No tanning salon operating in today’s market can succeed without also offering some form of sunless service. While most salon professionals know this, are they prepared to market, promote and sell this service for maximum revenue?
When sunless tanning was first introduced to this industry, it was all about “diversification.” Salon owners who offered it saw it as a service for “event tanners,” which basically means anyone going to homecoming, proms, weddings and any other event that calls for a fast, sun-kissed golden glow. As the popularity of this tanning method began to grow – and the solutions and equipment became more advanced – sunless tanning ceased being a “diversification” and is now considered a must-have for today’s facilities. This makes sense from the end-user’s standpoint: to them, a gorgeous tan is a gorgeous tan, regardless of how they achieved it.
It takes more than just installing a spray-booth or custom-spray unit to be successful with this valuable service. As with UV tans, the art of marketing, promoting and selling sunless continues to evolve with the market, and salon owners must put in the time and effort to promote it. Fortunately, the panel of experts interviewed for this story was happy to share their savvy success tips to help other owners become successful.
Membership has its Privileges
Most of the industry’s biggest salon chains have built their businesses on monthly-unlimited EFT memberships, and salons can do the same with sunless. This is the advice veteran tanning industry consultant John Farr continues to give his clients. John said, “The first objection I hear is a concern that clients will come in for sprays every day; but chances are, that’s not going to happen. On a sunless membership, the average tanner will come to the salon for a full-body tan about three to four times a month, and maybe another one or two times for touch ups.” This, he says, provides plenty of opportunity for salon staff to up-sell salon guests on pre- and post-session products and UV sessions, as well.
John advises salon owners to make sunless memberships the most affordable option, no different than their pricing for UV tanning memberships. “For example,” he said, “if you’re charging $49.95 for a single sunless session, try offering your memberships for about $25 per month. With solution costs averaging $2-$3 per session, you’ll still enjoy a healthy profit margin with this offer.” A similar offer also provides salons with long-term revenue, according to John. He explained, “If the average client spends $80-$85/year, four months of a sunless EFT at this price will earn more than that, not including any up-selling your staff does.”
Try it Before You Buy It
By giving salon guests sunless product samples, Kristen Haga says that sales of these products have increased nearly 100 percent at SunKissed Tanning salon in Popular Bluff, MO. “When customers purchase our Tan All You Can membership, which includes level-2 UV sessions and sunless, we give them a free bottle of sunless tanning intensifier. For those who purchase our ‘Thirsty Thursday’ special, which is a $20 tanning cocktail, we give them a sample of the intensifier in a cocktail glass that they can keep.” Haga says she began giving out samples of sunless intensifier after seeing similar promotions used in other industries. “It works for them so I knew it would work for us, too,” she added.
To introduce more people to her spray-tan menu, Haga hosts a “Spray Day” at SunKissed. She explained, “For those who’ve never had a spray-tan from us before, we sell a single session for $5 and three sessions for $12. We don’t do this every day; we typically offer it on a slow-down every few months, but it’s always very successful because people who might be on the fence about getting a spray tan can’t say ‘no’ to those prices.” The SunKissed Spray Day also provides an opportunity for Haga and her staff to give out free samples of their popular sunless intensifier product, which leads to an increase in future sales.
Seeing is Believing…
Nothing sells a spray-tan like showing your salon guests how good it will look on them, says Lara Nance, co-owner of Sun Seekers Tan Spa in Des Moines, IA. This is why she posts before-and-after photos of her tanners on the salon’s Facebook page. Lara explained, “Whether they’re getting sprayed in a booth or a custom session, we ask all our clients who are getting a bronzing spray if they’ll let us take photographs of them. Oftentimes, we offer them $10 off their next spray tan or even give them their next session for free, so many of them are happy to comply.” Posting pics on her salon’s Facebook page shows her clients the difference a spray-tanning session at Sun Seekers can make, and Lara says she gets a lot of “likes” as well as plenty of dialogue. “We even pay to boost the posts,” she added. “It’s amazing how many people see them!”
Later this year, Lara says she plans to do more before-and-after photos and post them on her newly-redesigned Website. She also has even bigger plans for marketing and promotion her sunless tanning services at Sun Seekers. She explained, “We plan to do a video of our employees tanning in our new sunless booth and posting that video on our website and Facebook page. Once our clients see how quick and easy it is to get a great, full-body tan in this unit, even more of them will want to give it a try.” ■
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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