Successful indoor tanning entrepreneur Tony Hartl — who built and then sold one of the tanning market’s most successful chains — has been added as a featured speaker at Smart Tan Downtown Oct. 22-24 in Downtown Nashville.
Hartl, who founded Planet Tan at the age of 26 in 1995 in Dallas and sold the chain 13 years later for millions of dollars, will be leading Smart Tan’s “Ten Key Elements of Success in the Tanning Market” class at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23. It’s one of more than a dozen workshops at the conference geared at teaching tactics of successful tanning stores in the coming decade.
Hartl is the author of a soon-to-be released book, “Selling Sunshine”, which chronicles his story building and then selling the Planet Tan chain (www.sellingsunshinebook.com). Giving back to his humble roots growing up, Hartl is donating all book proceeds to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), an organization devoted to educating low-income youths about the power of business and the skills they posses to rise out of poverty through entrepreneurship.
After founding the company with three locations in Dallas in 1995, Hartl grew Planet Tan into a premier collection of indoor mega-salons. By 2008, Planet Tan boasted 17 locations and 160 employees and generated average per unit sales of $1 million — arguably the highest in the country.
Hartl pioneered successful strategies in this market. He was featured on the cover of Fortune Small Business for developing and implementing a revelatory method of gauging customer service in his stores.
“The success model keeps changing in the tanning market, and one of the greatest examples of building a successful tanning business in changing times is Tony Hartl’s story,” Smart Tan Conference Chairman Joseph Levy said. “We’re glad to have Tony participating in this event and know that our members will learn a lot from his examples.”
Hartl’s class follows entrepreneur Bill Rancic — the first winner of Donald Trump’s popular television program “The Apprentice” whose successful business was built very much the same way and faced the same hurdles as many successful tanning businesses. Combined with the introduction of Smart Tan’s Foundation Program, which introduces Smart Tan’s turn-key PR program for tanning facilities, it gives opening day a true entrepreneurial angle.