This month’s Sun is Life® Certification graduate, Chloee Pshigoda, got her salon operator training “classroom style” in the session offered by Heartland Tanning at their February “Bootcamp” event. It’s always fun to dig into how folks get started in the business and how they operate their salons. Read on!
IST: So, you’re living on “Tulsa Time?” (It’s a Clapton reference – a big deal in my day. YouTube it). What propelled you into the tan biz?
CP: Well, I’m a city girl who loves having a Target store down the street. My husband moved me (dragged me) out to this small town from the Tulsa/Broken Arrow area. I started working out in the Total Fitness For Her gym that is connected to Juicy Tan. Honestly, I attempted using those tanning beds, but the previous owner did not maintain or change lamps unless they burned out. Experienced tanners know when they are in a good bed or not! I have been tanning since I was 15 and always wanted to own a salon. That owner sold it to a close friend who definitely had no idea how to run a business and needed to sell it. I expressed interest and took the leap!
IST: How did the COVID crisis affect your business?
CP: Luckily, I was able to get small business loans and I have a wonderful, understanding and generous landlord who helped me during times of closure. I missed a lot of spring season business, but was truly blessed and still able to survive.
IST: Did COVID awareness cause you to change any of your cleaning rituals?
CP: The things that changed included keeping linens in containers and away from salon traffic. I also started using a company called Cintas that provides my floor cleaners and hand soaps, rather than using store-bought products. I did a follow-up training with my staff to make sure they were properly cleaning everything in the tanning rooms.
IST: We had a great class in town for Heartland Tan’s “Bootcamp” and I’m glad you were a part of it. Care to share your thoughts on the class?
CP: The Sun Is Life class definitely gave me new insights to consider. Oklahoma doesn’t have any regulations for tanning salons. When I bought this business,
I even made phone calls to find out how to dispose of old lamps. “The dumpster” was the answer I was given – I am working on a different disposal method. I also learned a lot about UV exposure and the importance of eye protection. I believe the Sun is Life class stimulates your brain into creating the best, safest ways to operate a salon business. Classes that cover a lot of information in a small period of time are generally very boring and overwhelming. You added humor and entertainment to make it memorable. Sun is Life Training is a must!
IST: High praise, indeed. Thanks! We covered a section on “irritable guests” and how to handle them. Can you give us an example of one you had to handle?
CP: Well, I have one jealous customer who owned a salon 20+ years ago and it was the only place to tan in town. I treat her very professionally and sell her my best tanning packages and when she decides to comment negatively on social media, I ask her to her face (with a little sarcasm) how I can improve her experience at Juicy Tan so she can say nice things on social media. I have another customer who claims that every time a tornado comes through town, she attempts to tan and we are closed early, so she needs a credit for that day on her account. “Sure you can,” I tell her. And since pot has become legal, I do have the occasional “too high to even walk upright” guest come in to tan! I offer to add extra days to their package and turn them away.
IST: Too high to tan – THTT. I may have to add that to my next classroom training! Let’s move on. You impressed me as being goal oriented. What are your plans?
CP: I have a handful! 1) Upgrade my computer and salon software; 2) Find creative ways to keep year-round customers to make the most of the slow season; 3) Start upgrading tanning beds one at a time; 4) Add other services like infrared therapy and teeth-whitening.
IST: WOW – you’re fired up! Go get ‘em! And thanks for taking some time for the interview. All the best from your friends at IST Magazine.
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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