Success in a service-related business takes a special touch… just ask the folks at Special Touch Tanning of Dayton, OH.
Seven years ago, successful hair salon owner Rhonda Bolinger decided to also become a tanning salon owner. To do so, she pooled resources with her mother, and the two opened Special Touch Tanning on July 25, 2005. Five years later, her mom passed away, leaving Rhonda to honor her memory in the best way she knew how – by continuing to offer the same caring service upon which Special Touch was built. Today, the business lives up to its name, in both the tanning and beauty services provided there, and its continued success can mean only one thing – Rhonda’s goal of consolidating her professional pursuits into an even bigger and better business is well within her reach.
Look Good/Feel Good Connection
Before opening her tanning salon, Rhonda Bolinger was already a successful entrepreneur – as owner and operator of Special Touch Hair Designs for the past 26 years. “I’ve always enjoyed making my clients happy,” said Rhonda. “After seeing how much people enjoyed using the sunbed at our salon, I wanted to have a full-service tanning facility. I knew it would be a great way to keep my clients feeling happy and looking beautiful.” As fate would have it, a local tanning salon owner was looking to retire and needed to sell his two businesses. Because she already had a hair salon, Rhonda knew she wouldn’t be able to handle two more businesses, so she pooled resources with her mother, Connie Bolinger, and purchased one of the salons. “The previous owner didn’t change his sunlamps regularly, so many of his clients had grown unhappy because of poor results,” Rhonda added. “We definitely had our work cut out for us!”
Special Touch Tanning has everything it needs to keep its clients looking and feeling great. The salon offers ten UV tanning units: seven SunDash-32 sunbeds, one SunDash with facials, a SunDash and a Super SunDash 540 – as well as a handheld spray system by Norvell Skin Solutions. “After watching Steve Edwards from Norvell perform a custom airbrush tan at a trade event, we decided to try it,” Rhonda said. “Airbrush tanning is a highly-personalized service not unlike the other beauty treatments on our menu, so it became very easy to perform, and very popular with our clients. I’m glad we did it!” The salon sells lotions by Australian Gold, Designer Skin and Swedish Beauty, and operates with the Helios software system. UV and sunless tanning are complemented by a variety of spa services, including gel nail treatments, waxing and airbrush makeup.
In addition to the many marketing tips she picks up from articles in ist Magazine, Rhonda promotes her salon with e-mail blasts, social media marketing and a local coupon mailer. “One of our clients works for Living Social and she urged us to give it a try,” she said. “Since we had just started offering the gel nail polish and eyebrow waxing, we decided to offer these services at half price on the site. The response we received was much bigger than I anticipated!” On the promotion’s first day, Rhonda sold 110 of her specials, and had another 50 purchases over the next two days. She also likes “living social” when marketing on the Special Touch Facebook page. “Whether it’s wishing someone a happy birthday or posting lotion and eyewear info, I post something each morning, afternoon and evening to keep our page fresh and engaging,” she added.
Best of Both Worlds
For the past seven years, Rhonda has operated a business that combines tanning with an assortment of beauty services, while also operating a separate, full-service hair salon. Going forward, her goal is to be a bit more focused on both. “I’m working toward purchasing a facility large enough to accommodate my tanning and beauty salon businesses,” Rhonda said. “Right now, I’m forced to split my time between the two businesses, and the ones who lose out are my clients because I can’t be in both places at once. By combining them, I could always be on hand to take care of all my clients’ needs – since customer service is so important to me, this is my ultimate goal.”
When it comes to serving her clients, it’s clear that Rhonda Bolinger is a business owner who cares. “I absolutely love pleasing our clients!” she exclaimed. “Whether it’s providing them with information about the tanning process or helping them find the best product for their needs, the idea of being able to help all these wonderful people makes me happy.”
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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