Step away from the samples!

by | Farr Factor

With a new year comes the season for numerous trade events and some great opportunities to help your salon(s) be better – for many owners, 2012 was not a red letter year! Hopefully, the trauma of avoiding the “Fiscal Cliff” and battling all of our industry’s detractors has subsided and consumers are hungrily seeking the “look good and feel great” results of indoor tanning. Given what my company saw as pent up consumerism and the natural uptick of the peak season upon us, the first two quarters of 2013 should, at least, be excellent business for most tanning retailers. I say most because there are still many areas in which salons and salon operators can improve. This year, it will be my privilege to share with you some best practices of the industry’s top retailers via a webinar series now being developed (more to come about that subject).

Among the areas in which to improve are HR practices, marketing focus and tanning revenue analysis – but here and now, I will address the various trade events that will unfold this year. They’re great, informative and centralize many sources of education for new as well as veteran salon owners and managers. The last subject is the most important to me. I regress now, back 25 years to the golden days of the video rental business, when all it took to succeed was open doors and tape re-winders for folks who weren’t “kind” enough to do so. The business was booming, and so were the various related trade shows. But indie owners then, as indie salon owners now, often waste their time roaming exhibit floors in search of the perfect bag of chachkies … those wonderful little freebies that seem so important at the time, and that mostly get thrown or given away once the attendee returns home.

It’s true that at times, history does repeat itself, and I’ve seen the pattern of chachki-hunting transition from the halcyon days of video rental to today’s tanning event-goers. I’m not knocking the “supply side” for their efforts in getting samples into attendees’ hands; that’s only prudent and sensible on their part. What I do knock is someone who makes the annual “hunt” the primary focus of their trade show trek. Competition, the economy, and the naysayers of tanning have all contributed to create huge shadows of doubt about our industry’s future among new, as well as veteran retailers. Offsetting that is continuous salon business management education, and that may mean foregoing standing in lines to pick up a trinket.

The days of tanning salon ownership, when you merely flipped on the “OPEN” sign and simply waited for “my tanners” to walk thru the door, are long over. Better management of your marketing and employees – not a string of plastic beads you can sell at your front counter or throw away once you’re “back from the show” – is what will win the day in 2013.

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