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You’ve Got What It Takes: Sol’exotica franchisee expands brand

crop5By Peter Saunders
You don’t need a business degree to become a franchisee. Franchising is the world’s most successful business model because it takes people from all walks of life and gives them the tools they need to be entrepreneurs in specialized fields. Considering your talent, skills and life experience, you’ve probably got a lot to be confident about as you prepare for your franchise journey.

Still have doubts? Maybe your training and experience so far have been different from the nature of the franchise you would like to own? In ‘You’ve Got What It Takes,’ we show you how your past career and other experiences can be applied in a franchised setting.

What he does:
William Maidment is a Toronto-based multi-unit franchisee for Sol’exotica Tanning Spa, which recently merged with Arizona Tan and several other salon brands, while continuing to grow across major Ontario markets.

“The brand originated in Stoney Creek, Ont., and I was the first to bring it to Toronto,” he says. “I had been tanning for about 10 years prior and was attracted to the positive social environment.”

crop3At one point, William had planned to pursue a career in the restaurant industry, but the Sol’exotica concept won him over. Customers pay a monthly membership fee—approximately $20—for unlimited access to the franchise’s various services, which ensures constant revenue for the system, as the preauthorized payments come in during both busy and quiet seasons.

“It’s a unique system for a tanning spa,” says William. “It’s more like a gym membership. And it helps us develop long-term relationships with customers.”

He opened his first location at the end of 2007, followed by his second—a conversion of a previous Arizona Tan facility—in summer 2011 and his third in 2012.

“I’ve just finished integrating the systems, so now our members can tan at any of the three locations,” he says. “It’s a new concept that is gaining popularity with our clients.”

Besides advertising, another way William gets the word out is driving the ‘Sol’patrol,’ a vehicle wrapped with promotional graphics.

“I’m advertising as I drive,” he says. “If you see the van, you can get a free tan!”

William met his girlfriend Lisa at the first location. She had tanned before at Sol’exotica’s first location in Stoney Creek and was applying for a job. They now live together, getting up every morning to open the spas at 9 a.m. and work until they close at 11 p.m.

“I worked by myself for quite a while,” says William, “but now Lisa helps me manage all three locations and takes care of the administrative work. We’re fully staffed and we’re putting managers in at each location as we speak. They need to be ‘team leaders’ who care as much as we do. Then we can take a step out and look at more opportunities.”

In this respect, William praises the franchise system’s high standards for well-trained and certified staff, along with its cleanliness standards and focus on moderation.

“Research has shown tanning can make you feel good, especially during winter when many Canadians get seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but moderation is very important,” he says. “We want people to make educated, adult decisions, so we won’t tan anyone under 18. We don’t want kids getting into tanning competitions to see who can get darker than everyone else.”

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