7.2 Business basics

If you are planning to work for yourself now or in the future, this lesson is for you! Learning about running a small business is a whole course in itself, so in this lesson, we will look at some basic factors that you need to consider when setting up your business. The information in the lesson is general in nature and will provide you with some ideas that you may like to incorporate into your own business.

How to price your tans and calculate appointment time

The average time needed for a sunless appointment is 15 minutes, and during this time, you will be able to:

  • Consult the client and find out any specific needs, sensitivities or concerns.
  • Prepare your client for the sunless service
  • Apply the chosen skin prep and sunless tan
  • Dry your client
  • Offer additional aftercare products and advice
  • Take payment for the service

Pricing your sets when you are starting out can be a bit tricky. You need to think about all of the costs involved, such as all the materials and your time, but also fixed costs like your rent, electricity, phone bill and website costs. If you undersell your services, you will more than likely experience financial loss, whereas you want to return a profit.

Profit is the amount of money left once you add up all the money you have received and take away all the money you have paid on expenses. Setting your prices too high may prevent you from building your client base, especially if you do not have lots of experience and you are still refining your craft. Setting your prices too low can also have a similar effect because clients will likely assume that cheap tanning appointments equate to inexperience. Never be tempted to lower your prices really low to attract clients because this also makes it harder for all the other spray tanning technicians in the industry as it devalues our work.

When you are training, it can be useful to advertise the full price of services, but then offer a launch discount or a training discount. This way, your clients will see what usual pricing is and will feel like they are getting something cheaper. Then, once you have built your experience, it won’t be such a shock when your prices increase. Another pricing process you might consider could be a staged approach where you do the first tan or some tans for free. To begin with, you then charge for products only, offer a discount on the full price and then start charging the full price.

A good place to start when determining your prices is to research prices other spray tanning technicians in your area are charging. This should give you a decent price range to work within, and it is also a great opportunity to see what they are doing well – How does their website look? What is their social media like? What information do they give to clients online? Generally, a normal spray tan service with 1 to 2 coats will cost anywhere from $30 to $50. Some technicians charge for extra coats, priming and add a little extra for mobile. You might also have bridal packages and competition packages which include a trial appointment in the cost.

To encourage repeat business, many spray tanning technicians also offer spray tan packages where a client can purchase multiple services at once.

Let’s suppose you start charging $35 for a standard tan. Say your material costs were no more than $5 per tan, which leaves you with $30 left to pay yourself and put money towards other bills. You also want to try and work on your profit margin.

The majority of beauty salons in Australia operate on a 30-50% profit margin. This means that 30% to 50% of their sales equates to profit. When you are starting out, your profit margin will likely be a lot lower as you will have a lot of upfront expenses for tools, equipment and stock. However, once you have been in business for a while, you will see your profits increase. As an example, let’s look at what you could earn if you did 2 tan application an hour over 8 hours. That equates to 16 clients each day. If you did this 5 days per week for 12 months straight, that would equal:

Price# of setsDay totalWeek totalOver 12 months

Spray tan application is one of the most profitable beauty areas to be involved with, and it is a lot of fun! In comparison to, say a lash artist, your business can be very profitable due to the low cost of products and the speed at which you can complete each tan. Additionally, tans will begin to fade after 5 days, so your clients will be returning back to you sooner than clients of hairdressers, lash technicians and makeup artists.

Of course, the example shows the gross revenue, meaning no expenses have been deducted. The example also focuses on 8 hours of service time only and doesn’t account for all of the additional time for cleaning and running your business. The example also doesn’t take into account the fluctuation of clients over the year and if different months. However, crunching the numbers using different scenarios and pricing in a similar way can really help you to accurately determine how you want to price your services.

If you would like to learn more about how to price your sets, access the resources linked:

As part of determining the price of your services, you will also need to estimate your time. This is not only important for costing purposes, but you will also need to be able to give clients a maximum timeframe for their appointment. If you continue to go overtime, your client won’t be happy, and it may impact all of your appointments for the day. If you go significantly under time, your client might feel like you rushed or have missed something!

So, during your training, a stopwatch will be your best friend. Time yourself to determine how long it takes you to:

  • Conduct a client consultation
  • Prepare the clients skin
  • Apply the tanning solution
  • Clean and sanitise your work area
  • Process payment and end the appointment

Knowing how long various tasks actually take you will help you with planning your day, scheduling your clients, designing your service offerings and calculating costs.

Managing your inventory, equipment and appointments

To manage your inventory (disposables and consumables) and your equipment, accurate record keeping is a must! You don’t need a formal inventory control system in place, but you do need to know at any given time the inventory you have on hand and the inventory you need. If there is a variance between these two numbers, then you need to order some more inventory. You also need to ensure you keep track of inventory you have on the way so that you do not over order. When you receive your products, it might also be useful to create a list of their expiry dates. This will help to ensure you are using the oldest products first and will prevent you from accidentally using expired inventory.

If you would like to learn more about inventory management tips and tricks, access the resources linked:.

Client retention tips

Of course, your clients are coming to you because they want to live their best-bronzed life, but they are also coming for an experience. Have you ever had a massage treatment that was just so wonderful you left feeling beautiful and like you were walking on air? As a spray tanning technician, you want to try and create the best experience possible for your clients. Of course, you don’t have as much time with each client, but you can definitely do a range of things to make them feel special.

Especially when you are working for yourself, you are your brand. Everything you do and say is a representation of your business. Spray tanning technicians who are bubbly, confident and passionate about their craft will always be more successful. This doesn’t mean you have to have a smile on your face for the entire service; it more means that you need to create a warm and welcoming environment for your clients.

To create an experience your clients will remember, think of ways that you can set yourself apart from the competition while still being true to yourself. There are loads of things you can do; maybe you have a range of yummy treats at your check-in desk, or perhaps you have really soothing music playing during all of your appointments.

When thinking about how to keep clients coming back, objectively evaluate the service from the following perspectives:

  • Technical – how does the tan look, and how long did it last?
  • Time – did you perform the service in the agreed timeframe?
  • Emotional – how was the overall experience for the client end to end?
  • Financial – have you charged a fair price?

In addition to the criteria above, when evaluating your services, you need to consider your own fulfilment in the work you do – are you doing work that you are passionate and excited about? Many beauty therapists start their careers thinking they will be doing a whole heap of services, but in reality, they might be waxing backs and cracks all day long! As a spray tanning technician, if you use the same tanning applications using the exact same solution day in and day out for years on end, you will soon lose your passion. When we are not excited about what we do, it is really obvious to clients, even if you have good acting skills.

As you progress through your career, ensure that you have a lot of variety in the sorts of clients and appointments you book, as this will keep the momentum going. Equally important is to continue your education and always be on the lookout for new skills to practice or new products to try. Contouring and body sculpting are fascinating techniques to learn, and if you become a pro with an airbrush, you might even want to look at training in airbrush makeup applications!

The best way to keep clients coming back is to be your awesome self, provide quality tans at reasonable prices. If you can include little extras like aftercare gifts, yummy treats or any other extra that can show your clients you care, you will see it returned to you in repeat business.

Before the final module of this course, let’s revisit the very first activity you completed. Now that you have developed your skills and knowledge, go through the list of key terms and concepts again and see how many you now understand:

  • Acid Mantle
  • Aqua
  • Brow blocking
  • Colour correction
  • Combination skin type
  • Contouring
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Dermis
  • Desquamation
  • Disinfecting
  • Dry heat steriliser
  • Dry skin type
  • Epidermis
  • Ergonomics
  • Erythrulose
  • Flashback
  • Highlighting
  • Hue
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Hypodermis
  • Keratin
  • Melanin
  • Moist heat steriliser
  • Mood board
  • Multivitamins and enriched botanicals
  • Normal skin type
  • Oily skin type
  • Paraben
  • Patch tests
  • pH level
  • Phenethyl Alcohol
  • PSI
  • Safety datasheet
  • Sanitising
  • Saturation
  • Sebum
  • Skin exfoliation
  • Skin tone
  • Sterilisation, sanitisation and sanitation
  • Stratum corneum
  • Stratum germinativum (basal layer)
  • Stratum granulosum
  • Stratum lucidum
  • Stratum spinosum
  • Tightlining
  • Tonal value
  • Undertone
  • UV light steriliser
  • Vitamin D
  • Witch Hazel
  • Work-life balance

How many new terms have you mastered since starting this course? If there are any terms you are still unsure of, or you want a copy of all these terms for future reference, you can download this glossary of terms:

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