How many times have you heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a silver bullet”? It means that there’s not one magical solution to anyone’s problems, and this is especially true when it comes to boosting tanning salon revenue from July through November. Rather than look for that “one, big thing” to increase cash flow during this time, why not incorporate a variety of ideas? When put together, many “little things” can create a solution that’s greater than the sum of its parts. We’ve gathered advice from some of the industry’s top players to offer you tips for increasing slow season cash flow. Perhaps you could use one or even all of them … we’re sure they’ll help!
“Salon owners and staff need to identify the types of customers most likely to come into a salon during this time of year, which are brides and bridal parties, and focus resources on that market. They should do a lot of cross-marketing with bridal shops, bakeries and any other businesses that serve wedding parties because these businesses will be a great referral source for people who could become long-term clients. It’s also a good idea to create bridal party kits combining tanning lotion, SPFs and teeth-whiteners for a special price.”
Scott Eggers, New Sunshine, LLC
“Since July, August and September represent the warmest time of the year, I know of at least one salon owner who offers cool towels and a bottle of cold water to tanners after their sessions. This is similar to the mint on the hotel pillow – it’s just one more way that salon owners can make their guests feel comfortable and show their appreciation.”
John Farr, The Power Group
“Many salon operators make the mistake of forsaking their existing clients in search of new ones. You can always find new clients, but in order to grow the customer base, you must hold on to your loyal fans, especially during the slower months. Try offering ‘preferred client’ discount coupons for your services, sending out birthday coupons with a discount or free service and offering incentives based on how long a client has stuck by you. For example, you could offer current clients a 10 percent discount after their first year, and 20 percent off after two years. This is a great way to show them your appreciation and increase your product sales.”
John P. Johnson, Supre Tan
“Hosting customer appreciation days and other special events is probably the best way to attract new clients and reward existing ones during the off-peak months. To really make an event special, we encourage our salon clients to contact their distributor to request free product samples to give out at these events. It provides salons with one more way to reward their clients and thank them for attending the event.”
David McFarland, Performance Brands, Inc.
“Between July and November, there are so many people who want a sunless tan that it makes sense for any salon owner to not only feature this service, but also become experts at providing it. We recommend salon owners get educated in all aspects of sunless tanning, as well as offer sunless EFT memberships as a means of building consistent revenue from the people who initially come to get tanned for a special event. We also recommend adding boutique items such as clothing, jewelry and handbags to help offset these slow times with added revenue opportunities.”
Rick Norvell, Norvell Skin Solutions
“We’re creating an ‘all access’ EFT membership program that allows our clients to use our tanning and spa services, such as custom airbrush, sunless tanning, massage and teeth-whitening. The idea is to provide these services that clients are most likely to want to use during the off-peak months, which creates an incentive for them not to pause or freeze their memberships. It also gives us plenty of opportunity to up-sell them with other products. We’re always looking for additional spa services to make this even more attractive to our clients.”
James Oliver, Beach Bum Tanning & Airbrush Salons
“I know of at least one tanning salon that offers $5 off all custom airbrush tans on Thursdays, beginning in May and continued into November. Since salon traffic is usually slower, this is a great incentive to get people through the doors for some instant color just before the weekend, as well as additional sunless and skincare product sales. Just by offering this, the salon gets packed with customers every Thursday, which creates additional sales opportunities.”
Lisa Parsons, Devoted Creations
“The key to surviving the slower months stems from what you do during your peak season. Try going full-court press on your marketing, advertising and EFT sales so you can enter this time with a strong customer base. This will allow your business to weather that ‘storm’ without any undue stress and realize dividends later in the year. As for retention, always remind your staff that on its own, tanning is a commodity. Sure, you may have better equipment than the nail shack up the street; but they’ll also get people to tan, eventually. That’s why it’s important to create a ‘Cheers’ type of environment where people want to come see you. Learn your clients’ names, habits and details about their lives because this makes them feel special, which builds loyalty more than just having the best price or equipment.”
Alex Royter, Solar Dimensions
“If you want to keep your clients coming back, especially during the warmest months of the year, then make sure your air conditioning units are cleaned and checked, and the filters are changed. If the systems are old, talk to your landlord about absorbing some of the cost for new ones. It can be one of the best investments you can make in your business!”
Bruce Wood, No Tan Lines
ist Magazine wishes to thank all the indoor tanning industry professionals who contributed to this report.
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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