Spray tanning is a booming business with no sign of slowing down. In this blog post, we will go over some basics like what licenses are needed, getting your first customers, and how much you should charge for your services. By the end of the article, you'll know exactly how to start a spray tan business.

What is a Spray Tan Business?

A spray tan business is a company that offers clients the chance to receive spray tans in their homes or office. Spray tanning is considered healthier than tanning booths or laying in the sun due to its lack of UV rays that have links to cancer. Customers can still have a healthy glow without having to worry about the negative effects of sun exposure.

How to Start a Spray Tan Business?

The first step to starting a spray tan business is determining what type of spray tan solution you'd like to provide clients. A mobile spray tan business may be cheaper due to not having to rent out a space, but has other variables like transportation costs to consider.

Doing initial research on your competition may make this process easier. If you already have transportation and there aren't many mobile spray tan solutions in your area, you may have a great opportunity to build your business's foundation with low startup costs.

However, your town could be lacking a viable in-person spray tan facility and rent could be relatively cheap.

How Much Can You Earn

A spray tan usually costs around $50. You still have plenty of room to make your tan affordable while remaining profitable and popular with clients.

You may want to keep your pricing low at first to remain competitive, but your customer must be aware if you increase the price in the future.

What are the Different Types of Spray Tan Businesses?

In-Studio Tanning

In-studio tanning means that the spray tan happens in a physical location where customers come to. The advantages of an in-studio tanning salon are the ability to have more equipment, consistent lighting, and a more consistent workflow.

Mobile Tanning

Mobile tanning means that you offer your services to customers at their homes or offices by bringing a booth with you.

Both in-studio and mobile spray tans use an airbrush machine that sprays the color evenly on the skin for a natural look.

Airbrush Tanning

Airbrush tanning is when a professional applies the tanning solution to the customer using an airbrush tool. Since a professional is manually applying the solution, the tan is often more even and natural-looking.

Spray Tan Booth

A spray tan booth is a machine that allows the customer to receive a spray tan without someone manually applying it. The solution comes out of multiple airbrush guns and sprays onto your skin. Due to the lack of human touch, mistakes can happen and areas of the body can be too tan or missed completely.

What Equipment is Needed for a Spray Tan Business?

An airbrush machine, spray tan booth or a full-sized sunless tanning bed are all equipment options for the business.

Airbrush Machine

An airbrush machine is very similar to one a painter would use when painting the wall of a house. It sprays a thin layer of tanning solution onto the body, allowing the specialist to apply the tan evenly over the body. It also allows for the specialist to apply the tan to difficult-to-reach areas.

One of the main things that need to be considered when choosing an airbrush machine is how long you plan on owning it. While renting may seem like a good option, you will end up paying more over time than if you bought your own machine outright.

However, renting may be a good option when just starting out because it limits the risks involved and initial start-up costs.

Airbrush Booth

An airbrush booth is a machine that sprays the tanning solution onto your client's entire body in a booth. A spray tan booth is a type of equipment where instead of one person applying the color, multiple guns apply it at once from various angles all around the client's body.

This option is beneficial because it allows you to work with many different clients simultaneously and does not require someone to manually spray them during the process.

This style of self-application can be faster and more efficient for the business, but also leaves room for error. Due to the lack of personalization, spots can be missed or an uneven tan can occur.

Do You Need a License to Start a Spray Tan Business?

You do not need a license to start a spray tan business in most states. Most states provide certain requirements and recommendations to own and operate a tanning business. However, these recommendations are targeted at tanning beds rather than spray tanning. These include things like:

Since there aren't license requirements for a spray tanning business in most states, the license you'll need to operate your business is a business license and potentially registering with your county.

What Business Insurance is Required?

Whether you elect to start a mobile spray tanning business or a brick-and-mortar facility, you'll need business insurance to protect yourself.

General Liability Insurance

General Liability Insurance will protect you from any damages caused in your store or client's home or business. From someone slipping and falling in a spray tanning booth, to accidentally getting spray tanning solution on a customer's favorite couch, general liability insurance will help you stay protected.

Worker's Compensation

Worker's compensation is a state-mandated insurance that covers your staff in case they are injured on the job. This may not be necessary if you are your only employee, but if you begin to grow, it will become necessary.  

Property Insurance

If you are operating out of your own home or business, it is important to have both property insurance and casualty insurance. If something were to happen at either location that causes damage or loss, this would protect the investment. Many landlords will require you to hold property insurance before renting out a space to you.

What Should You Charge for Your Spray Tan Services?    

Determining your price is not only about staying competitive in your area, but making sure you are getting paid a fair price for your services. On average, a tanning machine session will cost you around $25-$35. An airbrush session with a specialist will cost around $30-$80 depending on your location and the experience of the technician.

There are several factors that should be considered when deciding how much you want to charge. The first thing you should do is evaluate the prices in your area. A Spray Tanning Salon in San Francisco is going to charge a much different price than one in a rural town in Ohio. Finding out what your competitors are charging will give you a head start on determining what your prices should be.

After determining your competitor's base price, you can look at your own expenses and time to determine what your prices should be. Going to consumers' homes and businesses to deliver spray tanning will take up more of your time than if they came in person.

You may also elect to create packages for clients which will not only save the client money but give you a guarantee that the client will keep coming back. Packages, discounts, and different variables can make pricing complicated. But as long as you focus on making a profit that is scalable, you'll be okay!

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Spray Tan Business?

The short answer is: It depends.  

A travel kit with everything you need, including training can cost as much as $1750. Depending on your state, registering for an LLC and Insurance and run you another $500-$1,000.

Therefore, if you already have transportation, you could start a mobile spray tanning business for less than $3,000.

If you'd like to have spray tanning booths, it costs $4,000-$5,000 per unit. Adding on the cost of rent and decorations for your store, it may be best to allocate $10,000-$15,000 for your initial investment.

Marketing Your Spray Tan Business

One of the biggest challenges for any new business is marketing. There are several different ways to market your spray tanning services, including social media, digital advertising, and word-of-mouth advertising.

Social Media

Not only does social media let potential customers see what other people think about your service but it also lets them know how frequently you offer deals or specials. However, social media takes time and energy to grow and it may not be something you want to invest too much in while also trying to start your business.

Digital Advertising

Advertising on Google is an effective and efficient way to get your business in front of millions of people who are searching for what you offer every day. With Google Adwords, you're able to choose which keywords match up with the right customer base and pay only when someone clicks through from your advertisement. You can set how much money per click or daily budget that you want to spend on ads each month and track the results of different campaigns so they don't overlap (or help boost each other).

Social media advertising works in a similar way by putting you in front of customers that may be interested in your services. You can focus on different ages, demographics, and locations to improve your chances. You can also retarget website visitors to make sure they come back.

A Website

A website is vital to any business's success in our digital world. A well designed website will help instill trust in your customers, allow you to show up in search results, and give you an upper hand on your competition.    

Local Business Listings

Your Local Chamber of Commerce can have a list of all the businesses in your area. They'll also let you know about any business networking events or conferences that may be happening as well as any grants, scholarships, and loans available to small local businesses.

Another listing site is Yelp! It has reviews from customers who use their services similar to Facebook but it gives an opportunity for people to find you online when they're looking around on mobile devices. You should definitely consider joining. Google My Business is also a great option as it helps you show up in search results on Google and gives people the ability to leave you a review.  

Additional Help

Small Business Mentor helps businesses of all shapes and sizes start, manage, and grow their business. If you have more questions about starting a spray tanning business or how to market it, we'd love to help!