Wondering how to start a tanning salon? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Tanning Salons: Industry Overview
Tanning salons are popular with growing numbers of consumers. According to the American Tanning Institute, 1 in 10 Americans will visit a tanning salon at some point this year. With that kind of demand, it's no wonder that so many entrepreneurs are drawn to neighborhood tanning salon startups.
Industry-wide, there are currently more than 30,000 commercial indoor tanning providers active n the marketplace, serving a customer base of around 30 million tanning enthusiasts. Total annual revenues for the indoor tanning industry total $5 billion, although this figure fluctuates based on various factors including weather and economic conditions.
New tanning salon owners need to be prepared for competitive pressures within the industry. Since indoor tanning is an established industry, your startup will go head to head with entrenched tanning providers, many of which have already carved out their own segment of loyal customers in the local market.
Startup Costs for a New Tanning Salon
Tanning salon startup costs are wildly variable, depending on the size of your establishment, location and the types of tanning beds you plan to use in your startup. Total startup costs of $100k+ are typical. If startup capital is extremely limited, you can manage expenses by acquiring used commercial tanning equipment (vertical & horizontal beds) and shopping for a more affordable lease opportunity in your target geography.
But regardless of the size of your startup budget, raising adequate startup capital may prove to be a challenge. Don't bank on the fact that you will be able to secure a large loan for your startup -- these days, commercial lenders are hesitant to finance unproven SMB startups with limited equity. Instead, try to bootstrap your startup with personal savings and the assistance of personal acquaintances.
Best Practices for Tanning Salon Startups
Safety must be your first concern as a tanning salon business owner. It's critical to make sure you possess the proper expertise to own and operate a tanning bed salon before you invest a dime in the business. Additionally, all equipment and procedures must conform to FDA and FTC standards, as well as state-specific laws governing commercial tanning activities.
Once you open the doors of your tanning salon to the public, the hard work really begins. As a new business owner, everything you do following the launch of your business must be geared toward a single goal: Growth. From the outset, you will need to create and execute a strategic plan designed to acquire new customers and take your business to the next level.
Business Plans 101 for Tanning Salon Startups
As an aspiring tanning salon owner, you've invested time and effort in the creation of your initial business plan. But have you included any material about your industry?
Industry analyses are standard chapters in tanning salon business plans and are often required by lenders or investors. Industry analyses are critical for contextualizing your startup within an industry setting.
Although it sounds complicated, most entrepreneurs can create an effective industry analysis section by simply steering clear of common industry analysis mistakes.
Take a Look at the Competition
Before you open a tanning salon within your community, it's a good idea to find out how many competitors you have. We've provided the link below to help you get a list of local competitors nearby. After clicking on the link, type in your city, state and zip code to get a list of tanning salons near you.
Gain a knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the marketplace, and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from the others.
Getting Advice from Experienced Entrepreneurs
As part of your due diligence on opening a tanning salon, you really ought to speak with somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. Why would they want to educate a future competitor?
However, a fellow entrepreneur who has started a tanning salon in another town may be more than happy to give you a few tips, given that you don't compete with them in their area. In that case, the business owner may be more than happy to discuss the industry with you. It can take a while to find an entrepreneur who is willing to talk, but it's well worth the effort.
How do you go about finding a tanning salon entrepreneur in a different locale who can assist you?
Simple. Let your fingers do the walking by using the link below.
Entrepreneurial Alternatives for Tanning Salons
Some entrepreneurs buy existing tanning salons, while others plunge headfirst into a tanning salon startup. There are a lot of benefits of buying a tanning salon.
The current economic climate is a buyer's market – if you have enough capital to start a tanning salon, you should have no problem financing the purchase of a tanning salon that has a solid earnings history and a workable business model.
Franchising May Be a Better Way to Go
For many entrepreneurs, franchises present a low-risk alternative to a traditional tanning salon startup.
Our tanning salon franchise directory (see link below) is full of tanning salon franchise opportunities.
Like any business, starting a franchised business requires hard work and dedication. But for the right entrepreneurs, a franchise can offer a streamlined path to small business ownership.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing tanning salon, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to tanning salons, you're in the wrong place. Try these resources instead:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.