How to Start Your Own Salon
The Best Tips For Opening Your Own Salon
Thinking of opening your own salon? Executing a passion project is a leap from dream to reality that may include unexpected bumps along the way. Like many things in life, don’t let your doubts hold you back; transitioning from a salon professional employee to an owner can be full of exciting opportunities. Consider these tips from successful small business and salon owners before starting your business, and with a little faith and a lot of planning, your salon will be off the ground in no time.
Start small with your business plan
Forbes and Small Biz Ahead suggest starting with a simple, reachable, and direct business plan that isn’t bogged down with complicated and unnecessary embellishments. Focus on the specific services you want to provide. Perfect this goal by hiring talented and loyal employees, investing in proper equipment, etc., and work your way up from there.
In addition, Business News Daily outlined tips specifically for salon owners when starting a business and forming a business plan. In short, they suggest familiarizing yourself with the salon industry in your area, choosing a desirable location, establishing a company culture, and researching laws, regulations, and necessary licensing. See their additional tips for making an accurate and reachable business plan here.
Make sure someone’s got your back
The number one tip from successful small business owners in a Small Biz Ahead feature was to “build a support network” among other business owners. In other words, don’t isolate yourself from other businesses, but instead bounce ideas off of each other, reach out for help, and form friendships with those in the same small-business-owner boat. As a salon professional, you likely already have a network of like-minded salon owners and professionals who can give you valuable advice.
Along the same lines, it is crucial to have a more personal support system with confidants, partners (friendship, business, and romantic alike), trusted employees, and even financial institutions. Make sure your belief in yourself and your business are mirrored by those around you so that you have the space and resources to thrive.
Be prepared to invest in your business
Three of Forbes’ 10 Tips For Starting A Small Business That You Haven’t Heard A Thousand Times Already are unsurprisingly centered around money. Forbes’ seasoned entrepreneurs and small business owners advise that you make a list of every possible business cost (e.g. electric and water bills, rent, employee salaries, beauty products, construction costs, furniture, advertising, taxes, etc.) and multiply it by four. This may seem extreme, but Forbes wisely states that there are costs every step of the way that you don’t want to be unprepared for, so it’s better to have too much money than come up short.
Forbes also suggests keeping your “day job” so that you can generate income while you work on your salon side hustle. Your business will not generate revenue immediately, so it’s helpful to have a financial back up plan in case things don’t pan out. This will give you a good idea of what you are risking and sacrificing by investing in your business and allow you to budget for the future.
Make every dollar count
Investing in reputable accounting and inventory control services can make a huge difference. The Microsoft Growth Center named keeping accurate records, separating your business from your personal bank account, collecting receipts, mastering invoicing, creating profit and loss statements, filing receipts for charitable donations, and taxing at the time of sale as the top 7 tips to manage finances for small businesses. Before you get behind on your bookkeeping, consider investing a small fee in accounting services, like QuickBooks. QuickBooks and similar services can help you keep track of your spending habits, inventory control, and how much profit your business is generating after necessary and unnecessary expenses. Like booking services, most accounting apps provide free trials, so the process may be trial and error before you settle on the right service for you.
Accounting services will likely highlight areas where you need to cut back to stay on budget. Do some research before you choose a distributor for your salon supplies, and don’t be afraid to order products from multiple companies if it makes sense financially. Shop around, and look for deals, especially on salon basics. Also, consider maintaining a retail section to increase your income. Stock it with products you’ve used during a service like shampoo, conditioner and styling products, as well as complimentary beauty items like nail polish displays.
Establish an employee payment system
Determine how you are going to pay your employees for their time and services. Depending on your business model, it might make the most sense to pay a consistent salary, hourly wage, or base their income on a commission percentage. Aveda Means Business considered The Pros and Cons of Payroll Methods for salons and recommended sticking with commissioned pay for service providers, because it makes payment easy to manage, eliminates the overtime pay debacle, and may incentivize your employees to squeeze in extra customers. According to Aveda Means Business, as long as you keep the commissioned percentage 45% or under, you should be able to make enough profit for the salon while keeping your employees satisfied. Likely, tip amounts will also be factored in for a little income bonus for your staff.
Be book smart
To ensure that appointments runs smoothly, consider investing in an online booking software or app that facilitates booking clients and keeping schedules organized. Especially if you are paying your employees on commission, you want to make sure that your clients are showing up so that you both get paid for your time and resources. With online services like Booker, Vagaro, and Phorest, you can offer clients online booking options, manage employee schedules, and even maintain a Point of Sale system all in one place. These services do cost a small monthly or yearly fee, but most offer a free trial for new customers, so you can experiment and find the service that works best for your business.
It’s also a good idea to establish a cancellation policy and fee as an insurance method in case clients don’t show. Some online booking services can be set up to charge clients a credit card deposit when they book their appointment so you can easily collect cancellation fees.
Stand out with stellar marketing
With the sheer number of different salons available in your region, you not only need to have specific ideas and goals, but you need to form a more unique approach than the business down the block. Think outside the box by tapping into a niche market (e.g. those with curly hair, a hankering for bold colors, or older women), providing the best customer service around, creating an eye-catching interior and exterior salon design, or partnering up with another local company. With a touch of creativity, the possibilities are endless.
Marketing is also a huge part of making your salon business unique. Belliata Salon Software suggests coming up with a one of a kind name, logo, and design for your salon so that you stand out. Right off the bat, you want to create a professional, unique, and customer service-focused atmosphere to lure in new customers. Take your logo one step further by posting it on several social media platforms dedicated to your salon. Maintaining a strong social media presence, along with an easy account handle and clever hashtags, will help you get the word out to followers in your area. Instagram stories, Facebook Live videos, and SnapChat updates are great ways to advertise your progress to followers and potential clientele. For additional tips from salon owners, check out Modern Salon’s Facebook Live salon tour videos, which feature salon owners and their unique tips and tricks for success.
Host a launch party
Once you have every detail all ironed out and are finally ready to open, consider having a “soft” or small opening party. Invite only a handful of close friends and family and/or trusted clients to your soft opening so they can provide you with feedback before you open up your salon to the rest of the world. Provide them with free services, showcase your products, and jot down all the feedback you receive so you can effectively prepare for a grand opening soiree.
When you’re ready to have your big, grand opening, Nails Magazine suggests amping up your advertising by inviting local media companies, friends, potential clientele, beauty suppliers, and other business owners in the area, providing hors d'oeuvres, popping champagne, and giving away small goodies or service teases (i.e. mini manicures, hand massages, and product samples). Make sure to have your salon name and brand present in the salon and on any items you give away. You can also have a guest book available for email promotions and/or provide each guest with a rewards punch card to entice them to return to your salon. Finding ways to promote yourself via social media at such an event is also a tried and true way to get your business off the ground. Hire a photographer for social media posts on Instagram and Facebook, or simply encourage guests to send you their pictures for future features. Another good idea would be to partner with a charity for the launch party, which benefits you and your community.