IST: When did you open your first salon and what was your motivation to do so?
John B: It was January, 2011. My friend, Frank DiMarco, had owned several tanning salons for many years and I saw first-hand how well the businesses were doing and the lifestyle it afforded him. One day, Frank told me about a salon for sale and asked if I wanted to be his partner in purchasing and running the business.
IST: What do Solar Escape customers like most about the salons?
Frank D: Our salons have a very unique look and atmosphere. It’s like you’re entering a high-energy “scene” with a nightclub feel and vibe. Many new customers will do a double-take when they first walk in, asking, “is this really a tanning salon?”
IST: What do you enjoy most about the business?
John B: We actually enjoy working behind the counter every day. For us, it’s more a lifestyle than a business. The constant interaction with friendly people who are full of life and want to look good and feel good is energizing! We also appreciate the fact that we came from nothing and have built several successful salons. This perspective helps us to enjoy every minute of the business.
IST: What separates Solar Escape from competitors?
John B: It’s all about the details. We pay close attention to everything to ensure an enjoyable and memorable experience for our guests every time they visit our salons.
Frank D: Our tanners want the darkest full-body tan possible. Devoted Creations’ Matte Black and Le Moment are among our best-sellers. The quality ingredients, fragrances, packaging and performance help create loyal and happy customers.
IST: What types of UV tanning systems do you offer?
Frank D: We have a wide variety of high-end equipment from the industry’s leading manufacturers including KBL, UWE, Ergoline, Sun Capsule and Matrix. We make it a point to change our lamps when they reach 60% of their rated life. It costs more to do this; however, it ensures that our guests will always achieve their desired results.
IST: What are some of your most successful sales promotions?
John B: Without a doubt, it’s our $10 Tuesdays. Tuesday had always been one of our slower days, so we developed a special offer of $10 sessions in any tanning system on Tuesdays. It’s been so successful, that it’s now one of our busiest days – year-round!
We combine this with a live “hula-hoop” contest that we podcast on the internet. It’s wild! A lobby full of people using hula-hoops to see who can go the longest.
IST: What are your plans for the future?
John B, Frank D: Expansion! We plan to open more salons and our goal is to be the best by creating the most amazing salon experience imaginable.
IST: From everyone at IST Magazine and Devoted Creations, congratulations to John, Frank and Team Solar Escape Tanning Lounge for a job well-done! For more info on Devoted Creations Five Star Diamond Program, call 800.488.5524 or visit devotedcreations.com.
Location: East Chester, NY
Co-Owners: John Bonamici & Frank DiMarco
Number of Stores: 3
UV Tanning Systems (total): 30
Best Selling Lotions: Matte Black, Le Moment
Joe Prachatree / Shutterstock.com
Jerry Deveney is the President of SunForce Marketing, Inc. He has been actively involved in the tanning, spa, wellness and fitness industries for more than 30 years. His company provides business analysis and consulting services in the areas of sales, marketing and operations. Jerry has worked in almost every industry sector including salon management, equipment manufacturing and distribution, new product development, regulatory affairs, and sales & marketing.
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