A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of introducing this young man at an industry expo as a presenter. Rarely do you find someone with his type of enthusiasm! Salon Owner Ty Godwin has had quite an interesting ride in our industry and as a graduate of IST’s Sun is Life® Certification program, is a fitting selection to be featured this month. His zest for life and drive to succeed really came through in my interview. Read on!
IST: Each month, our Salon of Distinction operator informs us how they got started in the salon tan biz. Tell us, Ty, how you fell into indoor tanning?
TG: At age 13, I was a bagger at a grocery store and there was a Hollywood Tans facility in the same shopping center. One day, I was waiting for my mom to pick me up from work and I walked into the salon. I bought one level-1 tan, didn’t use lotion and really got burned. A few days later, I asked the owner if I could work there, but I was too young. I went back every day after work and begged her to hire me, even if it was to take the trash out, do laundry and clean beds. Finally, she couldn’t resist and hired me! I was promoted six months later at age 14, promoted to assistant manager and then by 17, was manager. My dream was to work for Hollywood Tans Corporate, but was told I needed a college degree. So, I went to school in NYC, worked for Hollywood Tans in Manhattan and the second I
was out of school, begged to work for HT Corporate. I joined as director of franchise sales & development. I then sold tanning equipment to salons and fitness centers (I know, I’m sorry!), then spent a little over a year managing a Palm Beach Tan facility. Finally, I bought my first salon in 2015 and turned a $125,000-a-year business into a $1.3M small chain! I’ve spoken and trained at multiple tanning events and even do a little consulting with salons across the country. You could say I’ve learned a thing or two about a thing or two along the way!
IST: What made you choose your location?
TG: My newest salon was a “ground up” build in a space that was an old tanning salon that had closed in 2014. What I thought was going to be “quick in-quick out” turned into a re-do of everything from the studs to the light switches. Location is huge, but it’s not everything. We are a destination business! People will search for us when they need us.
IST: Many salons have a “brag point” that makes them stand out amongst the competition. What’s yours?
TG: We have the same prices, same training, same cleaning standards, same products and same wall color, but I think what separates us from the rest is that every staff member can tell you the core ingredients of every Devoted Creations lotion (we are Five Star Diamond Salons) and we SPECIALIZE in doing a “Needs Analysis” on each person who steps a foot through our door. We also utilize technology in everything we do, from paperless transactions, our online store (which seamlessly integrates into our POS), to using iPads during salon tours. Once a guest says “yes,” we use the iPad to start the sale. People comment on our tech-savvy!
IST: Ty, I’m sure you’ll agree that a trained staff is a critical element for success. What were your takeaways from Sun is Life? Would you recommend it?
TG: I constantly recommend Sun is Life! Everyone on my team has to complete the training within 30 days of hiring. I have been certified for six years and before that, was certified with two other programs since 2005. I found your platform to be easy to use, the content educational and the value unmatched!
IST: No matter the business, there are always customer complaints. How do you handle them?
TG: Without customers, we’d have nothing. Our teams follow the A.P.P.L.E. customer service method: Approach clients with a personalized, warm welcome. Politely to understand all the client’s needs. Present a tanning solution for the customer to sign up today. Listen for and resolve concerns or objections. End with a customized exposure schedule and an invitation to return. My sales and management team are true CONSULTANTS so we are building rapport with all guests, setting proper expectations and overcoming objections on the spot. We make it easy to come, easy to stay and easy to leave.
IST: As the U.S. tanning industry continues into our fifth decade, it has faced plenty of adversity. COVID certainly has been one of them. How has Hollywood Tan Baltimore dealt with it?
TG: Last year, I thought I was going to lose everything – the scariest time of my entire life. But since reopening last June, we have been breaking records with double our monthly sales and triple our lotion sales! People are spending money and I have complete faith that this year will MAKE UP for the 2020 losses. One thing is certain: without my management team, I would not be nearly as successful. I have built an amazing leadership team whose visions all align with mine and they are some of the most talented people in the industry today.
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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