If your dream is to open a hair salon, now might be one of the best times to do it. According to Zion Market Research, the salon industry is growing steadily and is projected to continue growing. They estimate that the global spa and beauty salon market should reach approximately 190.81 billion USD in 2024. In the U.S. alone, the salon industry is estimated to be worth $47.1 billion, and the market size is expected to increase by 1.5 percent in 2020. If you are planning to start a hair salon, this guide will give you the details you need to get started. It’s important to have a plan in place before you open your salon. Here are a few things you’ll want to do before you open:
Create a business plan
No business can function properly without a business plan. A business plan acts like a roadmap, a document that will guide your business to success. But, business planning doesn’t have to be a long drawn out process. In fact, you’ve probably already put together a lot of the information mentally, or even scribbled a few notes on paper. The point of a solid business plan is to figure out what your business is, how it will be successful, and how you’ll troubleshoot problems.
Figure out funding
Whether you’re seeking a traditional bank loan or borrowing money from friends and family, you need to figure out how much money you need to get started, and where it will be coming from. Most likely, you’ll be doing a combination of multiple funding methods, and you may be using your own money and bootstrapping your business. Regardless of what route you take, it’s important to have a clear idea at the outset of where the money is coming from. Our funding guide gives an overview of your options if you aren’t yet sure what funding options are right for your salon.
Find a mentor
As you’re planning your business, it’s a great time to find a business mentor. It’s best to find someone in the salon industry that can answer questions for you as you start and grow your business.
Hunt for the right location
Choosing the right location is the difference between success and failure. You want to select a spot with good traffic, high visibility, and is located where your target demographic shops or lives.
Build your salon brand around the clientele you want
Before you start painting the walls and picking out furniture, make sure that your brand vision matches the kind of clientele you want to attract. This means taking what you know about your target market, and working to create a brand for your salon based on their interests, tastes, and habits. Don’t overlook the importance of building a brand for your salon; the idea of “branding” might feel like something only big businesses do, but it’s necessary to tailor your look to your intended client base, and creating a brand is a key part of that process.
Provide excellent customer service
After you’ve created an environment that your clients will love, you have to follow through by offering excellent customer service. You should provide an experience for your customers, not just a service. The overall experience is what keeps customers coming back.
Set aside money for marketing
To be successful, you need clients. To attract clients, you need a solid marketing plan. Alleman suggests setting aside some money to market your business; without it, you’ll struggle to be able to really execute a marketing strategy.
Create an attractive, well-thought-out website
For starters, you need a good website. Alleman suggests hiring a professional to create your site if you can afford it. That said, if you’re tight on cash, there are plenty of DIY website platforms out there. Your site should be attractive, easy to navigate, and ideally include helpful information for your customers, such as hours, location, contact info, and pricing. As most salons use an online booking system nowadays, that’s also an important element to look into (or you may lose customers to salons who do offer this convenience). When designing your website, it’s important to return to your brand vision and what you’ve learned about your target market. Your site is an extension of your brand, so it should be cohesive and match the image you want your salon to present to customers.
If you’re building your website yourself, check out our guide to building a website.
Don’t assume product lines will generate huge revenue
As an owner, you’ll need to select a product line. There are lots of options to choose from; while some shop owners sell a variety of product lines. Some shops sell a lot of product, but you shouldn’t look at it as a big revenue source. You’ll spend money up front to buy inventory, and even though you’ll sell it at a price to make a profit, that money usually goes right back into purchasing more product. So, it’s smart to consider starting small, and perhaps focusing on one product line in the beginning. Once you’ve thought through all the details of how to open your salon to the public, you’ll turn your attention to how to grow your business. Here are some areas you’ll want to keep in mind.
Hire staff based on personality
When you’re first starting out, you might be the only employee. But hopefully, your shop will be so popular that you’ll need to hire additional help, as well as bring on more stylists. When that happens, hiring someone based more on personality than skill. You want your clients to enjoy coming in. Of course, you want someone who is good at what they do, but you shouldn’t base your decision on skills alone. Personality matters.
Plan for finding new customers and retaining them
When a customer finds a stylist he or she likes, they usually become repeat clients. However, this doesn’t mean you should let up on your marketing efforts. Even if you have a steady stream of customers, you should build on the marketing efforts that you’re already using.
Revisit your business plan regularly
A business plan should always be viewed as a work in progress. With each passing month, you learn more about your business and your customer base. It’s a good idea to go back to your plan, read it over, and make sure you’re still on track. A monthly plan review meeting can be helpful, as can running a SWOT analysis on your business.
Look for ways to save on overhead
When you first open your doors, you may have splurged on a few things that you thought you needed, but really don’t. With your business established, review your inventory and see if you can make any changes or cuts to save money. Take a look at your monthly expenses too—is there anything you can trim back or get rid of? Maybe you can downgrade your internet service, or cut back on the amount of product you’re buying each month. Opening a salon is a bold endeavor. As with any new venture, it’s important to plan as much as you can and be willing to adapt as you learn what works best for your business. You’ll spend a lot of time and money to get your salon off the ground, but Alleman says there is nothing like running a sought-after, successful salon.