House of Air Takes Flight: Franchising Can Be the Answer for International Expansion
Kay Ainsley, Managing Director, MSA Worldwide
In the shadows of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge stands House of Air, an indoor trampoline park. Not only does House of Air have an iconic location, they deliver an equally unique experience to their clientele. On any given day the facility is bustling with people of all ages. Some come to improve their jumping skills, some for the exercise (trampoline jumping provides quite a workout), some come on their own, and others as part of a team.
Rounding out the business model is the ability for House of Air to offer classes and coaching and to host corporate team-building events and epic birthday parties.
Dave Schaeffer, co-founder of House of Air, first recognized the trampoline park business opportunity over a decade ago while he was coaching adults to safely perform ski and snowboarding tricks on a trampoline before attempting them on snow. Dave is also a founding member and current Vice Chairman of the International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP) and Chairman of the ASTM International Sub Task Group on Trampoline Court Standards. “Trampoline parks are experiencing unprecedented growth. At the end of 2015 there were 580 parks operating across the globe, 460 right here in the United States. As we watched our industry grow, we realized that there is a pressing need within the industry for standards. The design, manufacture and operations standards we have published through ASTM International transformed our industry overnight. I am glad to be in a position to help,” said Dave.
At one point, House of Air looked at franchising as a means of expanding in the U.S., but opted for additional company-owned growth. Then, as House of Air and Schaeffer’s reputation in the industry continued to grow, the company began to receive inquiries from entrepreneurs in other countries asking how they could introduce House of Air into their markets.
Shoshanna Moody, General Manager of House of Air, says “We were intrigued. We wanted to grow our business, but at the same time, it was vital that the integrity of the House of Air brand be maintained. So, we revisited the idea of franchising. As we explored the possibility of using the franchise model to grow internationally, we found that we would be able to allow others to use our carefully built brand and operating system, while also enforcing our standards.”
House of Air, working with MSA Worldwide, has established the structure of their international franchise program, defined the role of franchisor and franchisee, established the terms of an international agreement, put vendors and suppliers in place, and adapted their training, IT, and advertising for use by franchisees in other countries. “We understand that market requirements may be different as we move into new countries, and we will work with our franchisees to adapt to their local market conditions, if needed. House of Air has spent nearly six years becoming a recognized industry and brand leader."
"We have worked hard to develop a foundation of strong operating systems, policies and procedures for running this incredibly unique business, and we are confident that we will be able to support international franchisees,” said Moody.
“Protecting our brand as we grow is our first priority,” said Schaeffer. “We have information about our franchise on our website, and we welcome people with an interest to get in touch with us. We’re not in a hurry to just put dots on a map; our plan is to carefully select markets and franchisees. In my role with IATP I’ve seen people do it right, and I’ve seen people do it wrong – we’re committed to doing it right.”
House of Air will target markets that have the same qualities and characteristics as have contributed to House of Air’s success in San Francisco. “We are looking for markets like London, Vancouver, Madrid, and Vienna, and other bustling international hubs, where the House of Air brand will have the most impact,” said Moody. “We also realize that selecting the right people to be our international franchisees will be key in building a sustainable franchised network. Of course, access to the proper financing is critical, but equally important will be: a passion for the recreation industry, a commitment to safety, and the overriding criteria is that they believe in and are committed to our brand. MSA has told us – and we fully believe it to be true – that we need to find franchisees who we genuinely connect with, and who we believe will be an asset to our brand wherever they are located.”