely got to get my dad credit. He is the visionary behind it. He was the one who founded the business. I was lucky enough for him to bring me involved and get me involved in a way listened to directionally where I wanted to take the business, but he, by all means, is the real founder, if you will. When we first started the business as a professional sport, which was a crazy idea at the time, we decided to pivot the business into what it is today. It's nothing that he should take credit for or I should take credit for. It really came from listening to our customer at the time which were some neighborhood kids who wanted to just come in and play.

J Platt:

They saw our R&D center that we had in Las Vegas. They peeked their head in the door because there was an indoor skatepark next door to us. These kids were constantly coming to the center and they'd look through the windows. They used to bang on the doors and just ask my dad, "Can we come in here and jump around?" He'd let them. Then one day, instead of training athletes to launch the sport that was going to be played on trampolines, the decision was made to start charging them money to just jump around and play. We did and then the business took off from there. We opened a couple locations. I approached him one day and said, "Let's start franchising our business." In 2009-2010, we began to franchise. That's when the growth really started to take off.

F Geyrhalter:

Have there been any companies at that point that did something similar when you guys decided, "Hey, let's have these kids come in and let's just start charging for it"?

J Platt:

Yeah, it was that simple. I think in business in general, it's super important to listen to your customers. In our world, we call them guests. We've learned a lot from them over the years. When I think back at really how this whole thing started, it was, it was listening to these neighborhood kids.

F Geyrhalter:

That's so great. I'm a brand consultant and the beauty of my job is that I come into companies as the outsider looking in which makes it so much easier to see what is actually going on and what brand wisdoms and values deserve to be uncovered. You were the Undercover Boss in the season finale of the show by the same name. Now, I have a good amount of former Shark Tank contestants on Hitting The Mark, but you are only the second Undercover Boss. I had Shelly Sun of Brightstar which is also an amazing franchise on the show prior and she was an Undercover Boss as well. How was that experience and what did it teach you about your brand that you did not know before?

J Platt:

It's a pretty incredible experience. I'd like to say it's probably the most exhausting 10 days of work I've ever had between traveling every day and you're up early and you're working late and that wasn't the issue. The issue is that there's a camera in your face 24 hours a day pretty much. And so you really have to watch what you're saying because you have no editing rights and they're going to put on that show what they want to put on. You're also lying all day long about who you are. You're pretending to be someone you're not.

F Geyrhalter:

Tell me more.

J Platt:

That is exhausting. You really have to watch everything you say. Those were grueling days. I think one of the thing, and it's interesting because it doesn't get talked about a lot around that show, one of the things that was so interesting for me is when you have a title as president or CEO or cofounder, whatever it may be, when you have a big title, you don't get to talk to people the same way as if you were just a friend of theirs or maybe just a director level or manager level, but when you have that title people, they look at you differently and they talk at you differently.

J Platt:

It's unfortunate, but it's just people can sometimes be intimidated by the role. I try and go out of my way to be very approachable, but you don't get to share the stories that you do with someone when you're the CEO or the president. That show, because I'm just a contestant on the show, a made-up show that, of course, they don't know it's made up, but I was able to engage and talk with our frontline team in a way that I would not have been able to if I wasn't this fake character.

F Geyrhalter:

Right

J Platt:

I was able to learn from them, engage with them and frankly just get to know some people that I would have never gotten to know if it wasn't for that experience. I think one of the things that made me realize is really the incredible diverse team that we have around the country and these stories of these team members and what they've been through and the role that Sky Zone has played in their life, mainly good thankfully in helping them and setting their careers off and learning and development for them.

J Platt:

That was the most, and I guess in a selfish way, it gave me a lot of pride and a lot of enthusiasm and really a lot of energy around continuing to grow the brand to say, "How can we create more stories like these individuals?" It was really a humbling and rewarding experience all around.

F Geyrhalter:

That is really, really great to hear because very often with those shows it's all about drama, and like you said, you have to be at your very, very, very best behavior, but that idea where a founder, a president, the CEO, it's easier for you to suddenly take over a customer service line and listen to what people actually have to say on the other line, but it's really hard to do that internally, especially if you have franchises. I don't know how many locations you have. I think the last I checked it's like 210 or so locations. I'm sure it's been growing, right?

J Platt:

Yup.

F Geyrhalter:

It's really, really difficult to tap into that. I totally get it. That must have been an amazing experience and just high fiving with those people that usually would stare at you when you walk into the room.

J Platt:

Exactly, not want to speak to you. It's interesting because it doesn't get talked about enough around that show, just that you can engage in a totally different way because you're just seen as another person to them. Unfortunately, again, when you put a title on yourself, you automatically have some stigma attached to you or stereotype if you will because you're the "boss."

F Geyrhalter:

Totally. Absolutely. A typical Sky Zone location hosts about a thousand guests a day according to Wikipedia. You have expanded through the franchising model. I had 1-800-GOT-JUNK founder, Brian Scudamore, on the show which sadly only resulted in a transcribed interview due to technical difficulties that day. That was one of my first episodes and he was kind enough to be on it. He's obviously a very well-respected entrepreneur in the franchising world. It was interesting to hear him answer this question. I'll ask you the very same question because you are deep inside the franchising world.

F Geyrhalter:

What were some of the key steps that you had to go through to create a platform of brand rules and guidelines to empower franchise owners rather than solely restrict them? It's still true to the brand and they have rules to follow, but it still feels like they've got to say in their own location and then shape something and be a cocreator.

J Platt:

It's a good question and it's always a tough balance in franchising.

F Geyrhalter:

Oh, I'm sure.

J Platt:

We tend to use this saying a lot that we want to give freedom within a framework because I firmly believe and it's my leadership style that you've got to give your team or people you work with freedom. If you give them enough freedom, then that's where real creativity and innovation can happen. Allow them to try things and allow them to fail. It's talked about a lot in business and I wholeheartedly believe it. I think it's the same with franchise owners. You've got to give them a certain amount of freedom because some of the best innovation comes from them, but it's got to be within a framework.

F Geyrhalter:

Right.

J Platt:

You got to some guardrails around it, the magic of enough freedom but a framework that is wide enough to truly let them try things but not so wide that they go outside the boundaries. I think like anything the key is making sure they're involved in the process. From the time we did our first real branding exercise, hired the third-party consultant, brought them in, really gave ourselves a look, a feel, talk about what our brand is. We did those exercises. God, this is dating back I think the first time, maybe six or seven ... Well, the first time we did it was 10 or 11 years ago, but I'd say the first time we did it in a real methodical way with a professional was seven years ago.

J Platt:

We had franchise owners sitting in that room with us and the senior leadership of the team. They were sitting in there with us going through the exercises and doing all of it, A to Z with us. Every time that we've done some form of refresh, they've been along the journey with us. Not all of them because you can't have 120 franchise owner sitting in the room with you, but you find a couple who are passionate about branding and know it and you invite them and you make them part of the process. Make them part of a process so they feel like it's theirs and then define that framework, make sure it's got enough freedom within it for them to make it their own, but also make sure it's still us, those guys.

F Geyrhalter:

Consistency because that's the lifeline of any brand, especially with the franchise. Very, very cool the way that you do that. I think that's very smart. How do you deal with core values? Because core values are so important to any company, but you're across continents, right? Sky zone is not only in the US. You're global at this point. How do those core values translate? How do you deal with that?

J Platt:

Fortunately for us, we kept ours pretty simple, so they do translate across countries. They're not overly complex. Actually for the first time, this has been going on for about a year or so, we're actually looking at making some updates to those. Core values are not things that should be a flavor of the year, that you change often at all, but we're actually looking at doing a bit of a refresh on them because we recently, as you pointed out before we started talking, you saw that we've done a little creative refresh on the brand and so we're looking across all aspects of our business, core values being a part of it and looking to do a refresh there too.

J Platt:

I think what's key with ... Brands get into a lot of these concepts and mission statements and vision statements and purpose statements and core values and brand tenets. They all want to define them. You have so many things that you can't remember, "Is that a mission statement or a purpose statement? Is that my vision? Wait, what are my core?" I think the key with all this is keep it super, super simple. I think brands tend to, and you probably know this better than I do, overcomplicate all this stuff.

F Geyrhalter:

Thank you. Hallelujah. I'm so happy to hear this from a founder's viewpoint because for me it's all about simplifying, simplifying. I even simplify it so much that at the end of my branding sessions with clients, we have one word, right? It all comes down to that one word. You and I talked about that a little bit in the prep that that's a question that's coming up. I didn't even do mission and vision statements with my clients because I felt that, a, it's two extra statements and, b, aren't you on a mission to fulfill your vision? Isn't it one statement? Now that too many of them asked me after workshop, they're like, "But Fabian, we didn't do a mission statement and a vision statement." I'm like, "All right." Now, I'm doing a mission/vision statement which is a combo plate between the two and that just makes it simpler. I agree. The more statements, the more stuff around your brand, the harder it is to remember and follow any of it. Isn't that the core purpose of all of that? I believe you've got some pretty cool little pieces of brand communications like small gestures of brand delight that turned into customer favorites. I think when you enter a location, you get a sticker, which I haven't because no one invited me to check it out prior to this interview, but whatever, anyway ; ) so I haven't but I heard that these orange stickers, they turn into a recognizable brand element for you, right?

J Platt:

Yeah, the orange stickers and actually even more so than the orange stickers is our socks.

F Geyrhalter:

That's right. How has it always been around the socks? Is that a common-

J Platt:

The socks we introduced maybe six years ago or so now. Sometimes, I lose track. Sometimes, I still think it's 2018, but the socks, we introduced six or seven years ago. For a very long time, and it might still be the case actually, it was the most Instagrammed thing part of our brand. If people would post images of themselves at our parks, usually it's them and the sock is the hero of the shot because it's like a badge. It says, "I am at Sky Zone," or, "I love Sky Zone because I've got my socks."

F Geyrhalter:

That's super cool. You did the socks obviously for hygienic reasons, I suppose, and for people, to make sure that they have socks on because a lot of them might just walk in with their sandals. Hold on second. There's a lot of ambulance action out there or something. Super cool. By the way, the whole socks thing. I just thought it Ion the site now when I looked at it. I didn't even pick that up when I prepped for the interview the last time, so it's pretty neat. All right. I guess the ambulance is dying down over there. No pun intended. That was horrible. It didn't mean it though.

F Geyrhalter:

Cool. Perfect. Let's talk about the socks for a second little bit more. Was it intentional that you thought the socks would actually become a brand element or did you just need the socks for a reason and afterwards you just said, "Well, let's color it in our brand color"?

J Platt:

Originally, the socks started for two reasons, one, hygiene and the second one is they have a grip on the bottom of them. It's easier for you to grip the trampoline and you're jumping on it. We didn't decide to do the socks. It was, "Oh, this would be an amazing brand element." As we started introducing them into our operations and then we made them orange because that was a main color for us and they really popped and we noticed people really like them, we thought, "Okay, this is a great opportunity that becomes a badge of honor that you love our brand if you have our socks." It's one of the things that I always say to ... People say to me, "Oh, what do I do?" I say, "Have you ever heard of Sky Zone?" Eight out of 10 times, the first thing someone says to me is, "Yeah, I have six pairs of your socks."

F Geyrhalter:

That was my next question. Do people steal the socks or do you actually own them afterwards? How does that work?

J Platt:

No, they own them. They own them. They're all-

F Geyrhalter:

Which makes it so much easier for you because what are you going to do with them?

J Platt:

Yeah, much easier. We're not going to get into machine washing business. That's what we do. We branded them. Now interestingly enough, people bring their socks back because they own them. We said, "Okay, people really love these. Now, we need to make them different and let's expand the design and the color of them." We've now introduced, God, maybe a dozen different design socks, ankle socks, high socks, camo color, different funky designs. We even post our new designs on our Facebook page, asked people to vote on which ones they want us to roll out. It's become a big part of our brand now, socks.

F Geyrhalter:

That is so smart. That's super, super smart. I mean that can grow into all kinds of different directions, but it's so cool because it's a merchandise you don't have to buy. You just get and the idea of anything that's being limited edition or anything that changes, that's what people want to post. That's what people want to own. Super, super cool. How do you talk to your different customer segments? You've got toddlers and their parents and then you've got amateurs, like you said, just kids that want to jump around and I mean kids of any age really, but all the way to professional dodgeball players, which yes, that's definitely a thing. Do you segment your channels such as Instagram and YouTube by those groups?

J Platt:

Segmentation has become ... As we've gotten bigger and a little bit more sophisticated, at least I'd like to think, we've started to do a lot more segmented marketing. It's just like just as you nail one platform, the next one pops up that you've got to learn like TikTok, but we do a lot of segmentation and it's not necessarily by age always. We've recently launched memberships. We're gaining a pretty big membership base across all of our parks. We have very targeted communication that goes just to our members.

J Platt:

We obviously know a lot about those members and who they are, who's buying these memberships and what's important to them and why they're buying memberships and what offers they want to see as being a member that's going to entice them to want to continue to come back. We're not just segmenting based on a teenager or a toddler. One thing is for sure is we're talking to mom a lot. Mom is a big decisionmaker. We're definitely talking to mom in a lot of our communication, but we want to be cool, we want to be relevant, we want to be, to a degree, edgy and up with the latest trends.

J Platt:

One of the things we just did from a branding perspective is we just refreshed our creative. We talked about this a little bit earlier. We brought in a lot of pattern and some softer colors. At first when I saw it, it felt kitty to me, but if you go out and look in the world today, especially fashion, this is what is on trend right now. I'm not talking about fashion for six, seven, eight, nine, 10-year-olds. I'm talking about fashion for teenagers, people in the early 20s. It is what is considered cool, if you will. We're constantly talking to different audiences and figuring out a way to target messaging, but at the end of the day, mom is one of our biggest customers.

F Geyrhalter:

Totally. Then, the kids need to find that their experience with the brand is hip as well and then they grow out of mom being a decision maker and you feel like readying yourself for the entire customer journey which is very smart. The big question is do members get special member socks?

J Platt:

It's funny you said that because it's something we're actually working on.

F Geyrhalter:

There you go.

J Platt:

We have a concept of potentially giving them different socks and those socks based on visit history and such, like belts in karate ...

F Geyrhalter:

Badge of honor.

J Platt:

... that you would earn. Yeah, exactly.

F Geyrhalter:

Super cool. We talked about dodgeball for a second, I just mentioned it, but let's talk about the Sky Zone Ultimate Dodge Ball Championship because it's easy to poke fun at sport because most know it as a kid's game, but you did something quite amazing by creating this league and having it air on ESPN2. I think it earned something ridiculous like over 200 million media impressions. How did that brand extension of sorts come about?

J Platt:

Oh, you know what? I've got to give my father credit really there. He was always very passionate about doing something involving sports with our brand. Originally, as I mentioned, that the whole concept started out as it was going to be a sport played on trampolines and that game was actually called Sky Zone and it was a crazy game, but that never really took off. What people did love to do was play dodgeball on trampolines. He really wanted to legitimize that. So many, many years ago, he had this dream and wish to just make a real concerted effort to try and make dodgeball something big.

J Platt:

We started out doing tournaments at all of our locations and tournaments were popular. Then we said, "Wow, what if we make those tournaments regionally based and then the regional base tournament, there's a winner. Then what if the regional tournament winner gets to play into a national tournament? Then everybody flies to Vegas, but then how are we going to convince people to fly to Vegas to play for this national tournament?" We actually used to do it in Torrance many, many years ago. We started doing in Vegas recently.

J Platt:

Then, we threw cash prizes on it and people then really wanted to come because there was a big cash prize and it gained a huge following. Somebody here internally in our team ran the whole thing and did a great job with it and started getting sponsors involved. The next thing you know, ESPN2, they want to show a profile of it. It's a really fun content, so it started getting a lot of hits on YouTube. It just organically happened. It was sort of this total ... Talking about segments, it was this total subsegment of our business that that really was never about how much revenue can we generate from this.

J Platt:

It was more fun and a different angle on our brand. It was about sport and competition and a super, super passionate group of players that help grow this sport organically. It was fascinating the way it all happened.

F Geyrhalter:

It's so great because it reminds you of the roots of the company, right? As you start spreading into all these different directions, there's still this core which is really neat. You use the word organically a lot. In a way, I'm sure a lot of it spread organically, but I think it's also because you're most probably humble about it. I think you've got a pretty good idea of how to grow a brand. What is an advice that you would have for a young company that maybe has one or two locations and they want to turn into a franchise? How would you spread the word and find brand growth to follow your lead?

F Geyrhalter:

What are some of the things that you feel like made you successful in the beginning that might be something that people might be able to replicate in a totally different industry?

J Platt:

Well, I think one thing that's really important, if I was starting from scratch today, something I would do from day one that I think it wasn't until we were maybe four years in or so that we did this, but it's hire a brand consultant and create what many people in the industry refer to as a brand book. What truly is your brand? What is the identity? What are your core values? Do you have a vision statement, which I don't think you need to have a mission statement, but if you do define it? You don't have to have a mission or purpose statement, but if you do define it.

J Platt:

What does it look like? What does it feel like? What does it not that's important? Who's the customer? What's important to that customer? How is your brand speaking to that customer, but really define what your brand is? We did that for the very first time. I want to say maybe it's five years after we launched. It might've been five, it might've been six, I don't know. It was not at first. I can tell you that. I think that there's no question that I would do that from day one now because what that does is it aligns people around an idea.

J Platt:

Your brand is your identity and it's how the world will perceive you. It's important that people that are running the business if you will or will be getting involved in the business, understand what that idea is and make sure that they're communicating the same thing because brand is not just about the colors on your website or the way your brick and mortar location looks, your tone of voice, but brand is also the people that work for you and how they represent themselves. I think having that book is that unifying document that says, "Here's who we are. Here's what we're about. Here's what we're trying to achieve. Here's what's important to us. Here's the customers that we're trying to attract."

J Platt:

You got to be aligned around that from day one. You don't have to be, but I'd recommend you be.

F Geyrhalter:

Absolutely. I'm so glad that you say that. That's literally what I do for a living is coming with early stage startup founders. Usually, they have funding, one way or the other. Some of them already did the beta product for a year or so and then I come in and I do exactly what you're talking about. I refuse to work with them if I don't get an entire day with the core team with the founder, cofounder, any VP level, maximum eight people, but minimum the founders because if it is being derived from within and if everyone is working on it together, like you said, so much happens, right? It builds internal culture. It builds that, whatever, North star, whatever it is, like that big idea.

F Geyrhalter:

You said, "Well, there's colors and there's all of that stuff too," and you're right. It is secondary when you build a brand, but also after that, you call it a book, we actually do it in one long page. It's actually like a six-foot poster of like, "Here is the brand," which we like because one page is easier as a PDF for people to quickly scan through in the book, but that idea that it's written down and it's in front of you, if you then work on the brand, you can always go back to it and say, "Look, it doesn't matter if orange or you like blue. Would our customer like orange and blue? Does it go back to who we want to be and how we want to be seen?"

F Geyrhalter:

Not needing to repeat anything that you already said, but I'm glad to hear it from you. I'm glad that you'd say that now looking back, actually you would do it early on and that you recommend people to do it early on because a lot of startup founders who don't understand the idea of branding that it's something much bigger, they feel like branding is the last thing they should focus on, right? It's product, product, product. That's how people feel. You can add 10 more features to your product, speaking tech talk, whatever it is, additions to your service. If no one cares about it and if no one sees it as being attractive, then you have nothing, right?

F Geyrhalter:

I could go off on tangents about that, but since we already talk about it, after everything you've been through with Sky Zone, creating this conglomerate of locations and being a leader in that industry, what does branding mean to you today?

J Platt:

Fortunately, I think the same thing it did before which is to me, it's how a customer feels when they hear or see or interact with your brand, what is the emotion, the response that, that you get from them. I don't think our brand is about what I say it is. I think it's about what is somebody else because I might have a perception of what it is, but it doesn't mean that we're articulating that well as a brand or communicating that well as brand. I think it's about what is your customer see, feel, believe, what comes to mind when they experience or interact with your brand.

J Platt:

I think brands, they do it really well. I think we do this well, but we can definitely always improve, is that experience or feeling is consistent across, they use that term omnichannel, but it's just a cross platform. Whether you're interacting on social, whether you're interacting on the web, whether you're interacting by picking up the phone and you're calling and you're talking about booking a party or you're trying to get information or when you're actually physically inside the location itself. I think that's the hardest thing for brands is consistency across channels.

J Platt:

You might do social media really well, but then when someone comes in store, it's a terrible experience or the way your online presence looks is very different than the way the physical store looks or you might have this brand that's super fun and engaging and exciting, but the team inside the park is not that way at all and ruins it. How do you have consistency across all those channels to me, that's brand.

F Geyrhalter:

Absolutely. It's already so difficult to have consistency across locations, just that people feel the same thing and agree to the same way and it's the same vibe, but then across channels is a totally different story. I always feel like it's fascinating to me how restaurant chains or hotels, how they either nail it or they totally can't get it together. That is such a multinational experience there. There's one restaurant chain, you might know them, they're called The Hillstone Group. They've got Houstons and all of that.

J Platt:

I ate at R+D last night. I went to the Hillstone Restaurant.

F Geyrhalter:

Well, there you go. Perfect. The one in Brentwood, Santa Monica up there, right?

J Platt:

Yup.

F Geyrhalter:

I am obsessed with that brand because they give you a fairly upscale experience, not really upscale prices. Regardless of where you go, it is so consistent, the service and the way that you're treated and the way that you feel especially when you go to the Hillstone's and Houston's Steak, the way you fall into this brand and it's dark, it's quiet, it's super professional, you're attended to. To me, it is so fascinating and people think it's silly because it's Houston's. It's a steak, whatever, kind of chain, just an American restaurant. That to me is always fascinating because I know how difficult it is to pull that off.

F Geyrhalter:

Talking about difficulties, brand difficulties, I know we talked a lot about what Sky Zone is doing right and has been doing right, but you're doing your entire history of growing that brand. Was there enormous brand feel that you went through where something totally went the wrong way, where you thought your customers would act a certain way and then they acted totally differently or where you chomped onto some hip bandwagon and then afterwards you realized it's just a fad and you should have never done that? Anything negative that you want to share, so people can learn from it?

J Platt:

Nothing I would say overly negative. I will say that at one point we started pivoting our creative a little bit to go a bit edgier, a bit sportier. We used some darker images and coloring, not a skater feel, but almost like that in a way. I think we took it a bit far frankly. This didn't really come from research or anything, but I think we took it a bit far and we had to tone it down a little bit because what I think we became was a little less inviting to the masses. It's almost as if you saw our marketing or creative, you would have said, "It feels like sport to me and not entertainment."

J Platt:

There's still some elements of our brand that feel that way, but we've started to tone that down a little bit, and after you've seen some of the creative refresh on our website for example, we're now being a little more colorful, a little more pattern oriented. Really what's at the core of all of that is being playful. That's what we want to be about. We want to be playful as a brand in the way we communicate, in the way we look and feel. We are all about play and our brand should be playful. It's not really serious.

F Geyrhalter:

Exactly and it makes so much sense because in the end, if you're on the height of your game and you're actually in the league, it's still playful. You're still enjoying it. It's still a game, right? For everyone else, it's aspirational if there's a little bit of that competitive tone to the brand or a little bit of that athletic tone to the brand, but you must probably went into the athletic tonality so much that the other customers were left a little bit behind. Now with your refresh and looking at the way that you look at the segmentation's obviously, it's a much bigger exercise to find that perfect in between and having that guiding word, that guiding idea behind it. That's actually my next question. What is one word that can describe your brand overall, which I call your brand DNA? Is it actually playful?

J Platt:

Yeah, I think so. We are all about promoting play. We want to be playful in everything we do. You can use a lot of different words and you can say it's about fun and freedom and activity and adventure, but at the end of the day, who does not like to play? If we could just be playful all day long, I don't care if you're young or old, you're going to be happy. I've got a 16-month-old now, my first and all day long this kid just runs around and he just wants to play and he's so happy. I just think like, "What if I could live like that?" How much happier would the world be if we could all just be like a 16-year-old, totally present, in the moment, only caring about what's right in front of them? I realize it's not realistic, but how nice would it be?

F Geyrhalter:

I think your brand is going to change a lot in the future.

J Platt:

I just want to play.

F Geyrhalter:

Look, when you mentioned it could be a lot of words, I think that actually defining that one word. It is very peculiar, right? It's particular. It's like there's nothing else that can say playful the way playful can see it, right? I mean freedom and all these other words, they come through different images. I think playful, having that as the guiding light, it's different. I think it's important to have that down because I think everyone internally needs to feel like, "Yeah, that's our brand." Then, everyone externally will sooner or later feel that. What's next for Sky Zone? What's in the future? What can you talk about that is not to secretive?

J Platt:

More growth, more toys, more attractions. I think the one that we're really super excited about right now that we're just starting to roll out is we're incorporating a lot of slides into our locations. These aren't just normal slides. These are a new spin on slides. Everyone hears slides and you think, "Oh, that sounds really fun. I'll do them at the park, but what's so great about a slide? These are going to be totally different and really big. I'm talking 15, 20, 25 feet and they've got a surface on them that puts you at a totally different speed than if you were just going down a normal slide and you're going to fly off them, of course.

J Platt:

You're not going to just drop down, but you actually get launched off these slides and a have to land into an airbag. That's an attraction that we're really excited about pumping out here very soon. There's a lot we're doing in the tech space. I think that a year from now you'll see our parks team pretty tech enabled that will be an enhancement to the guest experience and then a lot of international growth getting into new countries and seeing further expansion that way.

F Geyrhalter:

Very exciting, very exciting. Talking about expansions, I have listeners from all across the world. I think there are a few countries where I don't have listeners, but it's a very international podcast. The majority is still in the US, I think about 48% and then it's all across the world. Listeners who want to get into the Sky Zone, where can they find you?

J Platt:

skyzone.com, easy as that, our website. It's got all of our locations listed and that's the best place.

F Geyrhalter:

How many countries are you in right now?

J Platt:

Oh, we are in 12 countries.

F Geyrhalter:

Wow.

J Platt:

Total countries and hopefully expanding. We're very focused on Japan hopefully being the next country we launch.

F Geyrhalter:

Great. Very cool. Well, listen, Jeff, I hope that the craziness with the coronavirus is not going to affect you too much in what you do and how you expand. It's affecting everyone right now, but I really, really wish you the best. We got some amazing insights out of here today. I love your story. Thank you for taking the time in your busy schedule to share this with myself and my listeners.

J Platt:

Appreciate it having me on and hope to chat soon.

F Geyrhalter:

Absolutely. Thanks Jeff.

J Platt:

Thanks so much.