We’ve seen lots of float centers that aren’t just float centers.
Many have massage, some offer counseling, some have yoga classes next door. Lots of people start out either by incorporating float tanks into a larger business, or with float tanks only being one of many modalities at their center. Being specialists in floating, Float On has not mastered anything else.
So, to help gain insight into this growing aspect of the industry, we contacted our old friend, Sandra Calm. She started up The Float Shoppe here in Portland with her husband and podcast sensation, Dylan Calm, back in 2011. When they first opened, they had just two float tanks, and slowly added acupuncture, massage, counseling, along with two more tanks. Talk about expansion!
In addition to the amazing progress of The Float Shoppe, they recently opened a yoga studio, The Grinning Yogi Northwest, in Portland. Sandra is an RN with a holistic perspective who trained to be a yoga teacher, so it’s been a desire of hers to offer a service that includes some sort of movement practice for a while. She was more than happy to take some time for the industry to help us understand just what it’s like to run a center with multiple services by answering some questions.
Just to start, what services do you offer?
We have four float tanks, massage, acupuncture, and counseling. And we do a lot of aromatherapy. We always have aromatherapy available in case anyone is really stressed out, nervous about their float, or just, you know, hanging out in the shop all the time.
Yoga is something that we tried to put on ourselves, but that was essentially too much for us to handle on our own, so that’s why we decided to open our own yoga studio, which is rockin’ it and has a full schedule.
There’s a lot going on there. I can only imagine the balancing act required to make it work seamlessly. Did it work seamlessly? Does it work seamlessly?
Oh god no! We had quite a learning curve, especially since the goal was to line everything up to work in the best way. And we didn’t even know what the best way was, so we had to experiment and talk with people and see what worked best. Do people prefer floating before massage? Or massage before floating? How does acupuncture fit into all of this? There were plenty of little tweaks that had to be made. Even in our meeting just yesterday, we talked for 20 minutes about our next best version of the float/massage combo.
How do you track your different services in bundles? Does scheduling get confusing?
Thankfully we’ve learned over time how to do all of this pretty well, we’ve had a lot of practice. In terms of scheduling, we’re able to use the MindBody system to schedule everything pretty well. Our whole MindBody screen is a big spread, 4 float tanks, 3 massage therapists, one acupuncturist, and one counselor. You can probably imagine what that looks like. It probably looks similar to a 9 tank center.
And then we have little notes that we write to each other. If they get a package then when they book a float it’ll say “1 of 2” and the massage will say “2 of 2” so that if people are looking at that particular booking, they can see “oh, they’re going into another service next, where is that?” And we try to make sure the room that they’re in for their massage is closer to their float tank, for example. And we always have them come in early. Earlier than usual, to fill out their paperwork and do the walkthrough for their float. That way we can change them over from their massage and float quickly while they’re in their bathrobe.
What are some of the advantages of running multiple services? Do you think it appeals to more people?
Yeah, absolutely. With the four services we offer, people are attracted for different reasons. And then they walk in and see “oh, look at all these things that I have to choose from that are here to support my well being”.
Perhaps someone really doesn’t like massage at all, but they’re in counseling. In counseling, things are coming out – they’re doing their work. This is a person that is taking steps to improving their life. And then they know that under the same roof where they have found a community that is warm and friendly and home-y, you can try out acupuncture because they’ve heard it’s really helpful for managing stress, or managing pain, or managing insomnia, then great. It enhances their access, just purely by their exposure and comfort with us already.
What are the conversations like with your practitioners? Do you have to go through a lot of internal training?
Thankfully a lot of the education that happens with practitioners comes with their continued exposure to floating. We always get them in the tanks as they’re in the interview process. Oftentimes they’ll come in and do their interview, which for massage therapists includes a test massage for whoever is interviewing them, and then, usually, we try to get them into a float tank right after that. And so, by understanding from their own perspective, a lot of the subtle things that are difficult to explain are understood.
What do you look for in a practitioner?
A whole bunch of things! We look for skill, obviously, with massage therapists we make sure they know different styles: deep tissue, Swedish style, and medical massage. We have a lot of athletes come into the shop and they’re some of our clients for massage. We also look for an interest in the float tanks. It’s not that they have to have floated and love floating, it’s just that we have to facilitate that and so we try to make sure that they are floating. We also look for enthusiasm, willingness to work with others, good communication skills, and an ability to work with clients really well, because we always say that when a client walks into the Float Shoppe, it should be like walking into a hug. Especially when you’re going to be laying on somebody’s massage table.
That’s it for this conversation with Sandra. Our conversation did span more topics, several of which she went fairly in depth on. Look forward to further conversations with Sandra appearing here.