Nearly 600 salon professionals went to the “Gateway City” to attend the first-ever FS Expo, a tanning event filled with new products, dynamic presentations and plenty of fun!
The FS Expo proved a great way to kick off the upcoming peak season, featuring many of the industry’s top manufacturers and educators. The event was dubbed “The Great Product Unveiling of 2014,” and attracted tanning professionals from across the country who were eager to see new products and equipment, as well as learn as much as they can to continue succeeding as salon operators. “The objective was to start the 2014 tanning season early,” said Ed Jerger, Four Seasons Executive Chairman, “and I’m happy to report: Mission Accomplished! Judging from the responses of the attendees, the product manufacturers have hit the bull’s eye this year, and this kid-in-the-candy-store excitement went on all day long. People loved the idea of promoting the new lotions and products earlier in the season.”
Talk about starting the season off the right way! With the Expo being open to ALL the industry’s manufacturers who feature products and services in the Four Seasons catalog, there was a wide array of new things to see, touch and experience at the event. This was good news for the hundreds of tanning professionals looking for the latest and greatest in products, equipment and services. By all accounts, they were quite pleased with everything the Expo’s bustling tradeshow floor had to offer.
The FS Expo was perfect for Wes and Tasha Williams, owners of Vegas Tan Company in Jonesboro, AR. The couple, along with Office Manager Donna Martin, were blown away by all that was new in St. Louis. “We were very excited about all of the new products,” Wes explained, “especially the lotions by the manufacturer whose products we carry. We looked at every lotion in their 2014 line, and the new tanning units were very exciting, too.” Wes was also impressed with the educational opportunities at the Expo, particularly the Panel Discussion, and Mike Blore’s presentation on EFT memberships. “All in all, this was a great opportunity for us,” he added, “and we’re happy it was so close to home.”
The plethora of new products was very exciting for Robert Jones and the three Sun Catchers Tanning staff he brought with him to St. Louis. “We love getting samples of all the new products because we bring them back and divide them up equally among our three locations,” said Robert. “Then, our team tries all the different products to see which ones they like best, and this helps them become better salespeople. My employees were very excited when we returned from the show!” Robert said he thoroughly enjoyed all the Expo presentations and felt that he learned a great deal from them. He was also very pleased to have a major fall tanning tradeshow practically in his backyard. “You can see the Arch from one of our stores,” he added.
A stellar cast of keynote speakers was assembled to share messages of education and motivation. The goal: to help attendees achieve an amazing 2014 tanning season. Keynote speaker Bob “The Retail Doctor” Phibbs shared tips and tools for creating effective displays designed to move products quickly, while surprise guest speaker Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman got the crowd going with his presentation that focused on building trusting, revenue-producing relationships. They were joined by Mike Blore, owner of the California Sun salon chain, who shared profitable and effective tips on designing and implementing a successful EFT program, and how to keep clients in that program. The event also featured presentations by Professor Tony Brown (Sun is Life®) and Ed Jerger (Four Seasons), as well as the comedy stylings of comedian/ventriloquist Mark Thompson.
Bob Phibbs, aka the “retail doctor,” started his presentation by having everyone inflate a small balloon. This, he said, represented salon owners who attend the FS Expo and get “filled up” with good business strategies.
He then asked attendees to let go of their balloons, causing them to deflate and sputter until flat, which is what happens when those same salon pros leave the show and don’t implement what they’ve learned. Rhonda and Jack Culligan were two attendees determined to return home with their “balloons” filled to benefit their salon, Body Heat Tanning in Coral Springs, FL. “The Expo was great,” Rhonda said, “and Bob’s presentation stood out the most! His advice on how to make the most of your counter-space was spot on, and it got me thinking about how we can do it better.” Rhonda says she filled her notebook with the “Retail Doctor’s” many ideas and suggestions and was eager to use them to spice things up at Body Heat.
Since the Four Seasons team has been such a help to Randy and Teresa Burleson’s Club Tan salons, the couple had to attend the FS Expo. “We got the most out of Mike Blore’s presentation,” Randy said. “Even though we already offer an EFT program, he taught us the importance of asking the right questions to match the perfect membership program to each client.” Randy added that the information Blore presented was also very helpful to the three staff members he and Teresa brought to the Expo, mainly because it was good for them to hear this information from a salon owner as successful as Blore. The Burlesons own and operate two Club Tan locations in Joplin, MO and Rogers, AR.
The high-energy presentation from former fighter pilot Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman was a highlight for Randy Burleson. “He’s a very good speaker!” he exclaimed. “He was enthusiastic and he had the crowd right where he wanted them. He also had a way of making us feel like we were in the cockpit of the plane with him, and we loved his overall message about teamwork.” Randy added that he looks forward to attending future Four Seasons events.
The Panel Discussion was an undeniable highlight, as is the case at all Four Seasons events. This popular attraction allowed attendees to ask questions of a group of salon owners and industry veterans who were willing to share their sun biz knowledge and expertise. Moderated by Jerry Deveney (Four Seasons), the panel included Kevin Apgar (Cosmedico Light, Inc.), Mike Blore (California Sun), Melissa Gallion (Four Seasons), Cristy Young (The Sun Spa Tanning Salon) and Steve Trautman (New Sunshine). This powerhouse grouping of indoor tanning industry knowledge and experience proved to be a valuable resource for many attendees.
Memberships, memberships, memberships – that was the No. 1 thing on Expo attendees’ minds, says Jerry Deveney, Four Seasons VP of Business Development. “There are still many salon owners who are debating whether or not an EFT membership program will work at their stores,” he said. “Mike Blore shared many successful membership strategies with the crowd, including how to get people on the program and, more importantly, how to keep them there. As is always the case, this could have gone on for another two hours.” The discussion was followed by Blore’s presentation on EFT implementation and retention, giving Panel Discussion attendees a chance to hear his concepts in greater detail.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s proposed reclassification of tanning lamps and equipment was a hot Panel Discussion topic. “Kevin Apgar (Cosmedico) reassured everyone that the Indoor Tanning Association has been on top of this issue from the beginning,” Jerry explained. “He told them that the organization has sent letters to the FDA and Congress on behalf of our industry, and I reminded everyone that tanning units were Class II devices when this industry started. If the reclassification goes through, it will likely have a greater impact upon manufacturers, and for salon owners it will be business as usual.”
Having long recognized the value of education, the folks at Four Seasons provided opportunities for salon pros to gain valuable training at the Expo. Attendees were offered Tanning Operator Certification by Sun Is Life, ist Magazine’s education program, as well as Norvell University’s Basic Sunless Certification, hosted by the sunless tanning experts at Norvell Skin Solutions. Both sessions were well attended and well loved by those who went home from St. Louis with certifications in the tanning trade.
Forty-three tanning professionals earned their Sun Is Life Tanning Operator Certification at the FS Expo. Among them was Shawna Patmon, owner of Lavender’s Nail & Tanning Studio in Independence, MO, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “I learned so much about tanning from this course, including the different skin types, the difference between UVA and UVB and why it’s important to not make medical claims to the public,” she said. “I would recommend it to every salon owner. I had to become licensed to do hair and nails, and having that certificate on my wall makes me proud because it sets me apart from those who don’t have it. It’s the same for tanning services.”
Nicki Lisenbey was one of 59 Expo attendees who earned their Basic Sunless Certification from Norvell University. Presented by Brandon Cardinal, Norvell VP Sales & Marketing, the course explored proper spray-tanning techniques, skincare fundamentals and the steps required to achieve that “just-off-the-beach” glow. These skills will come in handy for Nicki, who operates her Custom Fit personal training business in Sheridan, AR. “Many of my clients enjoy getting spray-tans for pageants and contests, so I wanted to add this to my business,” said Nicki. “I found all of the information in the training very helpful, and Brandon did a great job of entertaining us and thoroughly explaining everything we need to know. I feel much more confident now.”
An event as big as the FS Expo is also bound to include big prize giveaways. In fact, instead of having just one grand prize, the event offered three – trips to Tampa, FL, Memphis and Paris, TN and a trip to Germany. Three lucky salon owners won these extravagant excursions. Tyler Miller of Copper Tan won a trip to Tampa, FL sponsored by Devoted Creations. The package includes roundtrip airfare, limo transportation and three days, two nights at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, as well as two dinners and a tour of the Devoted Creations facilities. Carolyn Bauren of Friendz Salon & Tanning in Sleepy Eye, MN won a trip to Memphis and Paris, TN. Courtesy of Four Seasons, Bauren and two guests will enjoy three days and two nights in Tennessee, where they will get a tour of the Four Seasons facility, among other exciting destinations. Rhanes Spa in Broken Arrow, OK won a three-day trip to Germany from JK-North America.
It was an ambitious effort to host a fall event, and the FS Expo was the first of its kind for Four Seasons. Everyone at the tanning distribution giant is happy to report the Expo was a success, which begs the question of whether the company will do something like this again next year. “The Hyatt Hotel and its staff did an outstanding job of making us feel welcome,” Ed Jerger said, “and they also know how to cook there – the food received nothing but A+ ratings. The training that was offered pushed the learning curves to new levels. I really could go on and on but I really have no choice but to do this again next year. It will truly be back by popular demand!” The staff at Four Seasons will soon be busy planning the company’s 21st Annual Southeastern Tanning Expo scheduled for January 24-26 in Winston-Salem, NC.
The FS Expo was a big undertaking and its many salon attendees were pleased with the great things the event had to offer. A show of this magnitude requires the cooperation of many to operate as smoothly and efficiently as it did, and because of this, Ed Jerger has a few “thank yous” he wishes to share. “A million thanks to our vendors for spending the time and money to help us put on this show,” Jerger said. “Your support and efforts made this the best we’ve ever created. All of this would not have been possible without the entire Four Seasons team enthusiastically participating in the creative process and spending countless hours to make their customers happy. All of this would be meaningless if salon owners wouldn’t attend, so I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all the tanning professionals who accepted our invitation to St. Louis. We’ll see you soon!”
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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