How to Start a Mobile Spray Tan Business

by Ibrahim Agunpopo
199 views 5 minutes read

The mobile spray tan industry has boomed into a billion-dollar market fueled by the growing demand for safe, customized body bronzing. This comprehensive guide covers how to capitalize on this opportunity by launching your own on-demand mobile spray tanning business.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov: Pexels.

The spray tan industry has rapidly grown from a niche service into a thriving $1.17 billion market annually. As health concerns over exposure to UV rays increase, mobile spray tanning businesses that provide customized, sunless tans directly to clients are perfectly positioned to benefit from this expanding industry. Starting a mobile spray tan side-hustle requires an initial investment of less than $2K and provides major advantages like low overhead costs, flexible schedules, and unlimited earning potential. Read on to learn insider secrets to starting a wildly profitable mobile spray tan empire.

Market Overview and Opportunities

  • The global spray tanning market was valued at USD 335.3 million in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 458 million by the end of 2027, growing at a CAGR of 4.6% during 2021-2027.
  • The global self-tanning products market size was valued at USD 1.04 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 1.10 billion in 2023 to USD 1.70 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 6.45% during the forecast period.
  • The spray tanning market can be segmented into different types, such as consumer level and professional level, and different applications, such as salon use and personal use.
  • Some of the major players in the spray tanning market include Tampa Bay Tan, Fake Bake, Sunless Inc, GloBody, Bondi Sands, and more.
  • The market is expected to experience steady growth, driven by continuous technological advancements, growing environmental awareness, and the rising need for streamlined operations.
  • The self-tan lotion segment is expected to hold the largest market share due to its ease of use.
  • There is also a market for spray tanning machines.
  • The Global Spray Tanning Market Research Report provides an in-depth overview and insights into the market’s size, revenues, various segments, and other statistics.

The numbers show a surging market for on-the-go spray tanning fueled by consumers prioritizing health and beauty. By specializing in highly customized mobile services, small businesses can carve out a lucrative niche.

Startup Costs for Mobile Spray Tan Business

Launching a mobile spray tan business requires an initial investment in high-quality equipment and supplies, but costs are relatively low compared to other industries.

Equipment

Professional mobile spray tanning machines range $700-$1000 for top-tier HVLP/airbrush systems built for reliability and flawless application control from brands like Fuji, Apollo, Maximist. Additional supplies like tents, tables, prep materials will run $500-800.

Solutions & Maintenance

Ongoing solution costs run $100-$200/month. Expect another $100/month for machine maintenance supplies and repairs.

Insurance, Licensing & Training for Mobile Spray Tan Business


Compared to intricate beauty services like hair coloring, eyelash extensions, or acrylic nail enhancements, spray tanning techniques and businesses face fewer regulatory hurdles in many regions worldwide. While there is generally less stringent regulation, it’s important to note that specific legal requirements can vary significantly from one state to another in the U.S. and from country to country internationally.

Before launching your spray tanning business, it is crucial to conduct thorough research into the specific licensing and permit requirements in your state, province, or country. This includes understanding basic business licensing, mobile retail sales licensing, obtaining a sales tax ID, and adhering to annual tax filing prerequisites. This is particularly important for freelance or small service-based sole proprietorships that may not have formal commercial locations. Stay informed about the legal landscape to ensure your business operates within the regulatory framework.

Liability insurance averages $50-$100/month. Local business/mobile retail licenses average $50-200 depending on location. Optional spray tanning training/certification costs $400-$1000 but increases credibility.

In total, around $2000 upfront and $400/month covers all the startup and running costs for a profitable mobile spray tan business.

Staffing & Operations

A major advantage to the mobile spray tanning business model is low overhead from minimal staffing needs.

Employee Overhead Costs

As an owner-operator, you can handle all bookings, spray sessions, and branding tasks in the startup phase without employees. Outsource any website, accounting or consultative tasks instead of taking on expensive full-time hires prematurely.

Scalability

Over time as appointment requests ramp up, consider hiring independent contractor spray techs trained in your signature style instead of W-2 employees. Scale strategically by booking multiple clients per trip without taking on permanent payroll overhead until necessary.

Streamlining Workflows for Mobile Spray Tan Business

Use online booking/payment platforms like Vagaro, Square or Bookeo for efficient scheduling, inventory tracking, and client management. Design your menus, packages and workflows for rapid but completely customized spray sessions.

Handle all critical operational tasks like booking, spraying, and relationship management yourself in the early days while leveraging contractors for scalability over time. This keeps costs variable while preventing overhiring that cripples newly launched small businesses.

Location & Client Targeting for Mobile Spray Tan Business

Unlike a fixed retail location, one huge advantage of a mobile spray tanning business is having full flexibility over your client targeting and service areas.

High Income Urban Areas

Prioritize affluent urban regions where beauty, fashion and personal care are top spending priorities. In the US, target cities include Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, NYC metro. Overseas look at London, Paris, Milan, Sydney. Market directly in upscale neighborhoods.

Beach/Vacation Destination Towns

Luxury resort destinations like Hawaii, Mexican Riviera, Mediterranean hot spots represent prime seasonal markets for mobile spray tans. Partner with destination wedding planners or build relationships at private elite golf communities and vacation home complexes.

Event Venues/Vendors

Make venue managers, wedding/event planners, photographers your best friends by becoming their go-to vendor for bridal or special event spray tans. Offer special packages and cross-promotions to secure preferred relationships.

With low overhead costs, spray tanning can be extremely profitable even with a tiny exclusive client base in an affluent area. Specialize your targeting strategy using digital ads, local partnerships and word-of-mouth marketing.

Custom Packages & Pricing for Mobile Spray Tan Business

Create an appealing and flexible pricing structure for your mobile spray tan business to maximize revenue and stand out from traditional salon options. Leverage the advantage of customization to attract and retain customers:

  1. Memberships and Loyalty Discounts:
    • Introduce tiered monthly unlimited tanning memberships (e.g., $150+ per month for unlimited biweekly sessions).
    • Offer discounts for prepaid annual packages to encourage long-term loyalty, especially during seasonal downswings.
    • Implement referral/rewards programs allowing regular customers to gift or redeem free sessions, ensuring business during slower months.
  2. Bundles for Increased Average Order Value (AOV):
    • Upsell prep accessories like body scrubs, moisturizers, and cosmetic bronzers at high markups with every spray session.
    • Provide convenient mobile mani/pedi add-ons during tanning sessions.
    • Create bundles with photography/videography services before and after sessions to capture memories.
    • Develop party packages to cater to groups and increase overall revenue.
  3. Core vs. Premium Levels:
    • Establish three pricing tiers to cater to different customer preferences:
      • Budget-friendly sessions with no-frills (e.g., $25-50).
      • Standard full-body sessions with contoured bronzing/shimmer (e.g., $65-100).
      • Luxury red carpet VIP treatment with skincare add-ons (e.g., $150-250+).
    • Educate clients that higher spending results in longer-lasting, flawlessly applied customized glows, perfect for special events and social media visibility.

By implementing strategic packages and incentives, combined with delivering exceptional 5-star mobile experiences, you can differentiate yourself from amateur “bed in a van” tanning operations and maximize revenue per client in your market.

Marketing Your Mobile Spray Tan Business

Launching with a professional brand and marketing strategy makes all the difference in accelerating traction over amateur competitors.

  1. Professional Online Presence:
    • Invest in a polished website with high-quality graphics.
    • Showcase professional headshots in a branded uniform.
    • Create well-produced introspective videos to introduce your business.
  2. Certifications for Credibility:
    • Pursue optional spray tanning certifications, such as St. Tropez Bronzing Bootcamp, to enhance credibility.
    • Guest post on industry blogs to showcase expertise.
    • Seek local news or morning TV interviews for wider exposure.
  3. Brand Specialization:
    • Position your brand as a specialist in specific niches (e.g., Bridal Beauty Experts, Hollywood/Runway Skin Perfectors, Organic Skincare Tanning) to stand out.
    • Focus on becoming the go-to mobile experts for your signature 5-star treatment style.
  4. Leveraging Partnerships:
    • Partner with leaders in niche markets (bridal shops, golf/tennis clubs, beauty influencers) for cross-promotions.
    • Negotiate high visibility features on their platforms in exchange for referral incentives.
  5. Reviews and Social Proof:
    • Encourage organic customer reviews and testimonials for word-of-mouth referrals.
    • Offer incentives for customers to post before-and-after photos on Instagram or leave online evaluations.
    • Feature rave reviews prominently on your website and amplify them on social channels.

Investing in professional branding assets not only establishes credibility but also builds trust with discerning clients. This trust allows you to command higher prices for your luxury mobile spray tan service, positioning your business as a premium option from the start.

Operational Efficiency & 5 Star Service

While strong branding may initially attract new clients, to fuel repeat purchases and genuine referrals you must execute flawlessly on every spray tanning appointment. Obsess over consistency and quality so customers feel pampered by a 5-star experience. This level of service transforms happy customers into enthusiastic advocates who actively promote you within their networks. Strive for operational excellence in each client interaction to drive retention and growth over the long term.

  1. Client Interaction Excellence:
    • Strive for operational excellence in each client interaction to drive long-term retention and growth.
    • Ensure portability and accessibility of your mobile tanning setup for a reliable and visually impressive service.
  2. Punctuality and Preparation:
    • Outfit your mobile tanning setup with adequate supplies and backup resources for any situation.
    • Make punctuality and preparation non-negotiable policies to enhance customer satisfaction.
  3. Session Optimization:
    • Perfect session prep and spraying techniques for efficient yet high-quality results.
    • Guarantee clean, relaxing, and focused sessions that meet client expectations.
  4. Relationship Building:
    • Take a genuine interest in each client as an individual, not just a transaction.
    • Engage personally during sessions to discover lifestyle cues, special occasions, and skin goals.
    • Bond authentically with clients to turn them into lifelong advocates.

By focusing on seamless operational details and providing genuine hospitality from booking to the spray session and beyond, you can cultivate true advocates. These advocates, impressed by your service, become powerful promoters within their networks, leading to exponential demand growth through referrals from friends, wedding parties, and exclusive social groups.

Lucrative Global Metro Hot Spots for Mobile Spray Tanning

The demand for perfect tans for social media knows no limits geographically. Strategically target affluent cosmopolitan cities and luxury beach destinations where looking flawless drives high spending on beauty services.

United States

Major metropolitan fashion and entertainment hubs provide huge markets:

  • New York City – Wealthy professionals hungry for beauty services plus huge tourism opportunity
  • Los Angeles – Image-obsessed entertainment industry drives year-round demand
  • Las Vegas & Miami – Party capitals where looking glamorous is mandatory
  • Silicon Valley – Flush new millionaires want to spend on self-care

Upscale leisure towns near beaches or skiing also offer primed audiences for mobile tanning:

  • Hawaii, California Beach Cities, The Hamptons – Affluent vacation home hot spots
  • Aspen, Vail – Ski resorts with off-season capacity for mobile beauty services

Europe

Like top US cities, Europe’s fashion and culture centers offer big markets:

  • London, Paris, Milan – Fashion weeks, modelling and old money make these cities prime targets
  • Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam – Coastal metropolitan areas with huge tourism
  • Expat Hubs – New wealth in cities like Berlin, Prague, Lisbon

Add the Mediterranean beach & party circuit:

  • French & Italian Riviera – Hot spots for elite coastal tourism
  • Greek Islands, Ibiza – Party destinations to service vacationing banker types
  • Resort Towns – Saint Tropez, Monaco, Portofino, for aging billionaires

Asia Pacific

Major wealth creation in Asian economic centers drives self-care spending:

  • Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai – Finance capitals with huge beauty spending
  • Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney – Tastemaker cities where trends catch on quick
  • Mumbai, New Delhi – Rapidly emerging middle & upper class markets

Plus capitalize on the region’s idyllic island beach retreat locations:

  • Bali, Phuket, Maldives – Increasing affluent Asian tourists
  • Australia’s Gold Coast – Party hub for Asian holidaymakers

Here are some examples of popular mobile spray tanning businesses in the key countries mentioned:

United States

Europe

Asia Pacific

In summary, glitzy cosmopolitan hubs and affluent tourist havens worldwide offer prime demand where mobile spray tans can provide major profits.

Conclusion

The mobile spray tanning market’s compelling size and trajectory combines with attractive low startup costs for this on-demand beauty business model. By targeting affluent regions, specializing services for in-demand niches and winning over clients with bespoke mobile experiences, determined founders can claim lucrative territories in this virtually wide open billion dollar industry.

Mix passion for beautifying others with the desire for freedom of managing your own business on your own terms. Then cover the critical areas outlined in this guide from polished branding to optimized customer experiences qnd scalable backend processes as keys to dominating your local markets as the undisputed first-call mobile glow guru for all top tier events and photography moments!

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

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