STILLWATER — In the days after Tan & Tone America abruptly shuttered all its metro area locations in July, franchisee Todd Crosby received hundreds of phone calls a day from irate customers.
Many of them found out the tanning and fitness chain had gone under by reading a note taped to the business's doors. Eleven locations were abandoned, calls to the corporate headquarters went unanswered.
But Crosby remained open. He explained to disgruntled customers that he would honor their memberships, coupons and unused gift certificates, but being an hour drive from Oklahoma City, most declined.
“It had a huge effect on my business the first few weeks,” Crosby said. “I had people actually drive from Oklahoma City and demand money from me.”
Crosby rebranded his location, changed the name to Tan & Tone Unlimited and began an advertising campaign to distance himself from the defunct chain. He said he also paid a $5,000 penalty for operating one day without a license during the transition.
But once the dust settled, business doubled.
Crosby had wanted to leave the franchise and become independent before, but was deterred by the fee he'd have to pay to leave the company. On his own, he implemented new policies, such as semester-long memberships that cater to his college student clientele, instead of the longer-term deals required by his former corporate parent.
He added the ability to process credit cards. Plus, he's no longer on the hook for a franchise fee.
“Everything has been a lot easier for us to operate ...,” Crosby said.