Things to ask yourself when opening a tanning salon…
Starting your own tanning salon can be overwhelming; there are a lot of steps and decisions to consider in the process. Some of the tasks are obvious, like finding the perfect location, purchasing the right equipment, hiring trustworthy staff. But from a marketing and public relations standpoint, there are other responsibilities that will help your business stand out and thrive.
The first thing you should do is ask yourself, what vision do I have for my tanning salon? Do you have a theme you’re prepared to commit to? Not just in décor but also in all future marketing material. We’ve seen the tropical beach theme, the girly chic theme, the country western theme. So maybe you’ll also choose something that matches the geographical location of your salon, or maybe you’ll go the opposite way to switch things up. Can’t say we’ve ever seen a frozen tundra themed tanning spa in south Florida. However while you’re designing the feel of your location, you’ll want to consider what your target client demographic is. When you think about your “ideal” client, also think of the type of space that will attract them.
Another important question to ask yourself is, “am I willing to take risks?” Are you willing to keep on top of new trends, new equipment, and make the investment to offer that to your customers before other salons do? By doing this, not only will you always be ahead of your competition, but your clients will know they can rely on you to provide them with unsurpassed beauty products and equipment. Remember, the goal isn’t to simply exist in your industry but to become an industry leader.
Are you knowledgeable on tanning regulations and equipment safety? Yes, indoor tanning has a bad stigma, and some customers that come in might still be feeling uneasy. It’s your job to be able to reassure them that your salon promotes responsible tanning and will never suggest that a guest tan for any amount of time that will cause harm. You can learn and become certified on tanning safety, skin typing and regulations here. When hiring your team, make sure each staff member is also committed to this promise and willing to learn the ins and outs of each piece of equipment as well as general tanning knowledge. Ideally you want all of your employees to be able to answer any question a guest has about their tan, product, bed, etc. Determining a new guest’s skin type should be standard and keeping a file on this information along with their tanning history will warrant every employee to assign the appropriate session. Clients will be more willing to take your package recommendations if they know you are invested in their personal safety and experience.
So you know what to do when guests come in, but what will you do to keep them and also attract more? Marketing will be your best friend if you take advantage of the basic tools available. For example, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all free, and having frequently updated social media accounts allows customers to easily connect with you, stay up to date on special events and package deals, new equipment, and adjusted business hours. Offering a small incentive can encourage members to write a positive review on Facebook, Google or Yelp!, helping your location look reputable to potential customers. Don’t stop there with the incentives either. Returning customers love to know that their business is valued, and offering exclusive rewards like package upgrades or discounted products reinforces that. Referral programs are also an effective and rewarding strategy, as a lot of tanning business comes from word of mouth.
Staying involved in the industry will help in several ways. The American Suntanning Association (ASA) is a non-profit organization advocating for support on the bill that will repeal the 10% tax imposed on tanning businesses. The association provides educational material on the effects of UV light and the benefits of tanning. With more than 14,000 members in the association, it has become a great resource for information, inspiration and networking with other salon owners. Not only are you a better business owner for staying up to date on new scientific evidence pertaining to tanning, but you can help decrease the dangerous perception the public has on the subject. If you’re going to own a tanning business, you should also be willing to stand behind the service you provide and become an advocate for its benefits. An additional resource to utilize for tanning business tips and industry news is SunBiz Weekly.
Starting a business can be tough, but for anyone who has a plan and is willing to dig in and stick with it, the rewards make it all worth it. ProSun is always happy to help tanning salon owners achieve their business goals, and encourage anyone who is considering opening or upgrading their salon to contact our team for more information on products and equipment. Keep checking back for more articles on assessing equipment and other salon tips!