Even though this may be obvious, remember that absolute cleanliness is obligatory. This is what your customers expect and deserve. Take a read of our Tanning Salon Planner!
When estimating how long opening your business will take, consider adding an extra week or two to your calculations. Just like in any other cases, opening a tanning salon depends on various factors. Some of which are beyond your control. Not everyone (electricians, plasterers) might be available right away so it’s best to be cautious.
It is even more recommended to not to underestimate sunbed power requirements. As 200 Watt lamp uses roughly 1 Amp of electrical current, 40 tube sunbed uses around 40 Amos (9.6 Kilowats). As a rough guide, a 200 Watt lamp uses about 1 Amp of electrical current. So, a 40 tube 200 watt sunbed uses around 40 Amps, which equates to 9.6 Kilowatts. It means you’ll need a 10mm power supply cable. Power supply cable for a 60 tube sunshower needs to be 16mm (size in cross sectional area).
Sunbeds also need special circuit breakers, the best option here is to use Type “C” fuses (called motor star breakers) that allow higher initial current to flow. Most suppliers of commercial sunbeds insist on installing an RCD (Residual Current Device) that reduces the potential of electrocution. We also recommend this (for more information about RCD check “Technical Notes for Your Electrician”).
Single phase or 3 phase?
Most properties, no matter residential or commercial, have a single phase electrical supply. This allows you to run up to two sunbeds at once, without blowing up the main fuse. You need to call the Utility and ask them to upgrade your supply to 3 phase to run more than 2 beds. You also need to make sure you don’t have a main fuse rated at 60/80 Amps. If so, you’ll need to replace it with a 100 Amp equivalent.
Those do not come for free and unfortunately replacement is neither quick (even up to 8 weeks) nor cheap (up to £3000) because it can only be done by the Utility Company. Replacement involves removing your existing single phase and connecting a new one to the main power cable under the pavement. You definitely need to take it into consideration when estimating your timescales.
If you wish to try and operate 3 sunbeds on a single phase, make sure you never use all 3 beds at once.
Another thing you need to take under consideration is all of the heat a single sunbed gives off. Unfortunately oscillating fans can’t help in this case. The heat quickly becomes unbearable for customers, lowers the UV output of tanning lamp and can cause electrical faults. Because of that you need to find a way to extract the heat from the building and replace it with cool air, making sure a proper air circulation takes place.
Most people think that the hottest sunbed tans quicker and/or better, which is obviously not true when we consider the fact that failing to reduce the heat of the lamp reduces the UV output of the lamp. Be prepared to spend a lot of time trying to educate your customers to accept that fact.
If you charge 50p per minute, 500 hours of effective tube life will allow you to make £15,000. Lamps/tubes are typically replaced after 600 hours and retubing will cost you around £500 – £1 per hour in lamp usage, so about 5% of your takings. This all sounds great but you need to also save some of your takings to eventually (after 3 years or so if you bought a completely new device) replace your sunbeds. Depreciation of the sunbeds undeniably needs to be taken into account when considering tanning salon running costs.
Minimum room length is 8-9ft, width 6-8ft and height (if you plan to use vertical tanning units – sunshowers) 8 ½ ft. Engineers need space to install sunbeds or carry out repairs and customers need space to undress. Also the larger the room, the cooler it is, so it needs less power to extract hot air outside of the building.
Should I buy, rent, or lease-purchase my sunbeds?
A good option is to buy a refurbished sunbed. Thanks to brand new lamps the tanning power of those devices is the same as a new bed. The best way to make sure that refurbished beds look as nice as they work is to visit the company showroom. Also remember to insist on some kind of guarantee. Good condition sunbeds with new 40 to 60 tubes cost about £4000-6500.
Another very popular option, especially if you’re short on cash, is renting or lease-purchasing the sunbeds. A typical rental figure should be around £99 per week for refurbished sunbed plus the cost of retubes. Considering the fact that you should be able to make more than £55 a day it’s a fairly reasonable option. In Lease-purchase case the rental cost is around 50% higher, but you become the owner of the sunbed after the agreement.
You may also consider profitshare/incomeshare option. It is perfect for salon owners running an existing profitable business already (a hotel or a gym perhaps) wanting to make some extra money without redundant financial investments. In this case the sunbed belongs solely to a profitshare company which installs (usually for an initial installation fee), maintains and retubes it. The company takes all the financial risk for 50% of the sunbed takings per month. The non-resettable hour counter that lets you know when the sunbed is due to retube is also used by profitshare companies to calculate how many hours the sunbed has worked, i.e. how much you owe them.
Advantages of this system is almost no financial risk (you never pay more than you earned that month) and regular maintenance at no cost to you. Some profitshares companies offer sunbed upgrade after couple of years provided you pay all monthly invoices on time. Most of them also agree to sell you the device or increase your profit rate (60/40) after your contract is over. But of course this option also has a major flaw. No matter how much you earn you always have to share your takings with the sunbed owner. If your tanning salon turns out to be busy and profitable you should without doubt choose fixed rental fee.
Controlling the sunbeds (token free digital controller)
At additional cost our company can provide your tanning salon with a digital sunbed controller, which allows the receptionist to choose session duration directly from reception. Much more reliable than traditional token meters, digital controllers allow the sunbed to start automatically after a pre-set undressing time. Digital controllers also provide some useful statistics on sunbed use.
Generally you have two choices – re-usable goggles for free (that you need to disinfect in a bowl of dilute disinfectant solution after each use and leave them to dry) or disposable “Wink Eze” (circ. 99p) available along with other tanning accessories in our store.
With mark-up on tanning accelerators being around 80-100% these products will allow you to make some serious profit. Check our offer on bestsunbeds.co.uk and order a Free Catalogue. Order a starter pack and receive our free display.
The Sunbed Association
We highly recommend you to join the Sunbed Association. This non-profit organization aims to promote good practice in the use of the sunbeds. Membership will cost you £115 + Vat per year. Your tanning salon will earn recognition as a place that cares about well-being of its customers. TSA also provides its members with free Health & Safety and age restriction posters, window stickers and so on.
Health and Safety/Local Council/Planning Officer
We advise you to call your local council officer to come and inspect your business before you open. Some of the mandatory modifications may become much more expensive if you wait too long. Remember that sunbed rooms need emergency light fitting installed, and their doors need to open outwards (in case a customer faints). Don’t forget about hand wash facilities and drinking water for your staff.
Customer record cards
It is very important to evaluate your customers skin type which will let them receive a healthy tan every time they visit your salon. Thanks to information you can find in a customer record card (available at www.bestsunbeds.co.uk or by phone 07593 667986) you can decide about the length of their tanning session and prepare a tanning program tailored personally for them.
To make sure that your customers come back after their first tanning session, you must provide them with the best treatment possible. For example, a clean towel may be a bit more expensive than commonly used paper towels, but thanks to the luxury atmosphere it creates, your customers will feel like VIPs all the time. Always treat your customers individually. Teach them how to use the sunbed not only out of courtesy but also because of safety precautions. A mirror, chair, coat hanger, shelf, free moisture, cotton wool balls, paper towels and other luxury items will assure your customers satisfaction.
Even though this may be obvious, remember that absolute cleanliness is obligatory. This is what your customers expect and deserve.
Be thorough with your sunbed maintenance. Pay special attention to dust, because it may cause overheating, resulting in poor performance. There is also a risk of electrical failure, so wash your sunbed filters regularly. Don’t forget about the dust settling on the lamps, and the inside of the acrylics. This can also dramatically reduce the quality of the tan.
Sunbed lamps do not simply stop working when their designated running hours come to an end. Instead the UV output gets reduced by at least 25%. For obvious reasons, such reduction is pretty hard to notice – this is why you need to make use of a sunbed hour counter. Remember to only use the best tube brands and write down the hour counter reading so you know exactly when the lamps need to be replaced.
Remember to only use best brands tubes
The following are non-negotiable, make sure any staff that you employ adhere to them.
- Make sure every person using the sunbed has proper eye protection, otherwise tanning may cause permanent eye damage. The strong UV light that we are exposed to in sunbeds is a lot more intense than regular sunlight. Our eyelids are thin and delicate, closing them does not offer enough protection from UV rays. Also, do not let more than one customer in the sunbed room at once – otherwise one of them may be in there without necessary protection.
- Make sure to not let anyone under 18 use the sunbed. Sunbed Association recommend that no one under the age of 18 should be allowed to use the sunbed because of higher risk of skin cancer (young people skin has higher sensitivity).
- Make sure that your customers do not use the sunbed on consecutive days, even though they insist.