I’ve been receiving an unprecedented number of emails recently from people letting me know their progress as they work to start their float center. I’ve also been getting a growing number of emails from business owners letting me know about their progress developing their business, sharing their successes and of course the speed bumps that come with starting a business that is uncharted super saline waters.
I absolutely love getting these emails and it’s both inspiring and humbling to see what others visions for a float center are and how they manifest these dreams.
Based on the excitement I have reading everyone’s updates on their business, I thought you might want to hear about mine. So today I am going to take some time to give you an update on every aspect of the Float Shoppe. Next week I will provide an update on the Art of Floating and where it is heading.
Massage & Acupuncture
This post ended up getting rather lengthy, so feel free to only read the sections that pertain to you. Like your salad bar, take what you want and leave the rest. Oh, I should also warn you that this in another free writing. This hasn’t been edited by Brian, so I apologies for all the terrible grammar and spelling.
The Float Shoppe – Float Tanks
Late last year, our employees came to Sandra and I pushing to increase our hour operational hours. Our standard hours have been 10am-10pm. While they wanted to open at 6am, we ended up compromising and opening at 8am and seeing how that goes for now. We also now do a late night float on Fridays.
Thank goodness we expanded our hours because our demand has never been so high. While December had several gaps in our schedule, January has been almost completely booked every day.
Last year we we found that While December is incredible for sales, January is very slow. Our tanks get very busy with gift cards, but our income is very low. This year we have found that not only are our tanks very busy, but we have a great many full paying customers coming in as well. Our January is looking very similar to a regular months income. This bodes very well for the rest of the year to come.
The Float Shoppe – Massage & Acupuncture
Our number of Spacewalks (Float/massage/acupuncture package) is increasing steadily, as is the number of people wanting a float/massage or float/acupuncture combo. With our wonderful LMTs and Lac, we are beginning to develop a brand of a high quality experience. We also have more and more customers coming in for just massage or acupuncture, which is a great testament to the skill and care given by our practitioners. We are developing better and better ways of scheduling our LMTs and reaching out to our oncall network so that the process of booking massage is smoother and smoother.
Our massage has gotten so busy that we have started using our own rental space next door for massage. We ended up purchasing all sorts of massage equipment recently to make sure the room delivers just as great an experience for our customers and our LMTs as our original rooms.
The Float Shoppe – Therapy
While we are more hands off with our in house therapist, she has been getting more and more clients this year at a rate that is super exciting to all of us. It would be nice to be able to take some credit for this but I can’t.. Well, we have a parking lot which is nice, I’ll assume that is why all of her clients want to come here. Okay, she’s doing all the work and is great, so that could be why too.
The Float Shoppe Community Space – Room Rentals
Taking on the space next door was a gamble. Sandra and I knew we wanted the space, but we just didn’t know if we were ready to take it on just yet. If we didn’t sign a lease, we would probably have to wait another 3-5 years before having another chance, if we would ever have a chance at all.
Our decision to expand was 100% the right choice. Despite financial concerns of starting a new venture with no financial investors, we pressed on. Our Community Space which opened mid October or 2013 is a single floor that has one big room for yoga and large events and two smaller rooms for smaller groups and one on one sessions. You can read more about this space here. We don’t want to rent a room out to a single person, we want to offer rooms by the hour so plenty of different people can use our space and develop their business. We want to be a bit of a stepping stone. Of course this makes our lives much more difficult as we are constantly having people apply to rent, schedule and handle payments, but c’mon, we opened a float center, we crave a good challenge. As of the end of January, the rent is paid for by room rentals. Utilities still mean we are losing money, but this is a great indicator for the rest of 2014.
The Float Shoppe Community Space – Yoga
This is where things stop sounding super hunky dory and start taking a turn for the Sad…? Depressing…? Frustrating…?
Yoga is the one part of the business that has not taken off. We were told from the start that Yoga takes time to develop, that the first few months will have very few people coming in the door and only 3+ months in will we start having regulars. Well, we opened our Yoga studio one month before the holidays. This was a very bad choice! People don’t want to start a new wellness regimen while they have family in town! So it’s almost like our grand opening was January 1st, when people want to get back into shape, get healthy etc. We have seen more students coming in, which is great, but still many classes are just the teacher waiting at the front desk.
Now before you are filled with hope that things are on the upswing (and I’m sure they are, but still…) Lets talk about that October-December time that is really difficult at attracting customers. Our Yoga instructors were still coming to class, they were still there every day, waiting for students, craving delivering the art of teaching. During this time, the preparations should have been made for better marketing. How about signs? The most basic way someone knows your business exists!? We don’t have them. Why not? Well, Sandra and I don’t do anything right now except work. Just about every waking moment is devoted towards our business. Sure once a week we sneak in an episode of New Girl, but that hardly refreshes our batteries as needed. We bit off a lot with this new space, but what we didn’t realize was how much of our attention was going to go into the holidays (which we’ve done twice now, it shouldn’t have been a surprise) and how much attention the original business was going to need after the holidays. You see, all that exciting business that’s described in the previous paragraphs also means Sandra and I have are figuring out new business practices on the fly constantly, helping customers with new types of questions, hiring new LMTs, handling employee questions, schedules and difficulties. It’s all a bit much and since we are right in the middle of it all day, it gets all of our attention. It all feels a lot like our original opening. Except this time we have the amazing ability to look back and see our success at having already been in a situation like this. But this leads me very easily into our emotional states.
Dylan & Sandra – Emotional State
With all the business that we are experiencing at the moment, it’s very easy to run emotionally dry. To not be able to take deep breathes and appreciate the successes of the business.
But also, I have been feeling a lot of sadness. We have developed this beautiful business that is safe for people to grow, develop and heal within. Not just our customers, but our practitioners and our employees. It’s a very special thing. This isn’t just a business, but it is a conduit for growth. Emotional, spiritual and physical healing happens here. We aren’t out to catch every red cent out of our customers or our practitioners. And because of that our space feels like a home. We feel like a family. At least, that is what our space feels like at the original Float Shoppe. The community space hasn’t had our attention. Our Yoga instructors do not feel Sandra and I’s attention on them and their needs. There are very basic fixes that need to happen that we have not been attentive to. Because we want to treat people (particularly people within our own community) with such a high level of care, it breaks my heart to know we have missed the mark by so much.
Meanwhile, Sandra is spending much of her time in Yoga teacher training and teaching a new batch of nursing students and University of Portland. Her working was a choice based on her love of teaching, but also to make sure we were financially stable while we started the Community Center. Part of me wishes she hadn’t taken this job, as I wish her attention could be completely on the business, and our relationship. But maybe I’m just being greedy?
Speaking of our relationship, we are planning our first vacation since starting our business! We are going to Brussels in June to see our favorite band, Elbow. We will spend two weeks in Europe, enjoying the land where the history comes from! In the meantime, we have also agreed to dedicate time for ourselves to recharge, not just to take a break at home, but to engage outside our bubble in NW 23rd Ave.
Hey Dylan, thank you for making your experience available to all of us fledgling float-repreneurs. My partner and I are both practitioners, and the brand of our float spa is perhaps most similar to yours of the float centers I have looked into. We are so excited to offer “the full experience” of mixed therapeutic excellence! I met you briefly at the Float Conference, and I’m going to look for you again next year so I can pick your brain some more 🙂
For now I have a question about massage before floating — if the therapist uses minimal oil (we use 100% unrefined coconut oil), does that cause huge oil problems in the tank when we’re doing multiple of those per day? We’re going to offer dry chair or table massages for 30 minutes, but for the longer massages we definitely want to use oil.
All the best
Dylan Schmidt says
I keep meaning to check what type of oil we use (I think coconut?), but maybe I should just respond to this in the mean time…
We do not have huge problems with our water at all. We do specifically ask that those who get a massage before a float take the time to really get the oils off. That being said, we have found that regular water and filter maintenance is the biggest help in ensuring clear and long lasting water. There are things like SpaPerfect that are meant to help with this, but we’ve found we use it less and less and we get our maintenance dialed in.
Please let me know if you have any other questions about this.