By Matt Russell
2012, I was asked by a number of industry members I had worked with for years if I would be interested in helping develop and organize the first association created specifically for tanning salon owners. As the CEO of Smart Tan, I had decades of first-hand experience defending tanning salons, combatting federal and state tan-ban attempts, combating negative publicity, and educating the masses on the truth about indoor tanning and UV light. I had also compiled a mountain of resources and infrastructure to help move our industry forward through this new vehicle.
As I worked with the original group of organizers and eventual board members to establish the organization, we all came to recognize how important it was that our association had one singular objective: to protect and promote tanning salon businesses. So, the American Suntanning Association was born and to this day continues to fight for tanning salon owners all over the U.S., stopping attacks by anti-tanning groups and educating lawmakers, researchers and the world about our scientifically-supported position.
Since that time, salon owners have told the ASA team how thankful they are for what we do for their businesses. ASA President Melinda Norton regularly receives standing ovations at conferences and trade shows when salon owners hear about the work being done to protect their livelihoods and futures. Some salon owners have come to appreciate that without the ASA and their efforts, indoor tanning businesses would be suffering more than they could imagine.
So, this brings me to the real purpose of this message: To try and understand why so many tanning salon owners do not support the ASA. Having spent decades managing associations for our industry, I’ve come to believe that most of us view funding our industry’s association to be something that only the biggest, most successful salon groups should do. After all, don’t they make more money than a smaller salon operator? This is why the ASA set a membership dues structure based on the number of business locations. If you’re a single-salon operator, your dues are ten times less than someone who owns ten locations. That’s fair, isn’t it?
Another reason salon operators have told me they can’t join is that business isn’t great at the moment, and they need to wait until things get a little better. Salon operators need to consider what business would be like if the ASA wasn’t able to maintain a healthy presence in Washington, D.C. and state capitals. Imagine ridiculous restrictions placed on your equipment or an under-21 ban being passed in your state. Yes, business could and would be a whole lot worse.
Keeping tanning salons protected requires a well-developed plan, credible scientific research, targeted industry data, strategy development and a team of seasoned professionals to deliver this information to state capitals and Washington, D.C. This is no easy task. Yet, ASA has been highly successful in defeating the vast majority of regulatory attempts made against our industry over the past decade.
Attacks on our industry continue as under-21 bans are being entertained by several states right now. These attacks are highly coordinated efforts from very influential and well-financed organizations and are difficult to stop. Though ASA has the plan, the science and the team to get the job done, we need more resources if we are to succeed against the attacks from our much larger opponents in the future.
We’re all familiar with the famous Ben Franklin quote: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” For tanning salon business owners faced with business-closing regulation attempts every year, this couldn’t be more fitting.
Keep your business healthy. Join the ASA today.
Founded in 2012, the American Suntanning Association is committed to defending and growing the industry through a detailed and proactive plan directed by an all-salon board and executed by more than two dozen management and consulting team members who specialize in this type of work.
Copyright 2020 ist Magazine