Co-Owners: Domenic D’Amico & Paolo D’Amico
Location: Shelby Township, MI
Years in Business: 6.5
UVTanning Units: 7
Lotions: Devoted Creations, Norvell, Selfie
Salon Software: TanTrack
Other Services: Pura Sunless Booth, Custom Airbrush
Salon Operator Training: Sun is Life®
Distribution Partner: Four Seasons
Best-Selling Lotion: (Tie) Devoted Creations White 2 Black Extreme & Believe in Pink Maximizer
Most Popular Tanning Package: Level 4 (tan in every unit except HP)
I caught up with them just as the Great Lakes state was getting spring’s “on again, off again” mix of sunshine and warmth.
Domenic: My brother Paolo and I always tanned at salons in our area before a vacation, at the beginning of summer or before an event. We were both working in the auto industry (a supplier for Chrysler) in 2009, when GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. Both Our work hours and pay were cut dramatically. We’d joke around at work by coming up with names for the tanning salon we would open, because we liked the atmosphere and it looked like a fun business. However, we really didn’t know how hard it would be to actually run one. We had no idea whether or not the auto industry would really come back full force, so we decided to pursue our plan to become our own bosses and BodyBing opened in August, 2010.
Domenic: Our biggest obstacle was getting people in the door and to getting them to stay! We started with base-level beds, but there were a lot of people who seemed to like the “flashy units.” After two years in the business, we started to focus on adding at least one new bed a year to create excitement for our guests. We also upgraded our level of services, added custom airbrush tanning after our second year, and then a Pura sunless booth in our fourth year to expanded our sunless menu. All of this helped to increase our pricing theme. Last year, we added two Ergoline beds which have definitely helped us going into this new season.
The learning curve also applied to marketing. In the beginning, we tried to go bigger than our means, spending significant money on print ads, flyers and movie theater advertisements. After analyzing these expenditures, we felt that it just didn’t drive people to our salon. So, we changed direction and looked more into Google and Facebook ads while trying to increase our guest email list. It may not work for everyone, but it did for us. Now in our sixth year, we direct our marketing budget to online ads, emails, website/app, charitable giveaways and word of mouth with our referral program. With only one store right now, it seems to be the best fit.
Domenic: We found Sun is Life to be very informative and helpful when explaining things to our guests. For example, explaining just how UVA and UVB combine in our tanning systems to create a cosmetic tan. I will proudly tell you that each member of our team scored over 90%, which is fantastic! They all had the background of knowledge that my brother Paolo and I have given them over the years. By passing that on, I think it served as a stepping stone with the factual information from Sun is Life and definitely made it easier for them to take the course and test. Now, we like new-hires to take this course, so that they understand the science behind this business. The more education we can pass on to our guests, the better it is for our industry. I feel that it’s an absolute necessity with the negative spin the media puts on tanning.
Domenic: We would like to open another location, perhaps something a little bigger. We could then add some spa services like massage, a Cocoon unit and cryotherapy booth, and expand our brand. Our core will always be UV and sunless tanning, but it never hurts to have services that appeal to a wider audience.
Well, congrats to you, brother Paolo and staff. All the best for success!
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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