Opening a Tanning Salon: The 7 Things to Do First

7 things to do before you open a salon

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If you’re wondering how to open a sunbed shop, it is important to do your homework beforehand. There’s a lot that goes into opening a tanning salon, so you’ll need to budget your time and resources accordingly.

You’ll need to register and insure your business, invest in equipment and software, hire staff and more. The key to success is being fully prepared before you even think about opening your doors.

In this guide, we will outline seven of the most important things you need to do first when opening a tanning salon (UK). This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you a good starting point on which to build your business.

1. Create a Tanning Salon Business Plan

The first step to opening a tanning salon is creating a comprehensive business plan. This outlines your business goals, strategies, financial projections and more. You’ll need to:

  • Conduct in-depth research into your target market and industry trends, both local and national
  • Decide what services and products to sell, and your USP (unique selling point)
  • Create your tanning salon brand (name, logo, mission statement, etc.)
  • Make a financial plan with a full breakdown of projected profits and expenses

You will also need to calculate and source your start-up capital, budgeting for 10-20% extra in case of unforeseen expenses. Consider everything from the premises itself to your tanning salon software subscription.

2. Find a Location for Your Sunbed Shop

Next, you’ll need to rent or buy suitable premises for your tanning salon. This should ideally be in a high-footfall area with good visibility and easy access. Look for a location close to other businesses, as this can generate passing trade. 

You will need a building large enough for your sunbeds, reception and waiting area, customer toilets and staff facilities. If you’re selling retail products, you’ll also need somewhere to store your inventory.

Before deciding on a location, research your local competitors. If there are other tanning salons nearby, this indicates there’s a market for tanning in your area. However, you may have to work harder to stand out from the crowd.

3. Register Your Tanning Salon

Now that you have your business plan and premises, it’s time to register your tanning salon with the relevant authorities. You will need to:

  • Register as a limited company with Companies House
  • Register for corporation tax with HMRC
  • Register as employer and set up PAYE
  • Get employer’s liability insurance, and look into optional policies (e.g. commercial property and public liability insurance)
  • Check with your local council for any restrictions or permissions needed for opening a sunbed shop

While not mandatory, you should also consider becoming a member of the Sunbed Association and following their code of best practice.

4. Rent or Buy Your Sunbeds

One of the most important investments you’ll make when opening a sunbed shop, UK or otherwise, is the sunbeds themselves. You can buy them outright for around £7,000 each, buy them on lease-purchase, or rent them.

Renting is often the preferred route for salon owners, as it usually includes installation, repairs and maintenance. Whatever you choose, your sunbeds must not exceed 0.3 watts of UV irradiance per square metre (the legal limit).

Don’t forget other necessary equipment such as seating, décor and retail shelving. When everything is in place, you will need to conduct a risk assessment according to HSE guidelines.

5. Invest in Good Tanning Salon Software

To run your tanning salon smoothly and efficiently, you’ll need to invest in tanning software. This will help with your salon’s day-to-day operations, such as booking appointments and taking payments. Good tanning salon software will include a multitude of helpful features, such as:

  • Digital booking management
  • Automatic appointment reminders
  • Custom pricing structures, discount codes and referral programmes
  • T-max manager integration for remote sunbed control
  • Cloud-based client records stored in accordance with GDPR
  • Email and SMS marketing
  • Quick POS system
  • Full reporting

Make sure to choose software that will grow with your business. ActiveSalon, for example, offers full accessibility from any location – with unlimited users and instant data syncing across branches.

6. Hire and Train Staff

Before you can open a tanning salon business, you’ll need to hire staff. Each of your staff members should receive full training in:

  • Sunbed operation and maintenance
  • UK tanning salon laws and safety guidelines
  • General health and safety, first aid and fire safety
  • Customer service

You will also need to train staff to use your tanning salon software, including how to input and view client records, make bookings and operate the POS system.

7. Advertise Your Grand Opening

Now that your premises, equipment and staff are ready, it’s time to think about how to open a tanning salon for business. One of the best ways to generate interest is to host a grand opening, offering special perks such as a free moisturising lotion or branded merchandise. You can advertise your opening day in many ways, including:

  • Distributing flyers in local businesses or through a letterbox campaign
  • Putting up posters in strategic locations
  • Advertising on social media, such as Facebook and Instagram
  • Investing in PPC (pay-per-click) advertisements through Google

You can also advertise a referral rewards programme, where existing customers can refer their friends for a discount on their next session. Software such as ActiveSalon can help you set this up.

Discover ActiveSalon with a Free 3-Month Trial

If you’re planning to open a tanning salon, you’ll need to invest in the right tanning salon software. ActiveSalon, the UK’s leading tanning salon management system, provides everything you need to run, manage and grow your business.

Our cloud-based system offers a secure, comprehensive client database, lightning-fast POS, full reporting and much more. And with built-in multi-site management, you can access the system from anywhere, anytime – with unlimited users and real-time syncing across locations.

Discover all of ActiveSalon’s incredible features by starting your free 3-month trial today.  Simply fill in our enquiry form, call us on 0161 507 1598 or email to find out more.

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