We Are Sunshine

X-Treme Tan Attributes Success to Smart Tan

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

When David R., President of X-Treme Tan, decided to break away from a chain of salons in Austin, TX, he wasn’t sure what to expect. But since the grand opening of X-Treme Tan on Jan. 1, 2011, things have been looking up: The chain that X-Treme Tan broke away from has since gone out of business, as did another competitor, and their membership has increased steadily. So what’s David’s secret?

“The difference between X-Treme Tan and other studios is that we are Smart Tan certified. It really pays off,” says David.

Once David knew he would be separating himself from the chain and starting fresh, he and his business partner Brandon started searching for ways to become a new kind of service salon that other studios would not be able to compete with. That’s when they discovered Smart Tan.

“I was talking to Roxy, our sales rep at Heartland, and that’s how we first heard of Smart Tan,” says Brandon. “She knew we were looking for something to set us apart and that’s the direction she pointed us. Once I saw the website and everything [Smart Tan] had to offer I knew this is what we wanted to be.”

X-Treme Tan joined Smart Tan in January 2011 and David made sure he, Brandon and Jessi – their customer care employee – were certified. David has his Master’s certification, Brandon has an Ambassador’s certification and is working on his Master’s, and Jessi has the UV Tanning certification. Their certificates are hung on the walls around the salon to ensure their customers can trust in the knowledge X-Treme Tan has to provide.

Brandon says that being a part of Smart Tan’s network adds a new level of professionalism that other salons in the area just can’t provide. When a competitor tried to shop X-Treme Tan, Brandon says the information he was able to provide was extremely intimidating. “I told her we all have different levels of Smart Tan certification, which means we basically went to tanning college to understand the UV process and how it affects your skin,” says Brandon. He says her jaw dropped and she promptly turned and left without saying a word.

X-Treme Tan’s competitors have slowly dropped away – a mix of the poor economy, the Tan Tax and other factors – and David and Brandon praise their Smart Tan training as what has kept them going. And their clients can see a difference.

“We use everything we’ve learned from Smart Tan, and customers always tell us, ‘Wow, you really know your stuff!’” says Brandon. “That’s when I came up with our motto. X-Treme Tan: Where tanning is more than a luxury, it’s a science!”

Another great factor that attributes to their success is their new location. When X-Treme Tan first opened in Cedar Park, a suburb of Austin, they were within a strip mall, but all of the shops near them had gone out of business. “We weren’t getting any foot traffic or exposure except for our customers. No one new was coming to our end of the mall,” says David.

A few months into their initial run, one of their closest competitors went out of business in a more affluent neighborhood two miles away. So in May 2011, X-Treme Tan moved to that new location. Memberships have been going up since they’ve moved and they’ve gotten a lot more word-of-mouth clients.

“The people in Austin are much more conservative and practical about tanning than people in Dallas, where I grew up,” says David. “They tan in the spring to avoid burning, so they like the fact that X-Treme Tan is Smart Tan certified. Our customers know what we’re telling them is for their benefit and not ours.”

X-Treme Tan starts all of their clients on a tanning regimen, which is something Brandon says he learned from Smart Tan. He describes how he wants to help them achieve the color they’re looking for, first saying it will take three to seven sessions to achieve a base tan. He will boost the time by two-minute increments, depending on how their initial session turns out, and asks every time how their session went. All their clients start at a lower setting because they change their bulbs often – approximately every two months – to keep them at their optimum levels.

“I have taken a UV meter with me to competitor salons, and our competitor’s bulbs meter at about a 10. Ours are at an 18 or 19,” says Brandon. He’ll let customers tan for free just to experience the difference between their beds and their competitor’s. If they are used to tanning for 12 minutes, he would tell them to tan for six to eight instead and they notice the difference. And because of Brandon’s initial tanning bed operation spiel, clients will let him know if the time was too long or too short. “Customers say I sound like a stewardess,” says Brandon. “But showing each customer how to operate the beds shows a proper level of tanning professionalism and also ensures they know to properly work the them.”

But what Brandon says really keeps their business going is that they never discourage clients from asking questions. Brandon, David and Jessi are confident that they can answer any question presented to them, whether it is face to face, by phone or on Facebook. (Click here to read a Facebook conversation between Brandon and a client after she overheard him talking to someone about not showering immediately after tanning.)

“I read everything in the magazine – front to back – for months. Every little article!” says Brandon. “I read about a decompression zone, which is a separate table from our sales desk to talk about lotions, packages, ask questions, etc. Just four little sentences in the magazine made me research it and made our salon into something different.”

Being confident in answering questions and encouraging clients to ask those questions is something he attributes to reading Smart Tan Magazine. “We didn’t know what we could become until we got with Smart Tan,” says Brandon. “They’ve given us ideas and knowledge that we could use to compete in the industry.”

For more information about X-Treme Tan, visit their website at, check them out on Facebook by clicking here, and see more photos and “like” their Page by clicking here.

To learn more about how you can become a Smart Tan member, call 800-652-3269.