What You Don’t Know About Owning a Salon

It’s all lash extensions and Brazilian blowouts until somebody breaks a nail. Salon ownership sounds easy and breezy, but in reality, the abundance of services and complexity of scheduling often make salon success difficult to achieve. You might be a whiz with hair shears, but if you haven’t studied the dos and don’ts of running and owning a salon, you might be surprised at how terribly wrong your new operation can go.

Before you make too many salon ownership mistakes, you should read the following guide to opening your salon the right way.

Who Should You Hire, and How?

Hiring is a particularly important task for salon owners because so much rides on the talent and ability of your staff. Every aspect of your business will be affected by how your hair stylists and nail techs work, including their attitude and attentiveness. Your clients will only interact with your salon through your staff, so it is imperative you choose your employees carefully.

Unfortunately, there is extreme competition for qualified salon personnel. To get the experienced and competent stylists you want, you might have to lure them away from existing salons using better pay or benefits. However, before you do, you should ensure your target employees are fully licensed and understand your intended pay structure.

How Should You Pay, and How Much?

Speaking of pay, salons can use vastly different pay structures, so it is vital you choose one that makes sense for your business, employees, and customers. Here are a few options:

  • Salary. Regardless of how many clients your stylists see — and regardless of their skill level — they all earn the same wages. This is good for simple salons, where services are a flat rate.
  • Commission. Usually, commission-based stylists earn between 35 to 60 percent of each client payment for services they provide.
  • Booth rental. Instead of managing your salon like a cohesive business, you rent out booths to individual stylists. This is a hands-off approach to salon ownership, since you are not responsible for clean-up, marketing, training, etc.
  • Salary plus commission. Stylists earn a guaranteed salary, but by treating clients well, they benefit through commission bonuses. This gives stylists incentives to attract and maintain clients.

 In the past, almost all salons used the commission structure, but more and more are moving toward salary-only. Salaried stylists typically earn hourly wages of about $10.95 per hour. If you choose the commission model, you can determine how much your stylists earn based on the costs of your services.

What Equipment Do You Need?

Again, this depends on the services you will offer. If you are a fully appointed salon, you will need a shampoo station, a mani/pedi area, a makeup desk, massage and waxing rooms, and plenty of space for hair cutting, coloring, and styling. However, few salons offer a full suite of services; you can follow that model or try to expand your market with new or unique services.

As important to your salon’s success is the technology you use to organize appointments. Digital salon appointment books are critical for keeping track of stylists’ schedules and customers’ needs. Over-booking loses you clients and hurts your business; ideally, your scheduling software will allow for standing appointments, walk-ins, and appointment reminders, to ensure your customers get what they need — and your stylists do, too.

Where Should You Open?

Location is important for every business – but location has a significant impact on the success of a salon. You should strive to find a space that is easily accessible by road and foot traffic, preferably near a mall — though not in one — and far from overly residential neighborhoods. Additionally, your salon should be in a well-decorated, safe area, to ensure customers feel comfortable coming and going. The size and scope of your space will depend on your budget and your business model, but typically, you will choose between a storefront property, a shopping center, and a freestanding building. You should keep in mind that once you garner a loyal clientele, you might be able to upgrade to a bigger, better location.

How Do You Attract Customers?

There are dozens of factors that impact how you bring customers to your salon business. Marketing is a vast and complex field, and you should read about your options before you commit to a single marketing strategy. Some of the best marketing tactics used by salons include:

  • Loyalty programs
  • Referral programs
  • Online ad campaigns
  • E-commerce campaigns
  • Social media campaigns

With the right team, the right location, and the right business strategy, your salon will succeed — even if you make a few minor mistakes.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, CEO of Inspired Marketing, Inc., is a small business marketing coach who shows women entrepreneurs how to use solid marketing strategies to turn their life’s passion into a profitable, service-based business. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.

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