At a recent dinner party, I was engaged in conversation with a fellow guest, when she asked the predictable dinner party question, “So, what do you do for a living?” How I wish I had a dollar for every time that question has been asked me and then a further dollar for the guaranteed raised pair of eyebrows when I answered it!
To be honest, I do rather enjoy the opportunity to set the record straight on the inaccuracies in the regurgitated twaddle of the brainwashed consumer. So, imagine my surprise as I cleared my throat, ready to deliver my well rehearsed retorts, when the lady in question said, “Oh you lucky thing! How lovely to work in an industry where your customers love what you have to offer them – you make them look and feel better, and we all know how everyone just seems happier when they’ve been in the sun.”
Never one short of words, I have to say I was rendered speechless for a moment, as I quickly ran her comment through my mind’s replay function to confirm I’d heard her correctly. “Why yes, indeed!” was just about all I could muster. As we carried on with our conversation over dinner, it turned out her husband was a city banker who had done very well for himself and as a result, they enjoyed the many fruits of his hard-earned success. However, the flip side to this in her mind was, with the world seemingly viewing bankers as akin to or worse than the devil himself, she explained how she often
felt like a social pariah unless she was amongst her own, i.e. fellow bankers.
Having tried to reassure her that this was only an image foisted upon her by the media, we carried on with the rest of a very enjoyable evening. However, when I reflected on our conversation the following day, I realised that I too, had been sucked into a similar vacuum of expectation and prediction as to what anyone outside my world thought or had to say about the indoor tanning industry.
In becoming so close to the issues & incessant inaccuracies fuelled by the media, I realised how easy it is to forget what a great business this is!
Bottom line: I had become so close to the issues and incessant inaccuracies fuelled by the media, I realised how easy it is to forget what a great business it is.
As if this realisation wasn’t convincing enough on its own, a few days later, I had visited a number of clients and, without exception, experienced an unbelievable feel-good factor in every salon I went into and that was without the benefit of using their tanning beds! The warmth and smiles of the staff, the buzz of the salon and the happy clients all combined to generate a great vibe that I am sure is a pretty rare experience in businesses these days.
I came back from my trip genuinely buoyed by all the fantastic aspects of the tanning industry. Getting back to the grass roots – the salons – on a regular basis is a must-do for me. Okay, it won’t make the negative headlines go away, it won’t stop the anti-tanning brigade, it won’t stop the policy makers being hoodwinked by the dollars of the big pharmaceutical companies – these are all fights which I intend to continue.
Being in the salons delivered undeniable evidence that all the well-funded efforts of those aforementioned simply isn’t achieving their desired results. But the overwhelming benefit for me will be the regular reminders of all the reasons why I got involved in this industry in the first place and the continuing undeniable fact that people just love to tan!
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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