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Anyone own a tanning salon?


New member
Nov 14, 2002
O/T Anyone own a tanning salon?

Have been looking around at info on the net about some of the franchises available. They say they are basically turn key, and pretty safe buys. I see they make you fill out an application and have a certain amount in liquid assets. To those in the know... assuming you have the money, how strict is the application and interview? Will they give you the time of day if you don't have a business degree or previous business ownership? Any other advice is appreciated.
Dude I dunno if your looking to get into that francise for some reason but if its not a must I would just start one up on your own! Just make sure you have the latest beds!!!! It has its pluses but it also has its downside! The first thing I would start out doing is take the local tanning manager out to dinner!!!! Pick her brain about all aspects of running a salon, you'll find out some good info and who knows maybe you'll get laid!:D
I have a buddy who recently bought one, he basically found a shop that was already for sale, made an offer and took over. He has no degrees to my knowledge, but much buisness experience. Once he bought it just made a few changes to the place bought a few newer beds, stuck a fan in each room, has a friend who does glass work, so removed the 12.00 kmart mirrors and installed wall mirrors, adjusted prices, made new deals, made a banner for the front explaining "new ownership, and new bulbs", the original hired staff which consited mainly of 18 year old girls still works thier.
I'll tell you one thing that you can take to the bank. If you have enough money to pay the franchise fee and buy the equipment, absolutely no company is going to turn you down. If they can make some money from you, they will, and you are going to be a business owner. I'm sure you know this, but I'll say it anyway. Make sure there is a need for a salon in your area. We have so many in our town that they go out of business all the time, yet people still keep opening them. Just like gyms. We have about 15, but 4 have gone under in the last year. If there is a need for one in your town, then I agree with one of the other guys that you need to make yours' a little more fancy then the rest, which will set you apart and hopefully kick some booty for ya. If you do the construction yourself, you can open a 10 bed (if they are normal lay down) salon for around 45k. It seems that the future of tanning is with the mistic spray beds, but they cost around 20k. At 20 bucks a pop, you could recoup your costs real quick, though.
If opening a new one dude I would make sure you have the best beds available today! Some can rn 30k plus but its worth every dime! There are a few tanning salons in my area that don't do nearly the biusness they could becuase there beds suck! Also I would get that mystic tan thing if you could! Its the future of tanning!!!
I wanted to get all the facts straight before I posted this but About a 2 years ago my girlfreind at the time was looking to buy one and the people wanted 47,500 for the salon and it had only 5 beds! Plus it was in a part of town that looked like the neighbors earned money by robbing the place! I looked into cost of there beds and one could duplicate there salon for 20K plus a 1300 monthly rent! Plus you'll always make more money if you cater to upscale cleintel! She untimalty spent about 75 grand opening up her own salon! She worked in a tanning salon for 8 years and bought all of her beds for a reduced price from the lady who owns the salon she used to work at! Also the lady helped her with lawyers and all aspects of startup! I pretty much did all the contruction except for the electrical! She has the best beds money can buy and even has several people who work there cutting hair! Offers other services like waxing and nails! She makes pretty good cash and says next year is looking to open another one of which she plans on paying cash! Also dude I would look into places that will sell you there beds from another salon (used are always cheaper) and some places even sell used bulbs for pretty cheap! If there is anything you want me to try and answer I can give her a call!
there is a lot of misinformation in this post.

first off. don't do franchise, its not worth it. second. to open a good tanning salon that will make you money, you should at least have 12-15 beds. 60% base 30% upgrade and 10% high pressure.
You will probably need to spend anywhere from $150-250,000 to open a profitable salon up. The cost of installing 3 phase electricity alone could cost you up to $25,000 depending on where they need to bring in the electrical from.

you do not make money off of base beds or cheap tanning prices. you make money off of upgrades and lotions. there are tons of vairable you need to look at before opening a business like this, especially if you live in the northeast, It is a VERY seasonable business. most salons make almost all their money in 4 months. the rest of the year they are dead slow. there are ways around this but it takes tons of planning.

i would say start reseaching it now if your interested and wait to open till say nov, december. that way you will have the bugs worked by the time it gets to the busy season.

there is a good trade show coming up in vegas on june 24-26 i think.

Good Luck.
I agree with most about the franchise thing. There is no need to pay that fee if you don't need to. It's just something to get people looking. If you have the prices and the beds then your golden on that front. The mystic tanning thing is a good idea. As far as the north east thing it is seasonal but not just four months. I live in Michigan and we have every season that you can think of and regardless people around here like to look good and tan. So that eliminates just the summer and even then there are bunches of people who still tan cause they can't make it to the beach. Which really sucks cause I wouldn't want to be anywhere else other than lake michigan for the summer. Well keep researching and let us know how it goes.
About the only thing I can add to w8's post is that you should consider taking an "intro to running your own business" course, or something along those lines. One of the reasons to buy a franchise is because the chain usually agrees to give you business advice (at least to start), though if they're a poor organization you might get stuck on that point.

I'd avoid buying into a franchise unless I was getting into an industry where it may be required to succeed (eg. having a brand name place in the fast food business).
thanks for all the replies

I will definitely do some more research. My father is a retired businessman who is going to help my wife and I out with this project. He seems pretty partial to the idea of a franchise only because of the relative ease of start up. This will mostly be my wife's project, as I need to keep my current job. It covers our bills and gives us health ins., etc. She has 2 close family members who are CPA's and a family friend who is an attorney. So we have some good help on our side. Thanks for the advice, I think I will also go and talk to some local owners of both kinds.
Don't listen to people that tell you that you have to spend 150-250k to be profitable. That's rediculus. Not too many people have that kind of jack. I've seen quite a few gyms spend a huge amount of money, only to close a few years later because they went too big. I opened my first gym with less than 30k about 10 years ago. My business grew with time. Make comfortable decisions.
queefeer. Good tanning beds that will last, cost anywhere from 8grand to 35+ a decent vhr bed is at a low. 15g's add that up by 10 beds. Plus adding electricity or buildout costs.

You need to spend money to make money.
Fuck tanning beds. wanna make money? open aSpray mist tanning place. 3 minutes and a customer gets a beautiful even tan without dangerous UV exposure. Thats where the future is heading get on it now and rake in the dough.
I would make sure you have one mystic tan one very good bed asnd then 4 -10 "beginner or average beds"! You could possibly add the mystic tan later if you want but make sure you have room to do so! Also you can start off with less beds and add more later but you will not be getting all of customers money doing so!!!
Most large chain in town tanning salons will sell you the used beds the have for a very decent price! They will also sell you there used bulbs too that the customers don't have to know about!! I personally would never buy into a francise! Dude I would start off talking to a lawyer about your liceances and what not and do ask the local tanning chick out if you don't know enough about it already! My post is not mis-informed! Though I do agree you will make most of your cash from lotions and hair care products if you sell those and train your people to push them. I dunno what state W8 lives in but in my state it really is not that much to start these things up in my state if you know how to do the work! I know all of the upscale salons in the area do very well! Cost will vary dependin state from state?? Though smaller ones seem to just turn a profit enough for the owner to live and not much else! Though most seem to be a pretty safe investment! Though opening price will vary from state to state and alot will depend on if you know how to install custruction/plumming/floors/cabinets/sinks/drywall/ceilings/electrical, and at what price you can get the more expensive things like beds and chairs! I know one nail salon in town has chairs that were 15 grand a pop! but they keep your butt warm and rub it for you!! I think they are a waste but hey, live it. If you don't want to do the work and have no friends that do it see if the leaser for the biulding will help you find or has a contactor! If you going to do the work yourself I would go to a salon to look at one and everything you see in it has a price and right down everything you see and get an estimate! Although if you get a contracter to do the work for you it will be more expensive but he will do everything for you and estimate it! We went to lumber stores and bought pretty much everything except the sinks, toilets, and chairs from there bin they had that was discounted! We managed to get sinks and chairs from a builder that was turning a salon into a subway for dirt cheap!! Also if you can get materials through other meens do so just use your imagination! Also if you have some friends that lift weights that do construction maybe you can trade like supplements or training sesions for work! Also if there are any salons in the area closing you can get stuff really cheap from them! Make sure everything looks new! I am sure one could spend up to a 150-250K to start one of these but my ex didn't have the cash so she had to make do and she did very well! Though she had alot of friends that helped her out! I would use your reasourses and if you don't have resources FIND SOME!!!!! Though I would just look into it as a hobby and then see if you want to go through with it!

Also dude what we did is printed up about 2,000 fliers and just walked around putting them on peoples front doors in the surrounding neighborhood! Usually direct mail like that has a 1% return on it but we managed more than that!! Also shw rented a few bus stop signs to advertise on and put signs on all close street corners! Had opening specials and with in 3-1/2 months she had a profitable business!!

Also talk with an accountant or a tax lawyer in your state about what you can write off for business expenses and what not! You can help offset your taxes this way ! Plus business in my state can claim losses for 2 years!
what stack says is very true. there are just too many salons that barely turn a profit ever. this is due to mismanagement and mistaakes. On the other hand i know of many salons that the owner walks away with a 500g profit every year.

i just want to add one thing. buying used beds will save you tons of cash, so you might want to look into it. but NEVER use USED BULBS your customer pays for a tan. without good new lights, they will never get the tan they pay. changing lights regularly is a must.
Stack's post reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine put an exclamation point on the end of every sentence in some book she was editing.
LOL I always do that for some reason!! It umm becuase I am smart! Yea thats it!!

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