1. Where Do I Begin When Starting a Tanning Salon?

Before opening a tanning salon, you should consider taking a few business courses and writing a start up business plan. Basic business courses will teach you how to develop a business plan and determine if it’s financially reasonable for you to open a tanning salon.

You will also need to select a location for your tanning salon business. You should choose an area of the city that is busy enough that you will receive some walk-in traffic, but not such a busy area that the rent is astronomical.

A lucrative tanning salon needs only a few things to get started; the products, the proper start up business plan and proper financing. You might be interested in joining your local Small Business office for more information about starting a business. Before starting your own business, check for any local or provincial regulations that govern a new tanning salon. Some provinces have specific regulations listed at the Chamber of Commerce websites or with local business information websites.

2. How Do I Find Out About the Tanning Salon Business?

Before deciding to open your own tanning salon, you should find out as much as you can about the tanning salon business. By doing your research, you will be sure that are willing to take the time and monetary risk to get your business up and running. You will also get ideas about developing a business plan to insure the success of your tanning salon business in the future.

One of the best ways to find out about the tanning salon business is to visit several salons. Visit as a regular paying customer. Take notes about everything concerning each business, including prices, customer service, safety warnings, cleanliness, and more. You may have to visit a couple of towns to check out different tanning salons to understand the different prices, regulations and the different kinds of tanning beds included.

After you leave each salon, think about what you liked and didn’t like about the salon.

Consult with successful tanning salon owners in your area. Visit their salons and discuss with the owners and/or managers about day-to-day business operations and start-up costs. Be honest about your desire to open a tanning salon and discuss the joys and pitfalls of the tanning salon industry. Also talk to them about different tanning beds and make note of how much they charge for their services. This will give you a better idea about what you are getting into by opening a tanning salon.

Another way to get insight into the tanning salon business is to get a part-time job working at a tanning salon. With hand-on experience with the day-to-day operations of a tanning salon, you can learn about pricing, staffing and all the other activities and problems that go along with owning a tanning salon business.

3. What Equipment and Products Will I Need?

Your business may need: A building to operate in, tanning beds in both stand-up and lay-down styles, indoor tanning lotions, protective eyewear, safety signs and notices, replacement parts for your tanning beds, etc.

Commercial space
You will need to rent or purchase a commercial space for your tanning salon. Make sure there’s ample room for a front waiting room, as well as the tanning area. Be sure to check with the local government to see if you need any additional licenses to run a tanning salon in your area.

To operate a business, you should have commercial liability insurance. You should also have some sort of umbrella policy to cover in case of an accident or injury on the premises. Consult an insurance agent to find out insurance requirements in your area. Uvalux can also help you with locating specific insurance brokers that specialize in the tanning industry.

Tanning supplies and office equipment
You will need a telephone system, front desk and other office furniture and equipment. You should also hang safety signs at the salon, and have customers sign a waiver agreement about the risks of tanning.

Tanning beds
A new business owner starting a tanning salon needs to understand all about tanning beds, including how they work and which tanning beds are the best for their tanning salon. Tanning beds come in a variety of styles, brands and models. Differences in tanning beds, include:
Tanning bed size
Maximum exposure time
High speed face tanners
Cooling systems
Lamp designs and sizes
Other factors

4. Does Uvalux Offer Assistance with a Business Plan?

Yes. Banks require business plans for new salons for several reasons. First, the process is usually effective at weeding out the weak and poorly prepared entrepreneurs. Second, the banks want assurances that you know what you are doing. Banks with money to invest may see large numbers of business plans and opportunities each week. They respond positively only to those that are strongly persuasive and the most prepared.

Uvalux sales professionals can provide good direction and a personalized, professional business plan. The proper start up business plan for your tanning salon is your core business. This describes your ideas, the products you need, what your project business will be like and the profits you mean to make. A bit of research will help you figure out what to charge, where to market and how to handle customers that come in the door. The business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. In most cases the best way to write a business plan is to create a plan you will actually read and use. This can be as simple as a notebook with a checklist of all the processes you will have to go through to start your own tanning salon business.

5. How Much Does it Cost to Start Up a Tanning Salon?

A new tanning salon business would cost around $20,000 of your own money and a sizable, reasonable loan from a bank for start-up costs. Some considerations for start up costs for a tanning salon may include buying or financing the tanning beds, the rental of the location of the salon, insurance and paying for employees. The cost of tanning beds can range anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 though you can find some tanning beds, even used commercial tanning beds that start at $1,000. The cost may be important but it is also imperative to keep in mind the comfort of your clients. Space rental can cost as much as $40,000 a year. If you are unprepared to consider these costs, you may need to rethink starting up a tanning salon.

6. Does Uvalux Offer Assistance with Financing and Securing Loans?

Yes. Beyond helping you with a professional business plan, we have several resources for financing and we can help you through the entire process. You will still need to meet the requirements of the bank but you stand a better chance of getting funded with our help. Getting funded represents the single biggest challenge for many new entrepreneurs. There are many creative ways to borrow money but most will require a significant cash and asset contribution on your part. If you are prepared for this before you approach the banks, you’ll have a great chance of getting an approval and building a successful business with our help.

If you need additional funding for your own start up tanning salon business, check with local banks. You may be surprised at how open most banks are to new and entrepreneurial businesses. With a sensible business plan for them to consider, you’ll find that most banks will be interested in assisting you with financing your start up tanning salon business. If you come across problems financing your tanning salon, you might be able to find investors. Investors are people who would like to start a business, without being directly involved with the business. It may work out like a profit sharing venture, where you run the business and the investor puts money into the business. You both then split the profits.

Find a business partner or investor.
If you have a good friend or associate who is looking to go into business, you can develop a business partnership. Be sure to have a formal business agreement drawn up that outlines how the assets and debts of the business will be handled. Also, determine if the person will be a working partner or just a financial investor.

Take out a bank loan.
If you have developed a sound business plan, many banks may be willing to loan you the money to start up your tanning salon business. Before signing a loan agreement, be sure you understand the interest rate, terms of the loan and timetable for repayment.

Consider opening a franchise.
Instead of starting your own tanning salon business from scratch, you should also look into tanning salon franchises. The advantages of franchising are the business model is already proven, plus the company name is known to potential customers.

7. What are the Pros and Cons of Franchising a Tanning Salon?

If you are considering opening a tanning salon franchise, you need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages:

Your business will be based on a proven idea.
Your brand will be recognized by clients.
Risk is reduced and shared by franchisor.
The franchisor will provide training, set up assistance and support.
Banks are more likely to lend money to franchises.
Relationships with suppliers are already established.

Royalty payments may be high.
Franchise agreement may restrict how you run the business.
Franchisor could go out of business.
Other franchisees may give the brand (and you) a bad rep.
Reduced risk usually means reduced profits.

8. I Have a Location in Mind; Does Uvalux Need to Approve it?

We have many tools at our disposal that will help you find and assess the best possible location for your new tanning salon but the ultimate decision is yours. You are not required to adhere to our recommendations in any way but we would like to provide you with our input. We have helped many clients avoid bad or saturated markets by the input we provide.

9. What Do I Need to Know About Tanning Bed Safety?

When you are starting your own tanning salon business, you need to be aware of tanning safety risks and regulations. The regulations are outlined by Health Canada. Tanning bed safety is most important, as you want your clients to come back.

You should warn all your clients about tanning safety by posting safety signs prominently throughout your salon and providing brochures about over exposure to UV rays. Inform all new clients about skin types, proper sun tanning and have them start out with very short tanning sessions. You also must provide eye protection for each and every client. Confirm when the client signs in that they understand the possible risks of tanning and have them sign a waiver. You want the clients to come back, therefore you can’t risk them getting sunburned at your salon.

10. What Type of Maintenance is Involved?

Replacing Tanning Lamps
You will need to replace your tanning bed lamps regularly. You should also be aware that new tanning bed bulbs lose 20 percent of their effectiveness after 50 hours. Therefore during the first 50 hours, clients that are new to tanning should not use the beds with new bulbs. At about the 500-hour mark, the efficiency of an average tanning bed lamp is close to 50 percent of a new lamp. For this reason, it is recommended that you replace your lamps at somewhere between 500 hours to 800 hours. Most lamps lose the majority of their effectiveness over 1,000 hours. Keep track of when you have replaced the bulbs carefully. You can use tanning salon software and timers to track the hours used on each of your tanning beds.

Click here for more information on tanning lamps.

Cleaning Tanning Beds
After each tanning session you should clean the top and bottom acrylic with disinfectant. You should also clean the exterior of the bed on a regular basis. At least once a month, you should do a more thorough cleaning of the acrylics. And yearly, you need to remove the acrylics from the tanning bed, clean the tanning lamps and reflectors. You should also clean out the vent holes of the cooling fans and make sure they are in working order at this time.

11. How Do I Attract Clients to my Salon?

Your tanning salon needs clients. Your clients may not even be aware of you or know your tanning salon exists. You may need to get the word out about tanning and your salon. Many salons choose to send out advertisements in the newspaper, flyers and through postcards that offer a free tanning session for first time clients. This is a great way to get new clients, some who may not be familiar with indoor tanning. Your area of exposure should be focused to your local area within so many miles. Keep that in mind when focusing your marketing plan.

One of the best things to do is offer some type of grand opening special offering a free tanning session to first time clients. Once people are in the door, you can sell them on monthly tanning packages and build repeat business. But you need to get them in the door first! Everybody loves something free. By offering one free tanning session, you will be able to get your client base off on the right foot.

Another way to advertise is by creating a website for your business. The cost of creating a basic website is relatively low. You will need to select and register a domain name, then create a basic webpage with information about your tanning salon. Be sure to update the website regularly with the latest specials and prices.

Also look to cross-promote with other local business and for free places to advertise such as community flyers. There are many marketing opportunities including social media, online ads, and more. Uvalux sales professionals have experience in effective marketing techniques.

12. How Do I Educate Clients?

With all the articles and information about tanning, some people believe that tanning is dangerous. You can attract clients to your salon by publishing the facts about tanning and being exposed to UV rays. The Joint Canadian Tanning Association (www.tancanada.org) helps to inform people about the benefits of tanning, including vitamin D and how UV light is used to improve skin conditions like Acne and Psoriasis. Help spread the word about tanning with other people by providing free information to them in flyers, advertising space in newspapers or by word of mouth. You may find that by educating people about tanning will improve your client base much more than regular advertising.

13. Can Tanning Salon Software Help?

Yes. To make the day-to-day operations of running your tanning salon easier, you should consider using tanning salon software such as Helios. This special software program is designed specifically for tanning salon business owners.

Tanning salon software keeps track of tanning sessions, sales, clients, inventory, timers and appointments. By using these types of software programs, you will have a Point of Sale system for tracking all your sales and customers, as well as an appointment scheduling system to help your customers tan more efficiently. Tanning salon software can also track the hours on all your tanning beds and bulbs.