By incorporating a promotional idea used in the fitness club industry, one couple has quadrupled EFT per-tanner sales and gained many new clients … all while spending precious few advertising dollars.
Rhonda and Jack Culligan have a profitable EFT program at Body Heat Tanning, and their “secret” to success is no secret at all – they allow their VIP members to bring a friend once a month for a free tanning session. “We started this offer in March, right after we installed our new tanning units, and in less than a year, our EFT per-tanner dollars have quadrupled!” Rhonda exclaimed. “It’s all about working smarter, not harder – if every VIP member brings us just one potential client per month, it will generate more new business than any other type of marketing we do. This kind of word-of-mouth can be one of the best forms of advertising.”
The Culligans’ plan gives a free session to the friends of current VIP members who haven’t tanned at Body Heat in the past six months. More often than not, Rhonda and her staff are able to convert those friends into VIP members. “The first thing we do is create a profile for them in our system and we make it a point to ask for their e-mail address,” she said. “If they don’t join on that day, we follow up with an e-mail offering them a free tan or another special to get them to come back. This usually works in getting them to become members.”
Believe it or not, keeping a calculator handy at her salon’s counter has also helped Rhonda close the sale with many EFT clients. “I think more people relate to visuals and tend to understand and remember things better if you show them instead of just telling them,” she said. “Anytime someone is hesitant to switch to the EFT program, I pull out the calculator and show them how much they’ll save and how much more they’ll get by enrolling. Seeing is believing!”
Body Heat’s EFT program offers services on four levels – Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond – and each gives members a lotion discount and two free upgrades each month. “We named it the VIP Program because we truly believe our clients are very important people,” said Rhonda. “We offer many incentives that are not only generous, but also encourage upgrading to the next level.”
After tanning at Body Heat for about 10 years, Rhonda and Jack purchased the business on October 1, 2011. “The former owner didn’t promote his EFT program as much because he believed he could earn more money-per-tanner by selling sessions and monthly packages,” Rhonda said. “Unfortunately, he had also lost many of his clients over the years. I wanted to bring those people back and attract new ones by doing something different.”
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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