In the early days of this industry’s history, tanning salon owners were on their own when it came to operating their businesses. Thankfully, times have changed!
These days, there are many people willing to offering sales and marketing advice to help salon owners and their staff increase revenue. The majority of these helpful folks are the trainers who work for the manufacturing and distribution companies, and you can think of them as gurus – a term that means “teacher” or “master” – because that’s exactly what they are. These specialists have a wealth of info to help you improve your sales and marketing efforts, and that’s just what any salon owner wants as the industry gears up for another peak tanning season. We’ve gathered a group of gurus to give some guidance.
“We live in the information age, and people will pay for valuable information gathered. Now is the perfect time to update all of your customers’ data. Come up with a simple form or even fill it out in conversation with them in your lobby. Address, phone, cell and email address are important, but don’t forget about social media. Do they have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and any other account you can use to interact with them? Use your time with your customers wisely and it will truly pay off!”
Brandon Cardinal, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Norvell Skin Solutions
“Every tanner deserves the absolute best lotions and equipment that you offer, so make sure to ‘Show The Best To Sell The Rest.’ It’s not our job to decide what they can afford, so take off the invisible ‘pocketbook police badge’ and allow guests to buy based on what they can afford. Even if they don’t buy the best because they can’t afford it, you’ve given them a compliment by showing them what they deserve. Their final choice will be a better one than if you had not shown them the high-end options, and if it is a female guest who wants the best, she’ll figure out a way to get it one day.”
Susan Carlton, Senior Sales Trainer, New Sunshine, LLC
“September is usually the month when kids return to school. Salons have done a great job with college-age kids and back-to-school promos to lure back that business that generally leaves during the summer months. Owners also need to realize that parents now have more free time than they did in the summer because their younger children are now in school all day. Marketing to them – a ‘Christmas in September’ or ‘Welcome Back, School Year!’ promo or such – should be given as much focus as the back-to-college sales. After all, they are really the salon’s year-round client.”
Scott A. Eggers, Senior Sales Trainer, New Sunshine, LLC
“Strategy for the next peak season should start now because many plans take time to execute. Review the individual per-tan averages of each salesperson for the past six months to see what they generate on a per-transaction basis, then hold on to your star performers through the fourth quarter. Secondly, make sure to review your marketing from the past peak season to see what brought in traffic and compare it to the number of people your team was able to up-sell. Also, don’t forget to do a traffic count on your competitor’s salon and compare it to yours on the same day, same time. They may be the enemy but that doesn’t mean they can’t educate you!”
John Farr, President, The Power Group
“Customers love promotions, so be creative and come up with something that will increase your dollars per customer. For example, September is a great time to have a customer appreciation day. Some salons offer free tanning or possibly a dollar-tan day to get a lot of people through their doors. This is also a great time to offer a ‘Tan-for-the-rest-of-the-year’ promo offering a three-month, level-one package, or call it a ‘Tan until Dec 31st’ promotion. For tanners with memberships, you could offer them a three-month unlimited upgrade package.”
Dave Holtgrewe, Industry Marketing Specialist, PC Tan
“With well over 90 percent of purchase decisions taking place at the salon counter, every salon owner should look to improve impulse purchases and add-on sales. Try displaying things on the counter where clients can readily access them – by doing this, you’re creating a more conducive buying environment and additional sales with less manpower. Think of it this way: if you sell ten more items per week than you’re used to, but every week one also is stolen, you’re still impressively building your bottom line. Remember to rotate your display items each week to keep things fun and fresh, and make sure your displays are clean and attractive. Also, encourage your staff to verbally mention your counter displays to all guests; this will help remind them of what you have to offer.”
Gina Jaeger-Morris, Business Development Manager, Supre Tan, Inc.
“Take a lesson from remarkable Internet marketing campaigns like the Victoria’s Secret ‘Angel’ ads. They follow a very simple rule: ‘If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one.’ Come up with an actual make-believe person (an avatar) that represents your target tanner and include details such as income, age, hobbies, career path, likes, dislikes and any other detail you can find. Even name the avatar so it’s like a real person, then hone and sharpen every piece of marketing so that target customer thinks the ad was created just for them.”
David McFarland, National Sales Trainer, Performance Brands, Inc.
“Try offering all the fun accessories, bath and body products, make-up and spa products at your salon. It will make window-shoppers stop in and say ‘WOW! What is this place?’ and it will give your existing clients something to browse through. Most importantly, these items provide your staff with what we in this industry do best – convince clients to spend money on things that make them look and feel good. Also remember to offer special gifting services such as gift bags, free wrapping and cards, as well as special gift-with-purchase promotions. It’s a win-win situation that makes everyone feel good.”
Gary Meunier, Director of Major Accounts/Purchasing, Heartland Tanning, Inc.
“We all know how dirty tanning units can get on the inside, and this affects the units’ overall performance. I suggest taking your beds apart each month to clean the sunlamps because it only takes a small amount of dust to reduce their output. Cleaning the lamps is very easy to do – just wipe them with a dry cloth. It’s also important to change starters with every lamp change because a new lamp is harder to start than an old one.”
Heidi A. Palmer, Outside Sales Specialist, Ultraviolet Resources International
“I hear a lot of salon staff express fear of selling bodywash and similar products, but the truth of the matter is most people take showers and baths and use soap. (Thank goodness!) This means that everyone buys those products somewhere, and they should be getting it at your salon. Part of your job is to provide clients with bodycare items that help them maintain their tan, just like a personal trainer wouldn’t make you run for 45 minutes only to offer you ice cream on your way out of the gym. Giving your clients a tan-healthy alternative to the bodywash they’re already using is part of the service we provide. We owe it to their tans!”
Melissa Smallwood, Key Account Manager, Supre Tan
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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