We Are Sunshine

Right Place, Right Time

Wednesday, October 11th, 2023

By Matt Russell, Smart Tan CEO

Step back for a minute and think of red light therapy as a completely separate business of its own. In fact, outside of tanning businesses, it actually is. Service providers that focus solely on various forms of red light therapy are becoming increasingly prevalent as the demand for these services grows. These aren’t just random mom-and-pop shops but highly professional, multi-location franchise systems. Some savvy, well-funded businesspeople see enough potential in red light to invest a lot of money in it as a business model of its own.

That tells us a few things. Most importantly, that tanning businesses are in a great position when it comes to the light therapy market. Tanning businesses have countless advantages over these standalone red light businesses. We’re already established in our communities. With our UV services, we’re already known for using a light spectrum that’s naturally produced by the sun to provide results our customers want, and many tanning businesses today already have equipment that utilizes other spectrums. Tanning and other services already pay your bills, so the risk is minimal, and the potential reward is great. While our red light competitors have to cover most or all of their expenses with red light sales, once you cover the cost of the equipment, virtually everything else is profit.

If those businesses can be profitable selling red light only, can a tanning business create a highly profitable “business within a business” by establishing comprehensive light therapy offerings with multiple levels and equipment options? Why not?

But the existence of these “red light salons” also tells us that the window of opportunity for establishing your business in the red light space with little to no legitimate competition isn’t going to last forever. We’re in the perfect position to seize control of this burgeoning market, but time is of the essence. As more red light providers come along, our advantages begin to diminish. By the time another business offering high-end red light services moves into your community, you’ve lost most of your edge, and you’ll be playing catch-up, trying to steal customers back from them.

Those businesses also make it clear that we’ll need a certain standard of equipment to compete at the highest level in the red light market of the future. Nobody in their right mind would open a red-light-only business with some of the red light equipment found in tanning businesses today. There’s no way they could generate enough revenue to cover costs. It takes technologically advanced equipment that provides noticeable results customers can see and feel to make that business model viable. And the same is largely true of a light therapy business within a tanning business. You can create some added revenue and provide an extra membership benefit with low-cost, low-performance red light, but with the right equipment, you can charge more for red light than you do for any level of tanning.

Fortunately, the tanning industry also has a secret weapon. The SmartSun Therapy SST28 is exclusively available in tanning business, and it’s technologically similar or even better than what other red light providers have at a much lower investment cost. You can read more about the advantages of SmartSun Therapy and how it’s the first big step into developing a full-blown light therapy business in this month’s cover story on page 39.

When you look at all of our industry’s advantages – built-in customer base, minimal increase in fixed expenses, and the most cost-effective high-performance equipment – why shouldn’t tanning businesses dominate the red light therapy market of the future?

Now is the time to stake our claim.