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Show Highlights

Getting repeat customers is integral to the health of any business. For float centers, this is especially true. It can be worrying when we see our floaters leave the center, never knowing if they’ll return. There’s a very natural inclination to start tracking this trend to see if there’s anything you need to change about your business to attract repeat customers. Memberships are a natural way to attract repeat customers and can quickly become the lifeblood of your center, too.

But how do you measure it? What time frame is acceptable to consider a repeat customer? If they don’t float within six months, does that mean you’ve lost them? If they float once and don’t return for three years, is that a success on your part or a failure?

Graham and Ashkahn tackle all of this and more this time around. Check it out!

Listen to Just the Audio

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

Graham: The question for you today is, “What’s your return rate for first time floaters? And how do you encourage people to come back?

Ashkahn: That’s two questions, and we have a strict one question limit here.

Graham: I’m gonna let it slide this time.

Ashkahn: All right. You’re lucky it’s Presidents Day.

Graham: Issue an executive order to let this one slide. Two questions today.

Ashkahn: All right, all right.

Graham: Just like our two presidents.

So, I went ahead and crunched some numbers. Not for this podcast, just to answer someone else’s question.

Ashkahn: Just for you, just for you, we crunched these.

Graham: Yeah, it’s just for you guys. Figure it out. So, it’s a tricky question, first of all. What constitutes a customer, first of all? No, so, over what time are they returning is the real question, right? So, let’s say you’ve only been in business for six months. All of a sudden figuring out if those people who floated during the six months are gonna come back even that year is difficult. You’re just calculating a return rate over if someone floated maybe yesterday, and they haven’t floated today, that’s a 0% return rate for yesterday’s floaters.

So, you kind of need to specify when they first floated, how long ago that was, and over what time period you’re looking at them returning. For example, so, if you look at our stats for all of our customers except for people who floated just in the last six months, then our return rate is 42.2%.

Ashkahn: 42.2%.

Graham: Yup. So, the chances that someone floated somewhere over our first six years in business and then has floated somewhere in the last seven years of business a second time, right? So, anyone who came in-

Ashkahn: That’s pretty good. I’d say that number-

Graham: In the last six months, we’re just not counting, because we give them a low chance of returning, yeah.

Ashkahn: Within that time period.

Graham: Yeah, exactly.

Ashkahn: I think that’s a pretty nice number.

Graham: Yeah, so almost 50% are going to come back. It might be years later, right?

Ashkahn: Uh-huh.

Graham: That includes people who floated in 2010 and didn’t float again until 2017.

Ashkahn: Yeah. We count children, if your parents came and floated, then child comes, we count that as a return. It’s hereditary.

Graham: Yeah, anything to make the numbers look good. That’s what we’re all about here. Dishonesty for good numbers.

So, if you do that over just a year period, so let’s take 2015 for example. In 2015, we had 3,222 first time floaters, so people who had never floated with us, and the chance that those people came back then and floated either in 2015 or 2016, so kind of a year period, but at max, two years, if they floated at the very beginning of the year, that goes down to 27.2%. So, about a quarter lower.

Ashkahn: Yeah, it’s a big drop.

Graham: So, the chances again, that they float in either one to two years after their first float is, yeah, a little over a quarter. But extend that out to six years, and that becomes 42.2, yeah.

Ashkahn: Yeah, so it’s a decent number of people who float and then float three years later.

Graham: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not a small amount, or a couple years later.

Ashkahn: Which makes sense. I could see having done it, and years later, some friend bringing it, and being like, “Oh yeah, I’ve done that before. We should go do that.”

Graham: I should say for all of these numbers, too, I’m only using paid floaters. So, they have to paid at least over $20 to us to come in, just to eliminate friends floats and staff giving them to parents who are in town visiting, and conference guests who we’re hooking up, or something like that.

Then the last number I’ll give you is for customers who spent over $20 with us, excluding people who floated the first time in the last year, there were about 14,000 unique customers, and those people came in for an average of 3.2 floats, with an average of about $150 spent per person.

Ashkahn: So, that’s our paying customers.

Graham: Yeah. Yeah, over three times average visit retention. And, of course, that’s skewed from some of our extreme ones who’ve come in-

Ashkahn: 100 times.

Graham: Yeah, exactly. But that’s not too bad.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: But you can see how this gets confusing, right? If you’re just thinking of a return rate, it’s like, well, do you say that it’s at 27, or that it’s the 42? Or you know some of those customers will also come in six years from when they floated first, so that 42% over the next several years should actually also only grow incrementally as some of those people who as yet have only floated once come in for that second one.

Ashkahn: So, one thing I take away from this is that it pays to be nice to people. Your average customer is coming in and is probably gonna come back, and so let’s be nice to them if you have some sort of customer service issue, giving them the benefit of the doubt, stuff like that is all gonna help probably keep these numbers high.

Graham: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So, that’s the first part of the question, I guess, or the first question.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: First podcast of the day. Second one was how do we do it?

Ashkahn: How to increase these numbers.

Graham: How do get those people to come in to 3.2 times, yeah, or I guess, how do we do even better in the future.

Ashkahn: One of those things is being really nice to people, I think.

Graham: Yeah, no, you’re totally right.

Ashkahn: I think customer service, when there are other float centers in town, some of those things can make a big difference, like they might actually come to your place as opposed to another place because they really like your staff and how everyone treats them and the general kind of attitude your business has.

Graham: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. It’s something that we say a lot, but just going back to making sure you’re running really good quality floats is a huge part of it.

Ashkahn: That’s the foundation. Anything else you’re doing, if it’s on top of float tanks that don’t have good sound proofing, don’t have good sanitation, don’t have good temperature control, it’s just all gonna fall flat. You really need that strong base for everything else to, all your marketing efforts to build on.

Graham: Yeah, 100%. So, that’s the core. Be running good floats, and then everything that we’re talking about is kind of assuming that that’s already in place, and your float tanks are doing well and people are getting out happy. It’s then just how do you channel that happiness into future appointments?

Ashkahn: So, part of it comes down to your pricing. Trying to make a very appealing membership, or some sort of motivation, actually financial, some sort of financial incentive to get people to want to come back.

Graham: It’s hard to train habits, and it’s one of the reasons that we even dropped packages of floats and have switched to an only membership model of doing business. It’s because we want to encourage people to not just come in multiple times, but to really make it a part of their life, and a part of their monthly habits, or even weekly habits.

Ashkahn: Daily habit.

Graham: Daily Solutions Podcast habit. It’s why memberships are so necessary. If you’re not running memberships out there, definitely start. You get this really active base of customers who’s coming in every month. It stabilizes your income, and so just a really good membership structure in general, I’d say, is probably one of the number one ways to boost those up. That’s how you get those people who have been in 100, 200 times. I think our most regular members, I think I was just looking at these numbers, have gotten close to 300 now, or just past 300 floats total with us.

Ashkahn: Yeah, which is awesome. It’s true, it’s not unusual to hear someone saying, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to get back in to float,” or, “Oh, I really want to do that again, but I  haven’t found the time.” Maybe they’re just saying that to me because they know I own the place.

Graham: You’re gonna guilt trip them if they say anything else, yeah.

Ashkahn: But it does really feel like people, the reason they’re not coming back sometimes is not out of a lack of want to do it. It’s just, it hasn’t been built into their schedule, and you get lost in the day to day routine of life and all that sort of stuff.

Graham: Yeah. Other things? So, we talked a little bit about member retention in some other episodes, and that’s also important. Once you just have the memberships, then treating your members well, giving them a reason to hold onto those memberships is a big thing.

This is also one of the reasons why we are big proponents of building a big internal mailing list. Just having some way to be able to call past customers back in the future ends up being a really important aspect of getting them back in the first place. If there’s not some chance that you’re collecting their email address and that they’re giving you permission to email them in the future, then you’re leaving a lot of customers on the table, and that’s a lot of people who, even though they might be excited when they remember that floating is something out there, their own lives have gotten so busy and it’s not become that habit for them that until they get a prompt, they’re probably not even gonna remember you exist, much less schedule an appointment. So, having some kind of way to stay in front of people’s eyes and reach out to customers who have already been in and kind of nudge them a little bit I think is really important.

Ashkahn: Yeah, and we’ve even gone as far as, we tried for a little bit, actually, having a discount where if you book your next float right when you come out of your first one, if you haven’t left our shop yet at the end of your float and you want to book your next appointment, we give you, I think it was 20% off or something.

Graham: Yup, and that’s a little shout out to Cane’s business, Reward More. That’s pretty much their goal with membership alternative structure essentially is encouraging people to schedule those extra floats and get a discount. Theirs is a little more, you don’t have to do it on the spot when you’re leaving a float tank or something like that.

For us, the trying to get them to schedule in store actually only yield mildly worthwhile results.

Ashkahn: It really worked for some people. The people that it did work for were doing it every time. They’d come out of their float and they’d make sure to book their next one.

Graham: That’s right.

Ashkahn: Because they wanted that discount. It was totally just locked in for them. It was a habit.

Graham: Even, I think it was almost a year after we stopped doing that, that the last person dropped off of the float chain. They’d just been keeping it up for a year of doing it every single time, and every time we’re like, “No, you can still chain it together. It’s not something we do for anyone else anymore, but sure.”

Ashkahn: Eventually, we were trying a bunch of different discounts at that time, and it got a little confusing with all the variety, I think, was part of the problem.

Graham: Yeah, we like experimentation.

Ashkahn: But that, I don’t know. I feel, this one has nothing to do with any quantifiable information.

Graham: I’m excited to hear this one. I don’t even know where you’re going with this, yeah.

Ashkahn: This is more just a hunch. I think us running longer floats, like 90 minute floats, and even our two and a half hour floats, are something that helps bring people back. I think people, if they’re in their first time when they get that full 90 minutes in there, get to kind of hit a spot in their float, especially for your first time when it’s a little bit harder to kind of sink into it, that makes them more motivated to come back. I think offering two and a half hour floats gives people something cool to want to do. When they float for 90 minutes, they’re like, “That was great. I want to be in there even longer.” And they’re like, “Well, we do these two and a half hour floats at night.” That’s another great reason to come back and try floating again.

Graham: Yeah, I guess I hadn’t thought about this before, but even our offering such good discounts and free floats if anything goes wrong probably has something to do with those high retention rates.

Ashkahn: Mm-hmm.

Graham: Those customers who come in, were just a little too chilly, the fact that now they just have a free float to come try it again-

Ashkahn: Or half off, yeah.

Graham: Half off, whatever it is, it probably boosts up those numbers quite a bit, too. All those people who were like, “I probably am not gonna do this again. It wasn’t the best experience.” We really try to catch them and extract that information from them however we can and try to make it right. I think that probably goes a long way towards eventually getting them back into the tank.

Ashkahn: Yeah, and hopefully I guess continuing to get them back in the tank.

Graham: Right, other than just take advantage of a free float and ditching. I don’t have that data, so, we’ll have to wait for another podcast to share that one.

Cool. So, hopefully that was helpful.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: Yeah. If you have your own membership stats you want to share with us, or-

Ashkahn: Retention stats.

Graham: Retention stats. Yeah, definitely send them in. I’m curious what other float centers do. That’s just kind of straight off the helm and crunching some numbers from spreadsheets, but I really don’t actually know how that compares to other centers that are being run out there.

So, if you have your own questions, go ahead and send them to floattanksolutions.com/podcast.

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