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article 3: turn your spray tan business into gold



by Lindsay Dickhout


“Iwata’s RG-3 spray gun is my absolute favorite when executing a custom spray tan. This gun produces a perfectly fine mist, allowing you to tan guests quickly and without any mistakes. In the 10 years that I’ve been in this industry, I’ve never seen anything that compares to the quality and performance that you’ll get from this gun. This is why Iwata is the only brand of equipment that we use in our thousands of Million Dollar Tan accounts throughout the country.”



In the last 2 articles, we’ve gone through the basics of spray tanning and how to perform a perfect spray tan. Now I’d like to help guide you to create a plan to build your business, and fast! Spray tanning is one of the most in-demand beauty services today. And unlike most other services in it’s category, a spray tan takes just a few minutes, costs you only a few dollars per tan and does not require a license to perform.

Now that you know the basics of spray tanning, let’s talk about how to take it from a good job to an incredible business.

Don’t Be Afraid To Give Away Free Tans

In fact, invite it… to the right people that is. One spray tan costs you around $4 and 15 minutes of your time. There are two types of people that you should never hesitate to give one free tanning session to.

People that could be regular spray tanning customers. The ones that come once a week for their spray tanning session and love it. It becomes part of their weekly routine.

People who can refer lots of new guests to you. Hair stylists, personal trainers and department store employees are all perfect. They talk to lots of people everyday and are usually talking to other people about how to look and feel their best.

I also recommend that my accounts keep a referral book and for every 3 referrals, your guest gets a free spray tan. It’s a great way to keep your guests motivated to share their tanning secret.

Ways To Promote Your Business

When starting out, I’d hit the busiest hair salons, gyms and dermatologists offices in your area. Leave discount cards for a percentage off a guest’s first tan. You’ll be surprised at how many calls you get from people picking up cards at one of their regular stops.

Another great way to get people talking about your service is by offering free face tans at one of these businesses. The owners or doctors will usually welcome you because you are offering a little perk for their guests. Rather than just soliciting business, you are offering them a free mini service. You can also do this at local community events, bridal fairs or outdoor fairs. The response is incredible. The tan looks great on the face because it evens out the complexion and makes the guest look radiant. Most people love it and want the same bronzed look on their whole body. And it couldn’t be any easier for you to do. You simply give them a beauty cap to put on and drape a black towel around their neck/chest area and gently tuck it into their shirt. Have them close their eyes and their mouth and spray their face, giving them a break to take a breath in the middle. You can take the beauty cap and towel off immediately and they are on their way. It takes you seconds and costs you pennies and gives your guests the best sales pitch ever- a tanned face they love.

Marketing Materials

Most sunless tanning companies offer great support when you purchase their products. We use an easy and reasonable design website where our wholesale accounts can view the templates we have created and customize them to their liking. From posters to free tan cards to tanning tips cards, most companies have this covered. Rather than trying to write your own sales points and instruction cards, utilize these valuable marketing materials that have already been created for you.

Your Pricing Menu Is Key

Determining your pricing menu is the single most important decision you will make when shaping your spray tanning business. It is important to know your clientele, your area and the existing market. It is also important not to price your service too high so that it is not realistic for your guests to get their spray tan once a week. But you also want to maximize your time and make a great profit doing this service. It’s an important balance that you must find. Always have packages available so guests can get a discount by purchasing a packing of tanning sessions at one time.
You can also offer a “special event tan” where the guest gets an hour-long session with the “expert tanner.” My accounts usually charge double for this service. It is perfect for guests who want the extra attention and want to make sure every detail is perfect. A special event tan is very popular for weddings, birthdays or before a photo session.

Educate Then Sell

In this business, we have found that the difference between a sales pitch and a product presentation is in the education. You can present the same information about the products you are selling, but when you educate the guest first, a cheesy sales pitch turns into an informative talk about what products the guests should use to maximize the look of their tan and extend how long it lasts.
You should be educating guests every step of the way. Educate them when they call to make their first appointment, during their tanning session and after their session is complete. There is a lot to learn about spray tanning and most people don’t know much about how it really works.
Examples of how to educate guests before, during and after their tanning session:


“You will need to leave the tanning solution on your body for at least 6 hours after your tanning session. You can shower after 6 hours but 8-10 hours is ideal.”
“It is best to come freshly showered, shaved and exfoliated, though not essential.”


“The way a high quality sunless tan works is it permanently colors your outer layer of skin and naturally exfoliates as your skin naturally exfoliates. Low quality sunless tans can rub off on clothing or when you exercise or sweat. The difference in these products is the percentage of DHA, the quality of ingredients used and the color combination of the tanning solution. In order to ensure your tan lasts as long as possible, we use the highest quality solution with the highest percentage of DHA we believe you can use and still get a very natural looking sunless tan.”
“Your tan will last about a week and can lasts up to 2 weeks if you keep your skin well hydrated. The only way your tan can exfoliate unevenly is if your skin exfoliates unevenly. So keep your skin well-moisturized for a long-lasting and gradually fading sunless tan.”
“In the hours immediately after your tanning session, it is best not to sweat or do dishes. Avoid anything that can cause your tan to streak.”
“Do not moisturize until after your first shower. You don’t want to move the tanning solution around.”
Ask your guest questions and listen to what they tell you. Personalize your sales pitch based on their lifestyle and concerns.
Example: “Since you are going on vacation, this product is perfect for you. When your tan begins to fade, use this as a touch-up on areas that need it. It is the exact same tanning solution I used in your spray tanning session so your tan will blend perfectly and can last twice as long!”

Products You Should Be Selling:

The exact same tanning solution you use in a professional spray tan. It’s an easy way for guests to extend the life of their tan. They can spritz it on and use a blending brush to blend it in, or spray it into their normal body lotion. This is a tanning product in it’s most concentrated form. It’s also perfect for the face. Everyone’s face exfoliates about twice as fast as the rest of their body. Most guests will like to touch-up their face tan at least one time in between their weekly tanning sessions.


A rub-on sunless tanning lotion. This is easy, effective and creates a great tan color. Most people are used to using sunless tanning lotions so this is an easy addition to their normal routine. Our lotion goes on clear for easy application day or night. There is no odor and it just takes a few minutes to apply, goes on streak free and evenly, just like body lotion.


An exfoliating scrub. For guests who like to really exfoliate well before their tanning session, a scrub is perfect. It is made to work with the tan and buff off the outer layer of skin, revealing a fresh layer for the tan to grab onto. If guests are going to use an exfoliator before their tanning sessions, it makes sense to use one that was made to work with the tan.

These 3 products are all very effective in extending the life of their tan. None are fluff or hype. When presented properly, these products fly off the shelves.

You can also consider offering a very moisturizing body lotion or body butter. These items sell great in some locations and not so well in others. Often times guests have a body lotion that they like and want to continue using. Other places sell a ton of them because they are essential to a perfect spray tan.


Master Sales

The way you handle your sales will determine what level you can really take your business to. This is a great service with great results. People like to learn about it and buy things that enhance their tan. When training at a new salon or spa, I tell tanners that every guest should spend at least $100 with you on their first visit. (The only exception to this is if your guests physically don’t have the money.) Buying products or packages or both, if you have done your job informing the guest about the tanning service and how the tan works, they will want to purchase more tanning sessions and/or related products. Because the tan is instant, guests can see immediately how good it looks and instantly become addicted to their new bronze glow. Use their new-found excitement to turn them into weekly guests.

Multiplying Your Business

Once you have mastered your tanning and sales skills at your first location, duplicate and grow! Rather than doing the tan yourself, hire and train someone to take over at your first location and you can set-up a similar spray tanning business at another location, or go mobile!

Many of our most profitable accounts started at one location, with one room and as the demand increased, they increased their capacity. Some accounts made room for several tanning rooms in the same location, or opened new locations in different locations. Analyze your situation and the best way for you to grow. Start working on your expansion plans before you are ready to expand. One of the best parts of this business is that everyone you tan is a walking testimonial. If you price your service right and properly educate your guests, you’ll need your expansion plans sooner than you think.



On July 1st, a 10% Tan Tax was put into effect. Tanning Salons must charge 10% tax on all tanning bed services. This does NOT include spray tanning services. Many dermatology and skincare groups had been pushing for this tax, stressing the harmful effects of tanning beds. Use this to help promote your business! There is no longer much of a price difference in one high-end tanning bed session (including tax) and one custom spray tanning session.