A tanning salon is a business that provides indoor tanning services through UV tanning beds and booths, as well as spray-on tanning services. Some tanning salons are also involved in running complimentary services such as health spas, fitness centers, mobile tanning locations, beauty parlors, hair salons, et al.

Available statistics show that in the United States, indoor tanning is a nearly $5 billion per year industry, providing a backbone for close to 19,000 small businesses across the country.

Steps on How to Start a Tanning Salon Business

  1. Conduct Market Research

If you are considering starting a tanning salon, you would need reliable market research to be able to maximize profits from the business. The first step in the market research process for your tanning salon should be to develop market-based research questions in line with your overall business goals and objectives.

In this regard, you should source information that will help you maximize your business, data that will give you a reliable clue of what your potential market will be looking out for from a tanning salon and also help you operate your tanning salon with less stress and of course, build the business to profitability.

a. Who is the Target Market for Tanning Salon?

If you are thinking of opening a tanning salon then you should make target demographics all-encompassing. It should include corporate executives, socialites, students, migrants, entrepreneurs, tourists, and every adult in the neighborhood where your tanning salon will be located.

b. Is Tanning salon a Profitable Business?

Yes, tanning salon is a profitable business and according to the American Tanning Institute, there are 30,000 tanning salons in the United States, and tanning is one of the fastest-growing businesses across the U.S. The Institute lists the total economic impact of indoor tanning facilities at five billion dollars.

c. Are There Existing Niches in the Industry?

Yes, there are existing niches when it comes to a tanning salon. Here are some of them;

  • Spray Tanning Booths
  • Tanning Salon
  • Mobile tanning salon
d. Who are the Major Competitors?
  • NY Sun Club Tanning & Airbrush
  • South Beach Tanning Company
  • Body Color Tanning Salon
  • Club Tan Salon
  • Hollywood Tans
  • Cayman Tanning Salon
  • Coconutz Tanning Salon
  • Toasted Tanning Salon
  • Glow Tanning Salon
  • Sol Us Tanning Riverside
  • Tanfastic Tanning & Hair Salon
  • Sun Tan City
  • Beach Bum Tanning & Airbrush Salon
  • Energy Spa Salon & Tanning
  • Sun Rayz Tanning Center
  • 4 Seasons Salon
  • Bronze Republic Tanning Salon: Hillsborough
  • Future Tan’s Tanning Spa
  • Amoy Salon and Spa
  • Gotham Glow Airbrush Tanning.
e. Are There County or State Regulations or Zoning Laws for Tanning Salons?

Yes, there are county and state regulations for tanning salons and it is essential to state that each state has its own requirements. As there are different laws and costs per state, it is essential to do your own research into local regulations and zoning policies.

California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, banned the use of tanning beds for minors under 18.

Oregon and Washington do allow some minors to use tanning devices with a medical exception. At least 44 states and the District of Columbia regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors. Please note that no tanning salon shall be permitted within a five-hundred-foot radius of any existing residence, recreation, park, civic facility, or religious establishment.

FDA regulates products that emit radiation, including sunlamp products and products that use sunlamp products, such as tanning beds and tanning booths. FDA also regulates medical devices and classifies them into one of three classes: class I, class II, and class III.

f. Is There a Franchise for Tanning Salon?

Yes, there are franchise opportunities for tanning salons. Here are some of them;

  • GloPatrol
  • The Palms Tanning Resort
  • Natura Sugaring Melt & Wax Spa
  • iTan Franchising
  • South Beach Tanning Company
  • Tan Republic
  • Palm Beach Tan
  • Boca Tanning Club
  • A. Sunset Tan
  • Sirius Day Spa
  • Spray Tan of America
  • Tan FX Sun Tanning Studio
  • Hollywood Tans
  • Image Sun Tanning Centers.
g. What Do You Need to Start a Tanning Salon?
  • A Feasibility Report
  • Vaccination Against Hepatitis B, Hepatitis B Immunity or Compliance with The Declination Requirements
  • Business and Marketing Plans
  • Business Licenses and Permits
  • Well Equipped Salon Facility
  • Tools and Source of Supplies
  • Insurance
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number) / Federal Tax ID Number.
  • A Corporate Bank Account
  • Employees
  • Operational Capital (For Ongoing Expenses)
  1. Choose a Memorable Business Name

When looking to start a business, before you can begin to file the necessary documents with the constituted authorities or start your website, it is necessary that you come up with a name that you will be recognized with. It is essential that the name you come up with can easily be pronounced, is unique and easily memorable.

Some of the catchy business name ideas suitable for a tanning salon business are;

Creative Tanning Salon Business Name ideas
  • Brown Zone© Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Different Shades@ Tanning Salon, LLC
  • Look Good© Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Tan Solutions® Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Queen Parlor™ Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Green Brush™ Tanning Salon, LLC.
  • Princess Dorothy© Tanning Salon, LLC
  • Amie Pamela® Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Nature Color© Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Doris Clarkson© Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Joy Johnson® Tanning Salon, LLC
  • Reiz Porkpie® Tanning Salon, LLC
  • Hands On™ Tanning Salon, LLC
  • Brown Williams© Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Tender Pro® Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Your Choice™ Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Mariah Martins™ Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Lady Bennie© Tanning Salon, Inc.
  • Baroness Rose® Tanning Salon, LLC
  • Yolanda Couture™ Tanning Salon, Inc.
  1. Register Your Business

a. What Type of Business Structure is Best for Tanning Salon?

When it comes to the business structure of a tanning salon, the one that most players in this line of business consider is an LLC. It is common to consider an LLC because providers want to protect themselves from lawsuits. Please note that an LLC will need an EIN if it has employees or if it will be required to file any of the excise tax forms listed below.

b. Steps to Form an LLC
  • Choose a Name for Your LLC.
  • File Articles of Organization.
  • Choose a registered agent.
  • Decide on member vs. manager management.
  • Create an LLC operating agreement.
  • Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • File annual reports.
c. What Type of License is Needed to Open a Tanning Salon?
  • General Business License
  • Tanning License
  • Public Health Permits
  • Seller’s Permit
  • Vaccination Against Hepatitis B, Hepatitis B Immunity or Compliance with The Declination Requirements
  • Certificate Of Occupancy
  • Zonal Permits
  • Signage Permit
  • Sales Tax Permit and Federal Income Tax ID
  • Health Inspection (Operational State Facility Inspections)
d. What Type of Certification is Needed to Start a Tanning Salon?
  • Indoor Tanning Certification
  • Spray Tanning Certification
  • Smart Tan Certification
  • Norvell Spray Tan Certification.
e. What Documents are Needed to Open a Tanning Salon?
  • DBA
  • EIN
  • Business and liability insurance
  • Federal Tax Payer’s ID
  • State Permit and Building Approval (Certificate of Occupancy (CO))
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document
  • Contract Document
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
f. Do You Need a Trademark, Copyright, or Patent?

If you are considering starting a tanning salon, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection or trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

  1. Cost Analysis and Budgeting

a. How Much Does It Cost to Start a Tanning salon?

A tanning salon will cost from $50,000 to over $150,000 to start, and that can easily go higher depending on your overall business goals and objectives.

b. What are the Cost Involved in Starting a Tanning Salon?
  • The Fee for registering the business in the United States – $725.
  • The budget for legal fees, insurance, permits, and license – $5,000
  • The cost of leasing a facility – $20,000
  • The amount needed to renovate your tanning salon facility (electrical, furnishings, plumbing, painting, and landscaping) – $5,000.
  • The Cost for the purchase of furniture and equipment – $20,000
  • Other start-up expenses include stocking with supplies – $5,000
  • Phone and utility deposits – $3,500
  • The cost opening party – $5,000 (optional)
  • Cost for payment of salaries for the first 3 months of operation – $15,000
  • Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts, and Promotions et al) – $1,000
  • The cost of launching an official website – $600
  • The cost for our grand opening party – $2,000
  • Miscellaneous – $2,500.
c. What Factors Determine the Cost of Opening a Tanning Salon?
  • The size of a tanning salon
  • The choice of location
  • The required licenses and permits
  • The cost for branding, promotion, and marketing of the tanning salon
  • The cost of furnishing and equipping the facility
  • The cost of insurance
  • The cost of registering the business
  • Cost of recruiting and training your staff
  • The cost for the purchase and customizing of uniforms
  • The cost for the grand opening of the tanning salon.
d. Do You Need to Build a Facility? If YES, How Much Will It Cost?

It is not compulsory to build a new facility for your tanning salon, but, if you have the required finance, it will pay you to build your own facility. The truth is that building or reconstructing a facility will help you come up with a facility that will perfectly fit into your overall business goals and vision.

e. What are the Ongoing Expenses of a Tanning Salon?
  • Supplies (gloves, extraction fans, shower caps, disposable clothing, nose plugs, cloth wipes et al)
  • Utility bills (internet subscriptions, phone bills, signage, and software renewal fees et al)
  • Salaries of employees
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Marketing and business promotion costs
f. What is the Average Salary of your Staff?
  • Chief Operating Officer (Owner) – $45,000 Per Year
  • Salon Manager – $35,000 Per Year
  • Tanning Specialists – $30,000 Per Year
  • Customer Service Officer (Receptionist) – $26,100 Per Year
g. How Do You Get Funding to Start a Tanning Salon?
  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for a loan from your bank/banks
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from the government, donor organizations, and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
  1. Write a Business Plan

a. Executive Summary

Yolander Couture© Tanning Salon, Inc. is a U.S based and licensed tanning salon. We have been able to secure a standard and well-positioned facility in a central and busy district in Los Angeles, California.

We are a tanning salon business that is set to compete in the highly competitive and fragmented tanning salon industry not only in Los Angeles, California but also throughout the United States market because we intend to open our outlets in key cities across the United States.

b. Products and Service
  • Providing UV tanning services
  • Providing spray-on tanning services
  • Providing airbrush tanning services
  • Providing body contour tanning services
  • Providing sunless tanning services
  • Running complimentary services such as health spas, fitness centers, mobile tanning locations, beauty parlors and hair salons et al
  • Merchandise sales of tanning-related products.
c. Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide professional tanning services to individuals. We want to build a tanning salon business that can favorably compete with other leading brands in the tanning salon industry.

Vision Statement

Our vision is to establish a standard and world-class tanning salon business whose services and brand will not only be accepted in Los Angeles, California but also other cities in the United States of America.

d. Goals and Objectives

The goal and objective of a tanning salon are to provide tanning services to clients.

e. Organizational Structure
  • Chief Operating Officer (Owner)
  • Salon Manager
  • Tanning Specialists
  • Customer Service Officer (Receptionist)

Marketing Plan

a. SWOT Analysis
  • Excellent operational history
  • Attention to detail.
  • Ability to come up with a unique tanning concept
  • Experienced and trained professionals.
  • Excellent customer testimonials.
  • Reliable and efficient tanning procedures and service.
  • Not enough existing clientele to run at full capacity immediately
  • The owner is new to large scale marketing
  • Lack of economies of scale.
  • Growing acceptance of tanning services
  • Build upon existing clientele
  • Online market, new services, new technology, and of course the opening of new markets.
  • Loans diminish profitability until they are paid off
  • The first year will be financially tight while we gain customers and pay off loans
  • Competition in the area could increase
  • Management of employees requires time, money, and efforts
  • The FDA, medical and health department could change their regulatory status and decide to enforce strict regulations that can strangulate new businesses.
b. How Do Tanning Salons Make Money?

Tanning salons make money by offering services such as;

  • Providing UV tanning services
  • Providing spray-on tanning services
  • Providing airbrush tanning services
  • Providing body contour tanning services
  • Providing sunless tanning services
  • Running complimentary services such as health spas, fitness centers, mobile tanning locations, beauty parlors and hair salons et al
  • Sale of tanning-related products.
c. Payment Options
  • Payment via bank transfer
  • Payment with cash
  • Payment via credit cards
  • Payment via online bank transfer
  • Payment via check
  • Payment via mobile money transfer
d. Sales & Advertising Strategies
  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to corporate organizations, households, offices, and key stakeholders within and outside the city you have your tanning salon
  • Advertise your business in relevant lifestyle and entertainment magazines, radio stations, and TV stations (make yourself available for health and wellness spa services related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radio)
  • List your business on local directories / yellow pages
  • Attend international expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
  • Create different packages for different categories of clients to work for them
  • Leverage the internet to promote your business
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing

Financial Projection

a. How Much Should You Charge for your Product/Service?
  • Spray tanning: $20 to $35
  • Airbrush tanning: $30 to $90
  • Mobile tanning: $60 to $150.

Please note that on average, a single session at a local tanning salon can cost anywhere from $7 to $25 for a basic tan that lasts around 7 to 20 minutes.

b. How Much Profit Do Tanning Salon Owners Make a Year?

It depends, but available reports show that on average, industry experts estimate the average tanning salon owner’s salary is $60,000 per year or more, with many owners earning more than $100,000 annually.

c. What Factors Determine the Amount of Profit to Be Made?
  • The capacity of the tanning salon
  • The location the tanning salon is covering
  • The management style of the tanning salon
  • The business approach of the tanning salon
  • The advertising and marketing strategies adopted by the tanning salon
  • The number of years the tanning salon is in business
d. What is the Profit Margin of a Tanning Salon’s Product/Service?

The profit margin of a tanning salon is not fixed. It could range from 35 percent to 65 profit margins.

e. What is the Sales Forecast?
  • First Fiscal Year (FY1): $250,000
  • Second Fiscal Year (FY2): $300,000
  • Third Fiscal Year (FY3): $450,000
  1. Set Up your Shop/Office

a. How Do You Choose a Perfect Location for a Tanning Salon?
  • The demography of the location.
  • The demand for the services offered by tanning salons in the location
  • The purchasing power of people in the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of tanning salons in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community/state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al
b. What State and City are Best to Open a Tanning Salon?
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Lewiston, Maine
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Badger, Alaska
  • Chandler, Arizona
  • Seatle, Washington
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Gresham, Oregon
c. What Equipment is Needed to Operate a Tanning Salon?

UV tanning equipment, Spray-On tanning equipment, Body Contour tanning equipment, tanning airbrush, Computers and receipt issuing machines, Sound System (For playing music), Point of Sale Machines (POS Machines), CCTV Cameras, and Flat Screen TVs. You will also need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine, and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

  1. Hire Employees

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard tanning salon, you should make plans to hire a competent chief executive officer (you can occupy this position), salon manager, tanning specialists, and customer service officer (receptionist).

  1. Launch the Business Proper

In recent times, no tanning salon opens its door for business without first organizing an opening party to officially launch the business. You can choose to do a soft opening if you are operating on a low budget or you can go for a grand opening party.

The bottom line is that with a proper launching of the tanning salon, you will officially inform people in your city that your tanning salon is open for business.

a. What Makes a Tanning Salon Successful?
  • Choose a good location and reliable tanning salon equipment
  • Partner with related stakeholders
  • Hire only competent, hardworking, and trustworthy staff
  • Be deliberate with your marketing sales approach
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth to promote your tanning salon
  • Leverage all available online and offline platforms to promote your tanning salon.
b. What Happens During a Typical Day at a Tanning Salon?
  • The business is open for the day’s work
  • The beds and equipment are cleaned, adjusted, and set for the day’s job
  • Customers are attended to
  • Scheduled maintenance and servicing of equipment are carried out
  • Marketing/website upkeep
  • Administrative duties
  • The business is closed for the day.
c. What Skills and Experience Do You Need to Build a Tanning Salon?
  • Good creative skills
  • Good marketing and sales skills
  • Customer services skills
  • Interpersonal skill
  • Business management skills
  • Attention to details
  • Work experience in the tanning salon industry
  • Experience in managing people
  • Experience in business administration
  • Experience in handling tanning tools and equipment.