How to Start a Profitable Mobile Spray Tan Business from Scratch

Mobile spray tanning is a growing trend in the beauty industry. This is where clients can get their tans done whenever and wherever they want. 

Folks who go for mobile tanning don’t have to leave their homes or offices.

You go to them, and that’s why you can charge them premium prices.

It’s a niche service. 

Over the past decade, this submarket has picked up quite a bit.

It required a small upfront investment, and you could launch your business for less than $2,500! 

In this post, I’ll walk you through starting your own mobile spray tan business.

Let’s get to it. 

What Exactly Does A Mobile Spray Tan Technician Do? 

A spray tan professional works with clients to get a natural-looking bronze color without putting them in danger from the sun.

Utilizing cutting-edge spray technology and expert knowledge of the tanning process, they aim to deliver a flawless tan.

A day in the life of a mobile spray tan technician is full of different tasks, such as:

  • Traveling to their client’s homes, offices, or wherever else their services are needed
  • Providing safe spray tanning services
  • Scheduling client appointments and managing their books
  • Advising customers regarding preparation, maintenance, and aftercare 
  • Answering customer questions about services and products 
  • Cleaning and maintenance of spray tan equipment 
  • Restocking products to use and sell 
  • Marketing their services on social media and collecting reviews

Related Reading: Which Business Should I Start? – Dive Deeper Here.

Steps For Starting Your Own Spray Tanning Business

1. Draft a business plan. 

Anyone who wants to start a business should plan everything out. That usually involves drafting a business plan. 

This is a lot simpler than it seems. All you have to do is answer the following questions.

I took the liberty of answering them to give you a start-off point. 

Be as personal as you can when you answer these questions!

The Business Part 

  • What is your goal? I want to offer a spray tanning service to my local community. 
  • Who will be your customers? I want to cater to people who currently go to tanning salons or frequently sit out by the pool/beach. 
  • How can you add value to your customers’ lives? I’m going to provide them with safe and natural-looking tans. I want to cut down their time under the sun because that can be dangerous. 

The Money Part 

  • How much will you charge? I will charge $50 per mobile spray tan. I will offer an introductory price of $25 for the first spray tan. 
  • How will you accept payments? I will set up contactless payment methods for my clients. I’m not going to accept cash or checks because of possible complications. 
  • How else can you make money? I will resell retail items offered by my spray tan solution provider. I will also upsell packages to gain long-term clients. 

The Marketing Part 

  • How will you let clients know about your business? I will create a site for my business. I will also claim handles on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and Google My Business. I will also try to partner up with complimentary services like estheticians, spas, hairdressers, bridal shops, establishments with tanning beds, etc. 
  • How will you encourage referrals? I will always try to cross-refer people. I might also offer free or discounted tans to referral partners. 

The Numbers Part 

  • How many customers should I try to have in a week? 10-15
  • What is your goal annual net income? $26,000

The Obstacles Part 

This is where you list down possible issues you might encounter as you run your business. You’re going to want to provide solutions for yourself. 

That wasn’t so hard, was it?

In a way, this is kind of the opposite of a standard business plan. There’s no reason why the planning stage should stress you out.

And while this plan is subject to change, it should be good enough to get the ball rolling. 

Typically, in order to attract investors’ financial backing, business plans include a plethora of numerical data and forecasts. 

The good news is that the initial investment required to launch a mobile tanning business will be modest, meaning you won’t have to seek extra funding.

2. Come up with your unique brand. 

The branding part for your new tanning business is the most exciting and imaginative part of the business development process. 

You have to consider the following: 

  • The values that you stand for as a business 
  • The mood that you’d like to evoke 
  • The colors to choose to create a memorable image 

Come up with a company name and logo that strikes a chord with you and your target market.

It might help to settle on a “vibe.” Do you want to project a fun or luxurious image? Are your services more approachable or high-end?

In this phase, you’ll lay the groundwork for the public image that will grow with your company’s success.

It’s fine if you don’t know a lot about advertising yet. There are tons of online resources to help you along the way. 

3. Make things of official. 

Taking care of the legal requirements of your sunless tanning business at the outset will serve you well in the long run. 

Find out what documentation has to be filed to start a business in your state, and get cracking! 

Formation of an LLC, sole proprietorship, corporation, etc., is optional and subject to the laws of the state where your business is located. 

Reach out to a tax expert for advice on how to best structure your business if you need assistance making these choices.

4. Get certified and source your equipment. 

get certified and source your equipment

Now that you’re officially a business owner, you’ll need tools to provide services to your customers.

Go ahead and enroll in that certification class if you haven’t already!

Although most states don’t need spray tanners to be certified, doing so can boost your confidence in your abilities.

You’ll be armed with the proper information to provide an outstanding experience to your clients, which can lead to more referrals! 

Equipment and Supplies You’ll Need

  • A vehicle 
  • Spray Tan Machine (and a Backup) 

When you’re on the go and have an appointment, the last thing you need is for your machine to break down on you. 

You can’t fail your customers, especially if the session is for an important event like a wedding.

It can hurt business in more ways than one. You’ll lose revenue, and you can say goodbye to those referrals. 

What would you do if, midway through tanning someone, your tanning gun jammed or your machine shut off due to overheating? 

I don’t have to tell you that that would be a nightmare. That’s why I recommend getting a spare tanning machine in your vehicle.

  • Spray tan tent
  • Prep spray 
  • Tanning solution 
  • Barrier cream
  • Retail aftercare (Tan extender, lotion, body wash, etc.)
  • Business cards 
  • Loyalty cards 
  • Gloves
  • Containers for your tanning equipment 
  • Extraction fan with filters
  • Paper towels
  • Protective eye gear
  • Disposable underwear
  • Nose plugs 
  • Shower caps 
  • Face masks 
  • Baby wipes
  • Sticky Feet 
  • Black towels or disposable dog pee pads 

5. Get insurance and write a waiver form. 

Getting yourself insured is another important precaution to take in case something goes wrong during your scheduled sessions.

It certainly won’t break the bank, and it’ll make you feel more secure in your business. 

Prepare a waiver form and any other client forms you’ll need, like spray tan aftercare instructions, to hand out to each and every customer who sets an appointment. 

Planning ahead for a safe and reliable method of keeping track of client appointments and data is essential.

6. Open a business bank account. 

You should open a bank account before you start making money so that you have somewhere safe to put it.

Even if your spray tanning business is a sole proprietorship, it’s still a good idea to maintain a separate business checking account from your personal one. 

This will make tax time much less of a headache and allow you to keep better tabs on your profits. 

When compared to opening a personal bank account, opening a business bank account is a breeze.

Ask your favorite bank about the rates and features of their business checking accounts to see if they are a good fit for your business. 

The products and services provided by banks differ, so it’s important to shop around to find the right one for your needs. 

When you’ve settled on a financial institution, you may open a business checking account by providing the institution with your business’s EIN (or SSN, if you choose for sole proprietorship) and other required paperwork.

7. Build your team. 

how to start a mobile spray tan business - build your team

It’s possible that you won’t need any help getting things off the ground.

On the other hand, when your company expands, you’ll probably need to hire people to fill new positions.

In the spray tanning industry, you could find yourself needing people to fit the following roles: 

  • Tanning technicians
  • General manager (for accounting and scheduling) 
  • Marketer (for website and social media operations) 

Depending on the scope and needs of your company, you may need to fill all of these roles at once or one at a time. 

Depending on the situation, you may hire a team of people to perform a single task, or you could assign different tasks to the same person.

To find qualified candidates without spending a dime, you can use sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and to advertise job openings. 

Advertisements on premium sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter are also viable options for finding new staff. 

If you have the means to do so, you may want to think about engaging the services of a recruiting agency to assist you in your search for qualified candidates.

For example, you might decide to hire only technicians with certifications.

8. The real work begins! 

Now, it’s time to put the work in.

Of course, as your business expands, you’ll want to add a lot more features, but this is a sound foundation on which to build. 

Getting your name out there is now your top priority.

Start by announcing your availability and introducing yourself to potential clients in your area; you can do this both in person and online. 

It takes time to build a loyal clientele, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t invest in your dreams with your time, energy, and resources.

Getting your new business off the ground should not be a daunting or difficult process.

If you have the necessary resources and encouragement, you can make that leap. 

Related Reading: Franchisee Vs. Franchisor – Learn The Difference Among Them.

FAQs – Mobile Spray Tanning Business

Can I start a mobile spray tanning business if I don’t know how to spray tan? 

Sure! Many people jump into the spray tanning industry without ever having tried it themselves.

It will boost your confidence if you get spray tan training and certification. You should choose the best spray tanning training program for yourself and familiarize yourself with the following material:

1- Skin prep
2- Information about ingredients 
3- Application techniques 
4- The latest products 
5- Safety 
6- Customer care 
7- Stain prevention 
8- Common spray tan mistakes and their solutions

How much can you charge for a spray tan? 

Your pricing strategy should take into account both the local market and what you think is a fair price for your work, based on your own personal values.
An average tanning session will set you back between $25 and $35.
Prices for professional airbrush sessions range from $30 to $80, depending on factors like how close the technician is to the client and how skilled they are.

How do you settle on a price?

Checking local prices should be your first step. For example, spray tan services in New York will be more expensive than those in a small town in Arkansas. 

One good place to start when trying to decide on your own prices is to see what the competition is asking.

Once you know your competitor’s starting price, you can consider your startup costs and time to come up with your own. 

How do you gain spray tanning customers? 

This is another concern for anyone thinking about taking up a spray tanning gig.

It’s nerve-wracking to launch a business and invest resources into equipment before knowing whether or not you’ll ever see a return on those investments.

But if you put in the time and effort into marketing and advertising, clients will start flocking to you.

When you’ve got everything you need on hand, including advertising, you can get to work.

A few ways to get the word out about your spray tanning business are:

1- Your own website
2- Social media
3- Bulletin boards and flyers
4- Local online directories 
5- Local newspapers and newsletters 
6- Partnerships with other businesses 

Related Reading: How To Start A Vending Machine – Learn More Here.

Final Thoughts

The mobile spray tanning gig is a promising one, both as a starting point and a potential for expansion. 

If folks already know you as a spray tanner, your loyal customers are probably asking if you could come to their homes. 

You’ll need a reliable way to get around, and this type of business works best in a place where there are enough customers to make the time you spend driving between their homes worth it.

Hosting spray tan parties is a fun and profitable way to earn extra cash.

Having a line of customers waiting to get their tans done allows you to spray them one after the other, cutting down on the time it takes between appointments and increasing your profits. 

I hope this guide equips you with everything you need to run a successful spray tanning business.

Disclosure: This article might contain affiliate links to the resources I refer to. It's at no cost to you, and it's how we pay the bills. Get more info here.

Brooks Conkle Banner Image
Brooks Conkle

Brooks is an entrepreneur, father, husband, & follower of the golden rule. He has over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur after graduating with a Finance degree from Auburn University. Addicted to starting new business projects, he believes in creating multiple income streams and a life of flexibility. Business should work around your life, not the other way around. He creates content on his website, sharing his projects to help other hustlers in marketing, personal finance, and online business.