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How to Open a Tanning Salon

A successful tanning salon can be a profitable and rewarding business to run. But what is required in order to establish the business, and what are the potential pitfalls? We look at the steps required, and the missteps to avoid.


First off, you need to determine whether your intended location can support your proposed business, or if you're flexible on location, look for the right place to maximize your return. That means scoping out the potential opposition within a certain distance away and reviewing their services and pricing.

If you determine that there is a gap in the market and you've identified a location with sufficient population to support your business, you need to start formulating a financial plan.


How much does it cost to establish your business? That rather depends on how big and expensive your premises are, and the number and spec of the sunbeds you intend to install. But there are many other smaller items that are often overlooked, but together can add up to a significant cost. You will need to consider all of the following:

  • Rental cost of premises
  • Fit out costs of premises
  • Sunbeds
  • Computers, telephones and other routine business equipment.
  • Lotions and oils
  • Eye protection
  • Cleaning tools and materials
  • Electricity cost, and potentially power upgrades
  • Brochures, web site and marketing materials
  • Insurance

Once you have figured out your costs, you need to think about revenue. You have to consider how much you can charge per session, the length of a session, including any time between customers that is required to clean machines and take payment, etc.,

It is important too not to assume that every sunbed will be occupied for all possible sessions. Clearly session times outside of normal work hours will be more attractive to those who work, but it might be harder to fill slots during weekday working hours. Therefore you may need to think about incentives for off-peak customers, and adjust pricing to help balance demand and maximize the usage of your resources.

Forming the Business

If you have formulated a business plan and feel confident you can make a profit, then you will need to formally set up a business. In the UK, setting up a limited company is an inexpensive and quick process. Many business people buy off-the-shelf packages from set-up specialists. Running as a limited company helps separate your business finances from your personal finances, and also helps insulate you from some of the risk. Though if investing money in a new business, you will always be risking that capital.

At this stage it is prudent to talk to an accountant. They can help advise on business software that will let you control record business transactions in a way that makes it easier for them to help prepare financial reports for you for tax and other legal requirements.

Promoting your Business

Once the business is up and running, you have fitted out your location and are ready to go to work, the most important part of any business comes into the picture - customers. How do you attract customers, and how do you ensure they return?

If your premises are in a visible location in a busy area, you may very well attract walk-ins. So an attractive display and good information on what you offer will be important. But you need to look further than this; facebook and the web offer opportunities for advertising that can be highly targeted towards the sort of people you see as your most likely potential customer, based on location, age and sex.

You may also think about introductory price offers, 2 for 1 sessions and so on. But if you run these at a loss, you need to ensure that such promotions do not undercut your core business proposition. There is no point encouraging customers in with free or low price offers, who will not be able or willing to pay the prices that you would actually need in order to be profitable. Coupon services that were very popular a few years ago saw many businesses jump at the chance to attract new customers, but retained very few, as users of these services became adept at shopping around and only using promotional deals.

Other Important Considerations

Many businesses come unstuck because they fail to build in enough of a margin to cover the unexpected extra costs, or deal with adversity. It is human nature to put negative thoughts to the side when starting a business. But you should always try to consider these and allow for them.

Insurance is vital. Not just to cover the expensive machines and equipment that you have on your premises, but also to cover any legal claims against you. When providing a service, there is always a possibility, however small, that a customer might experience a bad reaction to a particular oil or lotion, or have some kind of other medical problem that might be affected by the tanning process. As such, liability insurance is essential to ensure that you are covered against such possibilities.

Similarly, while you hope that all customers will be happy with your services, every business has experienced awkward or unreasonable customers that make unreasonable demands or complaints. You should try to consider in advance how you intend to deal with complaints.

Overall, running a tanning salon takes hard work but it can be a fun and rewarding business if you get everything right.

Interested? Why not have a look over the sunbeds and accessories we offer, and feel free to contact us with any questions!