In just a single year, there are twelve whole months, 52 distinct weeks, and a whopping 365 days. With so many options, how is a humble, prospective float tank center owner to choose the ideal time to open?
Do you start running floats with the beginning of a new year to keep your accounting clean? Do you try to take advantage of summer and good weather for construction, and open during the fall? Do you try to save money by doing your build-out during the winter (in the construction off-season), and then open in the spring?
I would say that October is an especially attractive time of year to choose. This is not just because Float On had its grand opening on October 17th. Although it does make us seem like we knew what we were doing, blind luck had more to do with us choosing that date than anything else. There are, however, two big reasons why early Autumn is a good time to open your doors.
The first is that you typically see a summer sales slump, especially in places where you have cold and inclement winters. June, as well as the end of August into September, seem to be especially light for float centers, probably due to school and vacation schedules. Opening after the summer has ended skips the hardest part of the year to fill up your tanks; you’ll have 8 months until June hits and you have to worry about escalating your marketing efforts to make up for the natural drop in clients.
The second reason to launch in early fall is preparing to take advantage of holiday sales in December. We’ve found at Float On that our December brings in about double the income of normal months, and this seems to be true for float centers across the US and Canada. It turns out that ‘Nothing’ makes a great present, and gift certificate sales explode in the weeks before the New Year. This means that you’ll have a couple months to bring in early customers, build up your mailing list, get some good press, and stage yourself for a very good December.
The other upside of a lot of gift certificate sales in December is that you’ll have a lot of 1st time floaters coming in and trying out about your business in January & February. If you have a strong launch in October, your center has a good chance of taking care of itself for the next several months. If, on the other hand, you launch in April, you’ll have a couple months of fairly regular attendance, which is likely to be followed immediately by a spotty summer. It will be about 8 months until you have December’s windfall to naturally boost your attendance and revenue.
When we’re consulting with prospective centers, we do our best to guide them towards a Grand Opening in the early Fall.
This means taking over your space and starting construction several months beforehand (we usually advise planning for 4 months of build out, to be on the safe side, although we’ve known projects that end up taking 8 months to a year to finish), probably in June. Since this will be a busy time of year for contractors (especially in areas with harsh winters), start planning your float center well in advance – you should have your general contractor lined up by April at the latest, which will give them time to line up the subcontractors they’ll be using during your job.