Smart Tan Canada March 2012
Member Of The Month
Hawaiian Beach Tanning Salon is delighted to announce that our Owner,
John Holmes, was selected to be the Member Of The Month by Smart Tan Canada, in their March 2012 issue.
click here to download the full article in PDF format.
BELOW IS THE TEXT OF THE ARTICLE:
MEMBER OF THE MONTH
For All Of Canada
By Smart Tan
For almost 40 years, John Holmes has been an avid businessman.
Back then, he worked for Shell Oil doing advertising and sales
promotion. His career was on track, which meant future transfers
to Winnipeg then possibly Toronto. But concern for the effects on
his family made him decide to go another way.
“At my age, I decided I didn’t want to end up there with my four
kids. They were all into hockey and figure skating,” says Holmes.
Instead, Holmes bought an automotive service station and started
up several convenience stores. Once again, change was on the
horizon – and it wasn’t working in his favour. The landlord for his
auto shop discussed raising the rent to what Holmes considered an
“intolerable level” so he decided to look at other options.
At the time, his oldest son seemed to be doing well with a tanning
salon, which inspired his youngest son to enter a partnership for
his own salon. Holmes agreed to finance his son’s portion of the
partnership, but things didn’t go as planned. The other partner
backed out of the deal after Holmes already verbally negotiated with
the salon’s current owner. While he was on holiday, his son decided
to refocus his efforts in the nightclub business – the salon deal
seemed to go bust. But, like a true entrepreneur, Holmes saw an
opportunity to enter the tanning industry himself.
Instead of walking away, he made the bold decision to venture into
an industry he did not know for the sake of making good on his
word with the owner. “I made a moral commitment to this lady by
asking her to give me the fi rst offer for the business, if she decided
to sell. I didn’t feel right backing away from it,” says Holmes.
In 1998, Holmes took over Hawaiian Beach Tanning and immediately
made it his mission to make it a success. Previously, the salon
had six or seven rooms, but only three had beds. Holmes was eager
to bring more equipment into the salon, which quickly paid off.
“We got so busy that we had to do some remodelling,” says Holmes.
“We were splitting rooms in half to make room for the vertical
beds. We loved seeing people so happy.”
It got to the point where the salon was experiencing enough traffic
that an expansion was in order. When Holmes got word that space
next door was available, he jumped on the opportunity to claim it.
Not long after, the location was his.
What people want always seems to be on the forefront of Holmes’s
mind. So, as the salon became bigger, he didn’t rely on that alone
to make the salon better. Taking note of the small things has helped
the salon come a long way.
“We try to upgrade the feeling people have about us,” says Holmes.
“I thought, ‘how can I make it obvious that we care every time they
After dwelling on his personal experiences with little luxuries,
Holmes decided that the bathrooms could make a big statement
about the salon. His salon attendants make sure to fold the toilet
paper into a point and remove splash marks from the mirror
throughout the day. Using quality toiletries and diffusing a clean
scent have helped make this small space clean and inviting.
DOING IT FIRST
Much like when Holmes owned his auto service station and
convenience stores simultaneously, he felt that it was important to
provide a wide range of services and diversify his revenue sources.
Hawaiian Beach Tanning was the fi rst salon in Canada to offer a
mystic sunless spray booth and it has remained a successful part
of the business ever since. He was heralded in his community for
offering a UV free alternative to tanning.
“I like to be at the sharp end of things rather than a follower,” says
In 2006, Holmes added another first: an infrared sauna. “I saw a lot
of potential when I put in the infrared sauna,” says Holmes. “There
wasn’t anything like it in the area, so I could create a niche for it.”
Athletes and people going through physical therapy enjoyed the
relaxation and relief they could get from the unit’s dry heat. Holmes
made sure that the sauna room felt like a little oasis by painting a
scene of cactuses and the Grand Canyon. At the end of their
session, customers are given a water bottle with the Hawaiian
Beach logo and information on it, a tactic that creates the potential
for salon exposure as the clients take the bottle with them when
But in May 2010, Holmes added body vibration to the growing list
of services available – a move that would revolutionize the culture
of his salon.
“We put in the body vibration machines to appeal to another section
of the population that wasn’t necessarily tanning,” says Holmes. “I
put two in the front sales room so they are visible to everyone. “By
the time I returned from holiday, my staff told me we needed to buy
Holmes had the idea to give clients a free trial on the machine.
By placing them in the lobby he was able to use these trials as
advertising to passers-by and clients waiting in the lobby. Very
quickly, the service took off. After adding two more machines to the
sales room, the vibe surrounding the service became very social as
women chatted away while they vibrated into better health. Best of
all, his “jiggle machine” clients were in a prime location to witness
the results of his happy tanners.
“A lot of the older people see young people come out of the rooms
happy and tan, and they consider starting to tan again,” says
This tactic also helped create a buzz when Holmes added red light
therapy to the menu a few months ago. The social atmosphere in
the lobby was a huge advantage as the clients talked about their
results. “It’s a big ticket item compared to our tanning beds,” says
Holmes. “It’s time-consuming but when our customers are on the
vibration machines, they see people come out and have conversations
about losing their wrinkles.”
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
But, Holmes knows that nothing sells itself – he gives major credit
to his staff. Their skill and knowledge is essential, but it’s their
positive attitude that makes customers feel at home. “They have
got to have fun,” says Holmes. “They laugh and joke with customers
and enjoy coming back to work.”
The Hawaiian Beach salon staff is well-trained, beginning with a
regiment of Smart Tan training modules. “Smart Tan is absolutely
essential in training people,” says Holmes. “It’s by far the best
training they could possibly get in this industry. We fashion
ourselves after Smart Tan.”
In addition to any in-salon training employees receive, they also go
to as many of the local seminars as possible, including symposiums
by Carole Baggerly “the Breast Cancer Survivor.”
“The staff was staggered by what Carole Baggerly had to say.
Hers is a hard-hitting presentation – it’s not drumming the same
message in a different way,” says Holmes.
He even makes a point to take selected staff to Vegas and Nashville
for conventions to better their knowledge of the industry. “You get
exposure to dozens of brilliant operators,” says Holmes. “You learn
so much just by rubbing shoulders.”
Holmes is always looking for ways to bring attention to the salon.
The most effective method Holmes has implemented is participating
in community events. Whether it’s a local fundraiser for the Delta
Museum, Little House Society, food bank, sports team or a business
association meeting, Holmes always does his best to be there.
“Be there, be seen, be seen often,” says Holmes. “That’s what
we do.” In the summer, there is a village market where Hawaiian
Beach sets up a booth every year. They are even known for bringing
out body vibration machines for people to try.
In addition, Holmes has agreed to sponsor his local Tier 1 hockey
team: The Vancouver Giants. The idea came to him after seeing his
sons – who moved away to play hockey – treated like royalty. He
decided to give the players tanning for free. Now the coach and his
wife come in, and people know the Giants tan there. The sponsorship
has successfully created brand awareness with a variety of
Hawaiian Beach is also a great example of forging relationships
with political and media figureheads as well as the Health Department.
Holmes has dedicated time to communicating with influential
people in his community for the benefit of the tanning industry.
“I booked a half hour with our local member of the legislative
assembly. She already knew me from the fundraisers and things I
attend to help the Community,” says Holmes.
But the short meeting blossomed into a deeper discussion: “Two
hours later, we finished such a good talk that benefits our industry.
She extended the meeting because she was so interested,” says
Holmes. “She sees how we contribute to the community – they
want people to do that!”
The most successful advertising for Hawaiian Beach has been in
two local newspapers. By placing ads with them regularly – including
recent full-page ads to promote red light therapy – Holmes
has developed a beneficial relationship with the local media and
appreciates their interest.
“I got a lovely write-up when the pharmaceutical companies were
lobbying local government. One of the papers had a negative article
from some dermatologists,” says Holmes. “So [the newspaper]
called me and asked if I would like to have a rebuttal. They showed
me what was going to be printed ahead of time to do a meaningful
The ability to reach the community with a different message about
sunlight was a huge benefit that didn’t cost a dime, all because he
was in regular contact with these people.
“In the next issue they are going to do a write up on red light
therapy. This is the kind of help and support we get when we work
with these people,” says Holmes.
A FIT FUTURE
Business is defi nitely picking up as Hawaiian Beach moves into
busy season with the addition of red light. But Holmes isn’t content
to rely on one thing to make his business successful – like any
smart businessman, he makes it a priority to diversify.
Building on the success of the vibration machines, Holmes has decided
to replace one of the under-performing UV units with a small
fitness room. To more appropriately reflect the tone of his developing
business, Holmes has changed their slogan to “We are sunshine
and fitness.” A larger vibration unity, elliptical, treadmill, spin cycle
and more to give clients better options to feel and look better.
While Holmes believes that adding a second location may become
more of a priority down the road, his firm grasp on what makes a
successful salon allows him to keep developing his original store
even after many years in business.