The decision to add a substantial new service to your salon is not one to take lightly. Tanning requires a financial investment that requires careful consideration. Betty Hernandez, owner of Exposé in Visalia, Calif., decided to add tanning services after studying the tanning industry and tanning product manufacturers, surveying her clients, and talking to other local salon owners who offer tanning.

Hernandez was offering nail services, hair care, and makeup at her first location, but was dismayed to hear from her clients that they went to other salons for tanning. She moved to a new location last October and planned to add tanning with the move. “I wanted to meet all my clients’ beauty needs, so when I moved, I knew the first thing I was going to do was add tanning beds,” Hernandez says.

Her second move was to interview other salon owners to get a feel for how much demand there was in her community for more tanning. Hernandez got information that turned out to be good, and says, “One salon owner told me his tanning business does well. I told him that I initially thought of adding only one bed, but he talked me into two.”

Hernandez then attended a tradeshow, where tanning equipment manufacturers supplied her with information on profitability. “The companies gave me worksheets with projected earnings from offering tanning services, which were helpful, but I think the real numbers are different regionally,” she says. Then she selected her beds. “I picked a brand of bed that I thought was reputable. The company is California-based; having service nearby is important to me. They delivered the beds quickly and had a lot of suggestions as to how I can make them profitable, such as how to sell retail and run successful promotions,” Hernandez says.

To price her tanning services, Hernandez checked the prices at the other salons in her area. “I surveyed nearby salons and kept my prices right around theirs. Because all my equipment is new, I think it would have been a mistake to undercut the other salons,” she comments.

As for the ease of tanning bed installation, the situation at Exposé was unique. Hernandez was moving to a new location, so it was difficult for her to isolate the renovation and installation time to estimate how long it might take for an otherwise complete salon. However, Hernandez says, “The time it took us to put the beds into the finished rooms was only a couple of hours.”

Along with the tanning beds, Hernandez also offers two full retail lines of tanning products. “They are doing better than I expected,” she notes; at press time, Expose was just getting into its tanning season, which is January to August.

Exposé had been a pizza parlor before Hernandez got her way with it, and today, it’s still making a lot of dough.

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