“How much should I charge for a spray tan?” I get asked this question on a daily basis, and unfortunately I have no good, sure-fire answer. There are so many variables involved in the spray tan industry that it would, quite honestly, be irresponsible for me to quote a price per spray tan for anyone.
That being said, I can try to do the next best thing: give you a list of what I believe to be the most important factors that go into determining your cost so that you can make a responsible, educated decision.
Location and the neighborhood you are working with might be the largest factor in the cost of your spray tan. If you are spray tanning in Detroit at the moment you might have to lower your prices—if you are the premier spray tanner to the stars in Hollywood then you will probably be charging more than someone would who owns a mobile business in Juno, Alaska.
The ease or difficulty of parking can dramatically affect your cost. Convenience is key: if someone has to pay five dollars for parking then they are going to be looking to “get that money back” from you with a cheaper spray tan.
2. Type of Solution
(A Quick Dry/Express Solution Should Cost More)
The more convenient the solution, the higher the price. If your client has to be careful with their spray tan for one hour then they should pay more than if they had to be careful for 8 hours.
An important thing to remember: sometimes an increase in cost can increase a person’s value of your product—higher cost generally means a better product so if they see your price being higher, they may anticipate a higher quality experience and spray tan (so be sure you can deliver on that promise!)
3. Competition Tans
Competition tans are going to cost more because the expectation is that much higher. A competition tan must undergo intense scrutiny, have great definition-revealing color, and be perfect under every type of lighting. With that in mind, your client is not just paying you for a great looking solution—they are paying you for your knowledge and skills.
Many competitors go to the same spray tanner for their entire career (once they find someone they like), and it’s incredibly important that you know the dos and don’ts of competition tanning before you spray tan anyone: spray some contours onto a competitor and you might just get them kicked out of the event!
4. What you are spraying:
This should be pretty obvious but how much you spray should determine what price you charge. So if you are charging 40 dollars for a full-body spray tan, charge $20 for limbs and face.
Don’t worry about losing money: you are spraying less, and thus it should go faster, and more importantly you are keeping that client happy and coming back to you.
5. Mobile vs. Salon or Spa Pricing
Your type of business will greatly change the cost of a spray tan.
If you are working from a salon/spa, you should be able to set your prices a little higher due to the expected cost of luxury; however, you may also have to settle into getting percentages from package prices. Either way, make sure that your prices are comparable to the services that the spa is offering (if you are working in a high-end spa, don’t undercut your profits by having “competitive pricing”).
If you are working a mobile business, you need to take several things into consideration when calculating a price structure.
How far are you travelling?
Will you charge per mile or a flat rate (5 miles, 10 miles, 20 miles)?
Are you spray tanning a single client or a party?
Are you being asked to go out in the middle of a snowstorm?
Working a mobile business can generate a lot of profit as long as you are not sabotaging yourself. Make sure that you are getting paid both for the spray tan service and for the time/money it took for you to get to the appointment!
5. Packages, Loyalty Programs, and Memberships
Yes, you may have to sacrifice a few dollars of profit per spray tan, but what you gain is the promise of business over a longer period of time. By offering memberships, spray tan a month clubs, loyalty programs (that include special pricing or additional services), you are actually doing a number of things:
1. Creating a deal: your clients will feel like they are getting a great bargain.
2. Ensuring return clients: memberships are essentially pieces of paper that say, “I’ll be back.”
3. Promising profit (even if they client doesn’t show up for their monthly spray tan, you still get paid for the membership)
6. Your Experience/Your Demand/Your Time
How much people value you and your opinion allows you to raise or lower your cost respectively. The more valuable and experienced you become, the more people will value your time—thus, the more it will cost “to get you”.
To put it into perspective: it costs something like 40 Million dollars for Jackie Chan to even appear in your movie: because he is popular, because he has created value in himself.
Not saying you should ever charge 40 Million dollars, but if you increase your value then you should also be increasing the cost of your time.
7. Changes in Price
“Emergency Tans”: If a client calls up and they need a last minute tan–as in a, “get over here now because my life depends on this,” tan–then you should be compensated for your time and effort. I’m not suggesting that you extort the person out of their every penny, but last-minute appointments should cost more because you are sacrificing whatever plans you might have had to ensure they get what they need.
Gas prices/Weather/Time of Day: If you are being asked to drive to someone’s house for a “midnight party” then you should be paid “after hours” pricing. It’s as simple as that. If gas prices go up, then you shouldn’t be forced to swallow the difference. If it’s a snowstorm outside, then you need to get “hazard pay”.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more money if you have a legitimate reason why the service should cost more!
Construction: If you are operating out of a salon or spa and there is noisy construction nearby, chances are you should lower your price accordingly. I realize that this is a major inconvenience, but it’s also an inconvenience to your client to have to listen to a jackhammer while they are getting a massage.