A tanning salon that’s as friendly, inviting and down-home as its owner – that’s Electric Tan in Patterson, LA.
The success of Electric Tan illustrates that hard work and dedication can make dreams come true. Twelve years ago, Christopher Plouet wanted to own a business, and his girlfriend, Tina Studdard, suggested opening a tanning salon. Trusting her judgment, the couple opened Electric Tan in February 2001, and thanks to a series of coincidences – or blessings – they were able to increase the salon’s equipment offerings. Today, the nine-unit store also offers custom airbrush tanning and teeth-whitening, while the charming, down-home customer service that Christopher serves up has put Electric Tan on the map. As he continues to enjoy the camaraderie he has with clients, Christopher also dreams of expanding the venture.
At one time, the thought of owning and operating a tanning salon was far from Christopher Plouet’s mind. “I was a deckhand on a supply boat that serviced ships in the gulf while Tina was enjoying her career as a procurement specialist in the oil industry,” said Christopher. “When I told her I wanted to pursue business ownership, she suggested we open a tanning salon and it sounded like a good idea. Since I didn’t know much about the industry then, I did a lot of research before jumping in with both feet.” Since Christopher and Tina decided to build their business from the ground up, he called on the help of family members who work in various aspects of the construction industry. “Since my family went out of their way to help me get started, I knew I had to dedicate myself to this 110 percent!” he added.
Charged for Success
Since Christopher’s mother had a friend who works at a bank, she was able to keep him updated on area businesses that were being repossessed. This allowed him the opportunity to purchase some barely-used tanning equipment for his fledgling salon. “As our membership increased, we needed to add more tanning units to accommodate them,” he said. “About five years after we opened, we purchased four Tanses systems and a SunCapsule booth, and two years after that, we purchased a high-pressure unit from another local salon owner who was closing her business. We were very fortunate because we were the first ones she called about this.” After a year, Christopher sold the used high-pressure unit and purchased a brand new one.
A unique owner makes for unique décor at Electric Tan. More than 40 handbags hang on its lobby walls while the biggest burst of eye-catching color is a hand-painted sunset mural in bold shades of yellow, orange and magenta. Each of the salon’s eleven rooms is named and decorated with an “elemental” theme – star, electric, aqua, hurricane, sky, moon, sun, rain, inferno, solar and desert. The salon offers nine tanning units – two puretan Tan Scene sunbeds, four Tanses T32 beds, one SunCapsule 548V booth and two puretan Aruba – as well as a Norvell Skin Solutions airbrush unit and a Beaming White teeth-whitening system. Lotions by Australian Gold, Designer Skin, Devoted Creations, Emerald Bay, Pro Tan and Supre Tan line the shelves.
Spreading the Word
To market and promote Electric Tan, Christopher uses a variety of ways to get the word out. “We do six months of newspaper advertisements beginning each January, and I’m always handing out my business cards, which offer a free session,” he said. “While all of these methods work, the flyers we post around town seem to be the most effective. They include four coupons on the back: bring a friend for a free tan; $5 off any purchase; a sample lotion with any package purchase; and buy two months, get the third free. It seems like everyone in town wants to take advantage of at least one offer.” To help track his coupon returns, Christopher offers an additional ten percent off lotion purchases to everyone who brings the flyer to the salon.
By getting involved in his community’s biggest event – the Patterson Cypress Sawmill Festival – Christopher has attracted many new clients and built his salon’s reputation. “Twelve years ago, a couple staff members told me about this event and suggested we get involved,” he said. “I decided to sponsor the ‘Teen’ and ‘Queen’ of the festival each year by providing them with an annual membership at Electric Tan as well as other donations, and our involvement has significantly helped my business. By sponsoring the festival, Electric Tan has become known by many of the younger people in the community, and we look forward to this event every year!”
The “Electric” Company
Christopher and Tina took the time to make their Electric Tan salon a success and they did it their way, which emphasizes friendly customer service with a down-home feel. With salon operations firmly in hand, Christopher says he’s looking toward the future, one in which he hopes to see more Electric Tan locations. “I would love to open another salon in my hometown of Lafeyette as well as a few other places around Patterson,” he said. “When and if I open another store, I plan to spend at least a week at each of my locations to ensure all of our clients get the best customer service that we can offer.”
While Christopher Plouet enjoys the many benefits of being his own boss, it’s serving clients that brings him the most joy. “I love being able to help people look and feel better about themselves,” he said. “The minute someone walks through these doors, I jump up and greet them with a big smile on my face, and I mean it. Our clients deserve 110 percent and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to give them.”
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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