Starting a Salon? Ten Things to Bear in Mind
Starting a beauty salon is exciting! You have the perfect vision of your dream salon in your ideal location, all pictured in your mind.
You imagine what it will look like, who your therapists will be, what a great team you will all be together and who your customers will be.
But beauty is a highly competitive industry. More and more salons open every day, diluting the market and tempting customers and therapists away. Being ‘another beauty salon’ isn’t enough. Your salon has to have that something about it to make it really stand out.
It makes sense to be prepared. There will inevitably be hurdles and challenges to overcome that some days, may make you wonder why you ever wanted to own a salon at all. We’ve all been there and felt that – it comes with the territory.
10 Things to Consider:
1. What treatments will you offer?
It’s not enough to provide the same services as the hair salon down the road. You need to stand out, for all the right reasons. It could be the product lines you choose to work with or a range of signature treatments and packages. Don’t forget to consider what retail opportunities exist with your in-salon product lines – they are an important revenue stream.
Are the products and treatments you choose going to work in the neighborhood? There’s no point trying to sell $300 jars of face cream in a less affluent neighborhood. Will you specialize or diversify?
There are plenty of salons that specialize in just one thing – waxing, nails, massage. If so, you need to think carefully about the quality of your treatments and the value you will offer.
Carefully figure out your cost per service. That is the amount of time a treatment takes, the materials they use, the amount of therapist time it takes to perform and a percentage of your overheads.
For example, if you have a one-hour massage treatment, what percentage of your monthly rent/rates/electricity bill etc., does using a room in your salon cost? What is the cost of the massage oil you will use? How many towels will you need to launder? What is the therapist’s hourly wage?
You need to add all those things up and deduct them from the price of the treatment to understand your profit margin. Only then will you know if that service is viable. Most salon beauty brands have information on the cost per treatment that you can request from them.
3. Offer a flagship treatment
This is something that not only makes you a good return on your investment but is something that nobody else offers that you can become well known for. If you’re a nail expert, for example, devise a luxury manicure that is different from anything that your competitors offer.
The beauty industry is a high-turnover one. Staff are often tempted away by better offers, leave to work for themselves or depart because there are issues within the team. Working with a large group of people often brings conflicts and clashing personalities!
It’s up to you to build a group of people who gel together as a team, work with a shared goal, are reliable and care about delivering great customer service.
Pay careful attention to customer reviews left on your salon management software and you’ll soon see who your superstars are.
5. Think about your space and design
If you know the kinds of treatments you want to offer, you’ll know what kind of layout you’ll need. If you’re going to focus on nails, then how many manicure and pedicure stations will you need?
If you’re offering facials and massage, can you create as many rooms as you need, with sufficient space around the treatment beds for the therapists to work in? Will you need a couples treatment room? What kind of look will you choose? Ultra-modern, romantic, functional or luxurious?
If you have your business branding figured out, look for ways to accent and reflect that in the salon design (maybe use the color of your logo in the interior).
How much retail space will you need? How will you display your retail? How big a reception desk do you need? What about the waiting area for customers? Will you serve drinks? Is there space for a self-serve station?
Don’t forget about lighting – it’s crucial!
You need lots of natural daylight lighting and adjustable and dimmable lights for most treatments. Do you need an office or a staff room for breaks? Will any of your treatments require a shower in the room? Do you need permits or permission from the council for works or licenses?
6. How will you manage customer information?
You need a database of customers and a salon management system to manage bookings from online, as well as made by phone or at the salon.
Be aware that managing customer data has lots of laws to govern how that data is stored and kept.
Make sure your processes are compliant. Ensure the system you choose allows you to pull reports, understand behavior and customer profiles, allow customers to leave reviews and builds engagement.
Find a software system that can automate tasks, like appointment reminders and enables you to keep detailed notes on your clients, like the date of any patch test, their color preferences, their favorite therapist.
7. How will you grow your database?
You can have the best systems in the world, but if there’s nothing on it, it’s not much use! Try and plan a pre-launch campaign using social media and PR (contact your local newspapers and magazines to let them know there’s a new kid in town).
Even if it’s just a page with a sign-up form, have your website ready to go. Think about how to choose and implement a loyalty program to ensure retention and make bonds with clients.
8. Create a salon manual
This should include a customer care charter for your whole team to follow. It should include how customers are greeted, treated and taken care of. What is the customer journey?
Do you sell products during treatment? Are there retail sales targets for the team? How hard a sell is too hard?
Also, think about whose job it is to do particular tasks around the salon. Who resets the rooms after treatments? Who welcomes customers? What end of day tasks need to be done and who is responsible?
9. Get (and share) reviews
Salon reviews are the best possible form of third party endorsement out there. The opinion of a third party is considerably more credible than that of the salon. Share reviews on social media and search sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor. Salon management software RetentionForce has a feature for ‘review boost’ on social platforms to automatically share your great reviews across multiple sites and platforms.
10. Choose your social media well
Don’t try to be everywhere doing everything. It takes a lot of work to keep posting content regularly and you will have enough to do in the early days, just getting your business up and running. A Facebook and Instagram page are a great start point, and you can save time by sharing posts between the two sites. As with your website, try and build attention and interest as you move closer to your opening day.
Opening your own salon should be an exciting time. It’s not for the faint-hearted, nor is it going to make you a millionaire overnight. However, taking the time to plan carefully, particularly for the ‘behind the scenes’ work, will definitely make the opening day easier. Look for salon management and automation tools that can save you time and synchronize jobs that would be time-consuming, if done manually.
You may be in a rush to open immediately, but taking a little extra time to put good solid foundations in place before you open, will always save time and money in the longer term.