Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
If there’s one thing Ashkahn and Graham have learned, it’s reopening. Float On has had to shut down for repairs so many times over the years that they’ve got the process down to a science.
They share their secrets for making sure you have a full week after opening, build momentum, keep your members happy in the downtime and throw a kickin’ reopening party!
Listen to Just the Audio
Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: Okay, welcome everybody.
Graham: Ahh, the crowd goes wild.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so you better be goin’ wild out there.
Graham: Clap, we can hear you if you’re clapping. You better clap.
Ashkahn: I’m Ashkahn.
Graham: And, today’s question is; “I am expanding my float center.”
Graham: “How can I capitalize on this so that when I grand re-open, I’ll be booked?”
Graham: Swell. Yeah, it is a good time to reorganize some of your marketing when you’re closed, especially if you just have a bunch of contractors who are doing work and you yourself are not in charge of overseeing it or anything like that.
Ashkahn: And then hopefully, you’re expanding ’cause things are going well for you.
Ashkahn: Otherwise, you’re probably making a big mistake.
Graham: Also, yeah. It works the same, too. Like, if you’re moving locations, if you’re at the same location, I think a lot of this advice is going to be exactly the same.
So, the first is actually just thinking about it. Like, deciding you want to, feeling it first, I would say, before you even start thinking.
Sort of be in your body. Yeah, just existing there, really. Not even trying. Sorry, I was about to go way deeper into that. Okay. Actual advice. Well, so I guess let’s start with the goal. The goal is that when you reopen, you have a week, at least, where you’re just booked out. Like, every slot is accounted for. If you can make it two weeks, awesome, but to me that’s both the goal of a grand opening and a re-opening, is you just have back-to-back, solid appointments for about a week coming off of it.
Ashkahn: I mean, to put it more negatively, in my mind, the goal is also to counteract all the momentum and steam you’re gonna lose from being closed.
Ashkahn: ‘Cause that’s not easy, you know? You get hit if you’re closed for a period of time. Like, you have members, and people who float regularly, and this will throw them off their routine, maybe enough to just not come back. There’s just a difficulty if you’re closed down for any significant amount of time.
Graham: So, first off, take good care of your members, is great advice for being closed for any amount of time. Right? Like, Some of these people are people who are creatures of routine, and they come in every single week, or even multiple time a week, in some cases, and your float is part of their routine. So, make sure that they’re well taken care of, and some of that word of mouth is also going to be marketing for you when you re-open. The better that you treat your regulars, the more that they’re going to get other people to come back in. So, it may sound simple, but honestly, that’s like a big backbone of making sure you’re doing marketing right going into closing. It’s just like, take care of your existing customers.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so we’re extra communicative with our members leading up to something like this. We’ll try to prioritize getting them in for appointments as soon as we can over other people. If we’re closed for chunk of time, we will work with another float center in town, and actually just work it out so our members can go float there and use their membership floats at another float center, and then we just settle up with the other float center when we’re back up and running.
Graham: Which is so appreciated by our members, and I’m sure the other float center, too. I know for a fact that other float centers have stolen members from us doing that, and it’s totally worth it for keeping the members that you do keep happy. Right? The ones who stick with you, I mean even the members who go over to a different float center, might just be because that float center’s closer to where they live or something. And, they think you’re super awesome for giving them that opportunity and not letting it break into their weekly cycle or something like that. Not to harp too much on members, but, it’s a good one.
Ashkahn: Members are, I would say, that’s a really big thing to think about through this process. ‘Cause those are the ones that you’re really just disrupting the most. And, from our experience of being closed, which we’ve done many times, so many times, have we had to be closed for some period of time, that’s the thing that gets hit the hardest.
Ashkahn: We always get a solid depletion of members every time we have to close for any significant length of time. Then it takes months to build those numbers back up,
Graham: Yeah, I mean anywhere from like, 20 to 50 percent, is how much we’ve lost in terms of members, and yeah, it’s rough. So, I think that’s why that’s top of mind as well.
And, kind of related to that, and with communication; being really open with your customers and even, I guess, your customers to be, or your prospects, on why you’re closing, what upgrades you’re doing, and things like that.
I mean, Facebook is a great way to share what you’re up to; to actually take pictures of some of the construction to get people excited about it. Right? Like, if you’re expanding, especially if you’re remodeling or nice-ifying your business, or adding sound-proofing, or adding new tanks, all of these are great reasons for anyone who’s floated there already to come back in. And, reasons for people who maybe haven’t tried it out yet to take advantage of the new scenery and the new tanks and come in then. So, don’t try to hide that you’re under construction, or feel like you’re doing something wrong. Be very public about it and as many behind the scenes photos as you can share, I think, the better.
Ashkahn: Definitely every avenue you use to reach people, you should plan something for, based around your re-opening. I mean, it’s definitely like, a newsletter blast, social media posting, it’s even signage in your windows. You’re going through all your channels because you want that to be something that people know is happening and are exciting about and it’s kind of fun. I mean, you’re expanding. That’s all good news. And, it’s going to be even cooler for people when they come back in. There’s gonna be new float tanks to hop into. It’s all very positive.
Graham: Probably, inevitably, you’ll do some kind of re-opening event. And that can just help for promotion. Right. Like, you only have so many floats you can run a day, but you can get a lot of your members, a lot of your customers, just a lot of friends and people, out to see your new digs; to check out the new construction, and see what’s up.
And, running an event doesn’t have to cost more than a few hundred dollars. We’ve talked about that in other podcast episodes we’ll link to in the show notes. But, it’s not the craziest thing to run an event in your center. And, yeah, anyway, it’s just where it’s-
Ashkahn: And it’s cathartic after doing a big construction project.
Graham: Without even going through all the trouble of the press release, you can almost always get small events like that listed in newspapers for free, put it up online in local directories that people search for, for goings ons. And even if you do have to pay, I mean, we’re not talking about a ton of money for event listings like that. Usually, it’s maybe, 15 to 50 dollars for listing, if they do require any payment at all.
Something else that, if you are reopening, you can use the reopening party as the thing you’re promoting in a little bit in addition to the changes that are going on.
I would, so, wait, you got something to say today? We breathed in very deeply at the same time, and it got confusing.
Ashkahn: I was just gonna mention the fact that construction timelines can be kinda slippery.
Graham: Oh, that’s actually a great thing to mention, yeah.
Ashkahn: So just be a little careful.
Graham: That’s why you took that deep breath.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so it’s a good deep breath. If you’re like, book, I’m gonna be back open on like, June fifth, and I should just start slamming my schedule completely full. It’s a little tricky. We do a lot of doing people on wait lists, and like in our helm software, we can just put everyone on wait lists, and then if we so open that day, it will just start contacting them.
Graham: Automatically, without us doing anything.
Ashkahn: So, something like that is a little bit safer of an approach. And just also realize if you are expanding and adding new rooms, it’s gonna be kinda like your experience when you first opened up. There’s gonna be a period of time-
Graham: Remember that? Remember when you first opened and how crazy it was?
Ashkahn: I know you probably blacked it out at this point, but things might go wrong. You know, there’s quirks, there’s little things in the room that you’re just gonna have to get used to, so be a little bit careful about overextending yourself for that first period.
Graham: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And I mean, just for context, you know, if we think a construction project is gonna take a couple weeks, depending on the nature of it, we might block off three or four weeks for that construction project. And great, if it takes two weeks, we just open up the two weeks we blocked off and we’re good to go.
Ashkahn: Yeah, contact your members and say they can come back in.
Graham: Yeah, hey, you’re good, and then, if it does take longer, or if it takes longer, then you fail an inspection, and then it takes even longer. I mean, having that safety margin built in is so much nicer than having to cancel on people, push them back a week and then maybe even call them a second time to cancel and push them back another week. We know because we’ve been there, and it’s just awful.
Ashkahn: Yeah, it is rough.
Graham: You feel like a really incompetent person. You know you’re not coming across good to your customers, you know. And again, if we’re closed for a month, it might be, we block off two extra weeks, but, at minimum, a week extra, on top of construction projects, no matter what their length is, just be on the safe side.
Ashkahn: Yeah. And, I guess we’re giving a lot of precautions here, but but in terms of filling tanks-
Graham: Sorry, all the bad things start coming back to us and stuff, so. I mean, this is also a great time. You’ll just hopefully, again, have some time on your hands. So, it’s a perfect time to launch into arranging a new program once you open. You know, we don’t run a lot of discounts. You know, I lot of 30 to 50 percent off floats or anything at Float On, but, if we did, this would be a great time to run discounts as well; leading up to your re-opening.
Ashkahn: Yeah, I mean, you can especially easily justify a discount for your new rooms. You’re like, hey, I just built these new rooms. Like, be one of the first people to try them. You can even mention they’re like, test floats or something, so you can have a period where you’re getting the quirks out of the way. It’s all nicely justified. You’re doing test floats for two weeks in these two room specifically and the people get 25 percent off for booking in there. Like, that’s a great way to fill those up and actually get feedback from people and make sure that sound-proofing is solid and light-proofing is solid and all that sort of stuff.
Graham: Yeah, depending on the amount of members you have and the length of time you’re closed, a Float On way to do this would be to give a bunch of free floats to members to share with their friends. So for example, we have about 250 members, so if we were closing for a month, both as a way to try to keep members, and apologize for being closed, I’d be really tempted to offer them all a free float within the couple weeks after reopening, come in with a friend. Maybe they expire two weeks after re-opening. But really, again, trying to get that week, especially, right after you reopen, totally booked. And when I say that, I mean with paid or unpaid floats. You really just want people coming in, and that momentum will carry itself forward, very similar to a regular opening, is how you’re using a re-opening.
But, yeah. Taking advantage of word of mouth from existing customers, in this case members, I think, is also a great way to tie it in.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Sometimes we pay people to stand out front of our shop in big fake mustaches, and as people be walking by being like, ah, yeah it’s a float tank place. Yeah, that cured my sister of blindness.
Graham: That’s how I got hired on there, yeah.
Ashkahn: That was Graham’s first job. So that’s another strategy.
Graham: Yeah, again, basically just use your time to promote and hustle. You know what you’ve been doing so far for your float center. You know what kinds of campaigns you like running. And, just don’t pull any punches on this one. Go all out. Reach out to people. Share what you’ve actually be up to. Again, offer a discount, offer free floats and through whatever means, try to book those up. Right?
Ashkahn: Yeah. Hopefully, you’ve got some marketing that’s working, ’cause you needed to expand.
Graham: Yeah. Yeah exactly. And, if you don’t, again, the classics are Facebook, mailing list, figuring out a campaign for free floats, offering discounted floats, running an event right when you open, getting that list of newspapers. It’s kind of like the gamut that we’ve been going through in quick, summary form here.
Ashkahn: And plants to stand outside of your float center. All the things we’ve been telling-
Graham: Just a giant mustache.
Alright, thanks for the question.
Ashkahn: Yeah. And if you have any questions.
Graham: I’m Graham.
Ashkahn: No, we did that already.
Graham: Oh right right.
Ashkahn: So if you out there listening have a question that you want us to answer, you can go to floattanksolutions.com/podcast.
Yup, that’s right. And, that’s it.
Graham: We’ll talk to you soon.
Ashkahn: And that’s the end of this episode.
Recent Podcast Episodes
Graham and Ashkahn kick off the New Year by discussing the things to consider when adding a float tank to an existing business. This is a fantastic episode to start with if you’ve already got a service-based business or are a practitioner looking to start up on your own and looking for ideas.
The boys talk about logistical considerations, the built-in advantages to adding on to an existing practice, as well as how nice it is to have a meatball sandwich after chilling out in a sensory reduced environment for an hour (Ashkahn has a serious one-track mind).
Graham and Ashkahn round out the end of the year by talking about all the naughty and nice things about having business partners.
It’s a shorter compilation today, which gives you plenty of time to talk to your own business partners about what you think about them!
The holidays are a busy time for float centers and it often means lots of new customers asking questions. This means it can be a really great time to brush up on the facts about floating. Fortunately we’ve formed a folio of fantastic studies for you to fancy. Feliz Navidad!
In every service business, there’s a running joke that someone likes that’s usually somehting along the lines of “this job would be great if it weren’t for all the customers!” (*cue laugh track and uproarious applause*), well, the boys have not shied away from talking about the difficult sides of running a shop like ours. We’ve got episodes about handling negative Yelp reviews, customers too intoxicated to float, and even what to do when it’s time to 86 a problematic client.
You can tell this episode was recorded a little while ago, really close to after we all got back from the Conference. The boys are a little tired today, but they still have lots to talk about.
Grashkahmn share their initial reactions to the Conference now that it’s being run by the industry as a non-profit. This is a nice episode especially if you’re looking for some insights on their behind-the-scenes perspective on this big industry event and how it has changed this year.
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