How to Open a Tanning Salon

By Bazal Razzaq

Chief Editor

Updated: October 19, 2023

Editorial Note: We earn a commission if you use the services recommended on this page. Commissions do not affect our opinions or recommendations.

Tanning Salon

Are you planning to start a Tanning Salon? The desire to have a golden-tanned body never goes out of fashion. Several customers work hard on themselves to feel and look healthy. Some don’t have the money to purchase a tanning bed for themselves. So, going to a tanning salon is a much more economical solution. 

For new entrepreneurs, starting a fruitful endeavour requires careful planning and execution. Let us dive into the steps on how to open a tanning salon. 

10 steps to start a tanning Salon:
  1. Plan your Tanning Salon Business


  2. Form your Business into a legal entity


  3. Register your Salon for Taxes


  4. Open a Business Bank Account and get a Credit Card


  5. Put up an Accounting System for your Salon


  6. Get the Necessary Permits and Licences for your business


  7. Get a Tanning Salon Insurance


  8. Define Tanning Salon Brand


  9. Create a Business Website


  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have listed down the steps to start your salon business in detail.

#1 Plan your Tanning Salon Business

A clear business plan is essential for an entrepreneur to map out the basics of any business. It helps you pay attention to even minute details that could have been missed otherwise. 

While planning your business, you must be able to answer the following questions.

  • What will you name your business?

  • What are the start-up and ongoing costs involved?

  • What will be the target market?

  • How much do you want to charge the customers?

What will you name your business?

Choosing the correct name for your business is challenging and a thoughtful process. If you haven’t thought of a name already, you can brainstorm a name with the help of a Tanning Salon Name Generator. 

If you function as a sole proprietorship, then the best option will be to operate under a name other than yours. Before registering a business name, we suggest doing some research by checking:

  • Business Record of your state.

  • Federal and state trademark records.

  • Check Social Media platforms.

  • Check the Availability of the web domain.

What are the start-up and ongoing costs involved?

First of all, decide if you want to provide tanning beds or spray tanning services to your clients. It will determine the type and size of space actually required to run the business. Once the space has been decided and secured, you can start purchasing the supplies.

The Spray Tan machines cost between $500-$5,500 whereas UV tanning beds cost $10,000 each.

Once the necessary purchases are done, you will need a few basic items to kick-start the business. The basic items include-

  • Eye protection

  • Lamps

  • Cleaning supplies

  • Lotions

  • Upgraded electrical for tanning beds

  • Signs and brochures regarding tanning bed safety and UV ray exposure

  • Cash register and credit card machine

  • Marketing products

  • Timer system for each bed

The energy bill will be one of the largest ongoing expenses ranging from $500 – $1500 a month. The exact amount will depend on the no. of beds you have and how busy you are. Payroll and its associated taxes will be another major expense that will increase as the business grows.

An additional expenditure of $200 per month for cleaning and maintenance of beds will be incurred. 

If you plan to have spray tans rather than beds, the cost will be much higher.

What will be the target market?

The interested first-time clients will keep coming to your salon, but most salons thrive from repeated customers. The client should be committed to looking their best and maintaining a golden tan is an important part.

How much do you want to charge the customers?

Most of the customers are charged on a per-visit basis. A tanning bed session ranges from $5-$20 each based on the duration of the session and the level of tanning bed used. Even spray tans are billed the same between $25-$50 per visit.

#2 Form your Business into a legal entity

The sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation are common business structures. Having a legal business entity established as an LLC or corporation will protect you if your business gets sued. 

You can form your own LLC and pay the minimal state LLC cost or hire the best LLC Service with an additional fee. 

#3 Register your Salon for Taxes

You will be required to register several state and federal taxes before starting a business. You have to get an EIN before you can register your business for taxes. The EIN can be obtained by applying through the IRS website

Some state sales tax along with franchise taxes may be applicable to you.

#4 Open a Business Bank Account and get a Credit Card

You must have a separate business bank account and credit card to safeguard your personal assets. When your business and personal accounts are mixed, you are putting your personal assets at risk. It is called piercing your corporate veil in business law. 

Open a Bank Account for Business

A Business Bank Account is necessary to

  • Separate your Business and Personal Assets.

  • Make tax filing and accounting systems easy.

Start a Credit Card For Credit

A Credit card helps you to

  • Separate your Business and Personal Expenses.

  • Build the credit history of your company.

#5 Put up an Accounting System for your Salon

Keep a track record of your expenses and sources of income to measure the overall growth of your business. The accuracy and detailed accounting of records will make your annual tax filing easier.

#6 Get the Necessary Permits and Licences for your business

If you fail to obtain essential permits and licences, it will result in heavy fines or even cause your business to shut down. 

Federal Business Licensing

Legislation is under approval to allow only people aged 18 or above to use tanning booths. 

State & Local Business Licensing

Tanning salons provide consumers with a warning statement regarding the risks that accompany UV radiation. The consumers must sign the warning statement after reading it. 

Local licensing or regulatory requirements could be applicable. 

  • Cross Check with your town, city, or county clerk’s office for the permits and licences.

Get help from one of the local associations mentioned in the US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.

#7 Get a Tanning Salon Insurance

Your business requires insurance to work safely and lawfully. It protects the financial well-being of the company at the time of loss.  

Several insurance policies are created for different businesses involving different risks. If you are not sure of the risks involved in your business then at least get General Liability Insurance. It includes all the small businesses need. 

Another Insurance policy that you need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business needs you to hire employees then the state will ask you to carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage.

#8 Define the Tanning Salon Brand

You Should be able to define what your company stands for and how business is looked at by the public. Having a strong brand helps you to stand out among the competitors. You can start with making a logo and then add it to the QR code.

#9 Create a Business Website

Once you have successfully defined your brand and created a logo, you must focus on creating a website to provide an online presence for your business. You should have a website for the following reasons:

  • All legal businesses have a website.

  • Social media accounts cannot replace the importance and necessity of the website. 

  • Website Builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have simplified the website creation process. You will not be required to hire a web developer. Other website builders are Weebly, WordPress, WIX, Squarespace, and Shopify. 

#10 Set up your Business Phone System

You should get a Business Phone system to keep your business and personal life separate and private. It makes your business more automated, provides legitimacy, and helps potential customers find and contact you.

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Frequently Asked Questions​ (FAQs)

The revenue is generated on a per-visit basis of a client. These salons have multiple beds and/or spray tan options available and are charged accordingly. Each visit requires 15 minutes per session and will depend on the client’s needs.

The profits are directly related to the number of beds a salon maintains and no. of times the rooms are occupied. If we calculate, on average a room generates profit between $12,000 – $15,000 annually. Every visit costs $6 – $9 in supplies and energy costs.

Some salon owners make $58,000 in profit while others are left with a small amount after bearing all the expenses. All they know is more beds = more profit.

Tanning businesses with higher revenue offer a variety of tanning options and skin care products. If you want to increase your business profits, then including the following business strategy will make a huge difference.

  • Provide airbrush tan and UV tanning.

  • Provide mobile service for spray tanning.

  • Stock skincare and tanning products

  • Offer additional spa services. 

  • Give away membership options along with different incentives.

To operate a tanning business, you must have good business skills. Your work will need you to interact with clients on a regular basis, so you must have interpersonal skills. Consumers have a firm belief that tanning is bad for the skin, so you must have a good understanding of the effects and skin care. The National Tanning Training Institute and Smart Tan provide both educational and networking opportunities for the success of your business.

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