Started 16 years ago by a brother-sister business team, the Sunsational Tans salon chain continues its strong presence in the Fresno, CA area.
As a circulation manager for a newspaper, Steve Swarts became so used to working from 3:30am to noon every day that he decided he had time for another “day job.” Remembering the enjoyment and success his friends had experienced operating a tanning salon, Steve longed for his own future in the sun biz. “I asked my sister, Susan Moore, to join me in this new business venture,” said Steve, “and I’m very glad she did. Two heads are better than one, and we trust each other’s judgment and make all decisions regarding the salon together.” On March 1, 1997, Steve and Susan opened Sunsational Tans, a seven-unit, 1,200 square-foot facility in a Fresno shopping plaza.
Because they opened their salon in 1997, Steve and Susan got to enjoy doing business in tanning’s boom years. “It wasn’t long before we needed to expand our business to keep up with the demand,” Steve said. “Two years after opening, we purchased the floral shop next door after it closed and we knocked down the wall between the two locations. This gave us another 1,200 square feet and we added ten more tanning units.” That same year, Steve and Susan opened a second Sunsational salon, a 2,000 square-foot facility in Clovis with 17 units, and the following year, they opened their third – a 21-unit, 3,100 square-foot salon. “While the location was a bit big for our needs,” Steve said, “we got a great deal on it, and it allows us to cover Fresno’s north side.”
These days, Steve and Susan grow Sunsational Tans by building the number of their EFT clients at each location. They do this by making Sunsational Tans’ EFT membership the biggest value for their clients. “We didn’t want to start slashing our prices on everything,” Steve said, “because this only attracts clients who are looking for discounts. Instead, we make our annual EFT memberships the biggest value we offer – for example, an unlimited Level-one monthly membership costs $29.95 in the membership program, while purchasing that same package for just one month would cost $47.95. This encourages more people to become EFT members, which is more profitable for us in the long run.”
These days, Steve and Susan have salon owners wanting the duo to purchase their businesses, but the siblings pass on these opportunities. Steve says he and Susan do not want to spread themselves too thin because it would likely affect their level of customer service. “We’re hands-on owners, and I believe that’s what gives us an edge in operating Sunsational Tans,” he explained. “Because of this, I’m happy to keep things going as they are and enjoy every minute of being a salon owner. I love it because it gives me the freedom to be creative, do the things that I know will work and make my own decisions.”
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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