An interview with David Robinson, Clip ‘n Climb Leeds owner. David details his experience so far with Clip ‘n Climb, and why he decided to build his own centre.
After opening its doors on the 26th of May, we sat down with Clip ‘n Climb Leeds owner David Robinson about his experience, and why he decided to open Clip ‘n Climb Leeds in the first place.
Thanks for chatting with us David! First of all, how has the response been to the Leeds centre so far?
We opened the Leeds centre on the 26th of May, so it’s been about five weeks from launch. Our numbers are still growing, particularly with schools visiting during the week, and families visiting over the weekend.
It helps that we have a very engaged audience on Facebook, with over 1700 followers. This has helped us increase awareness, with around 80% being parents. We also have a 5-star rating after only being open for five weeks. When people come to our centre they love the experience, and we want to keep it that way!
How did you first discover Clip ‘n Climb?
Our first visit to Clip ‘n Climb was in Dundonald, Northern Ireland. Myself, my wife, and my 2 boys all initially said ‘Clip ‘n what?’
We loved the face-to-face climbing wall, and spent half our session on there, competing and helping each other. It was so satisfying to spend good quality time with the kids, and seeing them achieve something. Clip ‘n Climb was so different from our experiences at other climbing centres.
Why did you decide to open a Clip ‘n Climb centre?
After our session, we were (excuse the pun) hooked. We spoke with the Northern Ireland owners about the returns of the business, and then we opened our first centre in Ilkley, Yorkshire.
We’ve taken everything we’ve learned from the first centre and brought it into the Leeds centre, which is almost five times the size. It certainly helps to have had direct experience in the leisure sector.
My wife and I did it for home and life balance. I see my wife every day, and we work brilliantly together. Nottingham, Blackpool, and Bristol are all husband and wife teams too. I think we all realised how great the experience is for the whole family, and all learned what a great investment it was through experience!
What has been the most popular feature so far in your centre?
Our 9-metre drop slide is very popular – it’s a real rush! Due to the extra cost of installation, it costs extra to try the drop slide, but we find that many are happy to pay.
You also have to bear in mind that you’re in the leisure industry, so your food and drink must be of great quality too. We have a great selection of freshly cooked pizza, and meat straight from the butcher.
We want to make it a destination where kids enjoy themselves, and the parents can either join them or have a great meal, snack, or coffee. They can then relax and watch their children achieve something brilliant.
What process did you go through to set up the centre?
The first step is always to find suitable premises, with the appropriate height of at least 7 metres – nice high climbs prove that it’s not just a centre for kids. The Leeds centre is 9 and a half metres high, which means we could fit some really challenging climbs.
There are 32 challenges in the Leeds centre, so to secure the funding for such a big centre we needed to show experience in the leisure industry. Being a homeowner with a good credit rating obviously helps too.
Altogether, it took eight weeks to fit the whole centre. We got the keys, and spent a week and a half on-site. Entre-Prises had a 4-week window in which to meet the fit, which they also achieved brilliantly.
How have you been supported so far from Clip ‘n Climb?
Very well. They have a strong emphasis on the marketing and branding side – with regular packs and updates through the intranet, which contains some handy information. Communication is always clear and up to date.
I’ve been dealing with Entre-Prises for four years, and everyone is very approachable and open. It’s great to work with people who are open and laid back.
They also host a yearly owners meeting, where you can speak with other Clip ‘n Climb owners, learn from each other, and talk about both the exciting times and the challenges ahead.
How are your relationships with other Clip ‘n Climb owners?
There’s real teamwork and community between the owners. I feel that I can pick up the phone to speak with any of them. It just works without any real effort.
I think one thing that drives us all is passion. We all want profit, obviously, but we don’t all work for the numbers. We want to promote an exciting, healthy time for everybody. I’m sure the other guys will agree, and that’s what drives good business. That’s why I’m able to talk about Clip ‘n Climb for hours.
We want the Clip ‘n Climb experience to begin as soon as they open the door, and for them come to us in a good mood, and leave in an even better mood. That’s one of the biggest payoffs of owning a Clip ‘n Climb centre.
Interested in owning your own Clip ‘n Climb centre?
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