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Old 03-09-2011, 02:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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How to compete w/ free tanning at gyms and apartments

My salon is in a division 1 college town with tons of students that make up the LARGE majority of our customer base. But near EVERY off-campus apartment complex has free tanning. How can I compete with or at least work with these places so they don't take our entire customer base?
There is also a 24 bed (the most in town) place ON campus for all the students who don't have a car. So they hit a big chunck of the students who don't have free tanning or a car. I obviously can't move locations that easy and wouldn't b/c we are supposed to have a Wal-mart go up right next to us. So hopefully that will compensate for all of the lost business
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Re: How to compete w/ free tanning at gyms and apartments

It may sound dumb, but great customer service is a must since the apartment/on campus tanning might not be staffed as often as your salon; you have the ability to offer your expertise on how long/often to tan, what lotions to use, etc. You also have to offer something they can't. If it is in your budget look into a possible 24 hour conversion (mail me and I can give you more info on this), but that is a long term investment and not my 1st option I would go with.

Since the campus is so close to you, contact the campus news paper and see how much it costs to run an ad.

If any local salons are closing down talk to the owner to see if you can get the client list and see if the owner will write/email a recommendation to his/her clients and also send a personal letter (not email) yourself. This is what we did with our salon and got a good number of clients from it.

That being said, MAYBE try a weekend special--maybe a free tan weekend for the beginning of Spring--with numerous promos to attract new clients. Focus on trying to push the promos though because you will have a few walk-ins that just want a free tan for the day (mail me for promo ideas if you want). If you do this, have someone on campus handing out/putting up fliers promoting this.

Create a Facebook page to post promos (lotion sales, spray sales if you have a Mystic or whatever, stuff like that). Ask your current clients to 'like' you and share the page with friends (this will mainly benefit current clients).

Try a referral contest. Possibly give each referred a 20% new member discount or something and give the winning referrer a free month level upgrade or something like that.

Just a few ideas for you. I'm new to the tanning marketing field myself so I'm learning too, but you could give these a try and let us know how it goes.
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Old 03-13-2011, 08:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: How to compete w/ free tanning at gyms and apartments

run your salon as if the free joints arent even there! the majority of the people tanning at the free joints prob wouldnt even tan if it wasnt free- the rest of them are bottom feeders that you dont want for clients anyway

focus on clients who want to tan in a real tanning salon

if you still really want to attract them anyway try including a lotion bottle with a package, the free places prob dont even sell lotion

only other way is a dirt cheap level one unlimited in a real salon u know a salon that changes their lamps, cleans their bed, trains there staff, etc

change your slogan to just cause your in a tanning bed dont mean your actually tanning!

At xyz salon our tanning aint free - but that because u actually get tan

u can lay in our beds for free - but the tan will cost u $10

free tans - but you have to pay to lay in the bed

but i still say screw the people who rather have free tanning
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: How to compete w/ free tanning at gyms and apartments

did you open after the fact, knowing all of this?

If all of this happened after the fact, you should have been upgrading and maintaining your equipment to keep it fresh, new and up to date. Also, concentrate on the people that will pay. Students don't have money and they tend to want the cheapest price and the most tanning for it. So concentrate on the 23-45 year olds. That's a very large market that will pay you money for tanning. Not just college students tan.

And the college students that want the best tan will come to you.

If you just stick with the run of mill beds, and do nothing about it to combat the competition...then nothing more we can do from here.

Advertise, advertise, advertise. Don't just sit there and wait for people to come in. If you build it, they will come...that only works for baseball diamonds and dead people. Not businesses.
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