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Help Your Kids Stay Safe at Indoor Playgrounds

June 7th, 2013 No comments

With more than 15,000 nationwide, indoor playgrounds have become increasingly popular venues for play dates and birthday parties. They are like kiddie heaven, stocked with pillowy inflatables and candy-colored tubes, ball crawls, trampolines and more.

But, are they safe?

nycu_play_safety_s

Brian Geiger, Ed.D., a professor of health education in the Department of Human Studies University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has assessed playground safety at schools and communities around Alabama. He said that while playing indoors may offer reduced threats of uninvited visitors, animals and motor vehicles, there are things parents should keep in mind to help keep their child free from injury.

Installation and maintenance guidelines for playgrounds are set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and municipalities require initial inspections before granting a license to a new operator, but dangers still exist.

Geiger recently teamed up with Gary Edwards, Ph.D., chief executive officer of United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham, to share helpful tips for parents.

Give the area a scan. Take a good look at the play area to spot any potential dangers, and report any safety concerns to the operator. Geiger suggests bringing a safety checklist of things to avoid: Read more…

Sued Over the Music I Play in My FEC?…what Right Said Fred Can Teach Us

April 24th, 2012 No comments

The title of this email was intended to catch your attention. With such a sue happy world we MUST do everything we can to protect and insulate ourselves from those “particular” types of attorneys. Most operators would agree that music is a key component to creating the atmosphere and experience we want our customers to have. Using high energy and popular music helps keep people entertained and keep them spending money at our locations.   I know for myself, before the internet radio became popular, we used Sirius Satellite radio, the personal version, to play music at our location. Our customers could choose whatever station they liked in their private areas although we had ones we would not allow to play as there is NO filter on those stations so the words and content were often questionable.

Interesting fact, one of our customers is friends with Right Said Fred out of the UK. You may recall they had the hit song “I’m too sexy”. While the song was a mega hit internationally and in 1992 hit big on the US charts the internet and smart phones were not even in our normal vocabulary. Once smart phones, and the iPhone in particular, hit the scene, the popularity of custom song ring tones exploded. As you can imagine the hook of the I’m Too Sexy song was just too much for the consumer to resist.   Now Right Said Fred makes more in royalties from the ring tone royalties than off the songs rotation when it was popular in the US (according to our source).

Now on to the heart of this email. Being SUED… I’m sure many of you know that artists and musicians make their livings mostly off of royalties from when their songs are played on the radio or on TV.   As consumers we can listen to the radio, play our CD or iPods and even play music off the internet for personal use. The businesses that provide those tunes for us to listen to are the ones who are responsible for the royalties. The key to this entire equation, and why so many people are getting sued, is that if you are using a CD, iPod, Internet Radio, Satellite radio (Personal or home subscription) or playing the local radio station in your facility you are BREAKING THE LAW. You are not allowed to play any song or portion of a song requiring a royalty payment in a commercial setting without paying the appropriate organization like ASCAP or BMI. While the chances of someone coming into your center and suing you is remote, it is happening all over the country in other industries. Larger franchise locations or chain stores are being hit with lawsuits for playing local radio stations or using cd or iPods. Some people say “But I paid for the CD or I paid for the song online”. Even if you purchase the CD or music online this does not exempt you from paying a royalty when playing it in your facility in a commercial setting. The reason is that you are granted personal use of that song and can listen in your personal office or car but not in a commercial setting. You need to first check with your attorney on what your government regulations are and then find a service that will pay those royalties for you.

 

How to protect you and your business….

One such product I found is called ControlPLAY (http://www.ControlPLAY.com). They are also known as Bowling Music Network for those in the bowling business. One of the best features or functions that they have is not just to play the music or music videos for you, but they offer “PARENT APPROVED” stations so that all questionable language and video content is edited out. This is to assure that you can play the hottest music without coming under fire from the parents concerned about the content of the music. Later in the night, you can switch to the regular station when the younger crowd is gone.

Obviously ControlPLAY and the other commercially available music or music video systems will pay any and all royalties that occur while using their service. This allows you a care free and potentially lawsuit free existence when it comes to playing music and music videos in your facility.

The biggest feature that comes in the ControlPLAY suite actually has nothing to do with royalty payments at all. This feature is the personalized marketing feature. You can set audio or even full video marketing commercials inside your own personal radio station. That means you can promote upcoming events or even when a meal time hits you can suggest that they get a mouthwatering burger with gourmet French fries… The customers have no clue they are listening to a personalized station except that all the commercial breaks are focused solely on promoting sales within your own company.

The reason for this article was not to scare you but just to make you aware that you might possibly be violating the law and putting yourself in a situation that is not necessary. Find a solution that will pay your royalties and one that will help you filter the content of what you are delivering to your customers. This will release a burden off of your plate while allowing you to create an amazing atmosphere for your customers.

FYI Similar laws also apply to television and sports games shown in your faciilty.   Some people try to save a few dollars by paying for TV or Satellite TV as if they were a home or personal account as often the commercial TV accounts are two times higher than a personal account. Why are they higher? They get charged more and have to pay different royalties when being rebroadcast in a commercial setting.

So I don’t get sued…..I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. This is an opinion and I do not claim any of the above information to be factual or without error. Consult your own attorney and local government for the rules and regulations you must follow in regards to paying royalties or using a service that will pay the royalties for you…

Regulations for Disability Access Take Effect – Amusement Parks Impacted

March 16th, 2011 No comments

The new standards, which were set in 2004 to give builders time to plan, affect amusement parks, movie theaters, event venues, hotel rooms and other facilities.

    New federal regulations improving access for the disabled took effect Tuesday at more than 7 million facilities nationwide, including many used for recreation.
The changes, required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, affect places such as amusement parks and movie theaters. 

“If you went on vacation and your family was going to go play a game of miniature golf, up until now, a child in a wheelchair would have to sit on the side and watch everybody else have fun,” said Maureen Fitzgerald, director of disability rights at the Disability Policy Collaboration, an advocacy group. “Now there will have to be an accessible route for the child so they can play too.”

New construction and renovation projects will increasingly have to take people with disabilities into account. Requirements include wheelchair ramps and handicapped-accessible benches in saunas.

Fitzgerald said the new standards were established in 2004, giving the building industry time to plan for such accommodations. Existing buildings must be retrofitted for the disabled only if the construction can be done “without much difficulty or expense,” the regulations state.

Marilyn Golden, a policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, said the new regulations fit well with many existing local building codes. “So now architects have one standard to follow – they don’t have to comply with multiple standards that may seem conflicting.”

These changes are the first major revision of Americans with Disabilities Act regulations in 20 years, the Justice Department said.

Golden said other important changes involved hotel rooms and seats at recreational events such as sporting events, concerts and plays.

“For example, let’s say we’re at a sporting event, and there’s an exciting play and everybody stands up,” Golden said. “Can an individual with a disability see over all those heads? It’s much clearer that accessible seating has to provide a clear line of sight, and how that is to be achieved.”

Golden said before these regulations, it was common for a person with a disability to reserve an accessible room only to arrive and find, for example, that a wheelchair could not fit through the bathroom door.

“This is not just to be considered a luxury,” Golden said. “A disabled person who needs an accessible room may not be able to use an inaccessible bathroom. So you’re in a position where you arrive late to your hotel, you need to get to sleep and get up to fulfill your professional obligations, but you can’t use the hotel bathroom.”

jmianecki@tribune.com

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

 

PartyCenterSoftware.com Is Finalist For Innovation Of The Year Award!

August 24th, 2010 No comments

Cameron Park, Ca., August 24, 2010 –Scott Drummond, President of Agile Software and Marketing, received notification that their product PartyCenterSoftware.com, is a finalist for the “Innovation of the year” award presented by the Play Providers Association (PPA), arguably the UK’s most influential association for the fun industry.  “It was great to see our PartyCenterSoftware.com program be recognized for the contributions it is making to help the fun industry.  As a previous operator I understand the struggles that our customers go through and we have found a solution to help make both their lives and their profit better!”

Drummond will be exhibiting at the Leisure International Week in Birmingham, UK in late September and along with 9 other finalist will display his PartyCenterSoftware.com product to be voted on by members of the PPA.  He hopes to bring home top prize for his newly released version of his online party booking and facility management software. “This will be our first year exhibiting at LIW so I am very excited to meet many of our customers in person and if we can bring home the award it will make for one great trip!  I’m just thankful for our customers and all they do to help us grow as a business”, said Drummond.

Read more…

Are all insurance agents the same?

February 19th, 2010 No comments

Your business insurance is sometimes handled by your local insurance agent who does your personal auto or home insurance.  Usually because you already do business with that person and you feel comfortable with that person.  This is usually not a challenge until you have a claim and find out that part or all of the loss is not covered.

Unfortunately many business owners do not understand that they probably need an insurance broker that specializes in that field to understand all the exposures that the business owner might face.  The difference from an agent and a broker is that an agent represents the company; a broker represents the business owner.

What an insurance specialist brings to the table, if they are a broker, is someone that knows your exposures, knows the insurance companies that are players in your industry that can provide you with these three important things:

  1. The best coverage’s
  2. The least amount of exclusions
  3. The best price

What you are looking for is a broker that can provide A B and C that specializes in your field of business.

How do I know that the agent/broker is a specialist?  You will want to use these five important qualifying questions:

  1. Look on the internet, Google “insurance for (Your type of business) and see who pops up.  Not just the highlighted pay per click ones.
  2. Contact the agent/broker and ask how many other businesses like yours do they currently insure?  Look for a minimum of 10-20 businesses.
  3. Ask how long they have been insuring this type of business.  Look for a minimum of 3-5 years.
  4. Ask for some names of current customers.  Get at least 2-5 and call the customers for their opinion of this agent/broker.  They will tell you the truth!
  5. Ask if they are licensed to write insurance in your state.  Ask for proof or check on your state Department of Insurance website.  If their name does not show up, do not use them and move on.  You will want to see a Property/Casualty and Life/Health license that is active.

Larry Cossio is a licensed agent/broker in all 50 states for 30 years.  He specializes in business insurance for several specialty niche markets.  He travels all over the USA as a speaker on insurance issues for several industries.  Larry Cossio is the owner of Cossio Insurance Agency aka The CIA with his wife Marcela Cossio.  www.cossioinsurance.com

Larry Cossio
Cossio Insurance Agency
107 Old Laurens Rd
Simpsonville, SC 29681
864-688-0121
864-688-0138 fax
larry@cossioinsurance.com

Categories: Indoor FEC, Insurance, Laser Tag, Safety Tags:

Ways to Increase Sales at your Paintball Field

February 16th, 2010 No comments

The insurance policy from Cossio Insurance Agency has never had an age limit since 1997. WHAT??? That’s right, managed correctly you could increase your bottom line and increase the exposure to paintball for young kids and do it safely. We never had an injury at our fields, never had a child lift their mask. They are easier to manage than adults!

You will notice that paintball birthday parties for 10 year olds always seem to have a younger brother or sister that wants to join the party. I had my boys playing at 5 and 7 years old. No problem, you will need some extra guidelines for training purposes and how to run the games.

You will need at least 2 refs on the field, and I would recommend at least 2 parents on the field to help, the more the merrier. Why you ask? You want the parents to interact with their kids and to assist in refereeing to make sure the masks stay down and the kids have a good time. You will want your refs telling the kids where to shoot, when to shoot, when to hide and not to allow the kids to advance past the 40 yd line.

You provide chest protectors, neck protectors, two pod packs and gloves for all participants besides the mask. Kids look like they are on Star Wars which is cool! Why you ask? If the kids feel no pain during play they will want to come back sooner. It also shows that you care about the safety of the game for all players. Why the 2 pod pack? Protection for the groin area and to hold extra paint, I will get to that later. You might want to have beanie hats to purchase if the child has a real small head to assist in fitting the masks.

You tape off the field so that the kids can not go past the 40 yard line with caution tape. Why you ask? This is to provide a visual safety barrier for the kids and adults.

Ok, you do not play capture the flag with kids, you play a time limit, 10 minute games. They do not care, the just want to pull the trigger and shoot. You can have a target, 3 ft x 3 ft on a pole that you move from left side to right side of the field, one for each side and count the number of hits on the target for which team wins that game. Move the target from right side to left side to allow all the kids a chance to shoot the target. Clean the hits off the targets after each game. They still can get shot out by the opposing team so they have to stay behind the bunkers.

Do not allow them to cross the 40 yard line, this provides at least 60-90 feet of distance to allow the paintballs to lose velocity. Have the guns chronographed at 250 fps for the kids party.

Now how do you make money? Well our birthday package was $255 for 10 kids with one case of paint included. Filling up the 10 hoppers used the first case of paint. Then the kids wanted paint for the two pod packs so the parents would purchase another case of paint as all the kids would want to be equal. Now our experience was that our refs would coach the kids on when to move to another bunker, when to shoot, when to stay protected as someone was shooting at them, when to look left or right. The kids would jump from behind the bunker, shoot 5-10 shots, jump behind the bunker again and never hit anything but LOVED the experience. Of course they would ask the refs “Did I hit them?” I do not think that an opposing team was ever hit, sometimes they shot their own players in the back and sometimes the refs or netting got shot! The kids would go crazy on the trigger and empty the hopper, then the two pods and run out of paint EVERY game. So the parents would buy another case of paint! Some parties ended up with 4-5 cases of paint as the kids were having so much fun and screaming with laughter, the parents were able to see their kids having fun so the cost of the extra paint was usually covered by different parents.

Our refs received nice tips because the kids were well taken care of. The refs would clean the kids up if there was paint or splatter, clean the goggles between play, fill up the hoppers so all the kids would be ready to play in 10 minutes. Quick turnaround allowed the kids to play several games in the 1-2 hour time frame of the birthday party. Of course special attention was given to the birthday child with a t shirt and all the staff acknowledging the birthday child.

We designed a pvc netted bunker for the referees and parents to stand inside of to protect them from being hit by stray balls. Go to www.weekendwarriorsportz.com to see that product. They worked out great!

Now every party purchased at least one more case of paint. So you had at least $55 extra in paint purchases, the refs made sure that they were getting liquids, most parents purchased Gatorade or water for their kids, so figure another $10 in drinks. So your party for 10 brought in $255 + $55 + $10= $320. Your cost basis, 2 refs at $10 hr for 4 hours (includes set up and clean up) $80 + 2 cases of paintballs $35 = $70 plus Co2 $5 and a birthday tshirt with your field name on it $10 totals $165. Your net income for one birthday party with 10 kids $320 – $165 = $155 for 1-2 hours. You should be able to do a minimum of 2 per day, that brings in $620 each weekend in profit, times 30 weekends per year is $18,600 per year. Now that gives you 10 kids for your database with each party which totals 1200 players wit birthdays that you can market to……….. what if they purchase some paintball products from you???

Now there are a zillion kids 5-9 that you have not tapped into for your business, do it safely, and you will LOVE the repeat business and the increased income.

Larry Cossio has been the leader in insurance for the paintball industry for over 12 years. He has owned a paintball field and a family fun center that had paintball so he brings first hand knowledge to the table.

http://www.paintballinsurance.com/

Larry Cossio
Cossio Insurance Agency
107 Old Laurens Rd
Simpsonville, SC 29681
864-688-0121
864-688-0138 fax
larry@cossioinsurance.com

Safety Is No Laughing Matter. (But Seriously!)

December 25th, 2008 No comments

Bounce House Flips Over on You Tube

Well that was a little funny… so long as you don’t think about all
the things that could go wrong. They could have landed wrong,
they could have broken something or a number of other things. How could
this have been prevented? In every state that I can think of the
companies that rent these bounce houses (aka moon bouncers,
jumpers, bouncy castles) are required to either stake down or weight
down all four corners of the unit. This is to prevent both users
and nature from flipping the unit over.

I owned an outdoor rental
company for a few years and the number of illegal operators drove me
out of the business. These owners were ones that didn’t have
insurance, a business license, and almost never followed any of
the state or local regulations as far as safety
and proper operations. It’s a sad fact that many law abiding
business owners will never succeed because of unfair competition… not
to mention the bad name these shady operators give the industry.

Every year at my indoor fun center our insurance company brings out
“Ken” who looks over our center to see if there is anything we can do
better to improve our liability position. I highly suggest that
if your insurance company offers any assistance contact them
immediately. They are not out to hurt you but want you to be safe
and want to be able to protect you if and usually WHEN something
happens. Look at them as a resource to help you not only
protect your business but protect your personal assets as well.

As the new year approaches take a deep look at your operation and at the safety of your center or rental company. Not just the safety of your customers but also the safety
of your employees and vendors. Take this as a time to review and
renew your commitment to providing the best customer service, product
and support you can.

Categories: Outdoor Rental, Safety Tags: