New Salon Owners Guide
The purpose of this guide is to help new tanning salon owners understand some basic principals and methods of maintaining their tanning beds and business. Experienced salon owners have probably learned most of these tips by trial and error. This guide is not exhaustive as is designed to be a starting place only. This guide is based upon our 20+ years
experience but your experiences or opinions may be different. This page is designed
so that you should be able to print it out properly on most computers.
New salon owners WILL have questions that are not answered here. The purpose is
to just give you a basic foundation, so you know what questions to ask when you do call
us. You can call us toll-free anytime during business hours at 1-800-274-1744.
Most states have regulations that you must follow in order to stay in compliance. You
can contact your state's regulatory agency and get a (usually) free kit with all the basic
information here. Not all states are regulated, but there
are still basic guidelines you should follow to keep your business humming along, and your
customers safe and happy.
Regulated states require that you replace the tanning lamps in your salon's tanning bed
only with lamps that are exactly the same as the original lamp, or "recognized
equivalent" lamps. Salons in non-regulated states probably should also follow
this advice. Failure to do so in a regulated state will likely result in you being
forced to replace all your lamps with legally compatible lamps, and a loss of business
until you do.
When you buy lamps, you should look for lamps that are legally compatible. Most
of our lamps (but not all) come with a "letter of compatibility" included with a
full case. This letter says what lamps the replacement lamps are compatible with.
The purpose of the requirement is to protect the salon customer, to keep them from
getting burned by overexposure by lamps that are too strong for a given tanning bed /
session time combination.
Changing Your Lamps
Most salons will change their lamps at about 80% of the "life expectancy" rating
of the lamp. This is about 800 hours for a 1000 hour lamp, or around 700 hours for a
800 hour lamp. The lamps don't usually burn out, they just put out less UV and are
less effective as they get older. For many salons, this means changing the lamps
around once a year.
Face lamps (the 400w small lamps behind the purple face plates on some beds) are
usually rated for about 400 hours, so they need to be changed twice as often as the
It will usually save you a considerable amount of money if you buy all your lamps for
all your beds at one time each year. This saves us money with shipping, and the
larger the order, the lower the price for your lamps.
Maintaining Your Beds
You should tear down and completely clean your tanning beds about every 200 hours or so
(typically 4 times per year). This would include cleaning the fans, reflectors
and wiping off all the lamps. You should also use Novus #2 at the same time.
This is a cleaner sort of like "Soft Scrub" except it is finer, and
designed for your acrylics. (Don't use Soft Scrub on acrylics, you will ruin
them...) You scrub both sides of both acrylics and clean with regular tanning bed
The reason: UV breaks down acrylic over time. Your acrylics are not
plexiglass, but actually "acrylic". Plexi doesn't transmit UV well, but
acrylic does. Over time, however, the acrylic slowly becomes opaque to UV.
Even though it looks clear, the UV starts getting blocked. Only by using
Novus #2 and stripping away a microlayer can you solve this. It is cheap to do,
takes about 30 minutes per bed, and will result in 20% or more UV output, so it is a smart
way to keep your customers happy.
Cleaning Your Acrylics
You should only clean your acrylics with EPA registered disinfectants that are made
specifically for tanning beds. These are sold in concentrates and are very
inexpensive. Using window cleaner or other household chemicals WILL RUIN YOUR
ACRYLICS. They also cost more, do not disinfect, and are in violation of
health regulations in all 50 states.
Even in states without regulation of tanning beds, you still have health regulations.
You must clean your tanning beds after each customer is done using it. You
can not leave it up to them. You must do this in accordance with the label on the
cleaner. Generally, you keep a mix of the concentrate and water handy, use it in
spray bottles, then spray each bed and wipe it down. This will also keep the
acrylics from blocking UV from buildup.
You must provide eyewear for your customers to use. This must be disinfected each
time a customer uses a tanning bed as well, by law. This prevents the spread of any
eye infections from customer to customer, which is something you would want to do anyway.
Some salons have eyewear on each bed, and some keep them up front and ask the customer
to take a pair on the way back. Either way, you should always remind and/or ask the
customer if they have their own eyewear, and insure they at least take them back to the
room with them. Eyewear is a big seller for regular customers, since they don't
worry about anyone else using them and they are very inexpensive.
Customers should only use tanning lotions that are designed for use in tanning beds.
Other products that have mineral oil, olive oil (and iodine, which some body
builders actually use...) will damage your acrylics, and make your life difficult when it
comes time to clean the bed.
Good tanning lotions really do work. Besides the obvious benefit of your selling
the lotions and making a profit, they provide two major benefits for the tanner. 1.
They provide moisturization for the skin, which tanning can take away. 2.
Most good lotions have other ingredients that will accelerate the tanning process
and help them get darker with less exposure time.
Price is not the best indicator of quality, although there is often some connection.
The key is regular use and skin moisturization.
YOU are responsible to insure that your customers do not get overexposed or hurt while in
your tanning beds. Most regulated states require that you attend a certification
class and learn the basics of determining skin types and exposure times. Even if
your state does not require this, it is the most cost effective way to learn how to
protect your clients and keep your business safe from potential problems.
The key to getting a dark tan is to NOT get overexposed. Tanning until your skin
is bright red not only is not healthy, but it will actually slow down the tanning process.
Sunburns destroy melanin and the ability the tan. They may see
"color" today, but in the long run they are damaging their skin and slowing down
the tanning process. Follow the schedule on the tanning bed, and take a progressive
approach to tanning. Start slow, build up over time. You are not doing your
customers a favor by letting them stay as long as they want, and you are likely violating
Also, many states require a 48 hour period between tanning sessions. This means
the customer can not tan every day. You need to check with your local and state
regulations to make sure you are 100% in compliance with these regulations.
Most salons change by the session, and have "unlimited" packages for periods of
time. Generally, these are monthly or yearly. Some states require a business
to have a bond if they accept "memberships" greater than 60 or 90 days.
Other salons sell packages of minutes, or packages of sessions. How you sell
indoor tanning is up to you, and it should be inline with similar salons in your area.
A little research goes a long way here to make sure you are not under or over
pricing your service.
One important piece of advice about pricing:
Do not try to compete by simply having lower prices. This is a tempting proposition
for many new salons, but this is a one way road, and usually to failure. Pricing
your services low makes it difficult to maintain the quality of the experience for the
tanner, keep your equipment is perfect working order, and gives your salon a reputation
for "discount" tanning.
We would recommend that you instead price your services competitively, but try to offer
higher quality or more services for the same money. Customers who only use your
salon because you have the lowest price have no loyalty: As soon as another salon
drops their price, they are gone. By building a reputation for quality and customer
service, you will develop a client base of customers who appreciate your attention to
detail and customer service. These will be your loyal customers.
Again, each area is different, but it is common to have 2 or 3 levels of service or
tanning beds. Typically this means the regular packages are for the standard 24 to
32 lamp beds, then perhaps an upcharge for each session to use your bigger beds, such as
40 or 50 lamp systems. This allows your customers to choose the service they want,
in their price range, and get what they pay for. Once again, check your local area
and see what is common for ideas on how to proceed, and don't be afraid to charge the same
or a little higher if you can provide superior service.
One of the most misunderstood items in the industry. In the US, most everyone thinks
we have 240V service all over, but the actual voltages vary greatly. Almost all
businesses actually have "three phase 208V" service. The 208V is a nominal
rating, and can vary from 205V to 215V. The problem is, most commercial tanning beds
will only operate properly if the voltage is at least 220V. They are usually rated for
"220V to 230V".
The buck/boost transformer is basically a voltage stepping device that will adjust the
incoming voltage up or down, depending on the transformer itself. The popular myth
is that these are adjusting, and go up and down as your voltage changes, but this is
false. They are a fixed ratio device: if it is designed to raise your voltage
10%, then that is what it will do. They are NOT a regulated device (not continuously
You have to measure the actual voltage at your location to have an idea of what kind of
a buck/boost transformer you need. Keep in mind, when your circuits are busy (when
there are several tanning beds operating at the same time) you will also see a drop in
voltage, typically 2 to 6 volts. We recommend getting a transformer to raise your
current voltage to the 235V range, so under load, it will get a full 230V.
The usual signs that you need a transformer are that the lamps will not light, or they
light up slowly and the lamps are darker than they should be. You can damage your
bed or void your warranty if you do not run it at the proper voltage.
We will add more to this page as time goes on
Last update: 1-16-2006 dlb