Irina Kharsa co-founded and opened the doors of the very first iTAN Salon in Encinitas, Calif. on April 11, 2001. Before co-founding iTAN, Irina was a franchisee of a food and beverage business that offered very little opportunity for growth, so with her co-founder she had a vision to create long-lasting and successful salons that have become synonymous with a healthy, confident lifestyle in Southern California.
1. Can you give us an overview of how and why you co-founded iTAN? Which franchise locations do you currently operate?
I co-founded iTAN in 2001 because I am passionate about the indoor tanning industry, and consumers were seeking a professional salon. The salons that operated in San Diego were not up to our standard, and the equipment selection left us wishing for more. We opened our first Encinitas, Calif. location in order to bring a better option for tanning to the area and to create a more exciting business concept for ourselves. We currently operate iTAN Encinitas, iTAN Oceanside and six Inland Empire locations.
2. How does iTAN Franchising, Inc. fit your business needs?
iTAN Franchising, Inc. takes care of major business responsibilities like marketing, training and IT support, so we can focus on our operations. Every small business owner has to wear many hats week over week, which makes it difficult to focus on operations, customer service and team building. iTAN Franchising, Inc. gives us peace of mind that all our vitals are covered, and it allows the salon owner to focus on executing their strategic goals. iTAN Franchising, Inc.’s support is always available, and as a salon owner, I am confident that no matter what issue may arise our franchise staff is always readily available to help us find a resolution.
3. How has iTAN Franchising, Inc. successfully helped you manage your franchise locations through training, marketing, etc.?
Our numbers are up this year, and that is a healthy indicator that the iTAN Franchising, Inc. support is helping us grow. iTAN Franchising, Inc. provides us with marketing plans, guides, presentations, and a wide variety of print materials that support our business and help us feel bound for success. iTAN University is available online and allows unlimited franchisee access to help us train and guide our staff, and run our business. In addition, in-field training sessions help franchisees deal with anything from sales, spa product knowledge to leadership skills. Franchise support also guides us through client relations and resolves tough challenges. The iTAN IT staff has been indispensable and a huge help when we experience technical issues, too.
4. What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is interested in joining the iTAN franchise?
Keep in mind that when you join iTAN, you join a family. With iTAN Franchising, Inc. you get the kind of personalized attention that just doesn’t come with a big franchise. iTAN Franchising, Inc. lifts a big responsibility off your shoulders as they handle marketing, IT, PR and training for you. As a small business owner, you have to juggle salon operations, merchandise, customer service, accounting, human resources, etc., so needless to say that the amount of support that iTAN Franchising, Inc. provides is invaluable.
We operated our salons without this kind of support before we franchised iTAN and became iTAN Franchising Inc., and I would never want to go back to having to tackle all that on my own. Additionally, as an independent salon owner you have so much on your plate that you often struggle finding a direction for your business. Analytics and strategic planning is managed by iTAN Franchising, Inc. and I believe that this is a major reason why we are a successful franchise today. iTAN Franchising, Inc. understands our industry and market trends, which allows us to plan ahead and grow despite constant industry changes.
5. Overall, what do you feel is the top key benefit of purchasing an iTAN franchise?
iTAN is a proven concept and an award-winning leader of the Southern California tanning market. Each iTAN franchisee is a vital part of a strong group that survived and overcame many obstacles, such as negative trends in the economy and competition, including big national chains. Although iTAN is a franchise, at its core it is still a small business, so the support we get from iTAN Franchising, Inc. is very personalized. The team is always available to support each franchisee, and they go out of their way to be helpful and hands on.
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