Setting up a professional spray tan business
My name’s Caroline, and have done over 26,000 spray tans in the 5 years of my beauty career, I am really excited to share the advice I have for you about setting up your own mobile, at-home or salon-based spray tan company.
I started out my mobile spray tanning business, to then rented a small salon space to set up a salon business in my city centre focusing on being the only spray tan dedicated studio in my city.
So why a spray tanning business and how Profitable is it?
- Spray Tanning is a tricky business to learn, but once you know how, it will take about 8 minutes to achieve a flawless finish
- You can fit in 3 people per hour with a profit of £20-£35 per person depending on your location
- Being beautifully bronzed never goes out of fashion so it’s always a profitable business
- It’s fun, enjoyable and socially satisfying
How To Become a Spray Tanner
To become a spray tanner, you must be certified by a training centre recognised by insurers. If you are unsure about which insurer to join, BABTAC, ‘The Guild of Beauty Therapists’ or Salon Gold are highly recommended insurance companies for beauty therapists and cosmetologists.
Spray Tan Business Names
When choosing a spray tan business name, have a think about who your customers are. What age are they, are they city workers looking for convenience and style, or are they local people in a town seeking a professional and reliable salon.
I also am of the opinion that you don’t need to have a tan related name, so once you’ve had a think, take a look at the following spray tan business name ideas: Click here
Choosing a Spray Tan Brand for your business
We stock three spray tans in our salon and we love them all, but they all have different advantages and flaws to them which need to be considered before proceeding with our client’s application.
For example, all our tans come in varying shades, but we have a certain brand that we would never put on someone who likes a deep colour, and we have another brand that we wouldn’t dream of putting on a tan-shy customer.
It’s important to;
Pick quality over price – Quality spray tan solutions usually don’t have preservatives, or synthetic dyes, and are usually organic, and non-fragranced with no alcohol. So why is this important? Synthetic dyes are cancerogenic and permanently stain clothing. Fragrance (which requires alcohol to make it) and alcohol are drying to your client’s skin, which means TIGER BREAD scaley skin!
Consider branding that suits your business and area – There is a lot of opinions about certain brands generated since spray tanning was invented. You’ll often hear people say ‘Fake Bake’ looks dirty on me or ‘St. Tropez’ makes me green which is complete NONSENSE.
It may of happened to that particular individual, but it’s usually down to bad spray tan storage or not enough training. I’m sure St. Tropez being one, if not ‘thee’ most well-known tanning brand business in the world, wouldn’t be so popular if they turned customers green!
You can read about why spray tans turn green in this article: Why Your Spray Tan Turned Green
What’s your clientele
Before setting up your business, figure out what kind of people your clients are. Have you got clients seeking a TOWIE transformation, or ladies and gents who want a light, natural glow? I stock tan shades for both of those types of clients and one in-between.
Age – Ladies and gents of all ages ask for anything from a light glow to ‘as dark as you’ve got please’.
Preference – Does your clientele enjoy an organic-only spray tan business, or are they looking for bridal spray tans?
Rapid Spray Tans (Express/1hour tans)
How are we to know what someone’s version of dark, light or medium is – we can’t until they try it. That’s where rapid tans come in to save the day!
Let me explain how to explain this to your client.
1) In spray tan the liquid that turns you brown is clear
2) They add in the brown for the therapists benefit, so we don’t miss bits
3) When you are finished you will not be that colour
4) We will look in the mirror and judge together as client and therapist what you think of the shade you are
5) When you make that decision, will use our knowledge of the brand to determine when you should wash it off
Here are my best tips for finding the right spray tan solution for your business:
- Don’t buy for cheapness – buy for quality – it’s good business
- Get samples and try them out on yourself, friends and family
- Big brand names attract clients to your spray tanning business, but also consider that one of my best tans is not that well known
- If you can’t afford loads of bottles, buy express or mix them (easier with tanning brands that use percentages). For example, 50ml of 8% mixed with 50ml 12% will make 10% or 50ml light shade with 50ml dark shade will make medium
- If it’s cheap, it will be filled with chemicals and preservatives that do not give a good tan
- If you are still unsure, pick a well-known brand for your business. The brand promotes itself and comes along with pre-made images and posters for easy marketing.
What’s The Best Spray Tanning Machine of 2019
At the Tropicoco Spray Tan Studio, we spray around 15 people per day each and my Maxi Mist machine has never let me down. It’s got a very powerful motor allowing 25+ applications a day.
That’s the thing about spray tan machines, if you buy a cheap machine, the motor will burn out and leave you in the lurch with a week of angry pale customers! Not great for business or bank balance either!
TOP-RATED & MY FAVORITE: The MAXI Mist Evolution TNT
Why do I love it? It’s so powerful it can do a spray tan in 8 minutes and the control you have over each spray is unbeatable.
Your clients are dry by the time you’re finished because the mist is so fine! It can also do up to 25+ clients a day which other cheaper machines just couldn’t achieve.
Best Value Maxi Mist Machine & Tent @ £209.99
Machine Only @ £179.99
Here are the specs:
Powerful 570 Watt Variable Speed 2 Stage Turbine
Rated for 25+ applications a day
3 TNT Spray Heads with 6.75oz/200ml Cups
On-Board Spray Gun Storage
Spare Spray Gun Cup Gasket and Pickup Tube
Spare Spray Gun Nozzle Gasket
Spare Turbine Filter
Detailed Instruction Manual
This is important: Clean your filters daily with lukewarm water (too hot will melt the plastic and ruin the airflow) & put a sign on the machine to not cover it as this will block airflow and overheat the spray tan machine.
Set up a Spray Tanning Business From Home
What you’ll need:
- A dedicated, quiet spot
- A large spray tan tent
- Extractor fan – this has the best extraction in my opinion:
- Waiting chairs
- Well lit area
Set up a Mobile Spray Tanning Business
I set up a mobile spray tanning business at first and to be honest it was the easiest part of my career, but you are limited in what you earn, but it is good money all the same.
I usually started at 4 pm and worked till 9.30 pm so that’s roughly 5 clients per night @ £20 equaling £100 per evening. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the most popular days so you could easily earn at least £1200 a month once you get busy.
In hindsight, I charged too little for mobile spray tanning. You have to put your business head-on and consider the time taken to travel, petrol, wear and tear on your vehicle and providing a professional service plus the cost of solution and disposables! For mobile spray tanning, I would suggest £30 minimum or £25 for two people at the same location.
Quick business tips for mobile spray tanners
- Organise your clients by region to save petrol and keep your petrol receipts
- Don’t buy a tent in any other colour apart from black – it will look very dirty after each person if you don’t
- Buy an extra-large black sheet to go under and around the tent in case of spillages
- Get your client to step out of the tent to dry with your machine so you can start packing away to leave for your next client (“Can I give you this drier while I take down my tent” always drops that hint that you are in a hurry!”)
- Try to set up while chatting as you can lose track of time and be late for your next client
- Don’t go to anyone’s house you are uncomfortable with and don’t be afraid to just leave and drive off
- Encourage spray tan parties but take deposits for these
- NEVER do the spray tan in a badly lit or carpeted floor (been there, splattered a cream carpet – oh the cringe)
- Wash your tent with a hose or wipe
- Text people on the day before or morning of their appointment to check they are still wanting the appointment
Set up a Spray Tan Salon Business
After setting up a mobile spray tanning business for 1 year, I opened in the city centre and rented for 2 years until moving to a larger location. This made sure at each step of the way I had enough clientele to sustain the business.
Here’s some advice to consider before renting:
Is it near where people work, does it have easy access to subways, car parks or train stations? People do not like to walk far in their baggy tan outfits, especially when they look so brown or it’s raining.
Does it have space to expand for yourself or staff? I had 4 rooms installed in my spray tan business so I could fit 2 people in per half hour and 2 staff members could work in the other rooms. While one person dries, I start the other.
If you’re renting on a busy street then you will pay extra, but it’s worth it because of the footfall. If you don’t have existing clients, an online presence, or aren’t renting a section in a very busy hair salon for example, then don’t tie yourself into a contract before you have achieved any of those things.
I don’t deal with them anymore apart from one referral booking website that I see as a fair company.
Groupon – in my experience, Groupon did not work for me. They try to get as much money as possible out of you that for a month I was earning £5 per tan after their discount and fees! Let’s just say it wasn’t long before I ended my contract with them and never returned!
Treatwell however, is a fair company. Ok, they take 35% on first bookings but only a 2% fee once the client has been already. They are paying for Adwords, so it’s only to be expected that they would charge so high because AdWords can cost around £1-5 per click!
Spray Tan Customer Service Tips
Whenever someone joins our team, I always tell them that most of their job is telling people exactly what to do and warning people what not to do!
We laminate the aftercare advice for clients to read while drying and place warnings in the spray tan booth (e.g. don’t touch the walls, don’t go on the floor in your bare feet).
It’s our job to make sure our clients know EXACTLY what to do every time they come into the salon
If someone has a problem with how the tan turned out, then offer to fix it for them for free and don’t make a fuss about it. It’s just good business to be kind and helpful.
Feedback can surprisingly be a good thing to improve your service, but bear in mind that sometimes spray tan just doesn’t work out on certain skin types – either way, it happens to all of us, so it’s best to be light-hearted and do your best to fix it for them.
Spray Tan Storage
So what’s so important about storing your spray tan bottles correctly:
- Tanning fluid loses its strength if it is exposed to oxygen for too long – so it’s best to keep your bottles closed.
- Hot conditions can also cause the fake tan to go off
- In and out of hot and cold conditions can also alter the potency
- Each spray tan has different use-by dates
Advice for Mobile Spray Tan businesses: When I did mobile spray tanning, I always used a cool bag or box and I placed my bottles in a cool room in my house
Advice for Salon businesses: In our salon, we use a dark cupboard in a room that doesn’t change temperature.
Spray Tan Business Website Set up
Websites are great for storing information for your clients to read and if you do well on the search engines your basically getting free advertisement. If you come up as one of the top businesses on Google for the term ‘spray tanning’ you basically have free advertisement.
Go Daddy or Heart Internet are easy to use providers for hosting and setting up a WordPress account.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Salon Booking Systems
You might be told that booking systems are the Bees Knee’s, and they are in some ways, but BE WARNED, they have a few flaws in my experience.
When I first purchased my salon booking system for my spray tanning business, I thought it was fantastic. No more replying to clients at 9 o’clock at night or messing up a booking, they just did all the work for me! It saved me loads of time, it meant I got paid upfront and some people really enjoy how easy it is.
So your thinking, why on earth don’t you rely on booking systems for your business?
- Because most people have questions about your service and will not book and pay if they’re unsure about anything. On the phone or by email, you are giving a more personalized booking experience by putting your clients at ease.
- Clients will be looking for your name on the booking system and if you are booked and have staff, they will not pick them and go elsewhere unless you persuade them on the phone (YES REALLY!)
- It takes away the urgency to book. If your clients can see you have an empty diary in a months time, most people will think ‘Oh I’ll book later in case I don’t need it nearer the time’ or ‘I’ll book when I get paid again as she doesn’t look that busy’ This is BAD for BUSINESS! By the time they get around to booking a space, it will have gone to a new client that statistically costs you 3 times more to obtain than retaining that existing client, and this cycle will repeat itself over and over again for years.
- Some people just can’t work with technology
- You’ll never know how much in demand you are. If I have a full diary and 6 people go on to book for that evening but couldn’t find a space, they aren’t going to phone and tell me that. So I should be hiring another member of staff instead of sitting in the dark about my salon’s demand.
What I do now:
I incorporate both in my business, but only advertise the booking app to those that will only book online. I advertise that we take phone calls and emails and I’m very efficient at answering emails (Twice daily).
Spray Tan Hygiene Advice
Clean your spray tan rooms after every person. This is one of the most common complaints of why they left another salon because the floors and walls were sticky and not only that, you risk tan to skin transfer. Cleaning the walls only takes a couple of minutes and in doing this your client will be more comfortable.
Spray Tan Guns
At the end of the night, take apart your gun (it should have around 5-6 parts) and wash them out with water until clear. Put lukewarm water in the gun and flush out your gun to stop the needle from eroding or getting clogged with tan. Spray tan crystallizes (hardens) in the needle if left for long periods of time, so flushing it with water stops it from clogging up.
Spray Tan Marketing Advice
It took me a long time to realise that it’s your job to make sure your clients remember to book in for their spray tans. Frequent social media posts and email campaigns make sure you’re retaining your existing clients.
We tried various promotional ideas in our salon. Some marketing campaigns were really successful, yet a few were a flop.
- The “2 tan for £30” promotion was our most successful promotion. Our spray tans were £20 each, but if you brought a friend, you could both get £5 off. This worked well for a few reasons. It encouraged our clients to bring new customers to the salon and they had a fun experience with their friend whilst enjoying a bit of money off. We could do both appointments in 30-40 mins as both clients arrived at the same time and didn’t mind waiting on each other to dry off. Our salon has 4 spray tan booths, however, so the logistics might not be as easy if you only have one room.
- Gift your clients some vouchers for joining your mailing list, liking your Instagram or Facebook.
- Recommend a friend to get a half-price tan. This was a really successful campaign and brought us loads of lovely new customers on their friend’s recommendation. You will need to note down who recommended them and send them an e-voucher or physical voucher to thank them for their recommendation.
- Give your client a physical voucher or e-voucher for their promotions. Your clients most likely feel super awkward about saying they want to use their discount, so presenting a voucher to you at the end of the treatment is preferable.
- Don’t make offers permanent unless you have trialled them for a few weeks, some promotions don’t work out logistically.
Spray Tan Business Money Saving Tips
You can check out the best value products I have suggested at the top of this page. I’m going to share one of the best money-saving and environmentally friendly salon tips that save my business over £5000 a year.
So let’s do the calculation
Say we do 1000 spray tans a month in our salon, we will need 1000 sticky feet which will be roughly 50 pence each, costing the salon £500 a month. If we make our own sticky feet, it will cost us 7 pence and 30 seconds to make them individually saving us £437 a month and therefore £5244 a year and if you’re doing a portion of those 1000 spray tans in a month, that’s you sorted for a well deserved 5 grand holiday!
Here’s how I make them:
Step 1: Fold two cardboard sheets in half (must be a thick card such as 220gsm and above)
Step 2: cut the corners off
Step 3: Open the card up again and cut the inner corners and down the centre
Step 4: Put two 2-3 inch tabs of double-sided sticky tape on each foot
Retailing tips for salons
The power of three – statistically, people like products to be displayed in three’s
Music – Research shows that playing spa or classical music increases sales
Display – Display products near the till and in waiting areas
Sales – Give the team commission on sales or do competitions and make sure to mention products during the treatment
Retail psychology – Display low price items in bulk, with no organisation method in a stylish box, bowl or basket. High price items should be displayed with the method in rows of three. The higher the price, the higher it should go on the shelf.
Here’s our display which was a two-tiered breakfast bar I found on Ebay! Most retail units for salons are about £1000, but I got this stylish unit for £100.