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As you may know, I run the Wink-Ease eyewear company, Eye Pro. During the COVID crisis, a ton of salons took our online training to get our personalized “Eye Protection Expert” certificates. The numbers kept growing! For a couple of months, it was stores in FL, GA, NY, PA, TN and NC. We couldn’t ship their certificates and educational eye protection samples and materials, because all their facilities were closed. But all 47 of these tanning centers had one thing in common: they were all South Beach Tanning stores. We heard from Director of Education, Julie Delosh, that the FL stores were opening, so we sent certificates and goodies to the many FL store managers. And then, we had a lot more people take the training, all South Beach staff, who wanted their personalized eye protection certificates to hang in their facilities.
“Our owners, Brian and Heather Hibbard, paid all the managers during our COVID-19 shutdown,” explains the 13-year tan biz veteran. “Our managers had weeks to deep-clean every aspect of our tanning studios, while I kept creating training videos for everyone to watch to fill up their weeks. That is how I came up with the idea that we should all become Eye Protection Experts.”
The Florida-based SBT company is comprised of 26 corporate and 21 franchise facilities in six states. In addition to eye protection, the entire team took an online sanitation class, created cleaning lists and discussed how to re-open with safety being paramount. “We realized some salons were tearing pairs of disposables off the rolls and putting them in a basket, which is not a sanitary habit. So, we leave disposables in their display box to avoid exposure to airborne contaminants and grabby hands,” Delosh says.
“Our biggest issue with disposables is what we call, ‘Wallet Wink-Ease’ – disposables that tanners’ keep in their wallets to use like a ‘pass’ to get to tan, showing them to staff but not wearing them during their session. We loved all the ideas we learned to stop this in the eye protection training,” adds Delosh, also a senior salon manager.
Delosh was happy to discuss SBT’s eyewear policy. “We’ve always asked our clients, ‘May I please see your eyewear?’ and we were glad to learn that this is a great way to ask: it’s polite and they have to show us their eyewear. Most of our salons have a ‘buy your own’ policy for goggles or disposables, but our PA and NY locations have to offer free eyewear, due to their state laws. It kind of grosses us all out to think about shared eyewear now! COVID has been a big wakeup call, showing us different ways we can offer an even cleaner salon environment,” Delosh enthused.
“The best part is that our eyewear sales are up, with the added bonus that we have had zero pushback about buying eye protection. I think having paid every team member to take the 30-minute training really brought the importance of eyewear to the forefront. They’re all on board with our very clean eyewear policy and are ensuring that tanners who own goggles are cleaning them after every tan. We hated being shut down, but we made the best of the down-time with the training,” concludes Delosh.
Would you like the SBT cleaning list? Email Brenda@WinkEase.com and I’ll send it to you.
President of Eye Pro, Brenda has spent more than two decades in the industry building Eye Pro, Inc., maker of the world-leading Wink-Ease disposable eyewear. Her background includes everything from a marketing & management degree from Indiana University, to a commercial pilot’s license, scuba diving and studying healing and massage. In addition to ensuring every indoor tanner wears eye protection, her passions include protecting endangered animals.
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