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Learn best practices for starting and running a float center:

For anyone opening a float center, one of the earliest questions they’ll have to tackle is, “How big should my space be?” This can be one of the most difficult queries to answer, because it hinges on many variables.

Will you be offering other services? What types of tanks are you getting? What other rooms will your space need? If you’re planning on installing a float tank water slide, that’ll take up extra space, too. I know it’s unreasonable, but Jake really wants someone to do it.

All of these questions aren’t even factoring in thinking about profit margins. It quickly becomes a daunting task that can feel overwhelming.

Let’s break this down:

What other rooms will you need?

prep-station1If you’re offering a massage space, post-float hangout room, or classroom for playing tibetan singing bowls, you’re gonna need space for that. Naturally, this will have an impact on the number of tanks you can fit in your center. What about your workroom? You’re gonna need storage space for supplies, disinfectant, replacement sandals, robes, room for water chemistry tests, and space for basically any other behind-the-scenes function for your center. If you can’t do a solid jumping jack and a couple of nifty dance moves, your auxiliary space may be too small.

 

What’s your room layout?

This question could honestly be its own post. It’s a subject that’s worth dedicating a lot of time to, but we’ll touch on it lightly here to not overwhelm the rest of this post.

Will you have closed showers? Open showers? We strongly recommend open showers, as they provide better access for cleaning rooms, and have less surface area to collect salt. Also, by minimizing walls within your float room, you maximize space for other areas in your center.

ideal-tank-roomThe type of tank you get will greatly impact your layout and space requirements. Not just because of its own size and shape, but also because of the filtration equipment that comes with it. We recommend being in good communication with the manufacturer about your tank, the room layout, and installation. They’ll have specific knowledge about what kind of room layout works best for their tanks.

Our minimum recommended layout for a float room is 11’ x 15’. This should be enough room for a shower, changing area, tank, pump, and filtration equipment without feeling too cramped. This is based on a 4’ x 8’ sized tank. So your specific model may be sized differently. The ideal path for floaters should be from changing area, to shower, directly into your tank. Plan accordingly!

Lobby

How big will your lobby be? A large lobby can be nice to let floaters relax and get to know your space. Ideally, you’re going to have seating for all your incoming and outgoing floaters. So if you have three tanks operating on the same schedule, you should have enough room for six people to comfortably wait and hang. Will you have space for retail? What about tea for floaters? Snacks? Catered lunches? Breakdance pit? Live band? No? Well, we can dream.

How many float tanks will you have?

 

types-of-tanks_cabintypes-of-tanks_tankNow, naturally, the number of tanks you have is going to affect the number of float rooms you build. We’ve seen some centers put multiple tanks in the same room, sometimes divided by a curtain or other partition. We strongly recommend having only one tank per float room. This is for a few reasons, including customer comfort, salt damage control, temperature control, and soundproofing.

Having multiple tanks in the same room may sound like a decent option in the short term, but it can have a negative impact on customer perceptions, and it’s not something we recommend.

 

Give yourself extra room. Everywhere. Yes, everywhere.

You’re gonna need more room than you think. You know how project management gurus always talk about how a project will take more time than you think it will, even after you’ve already considered that you’ll need extra time? It’s kinda like that, but with space in your float center, instead of time.

Float Room – You’ll need extra space for sound-proofing, including at least an inch or two for your tank to be away from the wall. It’s also incredibly important to future proof your float rooms. You may decide later that you want to change what style of tank or filtration system you have. If these newer units are larger than the ones you just barely squeezed into your room, then you’re going to have a bad time.

Leave room behind the walls of your float rooms for easy access to plumbing, wiring, and other utilities. It will also create an air pocket to assist in sound proofing. An easy solution to all these problems is to place storage closets between your float rooms. This allows for improved sound proofing between rooms as well as maintenance access to all the utility lines.

Lobby – Leave room to expand for things like extra amenities, additional services, and extra seating.lobby-sitting-area2

Work area – Again, if your filtration system changes, your backup parts may be larger, you may need more space for additional supplies, and it’s never a bad idea to have extra space for storing salt. We’ve said this before, but you should always have enough salt on hand to completely change out at least ONE float tank in your center.

Extra rooms – Leave room for expansion. Keep one or two rooms available to put in another float room after you get up and running. There’s lots of stuff you can use a mostly empty room for in the meantime. If you can afford the extra space, it’s good to have it so you can potentially use it for future expansions, rather than having to consider moving spaces down the road if you want to grow.

Step 1.  Buy Float Tanks

Step 2. ???

Step 3. Profit!

So, obviously everyone wants to know how many tanks are needed to keep financial worries at bay and stay secure. Every center is going to be different. Overhead, labor, and real estate costs are too variable to really give a universal answer. However, the State of the Industry Report shows that most thriving centers have, on average, 4 or more tanks in their center.

It’s at this point that we see a faster ROI and ability to keep up with emergency maintenance, hiring of staff, and investing in upgrades and expansion. This is especially important, since the vast majority of centers (~76%) bring on their first employee within the first six months. There are exceptions but, ideally, if you’re running a commercial center, this should probably be your goal to start. This may not be possible for some centers right out of the gate, but at the very least we strongly suggest starting with a minimum of 2 to help new floaters feel comfortable by giving them the option to come in pairs. Being a viable date night plan does drastically affect the marketability of a float center.

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Now that I’ve officially overwhelmed you with considerations for the layout of your center, I want to let you know that all of this information, and so much more, is going to be available in our latest product, The Float Center Construction Packet. Topping out at 180 pages, it’s a comprehensive guide to everything you’ll need to consider and know for building your float center. It has documents and information that should be useful for everyone. From contractors with 20+ years of experience, all the way down to those who have never held a hammer. There are tons of tools to help you along in the process, including checklists to go over with your contractors. Learn more at floattanksolutions.com/construction.

As always, if you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us.

 
 

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