The Dangers of Tanning Bed Packages for New Salons
In planning your salon, attracting and keeping clients is essential to your survival. When entering a competitive market, you must always out-do the competition and plan your next move to assure you stay ahead.
That could be the introductory paragraph to Business 101 at the local community college but a surprising few give this concept any thought when planning a tanning salon business.
Let’s focus on just one aspect of planning a successful tanning salon: the commercial tanning beds.
The Best Deals on Tanning Beds
Too many people call us looking for our best deal on a start-up ‘package’ of commercial tanning beds. The idea is that there is just one ‘set’ of beds that fits every market and since some other salesperson at another company quickly offered a low price on a ‘start-up’ package, would-be salon owners think more money can be saved by calling other distributors to see if there is yet a lower price to be found.
While we commend the effort to save money, this one act alone tells us very little professional planning has gone into the idea of starting a tanning salon. The proper tanning beds play a critical roll in defining your salons ability to make money and to compete for more market share. Anyone who gives so little thought to the purpose each tanning bed serves will soon be among the 85% of businesses the SBA talks about that fail within the first year.
Any salesperson or tanning bed distribution company who suggests there is a ‘package’ of beds that will serve your needs without giving your specific business plan careful consideration is more interested in making a quick sale than they are in your future prosperity.
Ready-Made Tanning Bed Packages are Rarely Suitable
Just like the interior designer that chooses colors and decor carefully in order to achieve a specific result, you must choose your tanning equipment carefully to meet the demand for tanning and serve your market in a specific way.
Most tanning bed packages do not include competitive equipment nor are they designed to take competitive influences or specific market conditions into consideration. In fact, many ‘internet specials’ pass residential grade tanning beds as commercial grade tanning beds in an effort to lower their costs and make it more attractive to buy.
When we are asked about the price of our start-up package of beds, we ask the following questions:
- What consideration has been given to the demographics of the area to be served? In other words, have you studied the make up of the people that will be your customers to determine if this mix of beds is appropriate?
- Have you translated the number of beds and the mix of beds you plan to use into a forecasted cash flow to determine whether you can pay the bills and make a profit? Different beds generate different incomes. What income will this mix of beds generate and will it be enough?
- Have you considered the competition and do you know this ‘package’ of beds will be able to attract and keep customers for the long term?
- How does each tanning bed contribute to defining your salon, contribute to making your salon stand out among all others, and contribute toward keeping your salon profitable for the long term?
Going back to our interior designer comparison, how effective do you think an interior designer would be if he or she designed a room or an entire house with just one color of paint? Not very effective to say the least! Complementary colors of paint, stylish lighting fixtures, shelving, furniture and décor all need to be included for the absolute best result.
Tanning salons are no different. Think of how successful your salon will be if you bought a tanning bed package consisting of 20-minute, 28 lamp units plus one stand up. It may serve a small segment of the market but if the competition uses 32 lamp, true commercial grade beds, you are already considered a lesser salon. The market has been moving toward shorter session times for a number of years so if your competition uses 15-minute or 12-minute units compared to your 20-minute beds, they are more able to serve the tanning market than you are. What if the competition currently uses or adds beds later with face tanners while your ‘package’ choice of beds does not because they were cheaper to buy?
Dump the Tanning Bed Packages
The fundamental key to a successful market approach is to look specifically at the market. You must eliminate any reason anyone would want to tan anywhere else by building a tanning salon that is unique, professionally managed, and one that offers something that cannot be found anywhere else in the market.
Tanning equipment is very costly to replace and most people cannot afford to correct a mistake here and such a mistake could result in business failure. We suspect many of the tanning salon failures could have been avoided through proper planning and better equipment choices. You must know the make up of the people who will be your clients and make no mistake about how to best serve them. Your future depends a great deal on your equipment choice. You will have to dump the tanning bed packages and ‘internet specials’ if you want to build a highly successful tanning salon business.
It is better to begin your salon and move ahead with a proven and prosperous plan than it is to reflect back on the reasons for failure.