Salon owners often inquire about how they can be featured in IST as a Salon of Distinction. Answer: It’s simple! Take either the online or classroom version of our popular Sun is Life® Salon Operator Training & Certification course and you’ll have the opportunity to be randomly chosen. Each year over the past decade (or more), I’ve had the pleasure of teaching salon staff the classroom version of our SIL certification program at select industry events. It’s pretty cool when one of those that I have personally trained is selected – even cooler when it’s a salon from the area where I live! Mo Makkani had several of his staff take the training to begin his run with the Sun City salon chain (now Coastá Tanning Resort) in Metro Atlanta. A very enthusiastic group to say the least, they were selected to join this illustrious group. Read on!
■ Mo Makkani
■ John DiLoreto
■ David Collins
Number of Stores
Years in Business
■ 30+ (as Sun City Tanning)
■ 70+ across 9 facilities
UV Tanning Units
■ Hybrid Tanning Systems, ThermiSmooth Skin-smoothing, VersaSpa Sunless, Custom Airbrush Tans, Cocoon Wellness Pods, POLY Red-Light Therapy, Massage Chairs
■ New Sunshine Exclusive
■ Designer Skin Triple Threat, 16 Karat Rose Gold and SuperNova
Most Popular Tanning Package
■ All Access
■ Sun is Life® Certification
■ New Sunshine Product Training
■ Tan-Link Training
IST: Mo, every salon owner has a story about how they came to the tanning industry. I know you are involved with other businesses and recently acquired a chain of salons in Metro Atlanta. Tell us about it.
MM: With years of experience in fitness & health, we saw tremendous potential in the tanning industry. Anyone who has operated a successful gym knows there’s a lot of money to be made from offering relatively low-cost memberships, even with sizable investment in equipment and other overhead.
IST: How did you choose the name for the salon re-brand?
MM: We hired a branding company to reimagine the tanning industry. Our goal was to be more than just a tanning salon, to provide our guests with a “five-star resort style” experience. We offer additional spa services alongside tanning in an environment where our guests can tan, relax and rejuvenate. After being presented with over a 100+ possible names, we landed on Coastá Tanning Resort which encapsulates a getaway to a luxury resort on the Amalfi Coast or coastline of Santorini.
IST: You told me you enjoyed the Sun is Life Certification course and I recently had the opportunity to train some of your staff classroom style at an industry event. What insights did they gain? How important is it to have a staff fully trained with Sun is Life?
MM: Sun is Life is an excellent resource for training any new employee or manager. It covers best business practices, customer service and how to professionally represent our business to the public.
Running the show at Coasta’ Tanning Resort are (L-R) David Collins, COO; John DiLoreto, CEO and Mo Makkani, CFO
IST: Though you’re not new to business ownership, what has been your biggest challenge as a relatively new salon owner?
MM: Not surprising to any owners who have spent at least one full year in the tanning business, the “seasonal lows” or downturn in tanner traffic are more than just notable challenges. We were determined to implement a business strategy and offer additional services that would help our stores drive revenue during the fall and winter months. We have seen revenue grow substantially comparing the same months year-over-year!
IST: Social media or website: which has the bigger influence for marketing purposes?
MM: While social media certainly is a major contributor to our brand awareness and lead generation, our website is (currently) a bigger influencer. We have some strong call-to-action click-throughs on our website that have created tremendous results. Investing in SEO and lead conversions using your website as the gateway pays big dividends! We generate thousands of leads annually with good conversion rates at the store level.
IST: What are your goals for Coastá Tanning Resort in the next 1-3 years?
MM: A big part of the next phase is the coaching, mentoring and teaching across the business levels – to be able to mentor our current staff and just interact with guests. The plan is to acquire a couple more “homerun” locations locally for the corporate office and continue to grow the franchise side to bring Coastá “coast to coast!”
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
Copyright 2020 ist Magazine