A friendly, neighborhood salon offering a pleasant service style and environment – that’s After Glo Tanning Salon, INC. of Homer Glen, IL.
At the age of 15, Brandy Vraney recognized that working in a local tanning salon would be more than just a part-time job. For her, it would be the inspiration to open her own indoor tanning business – After Glo Tanning Salon, INC. in Homer Glen, IL. When the doors opened, After Glo had two things going for it – Brandy’s previous salon experience, and the knowledge she acquired while earning a Bachelor’s degree in marketing. Combining these elements, and adding some good, old-fashioned “elbow grease” helped her attract clients and make After Glo Tanning successful. Nearly eight years later, the small salon is still going strong… and Brandy plans to keep it that way.
Experience & Opportunity
Brandy Vraney’s first experience with the professional side of indoor tanning came when she was just 15 years old. She took a part-time job at a local salon chain and eventually became its manager.
After graduating from high school, she continued to work there while pursuing a degree in marketing. She found a way to bring it all together when her boss told her about a salon that was for sale. “It was very easy to see that the owner let it go,” said Brandy. “The place was a mess, and its Jamaican beach décor theme had so many bright colors that I called it the ‘Easter egg salon.’ It was going to need a complete overhaul!” Brandy purchased the business and, with the help of friends and family, cleaned, redecorated and remodeled it in time to reopen its doors in February 2005.
“I wanted to bring the former clients back, so I used the software’s database to let them know the business was under new ownership,” Brandy said. “I also offered all former clients three free tans, which I knew would be enough for them to develop results. While many of them were extremely happy to be getting something for free, some didn’t understand why they couldn’t tan for the full 20 minutes right from the start.” Since Brandy had re-lamped all the units, she had to explain that a 20 minute session wouldn’t be like 20 minutes in the old equipment. After seeing the results they developed in half the tanning time, many of the skeptical tanners changed their tunes. “Soon, word started to spread about After Glo Tanning and more people started coming in,” she added.
When Brandy purchased her salon, it was decorated with colors so bright they could be considered gaudy. She replaced this look with one she calls “eclectic-modern”, featuring tan walls, white counters and bronze accents, with Pergo flooring and a white, drop ceiling. The salon offers three tanning levels with nine UV units – four UltraSun Ultra, three Ultra Sun Mega, an UltraSun Turbo, a Mega Sun Mega V – and a Mystic Tan sunless booth. After Glo sells lotions by Australian Gold, California Tan, Designer Skin and Swedish Beauty, and operates using the Helios software system. “We change the lamps in all our units after 800 hours of use, which has helped establish our reputation as a salon that delivers results,” Brandy added.
When it comes to promoting After Glo Tanning, Brandy says that social media is the way to go. Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, she’s always posting specials – seven tans for $15, $12 off single-session spray-tans, and “$5 Tan Day” – on these sites. And that’s not all. “Social media is so much more than a way to blast out our latest tanning specials,” she said. “I use it to educate our tanners and provide them with tips and other info to help them get the most out of their salon experience.” While Brandy does a variety of marketing and promotions, one thing she won’t advertise is that she has a “clean salon with a friendly, educated staff.” “While that phrase is a good description of After Glo, I believe these attributes should be expected at every business,” she said.
Getting involved with a local charity has helped connect Brandy and After Glo with her community in ways she couldn’t have imagined. “I was reading the local newspaper and stumbled upon an article about a local mom, Mariel Rimkus, and her need for sponsors to receive Christmas letters from needy children at Jungman Elemenaty School in Chicago,” she said. “I offered clients 50 free minutes of tanning for each letter that they took, and now, I’m Mariel’s partner in this great program. Our salon has become a local holiday gift drop-off – we have bikes, dollhouses and presents galore, and it’s become something I’m very proud of.”
While marketing and promotions brings people through the door, Brandy says After Glo’s customer service inspires them to stay. “I’m a very friendly, bubbly person, and no matter what mood I’m in, I always put on a smile before I walk into the salon,” she said. “I expect all of my staff to be just as friendly and helpful as I am, and it’s something I look for during interviews.” Brandy admits that she has intentionally not hired certain applicants because they didn’t present the personality traits she expects. “I cannot risk hiring someone who might not treat our clients the way they deserve to be treated,” she added.
Maintaining the Glow…
When some salon owners experience success at their first location, dreams of two, three and even four additional salons – if not franchising – often dance through their heads. Such is not the case with After Glo Tanning. “I recently married my husband – Rob Cook – last August, and I haven’t even had enough time to change my last name!” Brandy laughed. “And we’re planning to have children soon, and that would be difficult to do with multiple businesses to manage. Besides, we pride ourselves on the level of service we’re able to offer our clients, and a big part of that is my ability to be at the salon whenever I’m needed.” While she has no plans to become a chain, Brandy does plan to add custom airbrush tanning in the near future.
After experiencing the benefits of being her own boss, Brandy Vraney says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m still very busy, but I’m happy to do everything that I do because it’s extremely rewarding,” she said. “Owning the salon provides me with the opportunity to utilize my marketing experience and try many different and unique promotional ideas, which is also very fulfilling. I love my job!”
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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