Sitting in the downtown of Tuscaloosa Alabama is Tanning Oasis. Owned and operated by Lewis McAllister, this salon, primarily visited by university students, exclusively features Ergoline equipment. At JK we were intrigued to discover more about Tanning Oasis and the story behind his business and pathway to growing success.
McAllister purchased the salon in 2019 after working nearly 40 years in the shower door industry, a business built and passed down from his father. As a father himself, McAllister wanted to provide the same opportunity for his daughter to work and build a business. After purchasing Tanning Oasis in April of 2019, McAllister knew that in order to bring people into the salon, you have to provide the ‘best product and the best service’. We had to compete with some of the bigger tanning franchises in the area and I knew in order to compete, we needed to bring in the best equipment.
Going with Ergoline
McAllister explains: “At the time I needed to upgrade to new equipment, the Open Sun 1050 was a really popular bed in the area – it seemed like every salon nearby had the Open Sun 1050. So, I started researching Ergoline and it became my focus. That’s when the Prestige 1600 came out. I contacted my sales representative, Eric Matras, and we hit it off right away. It just seemed like it was the right time. We purchased ten Ergoline beds and switched our software to SunLync. We had the busiest month in the history of the salon in March – and then, the pandemic hit. We were closed down, and then reopened with limited capacity. Now we are fully open, business is great and things are looking good! This March was even better than last year. We’ve had a good year.”
The previous owners of the salon had older beds and didn’t have the funds to upgrade the equipment. McAllister knew that if he could get new beds, no one could compete with the premier equipment offered at Tanning Oasis. “You look at our line-up and it will match anyone in the country,” he commented. “If we were going to branch out to multiple locations, we wanted to make this location a template and have a good idea of what to offer in the other salons – especially with the additions of the hybrid units. These beds offer a better tan, they are better for you. They are just better all the way around.”
Hybrid Light Technology
Ergoline introduced the country’s first Hybrid light tanning bed, the Prestige 1600, in 2019. The first of its kind here in the U.S., hybrid light soon became an instant sensation in the tanning industry. In 2020, Ergoline released 2 more pieces of equipment to the hybrid line-up – the Inspiration 550 Hybrid and the Sunrise 7200 Hybrid. McAllister soon noticed a change in the customer behavior based around hybrid light.
“Our stand-up units were not very popular, but the Sunrise 7200 Hybrid is definitely more so,” he stated. “We have customers using a stand-up who never wanted tottery one before. We have all of the hybrid units in our salon now and our customers are really interested in the more natural-looking and longer-lasting tans. We’re certainly slammed right now, and we are working on providing a good training program for my staff. At Tanning Oasis, we want to become tanning consultants.” McAllister saw the need for new equipment and better training grow as he introduced a variety of new equipment with more innovative technology.
There’s Always More to Learn
“I can tell you with my former business experience, I became somewhat complacent, and l took my foot off the gas. If you slow down, you’ll get passed by your competition. I knew that with this business, I had a lot to learn; but, you’ll never learn everything. Once l feel like I’ve learned it all, there’s always more to learn.” McAllister educates himself on hybrid light technology and attends industry events like Experience Ergoline to learn more about the tanning industry and to continue his professional growth. “I really enjoyed the Experience Ergoline show because I learned so much about the hybrid equipment. I can take this information and find ways to train my staff. When we expand the business, we want to attract a different demographic – people who might be more interested in the science behind their tan. I want to be prepared to inform them.”
Tanning Oasis now offers the full line of Ergoline Hybrid Tanning systems.
As a customer of Ergoline, your experience is our first priority. “The best thing about it is that I can reach out to Eric and get just about anything I need fairly instantaneously,” McAllister added. “I can call Ergoline service and they walk me through an equipment repair. That is Ergoline answering the phone and being there, advising you, and getting the job done as soon as possible. I feel like Ergoline understands that when a machine is down, it costs me money. I feel supported and I really appreciate that. The real chance for success is to provide the best product and the best service and JK Ergoline continues to produce great products and great service, so Tanning Oasis has to be right there with them!”