Tantalize Magazine Article

Back in 1995, SUNdays Deep Tan Solarium opened for business in Manchester, England. For the first few months, the staff used manual record cards and paper-based course cards. But as their customer list rapidly grew, they soon realised that they were going to need a computer system to drive the business forward and manage the day-to-day jobs that were becoming tedious and time-consuming to control manually. So they set about looking for a solution that met their needs. After reviewing all the major software packages from the UK, USA and Europe, it became apparent that none of the systems had the features they were looking for. So the management team decided to develop a software system that truly met the needs of a modern salon. Now into its fifth year of use, "SolarTrack" is probably the most comprehensive computer system available for the tanning industry.

'We wanted a complete solution that would do everything, from the prevention of theft to customer safety, stock control and marketing,' Lisa Cook, General Manager, explains, 'So we teamed up with INTEC, a professional software house, who designed and developed the package. After several months of continual development, INTEC delivered a solution that met our stringent requirements.'

SUNdays' main requirement was that the system increased their profits and not their costs. 'Personally, I don't see the value in the systems that are effectively nothing more than computerised appointment books. I can buy a paper appointment book for less than £5 and some customer record cards that do the same job, and in some cases better, without the need for a computer at all,' remarks Lisa, 'Through its marketing functions and comprehensive management information, we believe that SolarTrack is the only software product that can increase your profit and decrease your cost.'

SolarTrack's wide-range of features takes care of the most important factors in the management of a successful tanning salon:

- Theft prevention
- Detailed management information
- Customer relationship marketing
- Customer care and safety
- Salon administration, including stock control, equipment servicing, etc.

In fact the system is so powerful that Bodycare International purchased SolarTrack licences in February 2000 for use in its fifty Tanning Shop branches across the UK. 'SolarTrack has been an extremely effective tool for us, particularly because it allows us to stay in control of each branch without a manager having to be there all the time,' says Justin Selig, Director of Bodycare International, 'It has also been responsible for increasing our turnover by a considerable percentage through its excellent marketing functions and its capacity to prevent the misuse of our tanning equipment.'

Theft prevention

Perhaps one of SolarTrack's most powerful features is its ability to directly control the tanning equipment through a suitable timer system, such as the T-MAX timer. This system effectively removes the ability for staff or customers to use a sunbed without a record being made within SolarTrack. Although other systems may claim to do this, SolarTrack is unique in that it has a built-in failsafe feature: in the unlikely event that the computer is unusable, the timer system can be switched into manual mode, which allows you to continue to serve your customers. As soon as the computer becomes available again, SolarTrack obtains the readings from each sunbed automatically, allowing you to compare what was sold in manual mode with the actual equipment usage. Therefore, even when SolarTrack is not running, it continues to prevent equipment misuse.

At the end of each day, SolarTrack provides you with a comprehensive report comparing the number of sessions sold with the number used on each sunbed and a summary of the day's transactions. The end-of-day report can be displayed on-screen, printed or even faxed or e-mailed to a destination of your choice. This means that you can stay in complete control of the salon without even having to be there!

Full point of sale solution

In its simplest form, SolarTrack is a comprehensive salon management system that is compatible with any Windows 98 computer. However, for professional salons, SolarTrack can be transformed into a complete point-of-sale solution with an electronic till drawer, receipt printer and bar-code reader. The system can also take digital photographs of your clients to ensure that other customers cannot use their courses. As an example of how well designed the system is, when a receipt is printed, it shows the customer how many minutes or sessions they have remaining on their course and at the appropriate moment suggests that they should buy another one!

The built-in appointment book allows you to quickly book people in for sunbed sessions, beauty and nail treatments and even hair appointments. Using its intuitive drag-and-drop interface, you can easily book, postpone, cancel or reschedule appointments, saving you time. In addition, SolarTrack remembers the timekeeping record of each and every customer so that you can quickly identify habitual timewasters.

From the point-of-sale screen, SolarTrack manages a number of processes for you automatically. For instance, stock levels are automatically decremented, the sunbeds are switched on for you and the client's course is adjusted accordingly. In fact, once it is configured correctly for your salon, SolarTrack runs itself - there's very little else to do.

Management information

SolarTrack contains a broad range of management reports, which help to run your salon more effectively. For instance, the system identifies the most and least profitable session types and equipment types, as well as the most effective staff, so that you can increase the turnover and profitability of the salon. It will even tell you the most and least popular times of the day and days of the week so that you can determine the most efficient staff levels.

Customer relationship marketing

We all know the UK tanning industry has experienced massive growth in the last few years, with many new salons are opening for business. To compete with the other salons in your area, one of the most effective things you can do is to run professional marketing campaigns on a regular basis. Fortunately, SolarTrack has a number of excellent features to help you do this. Using its powerful mailing-lists and reports, you will be able to retain current customers and maximise their expenditure, win back lost customers and even find new customers altogether. For example, SolarTrack identifies customers that have stopped coming to your salon and will allow you to send out letters persuading them to return.

Furthermore, using SolarTrack's on-screen demographics function, you can quickly spot the age groups that spend the most money, broken down into gender, and the postcodes that spend the most and least money, allowing you to create well-planned, targeted mail-shots. The system will also display a bar chart showing you the most effective advertising sources, helping you to spend your advertising budget on sources with the best return.

In terms of its marketing functions, one of SolarTrack's most useful facilities is its customer referral screen. When a customer refers another customer to your salon, SolarTrack stores this information in its database. Then, the next time the original customer uses your salon, SolarTrack thanks them for the referral and will even offer them a reward. This is precisely the kind of thing that your customers will appreciate and it will help to persuade them to introduce even more of their friends to your salon.

SolarTrack contains extremely sophisticated tools to analyse your customers' habits. For instance, SolarTrack identifies the customers that buy lots of sessions but never buy courses, enabling you to send them a letter suggesting that they buy a course from you to save money. And if the customer buys a course but no tanning lotion, SolarTrack will suggest that they buy a product to compliment the course.

Customer care and safety

SolarTrack works within the Sunbed Association's guidelines for safe tanning. For instance, it can warn that customers would exceed a pre-defined session limit and it can prevent staff from giving customers tanning times that exceed the recommendations for their skin type. The pre-defined limits are flexible and can be changed to suit each salon individually.

Salon administration

The system contains a variety of functions that help you to manage the salon easily and more effectively. For instance, SolarTrack will display a message when a particular piece of equipment needs servicing or when the lamps have gone past their pre-determined life expectancy. In addition, SolarTrack manages the entire stock re-ordering process for you - it can even order items automatically from your suppliers via fax or email so you do not even need to get involved on a day-to-day basis.

Flexibility
SolarTrack is extremely flexible too. For instance, courses can be configured in terms of a block of minutes, a pre-defined number of sessions or even a monetary value.

Results

SolarTrack's success in the tanning industry so far is testament to the awesome power of the product. In general, SolarTrack has increased the turnover of virtually every salon it is used in by at least ten percent and in some cases as much as twenty percent. Furthermore, many of its users have reported that they serve around 10-15% customers more per day than before the system was introduced in their salon, due to the powerful marketing campaigns it enables them to execute.

Although SolarTrack is a relatively new product, it has already acquired over 500 users in the UK across almost 80 sites. In the last twelve months alone, the product has served over 1,700,000 customers and has been responsible for well over £4 million worth of transactions in the UK, a figure that INTEC expect to increase by at least 15% in the coming year.

Perhaps one of the key reasons why SolarTrack is so successful is that everybody from single salon operators to multi-salon chains can use it effectively. Single salon operators gain the advantage of being able to create targeted marketing campaigns and increase the turnover of their salon, whilst multi-salon chains, in addition to these benefits, also benefit from being able to manage and control their salons remotely. Either type of user can profit from a substantial business edge over salons not using the SolarTrack system.

In summary, SolarTrack is an extremely comprehensive salon management system. It contains a multitude of very powerful functions and reports that separate it from other products, making it the UK's most successful tanning management system. Its success is attributed to a number of reasons, including the fact that it was designed by people with extensive experience in the tanning industry, it is distributed by a network of professional well-known organisations and it is supported by a large software house with a solid background in delivering high-quality products and services.

SolarTrack has genuine benefits to offer every salon, from increased profits and decreased costs to better customer care and professional marketing. For more information, check out SolarTrack's website: www.solartrack.com or contact INTEC to arrange a demonstration.