How to Start a Spray Tanning Business

by Ibrahim Agunpopo
119 views 3 minutes read

The spray tanning industry has exploded in recent years, with no signs of slowing down. As concerns over skin cancer risk from UV tanning beds mounts, millions of people are turning to spray tanning as a safe, convenient alternative to achieve a sun-kissed glow. The $877 million spray tanning industry offers tremendous business opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs who can capitalize on this growing demand.

how to start a spray tanning business
how to start a spray tanning business

The Rapidly Expanding Spray Tanning Industry

The spray tanning industry has entered a period of massive growth, as concerns over skin cancer risk drive millions to seek sunless tanning options. Once viewed as a niche segment, spray tanning has become a thriving market predicted to reach $1.4 billion globally by 2025.

In the United States alone, the spray tanning industry grew over 15% from 2017-2022. There are now over 50,000 spray tanning and airbrush tanning businesses across the country. With skin cancer rates on the rise and strong consumer demand for safe “tanned” looks, all indicators point to continued rapid expansion.

Several interlocking social and economic trends are fueling this industry growth. Rising health consciousness regarding UV exposure risk has sent tanning bed usage plummeting while sunless methods soar. Improved spray tanning solutions now produce natural-looking, long-lasting results without the orange tint stigma of earlier products. The popularity of media imagery depicting tanned skin as attractive and the convenience of mobile and on-demand services make spray tans extremely desirable.

As disposable income levels grow globally and consumer buying power shifts towards beauty, personal care and experiences, spray tanning parlors have become a booming industry with recession-proof traits. Now is the ideal time for small business owners and entrepreneurs to capitalize on this surging $1+ billion dollar market catering to millions of clients.

Lucrative Profits Up for Grabs

Unlike complex service-based businesses, spray tanning requires relatively little start-up costs or specialized skills. The barrier to entry is low while the revenue earning potential is sky-high. With a few months of training, entrepreneurial spirits can learn to perform exceptional spray tanning services themselves without reliance on expensive specialists.

With low inventory requirements beyond basic solutions and a few other essential products, startup costs typically range from $10,000-$15,000. However, spray tanning businesses have incredibly high yield potential from a modest client base due to premium service pricing. With standard full body spray tanning services priced on average from $35-$60 per session in the U.S., entrepreneurs earn back investments quickly.

For storefront salon locations grossing $4,000+ per month serving 100+ regular clients charging $50 per full body spray tan session on average, profits margins exceed 65-85%. While exact profit margins vary based on locality, pricing, preferences for memberships/packages, and more, the high lifetime value of repeat spray tanning customers creates major earning potential. With booming consumer demand as UV tanning falls increasingly out of favor, these lucrative conditions make now an ideal time to bite into this billion dollar market.

How to Start Your Own Spray Tanning Business

Starting a profitable spray tanning business requires drawing a good busines plan, finding an ideal location, buying the right tanning equipment, understanding licensing needs, hiring talented staff, implementing strong operational processes, and executing marketing and sales strategies to attract an ongoing clientele. Comprehensively planning and executing each of these key components takes work, but the high earnings potential makes the effort worthwhile.

Equipment and Facility Needs

HVLP Spray Tanning System.

The largest equipment investment will be your commercial HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray tanning system. Quality systems range from $1,500 up to $5,000 depending on strength, durability, warranty coverage, and features. Packages include the spray gun, hoses, air compressor, electronic control panel, tent/booth enclosure, extractor fan units, overspray filters, prep supplies, finishing products, and sometimes a supply case. Carefully inspect durability, capacity, sizing needs and client comfort factors when selecting.

Furnitures, Beddings and Aestethics

Beyond the spray equipment itself, you’ll need furniture like massage beds, sheet sets, tables for client prep/drying, stools for technicians, and more. Design for comfort, cleanliness, privacy and accessibility. Also budget for room beautification items like calming lighting, mirrors, artwork, and pampering accents.

Retail Space

In terms of facilities, you can lease a dedicated retail space for maximum branding and walk-in traffic benefits. Expect rents between $1,000-$3,000 depending on size, location and market rates in your area. Alternately, renting a room within an existing beauty/tanning salon lower overhead costs, with mini-salon rooms in the $800/month range generally. Mobile trailers and spray tanning vans offer fully portable operations for home visits, hotels, events and flexible on-demand servicing.

Licensing and Registration Requirements

You will need a standard business license in your state/city/county and also sales tax registration to operate legally. Liability insurance tailored for salons/spas is essential for risk protection, try to seek out $2 million+ policies. While cosmetology licenses do not apply for spray tanning exclusively, some states now mandate spray tanning specific certification programs that require completion before offering services. Research all applicable license mandates in your location to ensure you are operating within the legal confines of the law.

Staffing and Training Personnel

With the basics of spray technique teachable in a few weeks or months, you or hired technicians can perform tanning services after taking an instructional certification course. For maximum efficiency as client demand grows, aim to have 2+ fully trained spray tan technicians on your team to cover shifts and allow for backups. Many salons also hire a dedicated receptionist to handle all booking management tasks. Retail associates can also help boost your product sales, try considering commission based structures.

Implement thorough on-boarding processes covering your precise spray tanning application protocols along with customer service guidelines and best practices for consultation sessions. Perform regular evaluations and skills refreshers trainings.

Operational Processes

Map out each step of your spray tanning appointment procedures, from the initial booking to the prep process to precise spraying technique to finishing treatments. Systematize processes for efficiency. Stock organized inventories of solutions, equipment and retail displays. Establish cleaning routines and equipment maintenance between sessions. Integrate online booking and payment systems for simpler scheduling. Consider loyalty programs to encourage repeat visits.

Marketing and Sales

An exceptional website with booking functionalities is very important, alongside Google My Business listings and targeted social media advertising and content campaigns. Leverage social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Strategically highlight grand opening specials, holiday deals, client contests and creative offerings that will help you stand out. Sponsor relevant local events and partner with vendors like hotels, gyms and bridal shops. Spread the word about your superior spray tanning services and keep clients returning through top-notch experiences.

Estimated Costs of Starting Up Your Own Spray Tanning Business

Launching your own spray tanning salon includes a variety of startup costs. The primary expenses include spray tanning equipment purchases, securing facilities, buying initial inventory supplies, covering operating overheads, and investing in marketing exposure to attract an ongoing clientele.

Purchasing Equipment

Allot $3,500 to $7,000 to buy a high-grade HVLP spray tanning system with tent/booth, compressor, spray gun attachments, preparatory supplies, training manuals and supplementary products. Or opt for equipment leasing if preferred. Beyond the spray system, other essential items like prep tables, storage cabinets, sheets sets, protective gear, stools, booking/POS systems and decor elements should cost around $4,500-$7,000 as well.

Leasing a Salon Space

Leasing an attractive retail space conducive to spray tanning should cost between $1,500 – $4,000 monthly depending on size, location-based rates and length of agreed upon contract terms. Mini salon room leases within existing businesses like gyms or beauty salons typically range from $700-$1,200.

Initial Inventory and Operating Costs

Having adequate inventory of spray solutions ready for numerous initial client appointments right off the bat prevents hassles down the line. Budgeting $1,500-$2,500 should sufficiently cover spray tan solution stock, prep/finishing gels, applicators, protective gear replacements and other recurring operational supply costs for the first 2-3 months as clientele ramps up.

Marketing and Advertising Costs

Invest at minimum $3,000-$6,000 upfront exclusively for marketing exposure like Instagram/Facebook ads, website creation, compelling social content, local sponsorships of bridal expos, neighborhood flyering partnerships with complimentary businesses, giveaways and more. Ongoing marketing budgets in the 15-25% of gross revenue range help sustain awareness and continual lead generation.

Total Expected Startup Investment

To kickstart your venture and ensure a smooth initial operation, it’s advisable to allocate a start capital ranging between $15,000 to $35,000. This budget should cover all anticipated overhead and operating expenses for the first few months. Keep in mind that this estimate is based on moderate projections for customer demand and intentionally aggressive budgets for impactful, recurring marketing campaigns.

While $15,000 is a more conservative estimate, having a higher working capital reserve is a prudent approach. This will provide a safety net to navigate through any unpredictable delays or unforeseen costs that may arise during the early stages of your business. With a robust financial foundation, you’ll be better equipped to handle challenges and focus on building a successful venture.

Top 5 Countries for Spray Tanning Businesses

For entrepreneurs looking to expand spray tanning operations globally, targeting countries with high growth potential and favorable competitive conditions can accelerate profitability. Based on rising disposable incomes, beauty industry maturity, tourism prospects and existing penetration rates, the top countries for lucrative spray tanning business growth include:

1. United States

  • Boasts over 50,000 existing spray tanning businesses.
  • Annual growth rates exceed 15%, indicating a thriving market.
  • High consumer spending power and a cultural emphasis on beauty create a conducive environment for expansion.
  • Significant potential for market share capture, especially in secondary cities.

2. Australia

  • Vibrant beach culture and high skin cancer rates drive substantial demand for spray tanning services.
  • The market is relatively underdeveloped compared to the U.S., presenting a growth opportunity.
  • Expanding wellness tourism and a rapidly growing beauty industry contribute to the addressable market’s tremendous prospects.

3. United Kingdom

  • Higher discretionary incomes and explosive social media beauty trends create a favorable environment.
  • Societal stigmas related to natural sunlight exposure boost the demand for spray tanning.
  • Market revenues expected to grow by 8.4% over the next 3 years.

4. Brazil

  • Image-conscious culture fosters interest in spray tanning services across the country.
  • With still nascent adoption rates, affordable pricing strategies could lead to high customer loyalty.
  • Brazil’s beauty-loving population presents significant growth potential.

5. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

  • Boasts higher average disposable incomes than any other country globally.
  • Booming wellness tourism and societal norms discouraging natural tanning create immense upside.
  • The luxury hospitality sector in the UAE represents a particularly lucrative niche for spray tanning services.

The strong growth indicators, expansive industry opportunities, and favorable competitive dynamics make spray tanning a high-potential niche globally. However, it’s crucial to recognize that each market has its unique characteristics and preferences. Local nuances and customizations should be considered to tailor your approach for maximum success in each distinct market. Understanding the specific needs and beauty trends of the target audience in each country will contribute to a more effective and resonant expansion strategy. Keep adapting and refining your approach to ensure the continued success of your spray tanning business on a global scale.

Image Credits: All images on this website are sources from Getty Images, Pexels and Unsplash.

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