The best family entertainment centers (FECs) are safer than the rest. They have to be because risk is the baseline reality of an FEC — machines break down, staffers slip up, and guests abandon their cares when they’re having a good time.
Whether you’re operating a water park, a go-kart track, or a mini-golf course, there’s no magic solution or secret download that’ll keep everybody safe. Safety is about recognizing threats and sticking to the fundamentals of managing them. Blocking and tackling, to use a football analogy.
The best, ergo the safest, FECs have three things in common:
1. They infuse safety into their corporate culture.
Safety has to be more than a chore you suffer through to keep regulators off your back or avoid expensive lawsuits. It has to be a core principle of the enterprise — written into your mission statement alongside pleasing guests, expanding market share, generating profits, and rewarding investors.
There’s too much at stake in an FEC to have any other outlook. Guests, employees, vendors, and everybody else who visits an FEC represents the potential for grievous, even fatal, harm. Most dangers can be anticipated and prevented, but the safest FECs have built their business to stay on constant alert for the rare and unanticipated.
A culture of safety means caution is part of the corporate DNA, embraced by every employee and seen as fundamental to the enterprise’s success.
2. They build systems to enforce safe practices.
Top FECs take a systematic approach to safety, anchored in:
- Effective training. Safety instruction must be consistent, repeatable, and documented. All guidelines must be written down, and every employee must be given the same instructions. Though safety rules must be flexible and change with the times, they cannot be informal, ad-hoc, or open to multiple interpretations.
- Specific objectives. Safety systems need to start with an ideal outcome, identify the steps required to meet that goal, and implemented effectively.
- Regular analysis. Instructional meetings should be regularly scheduled to review overall safety practices and operational objectives. Current safety incidents must be thoroughly analyzed to prevent them from recurring.
- Checklists. Daily, weekly, and monthly safety checklists should cover pre-opening and closing, maintenance, employee and guest satisfaction, and vendor management.
3. They make managers and staff accountable.
Safety incidents must have consequences — but you must take care to identify who is truly at fault and implement a fair response that isn’t overly punitive and inspires everybody to work harder on safety.
- Effectively manage, monitor, and track safety systems
- Easily customize the systems to suit your operations and approach
- Preserve data for educational and legal purposes
- Improve communications between managers and staff
Employees who know their safety performance is being monitored and that they’ll be held accountable will have more incentive to take the initiative and prevent accidents and mishaps.
The key to accountability is making it happen from top management to entry-level employees. The tools and methodologies are there, but there must be a high-level commitment to using them.