A mother and daughter seeking career happiness now share their smiles – and sunshine – at Sun Seekers Tan Spa in Des Moines, IA.
After working as a medicolegal death investigator at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, Lara Nance decided that she needed a little happiness in her professional life. “My mom, Elly Nance, was working as an E.R. nurse in California, and she wanted to retire and move back home,” said Lara. “Since we both loved to tan, I suggested we open a salon, and she liked the idea. Once the decision was made, I went to the salon where we used to tan and told the owner I planned to open a salon but I didn’t really want to compete with her, and she said, ‘I’ll sell you my salon today.’” Lara renamed the business Sun Seekers Tan & Spa and opened on January 1, 2009. Since then, her business has evolved into a ten-unit facility that also offers custom sunless spray-tanning.
As a longtime tanner herself, Lara knew that customer service is the key to a successful salon business. “While leaving another salon, I said ‘thank you’ to the young lady behind the counter but she was too wrapped up in her text-messaging to respond,” Lara said. “It was then that I realized she should’ve been thanking me – and every other customer – because we’re the ones who were paying her. My mom and I made customer service our No. 1 priority at Sun Seekers, and it soon became clear that this is what had been missing from salons in our area. As word about our service, cleanliness and new equipment began to spread, more and more former clients started to come back, and we were able to retain them as clients.” Today, Sun Seekers’ database has nearly 7,000 names.
While their search for career happiness prompted Lara and Elly to seek their first salon, a second location found them. “Our landlord owns another shopping plaza on the south side of town and he told us that the salon there had recently closed,” Lara explained. “We decided to check it out and we were impressed that the place wouldn’t take long to remodel so we decided to go for it.” The 20-unit, 2,200 square-foot facility opened on November 2012, and Lara and Elly utilized radio and Facebook advertising to market and promote the business, which serves about 300 clients per day during the peak months.
With two salons in five years, this two-woman “search team” continues to find happiness with their Sun Seekers Tan & Spa salons. “Our goal is to attract more people to our second location, especially since it has twice as many tanning units as the first,” Lara said. “We’re doing everything we can to market and promote it, including radio and Facebook advertising, as well as offering a variety of retail products – boutique sales, Rodan + Fields skincare system and Plexus Slim diet products – to make the salon unique. We’ve also had John P. Johnson of Supre Tan come to train our staff in April and we learned a great deal from him. All of this helps us continue to be the best salon owners we can be!”
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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