• August 20, 2013
2 minutes Read
We were thrilled to talk to Kelly Ivie of Perfextions Tanning last week. Kelly and her husband, Chris, got a business loan through us last year for their tanning salon located in Deer Park, Texas, a suburb of Houston. Because she owns such a seasonal business, we thought she’d be the perfect customer to talk with about her low season. Like many tanning salons, Perfextions Tanning sees a slump in what Kelly referred to as “JASON” (July, August, September, October, and November). But she gets through slower times with the right mix of inventory and marketing.
Tell us a little about your business.
We have 7 beds, with three levels of tanning. Our first level is a 20-minute base bed, where you go if it’s your first time of tanning. The second level is a 15-minute bronzing bed. The third level is a 10-minute standup. We also do spray tans—it’s done by an actual person and not a booth.
What are your customers like?
We have a huge high school following and big following with stay-at-home moms. It’s a family-based community.
When is your typical high season and low season?
Our high season is January through June, with peak months of March, April, and May. In the summertime in Houston, it gets extremely hot, and people can go outside and tan. I just read an article where they call the low season, “JASON.”
What do you do to get through the low season? Do you find it difficult?
We don’t because we’ve been doing this since 2003. You just have to save a lot of money in your busy months because you’re doing about double what you do in your slow season. We also run really good specials in the summer months to get bigger sums. We’ll roll out packages for $199 a year. It’s normally $480 a year [when you count monthly costs]. But you really make all of your money in products.
Do you market yourself differently in the slow months?
We have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We have a text club, where you do mobile marketing. Customers will text the word “tans” to a specific number, and once a week we send out special offers to just our text subscribers. It’s huge; everyone does it here. Right now we just texted 25% off lotions.
But by far the biggest following we deal with is Instagram. Instagram has gotten me more customers than anything else. We have a big following because Instagram is for everyone: for teens, for adults. Facebook seems to be 30s and older.
What pictures do you post on Instagram?
I take pictures of lotions, and I do all of my hashtags. Instagram posts through Twitter and Facebook, which makes it easier. I can post to three places, instead of just one. We post specials…just everything. We’ll also ask people to post their picture, and give them a free bottle of lotion.
How did you learn about small business marketing?
I’ve looked at Instagram. There are not a lot of tanning salons on Instagram—not in the U.S. There are a lot of Canadian salons, though. It’s a huge way to go. We read a lot, too. I don’t know if other businesses go to conventions, but you learn everything about your business. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it, but you’ll probably learn a lot.
What the best advice you’ve ever gotten about running a small business?
That’s a tough one. We came in not knowing a lot about it. It was trial and error. In general, you’re going to have to work very hard. You can’t sit back and have someone do it for you. You have to know what’s going on in your business and be there every day. You have to know what’s coming out of the bank everyday. If you don’t know what’s going on with your business, you’re going to fail.
Do you work with or talk to other small business owners?
We actually do a lot of our printing through another small-town, local business. We try to utilize local businesses as much as possible. It’s so much different than having a salon in Houston. Your people come from the community.
Photo credit: sergey causelove/shutterstock.com