More and more people are following their dreams of opening and operating tanning salons, further strengthening the indoor tanning industry. IST Magazine wishes to recognize these “newbies” with this monthly “Welcome Wagon” series and we invite you, our loyal readers, to join us in giving the featured salon owners the friendly greeting they deserve!
Location: Cary, NC
Date opened: 6/14/2014
Owners: Calvin & Donna Nguyen
Tanning Systems: 5 Ergoline
Tanning Levels: 3
Other Services: Infrared Sauna, Nails & Sunless Spray-Tans(Norvell Skin Solutions)
Training: Sun is Life®
Distribution Partner: Four Seasons Sales & Service
After hearing about the joys of tanning salon ownership from a friend, nail salon owners Calvin and Donna Nguyen had been considering branching out into the sun biz. As Calvin recalled, “It seemed difficult at first because the only thing we knew about indoor tanning was what we read on Google! Fortunately, we learned a lot at the Four Seasons Sales & Service Expo in Winston-Salem, NC and we realized that opening a tanning salon would be a good move for us.” The couple’s dream came true when the hair salon next to their Orchid Nails business left the shopping plaza, leaving the perfect spot for their new venture.
Construction delays pushed Bella Tan’s grand opening from April to June 14, which meant the salon was not swamped with people seeking a summertime tan. In fact, Calvin says a grand total of ten people showed up for the event. Despite this, the couple hung in there and things quickly began improving after that. “We received a lot of support from many of our nail salon clients,” Calvin added, “and they started referring their family and friends. Now, we average five to ten new customers each day and we’re really looking forward to things picking up in the peak season.” Calvin added that Wendy Peebles (Four Seasons) has been very helpful with lotion sales education, which in turn helps the salon maximize per-tanner revenue. “Four Seasons is a great support system!” he said.
Being new to the tan biz, Calvin and Donna wanted the best in salon operator education. They turned to Sun is Life® Training & Certification and Calvin says he’s very impressed with how thorough the educational program was, adding, “We learned so much, such as how to promote tanning in a positive light without making health claims. It also offered some great information about how to explain UV light and tanning in moderation to our salon guests.” All in all, he says Sun is Life training left him and his staff feeling confident about operating a salon in today’s market.
Many new salon owners enter the industry with big dreams and ambitions, some even envisioning themselves eventually operating a tanning empire. While Calvin says he and Donna are excited about Bella Tan, his inner businessman urges him to take things slowly and surely. “At the moment,” he said, “we plan to focus on the salon we have so we can learn and experience more about this industry. While we won’t hesitate to expand our location when the time is right, we won’t be opening more stores until much later.” In the meantime, he says he’ll continue doing everything he can to “get the word out,” which means aggressive social media, grassroots and coupon-clipper promotions.
Thanks for helping us welcome Calvin and Donna Nguyen to the indoor tanning community. We look forward to meeting many more new faces and salon places in the months to come. Until then … stay sunny! ■
A 14-year industry veteran, John "Ribby" Ribner has written hundreds of
articles for IST Magazine and, as Director of Editorial Content, has also
helped guide the publication's evolution. Ribby is a graduate of Central
Michigan University's journalism program and has brought many years of newspaper reporting experience to his position of Head Writer. He is also the author of three novels, "Legacy of the Bear," "Prophecy of the Bear" and "World So Dark."
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