Everything You Need to Know About Rob Arnold, CEO of Launch Franchising
Launch Franchising, an all-inclusive family entertainment business with 25 parks in 13 states, envisions immense growth and international expansion.
Tell Us How It All Started:
Back in 2011, my wife Erin and I traveled to Orlando, Florida, with our two small children. It was our first Disney trip as a family, and one of the days, it started to rain. Instead of being one of “those” families in the Disney ponchos, we decided to look for other fun activities, and my wife saw what was called a “trampoline arena,” and it looked so awesome, we just had to go.
Was It Love at First Sight?
For my wife, yes! We had only been jumping a few minutes when she said, ‘we need to open one of these in Rhode Island.’ My first reaction was, ‘you’re crazy,’ but five minutes later, I said, ‘actually, you might be onto something.’ This is just more evidence that my wife is always one step ahead of me.
What Did You Do Before This?
Before Launch, I owned a construction company. I led about 15 different guys, and we’d do light commercial work and high-end residential work. My wife owned a gift shop in Wakefield, Rhode Island. We started entrepreneurship right out of college, and it’s just evolved into family entertainment. An interesting note is that Launch was the first investment we chose just because of how cool it was. We didn’t look into financing first, we just said, this is it, and that choice changed our lives for the better.
How Did You Successfully Lift This Business Off the Ground?
Interestingly enough, when we first started researching how to get into this business, my wife and I were looking at how to become franchisees since we already had our own businesses to take care of. But looking at it from just an investment point of view wasn’t working because we didn’t align with any of the CEOs. What was already established was completely different from our own vision. All they had to offer was a warehouse model, no video games or food, just a simple space for birthday parties, a trampoline, and a concrete floor. It also took some time for us to establish where we fit. In the early days, trampoline parks seemed to center towards fitness, not necessarily family fun.
When Did Franchising Come Into Play?
I was honestly interested in franchising before our first unit ever opened. I went to a conference and started taking classes. I sat in this two-day seminar, totally intimidated, as I was sitting next to people who had five or seven successful units. But I believed in our business and knew we’d be successful. To ensure our success, we opened two corporate units and started franchising to friends and family. So, my dad was actually our first franchisee.
How Long Have You Been in Operation?
We opened our first location one year after we first visited the “trampoline arena” in Orlando. November 2012 was when our lives changed forever!
Describe the Product and Service:
Launch is an innovative family entertainment center. We’re constantly bringing new and exciting attractions to our locations. Our main focus is on guest experience and how we can bring fun to the whole family. From the beginning, we wanted to be a source of entertainment for everyone who walked in our doors. Constantly enhancing our establishment, we’re more than just a trampoline park. We’re in the business of creating awesome memories. We strive to provide family entertainment with a WOW factor!
Why Is There a Need for This Product and Service? How Do You Differ From Your Competition?
Let’s face it, we all need a space where we can put our devices away and be a kid again. We’ve worked hard to provide a space where our customers have a ton of fun opportunities to choose from. Launch is the only entertainment franchise that caters to the entire family. While others may specialize in children’s attractions, we offer entertainment that appeals to all ages.
What is the Appeal to a Trampoline Park?
Trampoline parks have a very simple model. Anyone can get into the business at a low cost, and it has a relatively simple operation. What takes trampoline parks to the next level is how we look for ways to evolve. For instance, we started as Launch Trampoline Park, but we’re now Launch Entertainment. At first, we were trampolines, video games, and simple food. We’ve changed over time to include bowling, arcade, virtual reality, climbing features, Krave restaurant, and even a Bar Hops beverage service offered in certain locations.
How Many Franchisees Do You Currently Have?
We currently have 25 franchised parks open, but we’re growing exponentially, with more than 40 Launch Entertainment locations in the pipeline.
What Type of Person Fits Your Franchisee Profile?
I’m looking for a professional who has built a successful team in the past, someone who has a desire to deliver an incredible guest experience. We have successful franchisees who have backgrounds as entrepreneurs. Some come from the corporate world from the vice president level and above in areas like marketing, finance, and sales.
How Do You Support Your Franchisees?
We all have strengths and weaknesses. For our franchisees, we recognize that they may not be strong in every aspect of business. While some may be good at marketing, others may excel at finance. With that in mind, we have a robust team that ranges from home-grown talent to seasoned franchise professionals. We have technology platforms we’ve purchased or developed to simplify our systems. Additionally, we have experts on staff, so our franchisees can focus on delivering an awesome experience at their location. Our training sessions include on-site floor staff development, a very detailed General Manager training, as well as specialized owner’s training so they can keep an up-to-the-minute pulse of their investment.
How Do You Motivate Your Franchisees?
The transparency of systemwide performance drives competition and motivates our franchisees. Often, franchisees can become comfortable with their current park. Showing them how upgrades and new attractions will help park performance gets them excited and motivated for some positive change.
Where Do You See the Franchise in the Next Five Years?
We have a number of amazing things in store and are predicting tremendous growth in the next five years. Currently, we’re on track to blow past 100 units nationwide with some serious international interest. There are some great concepts that will bolt onto our current offerings that are under development as well.
Any Upcoming Systems or Concepts in 2022?
We have new technology that we’re looking to introduce at the tail end of 2022. It’s sure to blow the minds of our guests. For now, it’s top secret!
What Advice Do You Have for Those Exploring Franchise Opportunities?
Be sure that your vision aligns with the franchise you’re looking to join. If the visions and core values don’t align, expectations will never be met. While the business can be a challenge, there should be a team at corporate that can jump in during any crisis or issue to help guide you. Before purchasing a location, understand and be comfortable with where the future of the franchise is headed.