“We love to offer more than just tanning and cater to the overall ‘look good, feel good’ experience.”
This month’s featured business comes to us from the great Northwest – Idaho to be specific – the land of spuds, gemstones and a plethora of landscapes and wildlife. NERD ALERT: One third of all of our potatoes come from Idaho. I had the pleasure of traveling to this part of the world just a few years ago, floating on the Spokane River in a houseboat and water skiing. I’ve even taught a Sun is Life® Certification class in Boise … But I digress. Idaho is a phenomenal state, Boise is a fantastic city and Electric RAYS has salons all over the state. So, on to my interview with Owner, Michelle Roby!
IST: We’ll start with the obvious question: How did you get your start in the tan biz?
Owner Michelle Roby
MR: When I was in high school, I worked in a tanning/hair salon. I started to really enjoy the tanning and beauty aspects of the business, so I decided to open my own store. Here we are eight years later with nine locations and hopefully, more someday. I never thought when I started Electric Rays that it would grow like this!
IST: These days, salons that only offer tanning services are few and far between. Many operators have diversified their menus to create a more “spa” type of environment. Describe your service offerings.
MR: Well Joe, we really do have a diversified menu. We offer all levels of tanning, plus red-light therapy, wellness (saunas and pods) and sunless options. We love to offer more than just tanning and cater to the overall “look good, feel good” experience. Having more product variety has opened up many more avenues and crossover sales.
IST: Sanitization standards were covered in depth during our Sun is Life classroom course. How would you describe your cleaning protocols?
MR: We pride ourselves on the cleanliness of our studios. Other than the typical bed cleaning after every tanner, we have “opening” and “closing” schedules for daily cleaning and sanitizing. The staff at each studio does weekly deep-cleaning of all the beds as well as a monthly schedule that includes cleaning window sills, washing walls and trim – the more tedious cleaning. I really believe that it sets our quality bar high.
IST: You passed the Sun is Life class last fall at the Four Seasons National Tanning Expo with flying colors. What insights can you share about the training?
MR: I really enjoyed the classroom setting better than taking the course online. I feel like I was more attentive in the in-person class and I loved being able to engage and hear what others in the class had to say and how you answered any questions we had. So, when is your next classroom training?
IST: Well, teaching salon certification is certainly a passion of mine and Sun is Life has been included at the Four Seasons Expos many times. I’m honored to be invited! Salon operations are covered in our course, including how to approach an unruly or dissatisfied tanner. Last month, I wrote an article about the importance of customer service. Can you share an experience that exemplifies how you resolve a conflict?
Team Electric RAYS includes (L-R) Michelle, Owner; Sam, Studio Manager; Lex, Operations Manager
MR: Well Joe, I wouldn’t want to point a finger at just one. Each guest is different and has unique tanning goals, so we always make sure to take the time to listen to their frustrations and take what they say to heart. We “put out the fire” as best we can and apply that as a learning experience for not only our tanning consultants, but also managers and district managers.
IST: Time for the wrap-up. What are the 3-5 year goals for Electric RAYS Tanning & Spa?
MR: We are focused on upgrading our studios so we can offer more services to our guests. Last year, we purchased four existing salons that had older equipment and décor. We are working hard to upgrade them to reflect the ultimate tanning experience we offer at our other facilities and look forward to a great 2023!
Michelle, thank you so much for your time and we certainly hope to see you and more of your team at an upcoming event!
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.
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