Once you start planning out the monthly costs for your float center, you’ll quickly come to appreciate a running joke in the industry: although you may think you’re providing floats, what you’re really doing is running a shower business.
Each person that floats at your center will take two showers: one before their float, and one after. These showers are definitely necessary. Before a customer enters a float tank, you’ll want them to shower in order to make sure that water contamination from skin oils and dirt is minimized, and after a float a customer is going to need a shower to remove the salty residue from their skin.
The cost of these showers quickly adds up, and makes your water bill one of the most expensive recurring costs of owning and operating a center, especially if you’re in an area with a limited or expensive water supply. Furthermore, most people enjoy hot showers, which can put an unfortunate strain on your water heater. Our float center, Float On, pushed our 50 gallon water heater beyond it’s limit (with 4 simultaneous showers followed closely by 4 more), and we HAD to install low-flow showerheads in order to have enough hot water for all 4 rooms.
That being said, there are a few simple tactics to lower your usage, and consequently take stress off your water heater and lower your float center’s water expenses.
Install low-flow showerheads
Low flow showerheads are a float center’s friend. They help to solve the problem of water usage at the source (literally). Without having to affect a customer’s shower habits, you’ll be able to limit their water usage and cut down on water costs. One issue that does arise is the “quality” of the shower, as the “showeree” might be less-than-satisfied with the water pressure or temperature from a low-flow showerhead, but doing research into various brands in order to find the best-reviewed options available will help you find something both you and your customers will be satisfied with. For your convenience, here’s a link to an Amazon search for low-flow showerheads sorted by average customer review.
Expressly limit the length of your customer’s showers.
You can install a timing mechanism in your float room that automatically shuts off the shower after a given time period. This might not be the most desirable way of doing things, however, as your customers could be caught mid-wash. It also might frame your float center as somewhat frugal, and leave a bad impression in your customer’s minds.
If you go this route, there are a few good ideas to make sure your customers aren’t caught off guard with shampoo in their hair. For instance, coupling this with a timer which expressly shows the length remaining can ensure that people are aware of the shower time remaining.
We’ve also heard of center’s which have installed automatic light dimming systems which darken the room slowly over the length of a shower. This works best if the light stops when it is quite dim, or if you have a float tank with an internal light on, so that the room isn’t entirely darkened when the shower is over, which could lead to stumbling or other unfortunate accidents. Ultimately, the method of a dimming light offers a nicer, more subtle way to cue your customers to end their shower, without forcing it upon them with a sudden cutting off of the water flow.
Encourage your customers to limit their own shower length.
This is a much more welcomed way of limiting the length of your customer’s showers. One way of doing this is to reference the effects that longer showers have on the environment, and furthermore, how other customers of yours are helping you save water.
For one, you can draw up statistics sheet or infographic that notes how much water is used if the customer takes a 10 minute shower versus a 5 minute shower, further noting how that difference compounds itself over a week, month, or year – how many people could have drunk that water, or how many crops might have been nourished with it, for instance. If a customer can see that they are wasting water with longer showers, they’re much more likely to limit their own shower time for the benefit of the environment, with the added benefit of lowering your water bills. Again, be brief and pleasant – none of us want to be bombarded with rules (or even words) after floating.
Furthermore, there is something to be said about referencing other customer’s habits in order to influence customers to act similarly. Studies indicate that offering customers a comparison to similar individuals might be the best way to encourage them to change their habits for the better. For instance, tests were run at a hotel to encourage people to “recycle” their towels (reuse their towels multiple times during their stay, versus having brand new linens put out every day). With an appeal to the “green” nature of reusing towels, only 35% of customers opted into the recycling program, yet by rewording the informational card to suggest that most of their customers chose the recycling option, however, they saw a 26% increase in the program. Similarly, referencing the “average” length of a shower at your center will encourage people to get closer to that target time, and be just as environmentally conscious as they believe others are.
Keeping your water costs in mind is the best way to ensure they don’t get out of hand, and to furthermore ensure that none of your customers are rudely awakened from their post-flow bliss by freezing water which hasn’t spent enough time in the water heater. Low-flow showerheads will limit the amount of water used per shower, and simply reminding your customers of their water usage should change their habits for the better. Your customers don’t want to waste your float center’s resources, but without calling their attention to the issue, they may. By using these tactics you can combat unnecessarily high water bills, lessen strain on your water heating systems, and save a ton of money (and water!) in the long run.