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The Glow of Success: Leslie VanBogart

Leslie VanBogart, Owner of Your Tanning Bar

Leslie has only been in business for 4-1/2 years and is well on her way to her third location before the age of 30. Although the clock is ticking, Leslie is calm and collected as she shares her wisdom about opening and expanding a business.

How Did You Get into UV Free Airbrush Tanning?
I started this business because I saw the trend moving from UV bed tanning to UV free Airbrush tanning.  I personally have been in the tanning industry since age 16, working at a conventional tanning salon.  I saw firsthand the dangers of UV tanning and at the age of 19, I had skin cancer removed.  I knew then that there had to be other alternatives to achieving a tan without using tanning beds.  Airbrush tanning was popping up everywhere on the east and West Coast, but didn’t seem to be anywhere here in the Midwest.  I knew that was my niche, so at the young age of 19, I knew this business was in my future.  I went to business school at the University of Iowa and started a mobile business after college.  After gaining clients mobile I knew a brick and mortar store was needed!  After six months being mobile I opened up my first location.  Since then we have moved into a bigger location and added a second location.  My goal is to have three by age 30, which is just two years away!

What’s Your Proudest Moment?
It was opening my second location.  To be able to expand only after a few years in business has been a huge accomplishment.  I only want to grow, but I want that small business concept to always be my motivation.  I think some businesses grow too big too quickly.

To grow without making that mistake, I offer memberships.  To offer a constant for clients not only results in guaranteed revenue for your business, but also sets you apart from others offering the same service.

Do You Have Any Marketing Tips?
Social media is HUGE for our business and 90% of clients hear about us via social media.  Marketing Ads via Facebook are crucial.  If you haven’t set up an ad words account, I highly recommend that as well.

We have locations in Cedar Rapids and Coralville, Iowa. When I expanded to the second location, I felt I was starting all over.  Because my second location was in another city 30 miles away from the first, my brand wasn’t immediately I networked myself into this new community, and supported the launch with a heavy social media marketing presence.

Any Advice for Women Who Are Feeling Pressure in Their Businesses?
Some women tend to put emotion into our business.  I feel like its in our blood to be emotional.  You can’t mix emotion with sales.  No matter what sappy story that client gives you, she needs to pay the same price as everyone else.  Price yourself right and stick to the service menu.  Giving discounts to clients should only be used as a marketing tactic, not out of sympathy.  Charge your price and stick to it!

Super busy time in our business is March to October.  Busy season is especially critical in service business. Make sure every customer leaves happy and that you gave 100% customer service to everyone, even if you are rushed.