Do you wanna
build a snowman rent a building?
If you’re planning on opening up a float center, it’s likely that you’ll end up renting and, therefore, working closely with a landlord. Like any business relationship, it takes communication, discernment, and openness to make a renter-landlord relationship feel truly comfortable.
Everyone involved is taking a risk and the reality is that, when it comes to floating, it’s probably more risk than your average small business – craft shop, hair salon, law office, what-have-you. And while the risk may be higher compared to something like massage, it’s really not so different from a bar or restaurant.
In addition to this blog, we’ve put together a couple letters from supportive landlords. You can download that here:
Now, a note to any landlord out there reading this blog.
The float industry is experiencing an explosion in awareness across the country, and communities that hadn’t heard about it before are now embracing it as a core healing modality. With the right setup and training, any center has the resources to succeed.
Float Tank Solutions was born out of direct learning from our successes and mistakes when opening up Float On, and a desire to share that info with anyone who comes a-knockin’. We are writing this post so that hopeful float center owners and landlords, alike, can work together to bring floating to their community.
Owning vs. Renting
Maybe you’re considering buying – or you already own – your own building. If buying is a possibility for you, our general recommendation is “Do it!”
Even if you have 5 – 10 year plans to sell, owning your own space gives you the leeway to negotiate your whole business, with the building, buildout, and operations as a complete asset.
Owning also gives you full autonomy in the buildout. Want to put up a water slide and screw climbing holds onto the outside with your patio? Just give yourself a high five and permission to proceed (oh yeah, you’ll probably need permits, too).
Ultimately, landlord-renter relationships mean that you can eventually be put into a position where you are forced to relocate, and that makes buying a building appealing. However, buying is often not an option.
You can rent and run an amazing float center, it just takes intention and humility. As mentioned above, we’ve included as a bonus to this post some of the best letters sent to us by float centers whose landlords are psyched to be working with them.
Why is it important to have a good relationship with your landlord?
We reached out to a bunch of float centers to see if their landlords were willing to write a favorable letter about having a float center in their building, and we got a lot of enthusiastic responses. For many landlords, having a desirable and novel business like a float center adds a lot of value for the landlord and the neighboring businesses. Here’s what the building owners for one of our past apprentices wrote:
Dear Float Tank Solutions,
My family have been supportive of having a float centre in our building ever since the idea was proposed by our tenants. Although there is only one other float centre in our city, we were confident it would be a successful business given the strong and increasing demand for health and wellness services across all demographics which we have witnessed firsthand with the success of our other tenants in the building which include yoga and pilates.
If things are running smoothly, you’re getting your checks in on time and you exchange the occasional email but, for the most part, your landlord is just a distant figure who grants you permission to have strangers get naked and hop in dark tubs of salt water.
But what happens when that first pump fails?!
Float centers are far and away not the only business that can have messy accidents, so many landlords will understand if you explain that there’s an outside chance for damages. While a strong landlord relationship is a good thing in and of itself, it becomes crucial when something goes wrong to have an existing foundation of goodwill, communication, and understanding to fall back on.
A good relationship will also help you in lease renewal negotiations down the line, affecting things like rent increase, buyout options, and expansion possibilities.
How do you start out on good footing?
Knowing that the landlord-renter relationship is critical to smoother operations, make sure you feel good about the communication style of your potential landlord before you sign on board. Even if you love a space and the cost is right – remember that you’ll be working with this person, sometimes closely, for what will likely be a very long time.
Be clear about what a float center really entails.
Be honest with them (and yourself) about what water and salt can do, and preemptively present how your construction plan will keep your landlord’s building safe! Too many people learn this the hard way, and it comes at a cost to their relationship with the landlord – often early on. It might be tempting to hide the fact that salt is corrosive, but you should have nothing to worry about if you’ve done your research and have a good contractor. By building the landlord-renter relationship with transparency, you’ll be setting the tone right for the rest of your tenancy.
Similarly, show them how you plan to rock your business and be a valuable long-term asset to their building. Just like a bank, they want to see that you’ve thought everything through. If possible, get to know a nearby center that is doing well. Offer to float your potential-landlord-to-be there for free, so they can try it out. Especially if floating is unfamiliar, this will help bring context to your communications about your plans for a float center – they can visualize what tanks, filtration systems, and center designs actually look like.
Staying in touch
If you experience water or salt damage, the last thing you’ll want to worry about is how your landlord is gonna react. Which is why you need to make sure you have clear language in your contract about who is responsible for damages (in the case of damages from your salt water, the cost is most likely going to be on you, or on your insurance).
Be sure to address the issue ASAP, and give them a clear picture of the issue and what it’s going to take to fix it – time, noise, lost business, etc. Being proactive and taking responsibility (when appropriate) will go a long way. Make sure to have parts on hand for quick repairs or patches. Train your staff in what to do if something happens during their shift. If you can show that you were prepared and acted quickly, this will go a long way.
Human relationships can be messy – especially so when you throw personal property, livelihoods, and money into the mix. Being able to rely on a solid contract helps remove some of these stressors.
It’s worthwhile, when pursuing a place to rent, to add “Getting Along with the Landlord” towards the top of list of other important factors to keep in mind (along with rates, building type, square footage, etc). Take your time, get to know your potential landlord, and enjoy the process and partnership!