Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
Time management and maintaining your schedule is one of the most important quality controls in a float center. If you can’t get people out on time, it can throw off your schedule for the rest of the day. So, when does a float start? How do you measure that time? And what do you do if a floater starts late? Cut off their float? The next persons?
Graham and Ashkahn have been running Float On in a particular way for a long time now, and have particular insights into the challenges of how you manage your schedule.
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Graham: Today’s question is, “when does a float start? When the shower starts? When they get out of the tank? Also, how to handle when people are late, or talking too much. I have a few chatty guests who throw the time off.”
Ashkahn: When does a float start? It’s one of those questions I hope our customers never ask.
Graham: You’re gonna say a Sophist kind of question, like “what’s the sound of one hand clapping?” When does a float start?
Ashkahn: Yeah, if the float starts and no one’s in the tank, is it really started?
Graham: Time is just an illusion, so … So, we … I guess it’s probably different for different centers, as well.
Ashkahn: It is different.
Graham: The way that we do it at Float On, is the timing for the floats just starts at whatever time the appointment starts at. And it ends a half an hour before the next client needs to come in.
Ashkahn: So, we’re kind of … yeah, we’re lying to people a little bit.
Graham: But, we also try to get people in early, so let’s back up from there. So, basically, if there’s a 9:00pm float, the 90 minutes for a 90-minute float starts at 9:00pm. Which means at 10:30, the music’s gonna come on. And for us, the reason that we do that is because, in order to keep our schedule, we just need to make sure that the music comes on at a certain time, so we have time to change over our rooms. And part of that’s because we stay busy, and another part of that is because we have all of our floats starting at the exact same time.
Ashkahn: Which is six tanks. So we’re doing a six-tank turnover in that 30 minutes.
Graham: Which means timing ends up being really important for us, so our decision starts at the fact we need that music to go on at, for a 9:00pm float, 10:30. Which means we kind of don’t have wiggle room for waiting for people to get in the tank, or measuring exactly when they shut the door to the float tank and lay down, or anything like that.
Ashkahn: So, unfortunately, for us, it’s really … if you go into your room at nine o’clock, you’re still showering and all that stuff, so your float’s probably actually only like 85 minutes, or something like that. And double unfortunately, especially if it’s your first time and we gotta go in and give you the whole walkthrough speech and everything, that cuts into that time, too. And, by the same token, if people come early, like you were saying … Especially our regulars, will show up five, ten minutes early. It depends on which room, some of our rooms get finished 10 minutes before the mark, some get finished right at the mark, stuff like that. But, if they’re early and the room’s ready, we’ll throw them in there, and they might get longer than 90 minutes.
Graham: Yeah. And some of our members are actually really smart about just trying to optimize their tank time, too. I know at least two of them that come in pre-showered. Like, they shower at their house before they come into Float On so they don’t have to waste early float time showering there.
Ashkahn: That’s funny.
Ashkahn: And this really might vary a lot from center to center, but at our center, unfortunately, there’s probably a chance a lot of people aren’t actually getting 90 minutes inside the float tank, because of that shower time and the way that our schedule runs and everything. But, even despite that, it’s very rarely brought up. It’s really not that often that a customer will even ask us what their time is based on, or when it counts as started.
Graham: And when we start to bring it up, too, I just kind of give them this stern, disapproving look and they usually just sort of drop it.
Ashkahn: Kick them out.
Graham: It’s what happens to floaters who ask questions.
Ashkahn: And it might be one of the benefits of having 90-minute sessions over 60-minute sessions. Like, I think people are kind of sweating the exact minutes a lot less at 90 minutes than they do for 60 minutes. Like, 55 minutes instead of 60 is kind of a bigger deal. And, I find the same thing for our two-and-a-half hour float, it’s almost nobody cares if they’re getting in five minutes late, or something like that.
Graham: Yeah, I was just gonna mention that our late night floats are definitely an extension of them.
Ashkahn: Yeah, no one’s counting the minutes on their clock to get in there for those two-and-a-half hours.
Graham: That’s a good point, actually. I hadn’t thought about the difference between the 60 and 90. It probably is a little more important to have your schedule really honed in on getting them that full 60 minutes when you’re doing them.
Ashkahn: Yeah. And, in terms of the second part of the question, what do you do if someone’s super chatty, or something like that? The nice thing is, if someone’s super chatty and they’re eating into their own time, they’re usually the type of person who doesn’t care. Or, they’re kind of doing it to themselves, and I think they recognize that a little bit.
Graham: Yep. And this is also assuming that you’re going with our model of just starting everything, and it’s over when that start time has reached its end.
Ashkahn: Which is true, there’s a lot of places that don’t do that, and a lot of float tanks come not set to operate like that, right? Like, a lot of float tanks come with this thing where you hit “start float session.” And from the moment you hit that button, times out whatever your thing is, 90 minutes, or 90 minutes and then music, or whatever your custom setup is.
Graham: Yeah. And again, if your schedule’s not really packed, then obviously, you have a little more leeway with how nice you can be with people. If there’s not someone coming in immediately afterwards, that loosens up some of the restrictions, but to a certain extent, your hands are kind of tied. Either you can increase the length of your transitions in order to allow for the full float time of what’s booked. You can just advertise 80-minute floats or something, if you want to be totally accurate, and when people do get 90- or 95-minute floats, it’s just kind of icing on the cake.
There’s some options, but yeah, just the realities of needing to get people in on time, and the fact that when you turn on music for the people who were in there previously, they don’t always get out on time. So, keeping everything on a fixed schedule. Again, at least in our center, we haven’t really found a way to get outside of that, so it’s sort of an unnecessary, or unfortunate, necessity.
Ashkahn: And same thing for if people are late, I think was maybe the other part of the question. Unfortunately, at our place, they just get a shorter float time. We can’t really leave them in there for longer and throw off our entire routine and everything else. And really, I think this is something that’s not super conventional at every float center doing it the same way. I think really, it is, the way you set up, and exactly how busy you are, and what your timing is, and if your schedule is on a very fixed schedule. So, what you’re hearing from us is an extremely rigid, fixed structure, like all our floats start at the same time, they start at very specific times. There’s very little flexibility in the way that our schedule runs. And because of that limited flexibility, it means things like this. If people are late, they get shorter floats. If people are chatty, they get shorter floats. If we get them in late, they get shorter floats. Which is unfortunate.
Graham: Although, that’s the case where we’ll actually try to accommodate them as well.
Graham: As much as possible. It’s like, okay, well, we’ll try to add an extra five minutes on to the end of your float, or something like that. All right. Yeah, there you have it.
Ashkahn: All right, if you guys have more questions, you can hop over to floattanksolutions.com/podcast, and we’ll answer them.
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