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cloud minerbc logo copyOur story starts over 7 years ago when we decided to open a tanning salon. We researched and hired a consultant to assist with all aspects of the opening (location, build out, lease negotiations, marketing, equipment mix, etc). We spent an enormous amount of money and were left with bad guidance – which over the past 4 years, left us out of money and on the brink of closing our doors.
Desperate, through what we consider an Act Of God, we found Steve Underhill. We were extremely skeptical of consultants, because of our previous experience. We had followed Steve on the tanning forums and he always seemed to have good, valuable feedback. We gave him a call and as they say the rest is history. One conversation with a referral he provided to us, still stands front and center – the owner of another salon said to us – DO WHATEVER STEVE TELLS YOU TO DO. We thought, nah – that can’t be right…………………3+ years later, it still remains absolutely correct!
It took us a long time to write this testimonial, not because we didn’t feel Steve was worthy of it, but we just could not come up with the right words to describe him and the value he provides. Simply put, the value he brings to each salon he works with is PRICELESS.
From the moment of our first conversation, and now over 3 years later, he has never not returned a phone call or email. What we hired him to do is long since ended but he continues to be our mentor and confidant. We do not publish a marketing piece, purchase a piece of equipment, change pricing, etc until we consult with Steve first.
When we hired Steve, we were on the brink of closing our doors, and hiring him continues to be the best decision we ever made. Our numbers went from the negative, to constant growth for over 3 years now.
167% increase in sales 2012 – 2015
Thank you for doing what you do so well.
Lori & Kaitlyn – Bronze Couture Tan & Spa


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DSC_9418 DSC_9415 DSC_9404DSC_9327BKK SUN is the first tanning salon in Thailand. This salon will be open January 18, 2016 and SMU Consulting has been working with the owner Jeff Amato for almost 6 years to make it happen. This will be the first salon of many. These pictures represent a ceremony where Monks are blessing the salon, owners and all who participated in making this the first salon in a beautiful country.


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The key to success or failure in small business is knowledge, and Steve Underhill is one of the most knowledgeable and smartest people working in tanning today.

Steve has helped me rework and refine every aspect of my business over the last 3 years.  It’s been a continuous journey of improvement, initially fixing the large problems and reaping large rewards, and in the end fixing smaller issues, ultimately leading to a much more profitable and smoother running business. Here’s some of the improvements that are a direct result of Steve’s work:

  • Increased sales 35% through marketing and price structure
  • Cut expenses by thousands of dollars through lease negotiation
  • Successfully opened our first new build in 2012, using strategic site selection

Finally, Steve’s fees are extremely reasonable, and I’ve always received more than I’ve paid for:  Steve once did a lease negotiation for free when he felt he didn’t get the price low enough (in fact it’s the cheapest rent I pay at any of my 6 stores). Joe Mellmer Golden Tan, Utah

I opened my salon about ten years ago with Stephen’s marketing plan.  The salon was a success, but the industry had changed over the past decade.  I asked Stephen for his thoughts on my marketing plan and it was clear that it had to be updated.  He analyzed my current plan, considered the current industry trends and recommended a new plan.  I’ve implemented the changes and just in one month we were up 30% compared to the previous year.  He also helped me with advertising allocation and frequency.  We started working together during a time of management change as well in which Stephen was able to assist in the process.  He’s always available and has a great wealth of knowledge and passion for the tanning industry.  I thought I knew quite a bit about the tanning industry after ten years of operation, but I’m learning at a rate like never before.  I look forward to his continual support and counsel.

Baja Tan Logo- Vectorized Matt Kohler President image011

In 2012, my business associate and I decided to pursue the ownership of a tanning salon.  We had no experience, but started our journey investigating the industry via the internet.  As chance would have it, I was fortunate enough to encounter Mr. Stephen Underhill.  Through various email conversations, I was curious who this individual was with this wealth of knowledge.  Why did this person of “encyclopedia knowledge” in the tanning industry, end up responding to the various email questions I submitted?   It became clear to me at the time Steve was not only knowledgeable, but passionate about the industry.  His years of experience as an owner / operator, distributor, and business consultant are invaluable.   He is savvy in all aspects of the tanning industry from start-up through business expansion.  Steve was instrumental in assisting us with the purchase of an existing salon as our business consultant.  His negotiation skills in the purchase of our salon and re-defining our lease agreement are unparalleled.  Steve’s in-depth knowledge in salon layout, tanning equipment, owner and employee education, and start-up procedures was a necessity for us as new salon owners.   He assisted in the creation of our business model, employee manual, marketing plan, and various other essential areas of our business we could not have developed as thoroughly. Steve is still assisting us with our marketing plan, and we have total confidence that his expertise will be a critical part of our success.  For us, Steve is always just a phone call away. We consider ourselves fortunate to have crossed paths with Steve and could not have made this transition into the tanning industry without such a mentor.  He is a priceless asset to any salon owner.  I would without hesitation, recommend Steve to any salon owner looking to improve their business or new salon owner looking for guidance.   Steve is a passionate, knowledgeable, likeable mentor we could not have been without.  He is our “ace” in the hole, and we are grateful for his help. February 26, 2014 As of today we are up 53% from last year this time.  In January and February we surpassed the 2013 total sales without including the EFT sales in 2014.  So things are really booming.  The cold weather has really helped, more importantly our reputation for having a clean salon with a different, more upscale feel has really brought in the business.  Since you told us about the Facebook advertising our Facebook likes have gone from 230 to 332, that’s just in 6 weeks.  I think we are also getting a good deal of business from just that advertising. Terri Ratayzcak Lanai Beach Tan New Berlin, WI    


Hi Steve: This is just a letter to express my appreciation for all of your kind assistance in getting my first tanning salon business up and running successfully. You may not know this yet, but I had been researching the tanning industry and the tanning business model for about 2 years before contacting you. Initially, I was thinking about opening a tanning franchise, but I concluded that the business model was simple and did not warrant a franchisor’s involvement. I also thought that all I needed to open this business was to lease a space in a shopping center, buy some beds, and open the doors. However, as I learned more about the tanning business and became serious about opening a tanning salon, questions I had not considered before began coming up. There are questions such as:

  • Which beds to buy?
  • Who to buy the lotions from?
  • Where to open the salon?
  • How to price the packages?
  • And many many more…

I found that there is a lot more to opening a tanning salon than I had initially assumed. As a result, I contacted you for assistance. At first, I was quite apprehensive about our arrangement. However, now that sometime has passed and my business has been open for about 3 months, I have found that you are indeed a man of your word. You have been there for me and held my hand every step of the way and have done everything you said you would do. Your experience in this industry is invaluable. From creating a business plan to finding a demographically suitable location and negotiating a lease to hiring and training employees to marketing assistance, your customer service has been nothing short of excellent. During the process, you have saved me quite a few thousand dollars. In my humble opinion, you provide much more assistance and information than any franchisor does or would. In conclusion, I sincerely believe that I could not have opened a successful tanning salon without your help. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude. I thank you being an honest and frank tanning business consultant. With your continued assistance, I hope to open many more tanning salons over the years. I am happy to say that I look forward to having a long-term friendship with you. Sincerely, Haresh Melwani President

image003 Thanks to the ongoing support and visionary marketing program provided by SMU Consulting, SunSity Tan continues to thrive and grow. Before we entered the tanning industry Pam and I realized the importance of working with a professional consultant who could guide us from start to finish, in an industry we knew nothing about to make our first salon a success. As a result after only one year we are working on our second salon that is due to be open in the fall of 2004. Steve always takes the time to share ideas and answer all of our endless questions in a frank and honest manner. As with our first salon, Steve will design all aspects of our second salon – Pam & Lou Schies



I would like to personally thank Steve for helping Sienna Tan become a reality. I don’t know where we would be today without his help. His expertise and knowledge of the tanning industry is incredible. Steve’s help with lease negotiations, planning, design, proper equipment mix and marketing plan saved us thousands of dollars and kept us from making several costly mistakes. I will recommend SMU Consulting and Equipment Sales to anyone who is interested in starting a successful salon – Rick and Julie Grann  

image007 Dearest Stephen, My salon has now been open for 60 days and we are the talk of the town!  I would not be in this position if it had not been for SMU Consulting!  The best way I could summarize how valuable your services are to me is by using a well known commercial: Tanning Equipment: $108,000.00 Build out Expense: $50,000.00 Other Expense: $25,000.00 StephenUnderhill’s Consulting: PRICELESS Without your services, it would not have mattered how much or how little I would have spent on everything else to start up the tanning salon as I would not have had the vital information that is necessary to make it a success. As you know, I attempted to obtain an SBA loan for a tanning salon a few years ago and was turned down by three banks.  Two years later, after hiring your consulting firm and following your advice, I was approved by the first bank that I submitted the business plan to. There is an overwhelming amount of tanning equipment out there, especially for someone that is new to the industry.  Your expertise proved once again to be PRICELESS.  Having the right mix of equipment and equipment that is designed to last and is backed by great customer service is invaluable. I could go on and on about how many hours and dollars your consulting firm has saved me.  It is so nice to know that I have a strong, invaluable source standing behind me and my salon.  I would have it no other way! If at anytime, I could be a reference for your company, it would, without a doubt, be my pleasure to recommend your services. Sincerely, Danita Sauerwein, Australian Sands Tanning Resort


I found Mr. Underhill by accident about 1 year ago while searching the internet for something. I called him up and asked a few questions and he told me he was a Salon Analyst. I wasn’t looking for an analyst at the time but I figured I should listen. I got more and more intrigued by what he had to say. Without any pay or commitment he willingly took my calls, answered my questions and at one point even gave me some advice. That advice made us about $3,000 in a few weeks and cost nothing. At that point I understood he really knew what he was talking about and we moved to the next step. The initial results were really staggering. We implemented the new plan at my college and in one month our gross revenue was up $3,000 from last year. It has now been 3 months since we implemented the new plan and I have to say I am really amazed at the difference it made. We continue to break last years records for each month. Mr. Underhill may just very well of saved our business (from ourselves) and propelled us into serious profit taking. Scott Payne Cavalier Tan


To Whom it May Concern, Having worked with StephenUnderhill and SMU Consulting, I am pleased to give him and his organization my highest recommendation. As someone who has owned and operated several businesses, I spent many hours researching the indoor tanning industry before I decided to open my own salon. I quickly discovered that there are several companies that will “Help” you open a salon as long as you agree to buy all of your equipment from them. This struck me as little more than a sales technique, and certainly did not inspire confidence that my salon would be a priority after the sale was made. During my due diligence, I found that Stephen had a very good reputation within the industry and most importantly, I would be under no obligation to purchase any equipment through him. One of the main reasons I choose to use an expert is that in every industry there are little “Tricks of The Trade” that you would have no way of knowing being on the outside looking in. These things may seem minor at the time but can become the difference between success and failure in a new business. From site selection and demographics to the specific mix of equipment that will optimize your revenue. Without expert guidance, these decisions become little more than a “best guess”. The other area that I found Stephen very helpful with was with the lease negotiation (not something that I have ever enjoyed doing!). Stephen was able to negotiate our lease, including getting the landlord to do a substantial amount of the build out, allowing me to concentrate on other things. Now that we are open, Stephen has continued to provide us his expertise in marketing and has helped us greatly in dealing with the inevitable issues arise in any new business. Ultimate Tan opened in February of 2009 during the worst economic times since the great depression (if you believe the 5 o’clock news), we are projecting our first profitable month will be in March 2009. Thank you Stephen H. David Carpenter Ultimate Tan LLC.