Mobile Spray Tan Business

How to start a profitable mobile spray tanning business in 2019

Starting a business isn't easy, especially if you've never done it before.  Luckily, we've got you covered with some great information on how to get started and helping you be profitable from day 1.

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What is mobile spray tanning?

A lot of people still have never heard of mobile spray tanning. I was just speaking with someone the other day that told me they just learned about it 4 months ago and now they’ve opened their own mobile spray tanning business.

So what is it?

how to start a mobile spray tanning businessMobile spray tanning is a business where you spray tan your clients in the comfort of their own home or office (or anywhere else for that matter). Unlike a typical tanning studio, mobile tanning gives you the flexibility of going to your clients so that they don’t have to leave the comfort of their own home and the added convenience typically equates to a higher price point for the service.

There are endless opportunities to start a mobile spray tanning business due to the fact that each business will serve a different clientele and will market their services differently.

This niche has been growing rapidly over the past decade. The low overhead and small upfront cost will allow you to get started for under $1,000, sometimes even much less. With that being said, there is significant turnover for those who aren’t serious about starting a business.

Mobile spray tan business salary

As I mentioned earlier, the added convenience of mobile tanning typically equates to a higher price point for the service. People will pay for convenience and people will pay to save time.

Determining the salary and income for a mobile spray tanning business is not an exact science because every business charges different rates, and depending on the spray tan solution and products they use, their prices can also vary.

We’ve created a sample table below to show you the income potential for a mobile spray tanning business.

Mobile spray tanning income potential

*The information is based on 5 tans per week, 4 weeks (20 days/month) working per month and pre-tax income.

As you can see, the income potential for this business model is really amazing. The best part is that there is little to no overhead and you can get a starter kit for less than $1,000. There aren’t too many other businesses that you can start with such low upfront investment. In fact, a lot of the starter kits come with enough product to make back your initial investment with the products that are included in the kit itself.

Pretty amazing if I do say so myself!

Mobile spray tan business plan

I like to keep things simple when it comes to getting started with your business.  A lot of people over think the process and what they need to get done and it keeps them from ever getting started.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to that have been sitting on ideas for months only to never get started. On the other hand, there are people who just jump right into it and they typically find more success.

“Imperfect action trumps perfect inaction”

This is one of my favorite quotes to share with people because it is so true. It doesn’t matter if what you do isn’t perfect. Frankly, it never will be. However, you have to get started in order to get the momentum to create your business and then you can make the necessary changes as you move forward.

Some people that are thinking about starting a mobile spray tan business want to make sure they have everything planned out, including a business plan. I found this great but simple business plan through a website called the $100 Startup. What the author did was create a one-page business plan that has everything you need in a simple format to help you actually get started.

Here’s what is included:

Overview of the business

  1. What will you sell?  We are planning to sell spray tanning services to the local community.
  2. Who will buy it?  We plan to market to people who currently go to tanning bed salons, sit out by the pool/ocean or people who are currently going to a salon for sunless tanning services.
  3. How will your business idea help people?  Our focus will be on providing safe & natural looking spray tans and preventing people from spending hours in the sun or in tanning beds.

Ka-Ching

  1. What will you charge?  We will charge $40 per mobile spray tan.  Our introductory offer will be $25 for the first spray tan and our goal will be to sell people a package of spray tans.  The packages will be 3 tans for $100 or 5 tans for $140.
  2. How will you get paid?  We will sign up for Square to allow us to easily charge clients when we arrive at their location.  We will not take cash or check because we don’t want to deal with possible faulty checks or fake money.
  3. How else will you make money?  We will sell retail items offered by the spray tan solution provider that we decide to use.  Secondly, we will upsell packages to try to create long term income, versus one-time appointments.

Hustling

  1. How will customers learn about your business?  We will create a website for our business, Facebook page, Instagram account, Yelp account, Google My Business account.  In addtion, we will go out to local service providers that don’t offer sunless tanning services, but do offer complimentary services.  Some examples are hair dressers, estheticians, wellness spas/resorts, wedding shops, bridal planners, and more!
  2. How can you encourage referrals?  We will make sure that we cross refer people and send people to our referral partners as much as possible.  In addition, we will offer free tans for anyone who is a referral partner. We will receive more word of mouth marketing if they are wearing our tan as much as possible.

Success

The project will be successful when it achieves these metrics:

  1. Number of customers – 10/week
  2. Annual net income – $19,200 (10 tans/week @ $40/tan)
  3. This is simply a side business at the moment, so $19,200 is a great “side” business!

Obstacles and Challenges

  1. Specific concern or question #1 – Will a spray tan turn me orange?
  2. Specific concern or answer #1 – No, spray tans no longer cause the “orange” effect that they are so well-known for.  Spray tan solutions have advanced significantly and most people who are seen on TV are wearing a spray tan.

As you can see, that is pretty quick and easy.  If you’ve ever seen a traditional business plan then you know that this is quite the contrary.  It took me less than 10 minutes to fill out that information. And while it may not be perfect and things may change, it is enough to help me get started.  

That’s the whole point of this exercise.  Traditional business plans require you to show numbers and predictions and a bunch of other information to help secure funding from investors.  Luckily in this business, the startup cost is low so you probably won’t need any “outside” money.

How to start a mobile spray tanning business

Even though I’ve put together an entire guide on starting your own spray tanning business, I wanted to take some time to put together a quick and easy guide specific to mobile spray tanning.  You can always reference the other guide if you want more details or check out our OMG Business Training.

Mobile spray tanning price list

Pricing your services is one of the questions I see most people ask when they are first starting out. The issue with asking other people what they charge is the fact that there are too many factors to take into consideration when you are determining your price.

First off, your demographic and the actual location of your business plays a huge factor in determining your price. You can ask people in any Facebook forum and you will get pricing all over the board, from $20 per tan all the way up to $300+ per tan.

So how do you determine your pricing?  I’ll give you my two cents.

For me, this goes back to understanding what type of clients you want to attract to your business. There are people who are focused on the number of clients they get through the door and don’t necessarily care about the quality of their clients.

Then there are people who want to deal with high-end clients and don’t care about the number of people through the door, but instead the quality of their clients. You can charge a higher price and get less clients, but that may be the best choice for your business.

Scan the competition

Although I don’t like to look to the competition for ideas, we can get an idea for what the market can support by looking at other businesses in the area.

Simply go over to Google and type in “spray tan” or “spray tan near me” and check out 3-5 competitiors websites. From there, jot down the prices they charge just to get an idea. Now, this doesn’t mean that they are right because they probably didn’t read this awesome guide ;). However, it does give us a good place to start.

Now that we have this information, we can go back to our previous point about the type of client you want to serve and finding your ideal client.

After that, we have an idea for a ballpark of what we want to charge. Notice that I’ve done all of this research and thought about my clients, etc, etc, without ever mentioning the cost of products, equipment or anything else.

We could get really granular and calculate it down to the pennies, or we can get a general idea based on some pretty common numbers in the industry.

For instance, most brands charge anywhere from $35 - $65 per quart/litre of solution. So let’s calculate that down a bit.

$35/quart = 32 ounces of solution. We use about 2-3 ounces of solution per client. So worst case scenario, let’s say we get 10 tans out of a quart. That’s about 3.2 ounces per client.

Now, let’s look at these two scenarios based on the pricing listed above:

  • $35/quart / 10 tans = $3.50/tan
  • $65/quart / 10 tans = $6.50/tan

Now, $3 more per tan is quite the difference, in fact, almost twice as much. But it’s still VERY low for most service based beauty businesses. To learn more about finding the best spray tan solution for you, check out our Ultimate Guide.

Any other items that you include in your tanning services will be minimal. For instance, barrier cream costs around $10 for a 16oz bottle and will last you for at least 50+ clients. For pH balancer, you are looking at around $10 for an 8oz bottle, and again, you can get around 50+ tans from that one bottle.

There are a few other small items that you may use, such as:

  • Disposable underwear
  • Disposable bras
  • Hairnets
  • Sticky feet
  • Powder

All of these items combined should cost you under $1/client. So if we look at the $65 quart and add in the additional items, you are looking at around $8/client total (including all of the items listed above).

I know I bounced around a bit through the pricing section, but I wanted to give you the resources to help YOU determine your own pricing. This will be helpful as you move forward as a business owner.

Mobile tanning equipment

There is no exact science to finding the "right" machine, but what I will cover is the basics and what you should look for in determining the best spray tan equipment for you!

Pretty much everyone I speak with about spray tanning equipment wants a couple of things:

  1. A good machine
  2. A quiet machine
  3. The best bang for their buck

And all of this makes sense.  One thing to note is that the noise level of MOST of the machines used for spray tanning are all VERY similar in the loudness of the machine.  Since spray tanners use high volume, low pressure (HVLP) machines, they produce a lot of power and thus they are louder.

Traditional airbrush machines are quieter, but they also take much longer to spray tan a client.  An average HVLP tan takes about 3-5 minutes, while an airbrush tan can take 30+ minutes.  I'll opt for the louder machine and shorter time myself!

 

Mobile Tanning Essentials

Below is a list of items that I recommend for you to have on hand during your mobile spray tanning appointments.  This isn't an all-inclusive list, but it will include a lot of items that most spray tanners keep on hand.

1. Sticky Feet

These were created by a good friend of mine that has been in the industry for over a decade.  They have some great advantages over the normal sticky feet that you buy elsewhere.

2. Sjolie ph balacing spray

One of the most popular products used daily for spray tan artists is a pH balacing, or "prep" spray. This helps you to optimize the pH levels in the skin to achieve a darker tan that lasts longer. For only $8 it's a no-brainer.

3. Sjolie Pro-Blend Barrier Cream

Barrier cream is used to help prevent solution from getting onto specific parts of the skin and body, such as dry spots, hands & feet. The Sjolie Pro-Blend barrier cream is the best on the market.

4. Black Salon Towels

These towels are great to use for your client so they can stand on them and not worry about getting solution eveywhere.

5. Hair Nets

It's important to make sure that you keep your clients hair out of their face during the spray tan process so that it doesn't affect the tan in any way.

6. Disposable Thongs

It is HIGHLY recommended that your client always wears underwear or some type of protection during the spray tan process. You should have these on hand at all times.

7. Disposable Bra

A lot of female clients won't wear a bra during their spray tan session, but they are nice to have on hand, especially to offer to your clients.

I hope this article was helpful for you.  If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to me directly - grant@happytans.com.

Disclosure: Some of these are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. I do have experience with each of the products or services listed below so I feel fully comfortable recommending them. Please do not spend any money on the products unless you feel you need them to achieve your goals. It turns out a lot of the things I use are free so you should be able to do the same.

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