Is Your Elevator Going Down?

by | Farr Factor

One of our industry’s biggest failures today is its early success. There was a golden period when your salon didn’t have to be good … your doors just had to be open. There were far fewer tanning salons, far fewer massage studios and many less ways for consumers to spend disposable indulgence dollars. I can well remember the days when salons didn’t even have their names on the building; you could display a generic sign that just said “Tanning.” In those explosive years of tanning growth, salon owners defined the “experience” or value of a tanning facility as having enough beds and a convenient location. Hiring professional tanning consultants wasn’t high on the list of priorities. After all, with so much demand, you only needed to have the necessary supply of beds and tanning consumers were happy to spend their money with you.

Today, there is simply too much competition, both inside and outside our industry, for tightening consumer indulgence dollars. Before, weak practices in marketing, salon operations and especially human resource management could be covered up by annual increases in unique tanners and individual tans that numbered in the double digits. And oh, how the cash flowed. But bad habits created by good times years ago have put many veteran salon owners in tough situations as a result of refusing to adapt to tanning’s new realities.

One 25-year veteran salon client told me she keeps wondering what happened to “her tanners,” as if she owned them. Truth is, no one owns them anymore. It’s the superior and differentiated “experience” that owns the tanning consumer’s loyalty. It’s as if many veteran operators are stuck on an elevator going down. What are the bad habits crushing many salons? Not understanding the key numbers that determine revenue: EFT conversions, EFT close-rates per employee, per-tan averages, sales per transaction per employee, average EFT monthly draws that are stagnant and other financial indications of a slowly diminishing business cycle. When one realizes that most of these decreasing indicators are a direct result of a weak marketing approach and an even weaker employee investment, there is no mystery about why more and more of my new clients are old veterans who just did not want to change … until it seemed their elevator crashed at the bottom.

Weak marketing is also a problem. Old messages that turn off the reader of emails and direct mail, radio spots that bore the listeners, a lack of branding to differentiate your salon experience form everyone else’s. The point of a good marketing drive is to get the tanning consumer lathered up so your carefully selected and well trained professionals (not ex-fast food amateurs with low enough self-esteem to accept working for minimum wage) can shave them. So, before your elevator collides with the basement of your opportunities, get real about reversing it to re-climb the levels of success. Get help … my help. Now!

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