Purchasing Pro Tan Tanning Center fulfilled one woman’s career dreams and ushered in brighter days for sun worshippers in Ottumwa, IA.
When Dana Blunt consulted her high school career counselor about the prospect of opening a tanning salon in Eldon, IA, she was told that the small town couldn’t support such a venture. She ended up becoming a quality technician at a pork-processing plant in nearby Ottumwa, IA – a job she says left much to be desired. “I saw a newspaper ad for a tanning salon for sale,” recalled Dana, “so I sent a letter to the P.O. Box listed in the ad. The owner of Pro Tan Tanning Center contacted me and asked me to meet her at the business. Apparently, she had to get out of the business quickly due to family issues and because she had the salon for only a year, it was in very good shape.” Dana and her mother, Ellen Sue Bartlett, took ownership of the salon on October 1, 2000.
Although Pro Tan Tanning Center was her first business, Dana knew how to make it stand out in the community. “I’m very big on customer service,” she explained. “I think it was just a result of how I was raised by my parents to always say please and thank you.” While the salon’s former owner forgot to inform her clients of the pending change of ownership, Dana won the startled tanners over with her friendliness and charm. Today, she has about 10,000 clients and says she knows most of them by their first names. “When I see someone walking toward the door, I already have their account accessed on the computer and their lotion bag ready before they get to the counter,” she added.
Even after 13 years in the sun business, Dana continues to look for ways to increase her level of professionalism. When she had the opportunity to take Sun Is Life® certification at a recent trade event in St. Louis, she jumped at the chance. “I completely agree with Sun Is Life’s philosophy of not making health claims about our services,” she explained. “I’ve always instructed my staff not to do that, no matter what they think they might know about the tanning process and its effects on the skin.” Dana also said that Sun is Life Certification raised the level of professionalism of the two staff members she brought to the event.
Clients at Pro Tan Tanning Center can expect some changes in the near future. Dana plans to expand her tanning service menu by adding some new tanning units over the next couple of years. In the meantime, she plans to continue enjoying the flexibility of being her own boss. “Owning this business was especially convenient for raising our children,” she said. “It allowed me to spend a lot of time with them when they were younger and it now allows me to attend all their high school games and athletic competitions. It also helps that I love indoor tanning and our salon guests!”
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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