With approximately 1 in 10 UK adults considered regular sunbed users, opening a tanning salon can be a lucrative venture. But, as they say, you have to spend money to make money.
So, how much does it cost to open a tanning salon? To calculate this figure, there are many start-up expenses to consider. As well as securing your premises and equipment, you’ll need to consider the costs of tanning salon software, insurance, staff training and more.
In this article, we will discuss the cost of opening a tanning salon, broken down into the most significant expenses. Read on to discover everything you need to buy, rent or fund to start a tanning salon business.
Securing your business premises will be your biggest tanning salon start-up cost. You should have enough capital to cover the initial deposit as well as the first year’s rent or mortgage payments. How much you’ll have to pay will depend upon:
- The size of the salon
- Its location (busier areas with higher footfall, such as city centres, will be more costly)
- The condition of the building
- Whether the salon comes with any furnishings or equipment left over from the previous business (e.g. sunbeds)
A standard deposit for a leased property is 3-6 months’ rent. Depending on the above factors, this may be as much as £100,000.
Buying a salon may set you back anywhere from £10,000 to £1m or more. A standard commercial mortgage deposit is 20-40% of the total loan amount. You’ll also need to factor in legal fees and stamp duty, where applicable.
Equipment and Supplies
Sunbeds are by far the most important tanning salon equipment. New tanning beds typically cost between £3,000 and £20,000, depending on the model. It’s worth investing in better sunbeds where possible, as you’ll be able to charge a higher price per minute. Not to mention, salons with better sunbeds tend to attract a higher footfall.
Remember, you can stagger your purchases if necessary. For example, you might start with three sunbeds, and add more later on as cash flow improves. You can also buy them second hand, or rent them from the supplier, which will lower your start-up costs.
Other equipment and supplies you may need to purchase include:
- Sunbed timer system with front desk control unit e.g. T-max Manager
- Computer, tablet or other device to run your tanning salon software
- Cash drawer and card reader
- Security cameras and alarms
- Towels, eye protection, tanning lotions and gowns or robes
- Washing machine and tumble dryer
- Equipment for the staff room e.g. kettle, microwave, crockery and cutlery
- Cleaning products and supplies
- First aid kit
If you’re selling retail products, add six months’ worth of stock to your tanning salon start-up costs. Some wholesalers offer tanning salon start-up packages at a good price.
Furniture and Décor
Another significant cost to open a tanning salon will be your furniture and décor. You’ll need a reception desk and chair, and comfortable seating for your waiting area and staff room. You’ll also need retail shelving if you’re selling things like tanning lotions.
Don’t forget about privacy screens, lighting, wall fittings and tanning salon décor such as plants, wall art, mirrors and so on. On average, furnishings and decorations for a small tanning salon cost around £2,000 – £5,000. You can save money by opting for “pre-loved” furniture and fittings.
It’s important to have adequate tanning salon insurance in place before you open your doors. If you’re hiring employees, you’re legally required to take out employer’s liability insurance. Other insurance policies, such as contents insurance, are optional – however, they could save you money in the long run.
As a general guide, basic employer’s and public liability insurance may cost around £400 – £1,200 per year. You should make sure your tanning salon start-up costs cover at least the first year of insurance premiums.
Staff Training Costs
Before you open your tanning salon, you should train your staff in fire safety, first aid and general health and safety. These courses typically cost around £60 – £200 per person. However, you may be eligible for group discounts as an employer.
Your insurance provider may also require your staff to be trained in sunbed operation and tanning safety guidelines. The Sunbed Association offers online training for £299 + VAT per learner (less if you are a member).
As well as training, you should have enough capital to cover at least 12 months of staff wages. It often takes new businesses a year more to start making a profit.
Building Your Website
To have a chance of competing, it’s essential for all businesses to have a strong online presence. So, an important part of the cost to start a tanning salon is building a website for your business.
If you’re not a web designer yourself, you’ll need to hire someone to build your site for you. The cost of website design varies depending on the size and complexity of the site. However, as a general guide, you can expect to pay £500 – £5,000 for a basic website.
Marketing your tanning salon will help create a buzz around your business and spread the word before you open. There are many different ways to advertise your tanning salon, such as:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Online advertising (e.g. pay-per-click ads, promoted posts on Facebook and Instagram)
- PR (e.g. a press release or grand opening event)
- Leaflet, poster and billboard campaigns
Aim to spend around 10-20% of your planned annual revenue on start-up marketing. This should all form part of your tanning salon business plan.
Tanning Salon Software
A good software program is an essential investment for any modern tanning salon. The UK’s leading cloud-based tanning salon software, ActiveSalon, includes everything you need to manage your business.
As well as a comprehensive client database, it doubles up as a POS – so there’s no need to waste money on an expensive terminal. Control your sunbeds, manage bookings and monitor sales from any device, with real-time data syncing.
ActiveSalon is available as a monthly or yearly subscription, for the same price as a cup of coffee per day. What’s more, the first three months are completely free! Why not start your free trial today?
Loukas has been a part of the tanning industry since 2013; what he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing! As a Director of SolarTrack Systems, his responsibilities don’t just include ActiveSalon, but a variety of different tools and packages.