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Show Highlights

This is easily one of the most difficult marketing challenges for any float center. Having regular members means maintaining reliable, steady income for your center and takes some of the burden off filling your tanks in other ways. Graham and Ashkahn have previously talked about memberships at Float On, now they tackle their methods on how to convert them.

This can definitely be a challenge in the float industry where it wouldn’t be elsewhere, because most float center owners may feel that having a sales pitch to floaters can affect the quality of their floats. Fortunately, Graham and Ashkahn have some useful tips to pitch memberships without coming off like you’re trying to upsell a combo meal.

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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: So today’s question is “how do you get first-time customers to convert to members?

Ashkahn: Oh, okay.

Graham: Yeah. “Frequently”, would be the answer. Thanks for writing! Yeah, so this is obviously one of the most important marketing questions that we’re presented with, I guess, is how do you improve your membership base. And specifically, people who just came in, they’re like, “I want to try this thing out.” How do you get them to go from that to, “I want to try this out regularly, and for you to take money out of my bank account every single month.”

Ashkahn: Yeah I usually just start by saying, “I’m gonna sign up for a membership says what?” And then-

Graham: What?

Ashkahn: And that usually gets them, and then that’s a legally binding contract, you know? They’re in for six months, at that point.

Graham: So I would say that it starts well before they ever enter your door.

Ashkahn: Oh.

Graham: Yeah, that’s right. So priming is both a very real thing in psychology, and also something that you should practice in your business, which is the idea of kind of preloading people with information, and just with the idea that they should even get a membership, right? By the time they come into float, the knowledge that both you offer memberships and that these are good deals, and that it’s something that they should consider, if they like this, should already be kind of firmly enlodged in their brain matter.

And so just little examples of that, right? Like on your website, when they go to schedule a float, making sure that there’s a little pitch to memberships on the website, next to a schedule a float button, right? It’s like schedule a float, and we have memberships. Immediately, they’re kind of more aware of them, right? Same thing if you have email receipts, reminder emails, things like that. Having little pitch for memberships at the bottom of your emails, or your receipts is a great way to kind of preload people for coming in as well. So just a couple examples of getting that in their brain before they ever walk through your door.

And then same thing, once they do come in, having the memberships really visible. We kind of have these big signs of our memberships, right behind the front desk. So you sort of can’t miss it, as you’re checking in. So even before they’ve had a conversation with us, within our space, when they come in, there’s already a big visual membership pitch that is kind of cuing their brain to get ready for that purchase.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: So all of those are kind of the preloading. And then it gets into actually pitching your membership. And this is where you kind of enter a little bit of this controversial dialog that goes back and forth in the float world, which is “do you pitch memberships before people float, or after people float?”

Ashkahn: It’s part of, “do you take money before or after people float?”

Graham: Yeah, yeah, also very true.

Ashkahn: Which is an interesting one. ‘Cause my impression is most float centers are taking payment beforehand. So that way you kind of come in, you check in, you go through the payment process, and then you hop into the float tank, and afterwards, you’re kind of done. And the downside is when you have people coming in to float for the first time, they have never experienced it. So it’s kind of a difficult time to just be like, “Hey, do you want a membership?”

Graham: For this thing you’ve never done before, and have no idea what it’s like.

Ashkahn: They’re like, “Yeah, maybe I should try it first?” And you’re like, “Oh, I guess that’s a good point.” So if you’re having people pay afterwards, then when they come out it’s like, “Okay, hey, do you want to buy your float, or do you actually, if you just want to spend $30 more, you’ll get this cool membership thing?” And it’s just like a way, way easier, smoother kind of upsell. And the downside is you have to do this after people float, which is just not fun. You know, dealing with financial transactions, and feeling like you’re trying to be super salesy or something like that, in someone’s kind of post-float experience. I think it’s just not the kind of shop a lot of people want to run. And as a result, most people end up siding for taking payment beforehand.

Graham: Yup. And again, this just gets into more personal opinion land. It’s not like there’s an actual right or wrong answer for either of the ways to do this. It’s almost like a philosophical discussion, more than a tactical one, or something like that.

Ashkahn: But it does mean that now you’ve got to be a little bit more creative, in terms of that point where you can actually ask people about memberships, or talk to them in person about it. ‘Cause you don’t have that kind of really logical convenient spot, after they’ve tried something, and they’re actually there, about to pay for something.

Graham: Yup. So there’s kind of this idea of also preloading them for memberships. And honestly, this is gonna be one of the easiest to say, hardest to implement pieces of advice, which is getting your staff to mention memberships every single time, without your staff feeling like they’re trying to upsell popcorn at a movie theater, or something like that, right? That, more than anything else, will probably increase your membership sales.

And it isn’t necessarily the easiest thing in the world. And especially if you are doing pitches before floating, again, when they haven’t experienced it, trying to figure out a pitch that you can say to everyone, that doesn’t sound super salesy, is not the easiest thing.

Ashkahn: Yeah. You really don’t want that situation where people are just like muttering off this phrase you said. “Everyone, you need to say, at the end of each of your transactions, like, you know, ‘Would you like to upgrade to a membership?'” When you go to stores, you can tell exactly what people are forced to say. ‘Cause they’re saying it at like two times the speed they’re saying everything else, and they’re just kinda like, “Yeah, and I have to also say this whole thing about memberships.” That, to me, is worst case scenario.

Graham: “Would you like our indie record store credit card?”

Ashkahn: Yeah, exactly.

Graham: So I’ll kind of tell you what our go-to pitch is, for when people come out. And of course, the important thing is really just trying to figure out a way to mention it that feels very natural, and actually like you’re offering the customer a benefit, as opposed to trying to pitch them on something.

So we look at our schedule, and it’s really easy to tell if people are first-timers, if they’re repeat customers, whatever it is. So for first timers, as we’re kind of going to check them out, and take payment, if they haven’t paid online, the go-to pitch is just, “Oh hey, I noticed it’s your first time in here. Just so you know, if you end up liking the float, we have a lot of ways that we can end up saving you money, if you come in here more regularly. So feel free to ask me about that, if you want some more details.”

Something like that, just that simple, I think is really nice. Don’t even mention the word memberships, just like, “Hey, we can save you money, if you decide you really enjoy this experience.” And tapping into people’s creativity is a great way to make this a dialog, rather than a one-sided conversation, you know? If you can get off a quick sentence that lets people know that there are memberships, or cues them for that idea, and get them to actually engage, and ask a question, that’s a huge win. Like the opposite, the thing you don’t want to do is launch into an explanation of all of your membership tiers, and exactly what the benefits of the membership are.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: Because then it’s just a super sales pitch, and you can almost see people eyeing the couch, and they’re like, “Okay, that’s great, I’m just gonna try this out then, in the meantime.” And you know, like “Okay, well we have three levels of membership. One’s at $240, one’s at $144…” down the list. I would say the less information, almost, the better.

Ashkahn: And the other thing is you’ll get pretty good at having this kind of naturally come up in conversations after people’s floats, as well. Like when I was working the shop, when people would come out of their floats, I would just know there were certain cues that would allow me to kind of very naturally bring up memberships. People will just say things like, “Oh man, I’d like to do this every week.” Real obvious stuff like that, that will be like, “Hey, honestly, if you do want to come in frequently, we do have memberships that kind of bring the price down, if you want to be kind of a frequent floater.”

And you’d be surprised at how many people were thankful, when you say stuff like that. They’re like, “Oh, thanks! What are the details?” I always came into this really thinking I was gonna be bothering every person I brought this up to, and more times than not, I found that people were decently interested, and actually were asking for more information, and happy to know that there were kind of methods for them to save money if they did want to float regularly. So keep it natural, keep it organic. Don’t be too pushy, and kinda wait for those moments to come up in conversations, but don’t be afraid to take them, when they do come up.

Graham: Yeah, absolutely. And I guess one other piece of advice, so that’s kind of like the pre-loading, the after they get out of the float, or before they go into the float, and then also likewise, after the whole float experience is over. Checking in with your customers either by email or by phone, a few days later. And not for the express purpose of pitching them a membership, but mainly just to see how the float went. Again, this is one of those places where you can collect feedback, and make changes to temperature to your own center afterwards. But I find also that making contact with your clients, after they’ve already floated, you kinda remind them about how the experience was, and how they’re feeling right now. It’s like, “Hey, I know you floated a couple days ago. How’s your body feeling now? I know you came in for shoulder pain.” Or something like that, right? If you’re actually reaching out to them afterwards.

And just that reminder of “Oh, yeah, my shoulder does feel a lot better than it has been feeling.” Right? Maybe that’s enough to cue them being like, “Oh, I guess I really did feel the effects of that. Maybe this is something that’s worth doing.” So again, the whole membership pitch process is not something that you just say once, when they’re in the shop. It’s something that happens beforehand, during, and even afterwards. Again, even if they’re just on your mailing list, and they’re getting an email once a month, or once every other month about some of the benefits of floating, or other people’s testimonials, that, likewise, is also kind of a cue for leading into it. And even better, if those testimonials you have in your newsletter are coming from members, you know? Like if you have something that actually says, “Hey, after floating every week for several months, my shoulder pain is almost totally gone, thank you so much!” That sort of thing can get in someone’s head, and actually cue them to be like, “Oh, I wish my shoulder pain was gone. Maybe floating every week would help me as well.” So post-loading them with information, as well.

Ashkahn: Yeah. Yeah, I mean it’s really just that. It’s about taking kind of all the opportunities you have, to leave those cues. I mean we even, one of the things we have in our shop that’s a perk for members is we have a kombucha keg, and we give free kombucha to members. And you know, that’s a sign. Not only is it a perk for members, but it’s a sign we get to put on the kombucha keg in our shop, that says members get free kombucha. So even if you’re just going there to buy a cup, you get to see a little reminder that like, hey, if you’re a member, here’s one other tiny little benefit, here. You get free kombucha, after your float.

Graham: And all of this, I guess it’s worth mentioning the different routes, because all of this can be done in a non-pushy way.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: Which is very much our philosophy, too, if you haven’t kind of gathered that from this. We really don’t like coming across as too salesy, or again, we don’t even really like handling money after the float, or having people handle money after the float, ’cause it feels a little odd for us. So fundamentally, in our minds, for Float On, at least, there’s this balance of we’re getting people into this vulnerable state, we’re sometimes even kinda putting them into these floaty, altered states of consciousness. And then to come out and do a pitch just feels weird to us, personally. So despite the fact that we’re doing kind of subtle pitches, before they ever come in, we’re pitching them when they’re actually in the center. We’re having little cues as signs up around the entire center. We’re doing emails that mention memberships, afterwards.

All of it is kind of subtle enough, and also directed towards the benefit that they can expect to receive. I think all of it comes across as very natural, and non-salesy. So you really can get the message out there, without feeling icky about it, I guess.

Ashkahn: Yeah. I mean I try to be super subtle. I mean sometimes I don’t even tell people that I sign them up for memberships, and I just start charging their credit cards, you know?

Graham: At Wells Fargo, they used to reward me for that. All right. So there you have it. Converting first-time customers to members.

Ashkahn: If you guys have more questions for us, you can hop on to FloatTankSolutions.com/Podcast, fill in a question there, and you might just hear it on this very podcast.

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