Want to earn more revenue from your sunless tanning services? Then, stop promoting it as just a “special occasion” thing.
Many years ago, sunless tanning seemed the perfect solution to the dreaded “off-peak months”– July, August, September, October and November, aka “JASON”. This service appealed to a new kind of clientele known as the “event tanner” – those who need a fast, golden glow to prepare for special events such as weddings, school dances and other special occasions. To make the most out of your sunless tanning investment, you need to convert those event tanners into long-term sunless tanning clients. In other words, it’s no different than your UV tanners, to whom you offer yearly memberships. But how do you do that?
To help our tanning salon readership maximize its sunless tanning potential, IST Magazine turned to the spray-tanning experts – owners of sunless-only salons. Who better to ask than the people whose businesses rely solely upon this service? To their credit, the sunless-only operators interviewed for this article were more than willing to share their tips of the trade to benefit everyone who wants to increase their sunless revenue.
Become an Expert!
The most important thing a salon owner can do is to perfect their spray-tanning technique, says Stacie Norvell, owner of Smart Bronze Sunless Tanning in Southlake, TX. “When we started, we made sure we were trained in proper spray-tanning techniques as well learning everything we could about DHA and how it reacts with the skin,” she said. “While we’ll always have occasional tanners who just want some color before a special event, more than 50 percent of our business is repeat clientele. This has made a huge difference in our business.” Since nearly every sunless tanning manufacturer offers some type of training program, Stacie urges tanning salon professionals to seek it out. “Your clients look to you to be the sunless-tanning expert so it helps to become one,” she added.
To attract new clients, Stacie recommends aggressively marketing and promoting the services. “Whether it’s offering something crazy, such as $5 or $10 sessions, I try to get them through the doors any way I can,” she said. “We also offer a free tan to everyone who joins our text club, and our grand opening month offered sessions for $19, which is $20 off the regular price. These promotions draw a large number of people, which increases our odds of converting more of them into regular clients.”
Made in the “Shade”
If you know your DHA, there’s no reason why you can’t attract clients during the winter, says Adrienne Ritchie, owner of Baked Sunless Tanning in Philadelphia. “While our clients love to be as dark as they can during the summer because they’re spending a lot of time outdoors, they tend to only want a little color during the winter months,” she explained. “Unfortunately, most tanners don’t know that the amount of DHA they receive in their spray-tanning sessions can be adjusted to fit their needs, so we do everything we can to educate them about this. Each November, we launch a marketing campaign that promotes our lighter ‘winter’ shades, and we ask our clients about how their skin tans so we can make their color look natural. The only way to do this is by thoroughly researching all the DHA solutions on the market and offering your clients a variety of options.”
To get more people into her salon, Adrienne offers a $5 spray-tan to each member of the local college sororities and dance and cheerleading teams. “Lowering the price of their first tan to something almost anyone can afford allows us to introduce our services to a large number of people,” she said. “And, although there will always be a few girls who don’t take advantage of the offer, our phone always rings the next day with people who’ve seen the results on their friends and want it for themselves. Plus, the older students often tell the younger ones about our service, and that word-of-mouth is priceless.”
If you want long-term sunless clients, offer them long-term memberships, says Carol Fusco, owner of Bella Glow Spray Tanning in Ellsworth, ME. “While we get people who just need a quick tan for an event, these types of one-off sales aren’t enough to keep my business operating all year,” said Carol. “I began offering an unlimited spray tan package for $75 a month and clients have been picking up on it.” Those who purchase this package can get spray-tanned as many times as they want during a month, whether it’s touch ups or full-body sprays, which helps them maintain their color longer. “Since the single-session price is $35, the monthly package becomes a value the minute someone uses it three times in a month,” Carol added.
Like her UV tanning colleagues, Carol offers additional services at Bella Glow. “I offer a special that includes one session for each of my services – spray-tanning, teeth-whitening and body wraps – for $75,” she said. “This offers more than $50 in savings compared to the individual session costs of each service, and it’s turning out to be a great way to introduce people to everything we do here. I launched this offer in January and it started selling right away.”
Get Started Today!
While sunless tanning sells well during the summer months, it can be so much more. Many salon owners already know that selling memberships is the key to earning revenue all year long, so why not apply this concept to spray-tanning? Just follow these insightful tips – and come up with a few of your own, as well – and you could well be on your way to enjoying even more year-round revenue. At this point, there’s nothing to it but to do it.
Carol Fusco – Owner
Bella Glow Spray Tanning Ellsworth ME
5 years industry experience
Stacie Norvell – Owner
Smart Bronze Sunless Tanning
4 years industry experience
Adrienne Ritchie – Owner
Baked Sunless Tanning
10 years industry experience
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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