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Most people would love to relax on a warm beach every day and get a tan from the sun’s rays. But most of us need to work, and spending too much time in the sun could damage your skin or even cause skin cancer. So instead, a lot of people use spray tanning to get that sun-kissed look. 

The tanning salon business, which includes spray tanning and tanning under UVA lights, has grown quickly in the last ten years and will continue to grow in 2022. In the last few years, a hot new trend has been mobile spray tanning, which brings the salon to the clients’ homes and businesses. You can start your own spray tanning business, whether it’s mobile or not, and help people look good while making good money. 

But before you buy your tools, you need to know how to start a business. This step-by-step guide has all the information you need to start a successful spray tanning business.

Step 1: Find Out if this is the Right Business for You?

Positives Vs Negatives

Growing Market – The market for spray tanning is growing quickly
You can set your own hours with a mobile tanning business.
Good Money – Make $40 per tan with high sales margins.
You must learn how to spray tan to do it.
Customers who are picky: You’ll have to give them high-quality results
  • Size of the market and past growth – The US tanning salon business will be worth $3.9 billion in 2022, after growing by nearly 80% in the last ten years.
  • Growth forecast: The US tanning salon market is expected to grow 4.9% in 2022. 
  • Number of businesses: There are 7,052 tanning shop businesses in the US in 2022.
  • Number of jobs – The US tanning salon business will employ 61,771 people in 2022.

Cost of Starting Spray Tan Business

The start-up costs for a mobile spray tanning business range from $2,500 to $9,000. The biggest expense is for a full mobile tanning kit, which can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. 

Investment Items:

  • Spray tanning tools
  • Tent
  • Sunless tan items
  • Protective eyewear

Is Spray Tan Business Profitable?

The average price of a single spray tan is $40. Your profit margin for a mobile spray tan business should be around 80%. 

In your first year or two, you could do four spray tans a day, six days a week, and make $50,000 a year. If the margin is 80%, this would mean making $40,000 in profit. As you get more repeat customers and leads, you might do 10 spray tans a day. With a yearly income of $125,000, you’d make a fantastic profit of $100,000.

Entry Barriers

  • Learning how to use spray tan
  • Competition from big tanning shops

Step 2: Create a Strategy

Identify a Gap

Research spray tanning companies in your area to find out about their services, prices, and customer reviews. You are looking for a market gap to fill. For example, maybe the local market is missing a mobile tanner business or an airbrush tanning business.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and bring in customers right away. 


As a mobile tanning service, you can do either standard spray tanning or airbrush tanning. When you open a spa, you can also offer tanning beds. 


The average price for a spray tan is $40. Your costs as a mobile business will be limited to gas and tanner solutions, so you should aim for an 80% profit margin.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step Profit Margins Calculator to figure out your markup and end price points. Remember that the prices you use at start should be open to change if the market calls for it.

Target Market

Your target group will be broad, but it may tend to be younger. You can find these people on TikTok and Instagram. 


At some point, you may want to switch from a mobile business to a fixed shop. You can find business space to rent in your area on sites like Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When picking a commercial space, you might want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central position accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and roomy, with good natural light
  • Flexible leases that can be stretched as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space that doesn’t need big renovations or repairs

Step 3: Write a Business Plan

Each business needs a plan. This will help you guide your startup through the launch process and stay focused on your main goals. A business plan also helps possible partners and investors better understand your company and its goals:

  • Executive Summary: A brief outline of the whole business plan. It should be written after the plan is finished.
  • Business Overview: An overview of the company’s vision, purpose, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Products and services: Describe your services in depth.
  • Market study: look at market trends, such as changes in demand and growth prospects, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze your main rivals by looking at their strengths and flaws and making a list of the benefits of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Look at your company’s unique selling points (USPs) and come up with sales, marketing, and promotion strategies.
  • Management Team: An overview of the management team, including their jobs and professional backgrounds, as well as a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and tools, and other logistics details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss forecasts, cash flow, and a balance sheet.
  • Appendix: Add any extra financial or business-related documents.

Step 4: Create a Marketing Plan

Some of your business will come from casual passersby or online users, but you should still put money into digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it will increase customer and company awareness. 

Once your site is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great way to promote your business because you can make interesting posts about your products: 

  • Facebook is a great tool for paid advertising because you can target specific groups, like men under 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Instagram has the same benefits as Facebook, but it’s for a different group.
  • Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top of relevant search results, which is a key part of growing sales. Make sure that your website’s calls to action are set up well. Try changing the text, color, size, and placement of calls to action like “Schedule Now.” This can greatly improve sales. 
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local customers, getting mentioned on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to getting people to know about them and buy from them. 
  • Post a video – Post a video about your spray tan. Use fun, and maybe your post will go viral!
  • Email marketing and newsletters: Send regular emails to customers and leads. Make them more special. 
  • Start a blog – Start a blog and post to it regularly. Change up your content and share it on different websites.
  • Look for referrals. Offer incentives to customers who send you to new clients. 
  • Paid ads on social media: Choose sites that reach your target market and make focused ads.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing – Use Google AdWords to do better in searches. Do research on your keywords first.
  • Influencer marketing: Pay people with a lot of social media followers to spread the word about your spray tanning. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and cheaper rates.
  • Testimonials: Share customer comments about how your spray tanning helped them.