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How to open a tanning business

Updated March 23, 2017

Indoor tanning provides people with a quick and affordable way to maintain an attractive glow when time will not permit them to lay out. As long as you pick the right location, finance your business properly and offer good equipment and exceptional customer service, your tanning salon will be off to a great start.

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  1. Research tanning safety regulations. Before you put your plan to open a tanning business into motion, you need to be aware of any laws and safety regulations that you must follow. You can find this information on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.

  2. Write a business plan. This is an outline of exactly what you need to open a tanning business. Describe your ideas, the products you need to buy and how you plan to market and grow the business. Research your target demographic and potential locations to help maximise your profits.

  3. Obtain financing. A tanning salon will incur greater-than-average start-up costs because of the equipment. You will be looking at around £13,000 of your own funds as well as a loan for equipment, supplies and space. Commercial tanning beds can run as much as £6,500 each, and renting space can cost up to £22,750 a year. If you do not have the funds yourself, you can look into a bank loan or solicit possible investors. This can be difficult, however, as many banks will not lend to start-ups without a proven track record. A third option to consider is buying into a franchise rather than opening a tanning business from scratch. At the very least, the name recognition will be there to aid in getting a loan.

  4. Select a location. You want to be in an area that sees a good amount of traffic and is likely to generate walk-in business. But don't choose a location that is so traffic-heavy that the rent will be too high and cut into your profits. Research several different locations to determine the best fit.

  5. Purchase products and office equipment, such as tanning beds, lotions, goggles, towels, computers, printers and office supplies. Look into several different types of tanning beds to offer customers a range of products. Some people will want a less expensive, basic bed, while others may want a full-service, stand-up bed with a facial tanner. This will bring in clients who have more to spend, while not alienating those on a budget.

  6. Advertise your business to build clientele. Buy ad space on television, the radio or local newspapers. You can also hand out flyers. This will be even more effective if you offer a grand opening special. For instance, you can offer customers 25 per cent off for purchasing a membership on the first day of business, or 10 per cent off for referring friends. Be creative, build good word-of-mouth and your tanning business will thrive.

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Things You'll Need

  • Commercial space
  • Tanning beds
  • Tanning supplies
  • Office equipment

About the Author

Carl Carabelli has been writing in various capacities for more than 15 years. He has utilized his creative writing skills to enhance his other ventures such as financial analysis, copywriting and contributing various articles and opinion pieces. Carabelli earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Seton Hall and has worked in banking, notably commercial lending, since 2001.

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