Welcome to Furnish&Style’s Guide to Running a Beauty Salon (nails, hair etc.). This guide has been put together for those who are completely new to the business.
We are going to tell you everything that you need to be successful. You should not think of this as a complete guide. It is more a primer, just to give you a few hints and tips on how you can get started. You are encouraged to carry out further research on your own. Remember; you can’t just jump into the world of beauty salons without putting a bit of effort in. You will fail as a business.
So, read the information on this page, and you may soon end up doing the same business that the larger chains and the more-successful smaller companies are knocking out.
Essential Salon Furniture and Chairs
This is not an area that we are going to dwell on too much as we have put together a decent guide to quality furniture elsewhere on this website. We suggest that you read through these reviews as we have covered quite a lot and have done much of the ‘hard work’ for you when it comes to finding quality furniture and chairs for your beauty salon.
When you purchase any sort of furniture for your salon, it is important that you take the time to test it out yourself. You need to ensure that it is comfortable. You need to ensure that it ‘works’. If it does not, then it is not going to be right for your salon as abysmal furniture can really put your patrons off.
Here are just a few of the pieces of furniture you will likely wish to purchase for your beauty salon, dependent on the type of services that you are planning to offer. Remember; this is on top of whatever equipment you are using to do your job:
Probably the most important element of your beauty salon. Remember; people will need these for the waiting area. They will need to sit in chairs when you are performing the treatment. You need to ensure that your furniture is comfortable. You need to ensure that it is robust (nobody wants to be spending a heap of cash on replacing chairs constantly).
Yes, chairs are going to set you back a bit of cash initially, but once you have bought them you probably won’t need to buy any new ones for a good few years. You will just need to ensure that you keep the chairs ‘well maintained’ or it does not matter how good they are, they are not going to last.
Yes, I know that this ties into the equipment that you use somewhat, but just about every beauty salon (unless you are just doing nails or skin) is likely to have a massage chair in there, so it is worth mentioning in this section. You will want to, once again, ensure that the massage chair is going to be comfortable for people. They will be spending a lot of time lounged out about on one, sometimes around an hour, which means you want them to have a decent experience.
Big ones. Small ones. You need mirrors. You want people to be able to see the work that you have carried out on them. Hopefully, they will admire that fine work! Invest in quality mirrors or it will make some of what you do a little bit odd.
Setting the Perfect Lighting
People under estimate the importance of lighting. After your chairs, we think it should be one of the first things that you invest in. You need to ensure that your property is well-lit with quality lights. Do not use cheap fluorescent lights here. They do not look good on a person. If you ever go into a public bathroom, then you will notice that many of them use cheap lighting. This makes you look rather abysmal when you look in the mirror.
Do you really want that to happen? We are going to assume that no. Because the whole idea of your beauty salon, whatever services you offer, is to ensure that the people that you are catering for look as wonderful as possible.
Beauty Salon Start & Setup Budgeting
Starting up a beauty salon is going to be a costly adventure. There are several things that you will need to consider. In addition to this, you should remember that you can’t expect to make any profit for the first ten to twelve months of running your business. Therefore, you can’t expect to draw an income. You will want to ensure that you have cash ‘set to one side’ to cover your daily life expenses (make sure you budget that out)
Location, Location, Location
Portable Hair, Nail & Beauty Salon.
Many people run a beauty salon from the comfort of their own home. In some cases, you may also be able to run a mobile beauty salon with no fixed location. It can be a bit tougher to run these businesses, but the costs are going to be incredibly low. We doubt you are going to charge yourself rent, after all.
Choose and rent a Salon Shop
If you opt to rent a place, then make sure that it is in a decent location, although you will need to pay a bit extra for this. If your beauty salon is somewhat off the beaten track, then you will be missing out on the walk-in business, which many beauty salons do get. Expect to pay somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000 per month in rent.
Another option you have is to talk to somebody that operates a beauty salon already. They may be able to rent a chair in the salon to you. This is going to be affordable, but eventually you will want to go out on your own. Remember; if you go down this route, then most of the time you will either:
Expect the beauty salon to drum up business for you.
You will be drumming up business for other people in the salon. Just because somebody walks in does not necessarily mean that they are going to go to you, after all.
Reduce variable overheads, and purchase a property
The final option is to purchase a property. You do not necessarily need a large location to run a beauty salon. Well, unless you have plans to rapidly expand. You will need to find the down payment for the property, though. This can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. However, on the plus side, you will not have any rent payment to make each month and it becomes easier to deal with any problems you have (obviously, you will still need to make mortgage payments)
Dependent on the treatment, it is likely that your client is going to be spending a good few hours at your beauty salon. This means that you need to ensure that it looks as dazzling as possible, while at the same time ensuring that it is comfortable and approachable. A lot of thought will need to go into your chairs, mirrors, equipment that you use to carry out the treatments that you are offering etc. You will also want to ensure that you have adequate lighting so you can show off your handy work to your customers. Expect to spend somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 here.
This is all going to be dependent on the type of treatments that you offering and, therefore, can get pretty expensive. You may need massage tables, you may need equipment for any electrologists you employ (if you are not licensed as one and wish to offer those services). You may even wish to have some barber shop equipment in place.
Depending on the type of salon you are opening, take a look through Furnish&Style’s reviews an advice for accessories and furniture you are likely need:-
At the end of this article, you’ll find a list of many other guides to help too.
Things can go wrong when you are running any type of business. You need insurance. This can protect you against your customers, the staff you employ, theft, and natural disasters (in some cases). I am not going to speculate on just how much the insurance will set you back as it can vary wildly from location to location. It is suggested that you shop around for the best deal, use an insurance comparison search engine or something similar to that. This way you can be sure that you are saving as much money as possible while receiving adequate coverage.
Cost of Training and Your Licenses
We are going to assume that you already have trained to operate a beauty salon. If not, you are probably going to struggle to open one up as you will need to employ staff who have gone through training, which can be quite extensive. You will need a license to operate in all the services you wish to offer at your beauty salon, so the following:
This is important if your beauty salon is going to focus on skin care. Dependent on where you live, the course could take upwards of 600 hours, which may set you back $20,000.
This is a very specialist area of beauty, mainly because many companies are not willing to invest in the equipment that is needed because it is so expensive. If you offer it, then you will be able to do bundles of business. However, once again this is going to set you back about 600 hours of time.
Not as much training needed for this one. You will still need to spend around 400 hours on learning how to be a proper manicurist and obtaining your license. Expect to pay about $10,000 for the course here.
Of course, these are just the ‘basic’ services that you will wish to offer. It is likely that you will want to expand your business rapidly as the trade starts to roll in. For that reason, you may wish to consider getting qualified in other areas, or at least employing staff who are qualified in those areas. Remember; the more specialist services you offer at your beauty salon, the more people you will have coming through your door and the more money you will make. It just takes a bit of an investment to get up and running here.
Property and Other Taxes
You will be spending, on average, about $30 per month for your property taxes. The payroll taxes (if you have employees) will be dependent on where you are living and how much the person is being paid.
Of course, your employees (if you have them) need to be paid. The average wage will be dependent on where you are based. While it can be a bit costlier to hire an experienced beauty technician, it may be worth it if you wish for business to start ramping up quickly.
Finally; think about your utility bills. So, your electricity, gas etc. These will not be too high, maybe $100 per month, unless you are running larger premises or using some major energy sucking equipment.
Make the Best First Impression
One of the goals for your business is to ensure that you create the best possible first impression for the clients that come to your place of work. If you do something even a little bit wrong, then you can bet your bottom dollar that they are going to be giving you a terrible review online, something which you probably want to avoid as the whole of the beauty business seems to be based upon that word of mouth advertising with a small sprinkling of marketing thrown in for good measure (more on that in a short while)
If you have employees, then you need to give them ground rules to abide by. Tell them how they should talk to your customers, unless they have experience in the industry (ample amounts of experience), because then they should be pretty set on this front. The rules do not need to be anything too complicated. Like, it should be obvious that you should not be tapping away on your phone while you are at a place of work because this makes you look lazy and uninterested in the clients that come in. Obviously, this is something that you are probably going to wish to abide by too.
Body language should be professional. No slouching. Stand up straight. Smile on your face. It really does work wonders. I can’t count how many times I have seen reviews online which talk about how the employees did not have a smile on their face and it created the wrong impression right off the bat. You are literally losing business simply because you did not care enough to put a smile on your face.
When somebody walks into your place of business, then make sure that you greet them as soon as you can. I know that this can be a bit difficult if you are working on your own, but even a quick ‘I shall be with you in a short while’ can work wonders. Of course, if you run your beauty salon on a booking system then it is unlikely that you will run into this too much.
Hopefully, once your beauty salon starts to accept an ample amount of walk-ins, you should have enough staff who are ready to greet the people that walk into your property. Obviously, you do not want to have these people waiting around for too long or it could cause some serious issues. People will walk out, and they will tell their friends and family that you did not treat them the way that they deserved to be treated.
If you have employees who are not creating the best first impression, then bring it up with them. Hopefully, they will improve. If they do not improve, then you have little choice but to start looking for a new employee to work for you, sadly.
The Design of Your Beauty Salon
We encourage you to invest money into the design of your beauty salon. Do not make it look cheap and tatty. If you make it look cheap and tatty, then it does not matter whether you offer the best treatments in the world, people will get the wrong impression and think that your treatments will be cheap too.
Perhaps one of the best suggestions that we can give you here is to tour some of the more successful beauty salons in your area, or the wider area for that matter. Have a look through their window. If you can afford it, have a few treatments carried out too. While you are there, observe how the place is laid out. This should give you a few ideas. Obviously, it is important that you do not copy the design of their place directly, but lift as few ideas and make them your own.
It is important that you do not create a sterile environment. I see too many companies out there who do this. It does not look appealing at all. It looks cheap and tacky. It is also not inviting going into a place which offers beauty treatments and having it look like a doctor’s surgery. I, personally, prefer the more comfortable approach. Maybe a beautiful waiting area dominated by stunning lighting and leather chairs. The area where you carry out the actual treatment should be along the same lines too. Just make the place look amazing, while at the same time ensuring that it is a practical place to work. I mean, you probably do not want to sacrifice practicality for comfort. It is all well and good having a comfortable area, but if you can’t work in it, then what is the point?
The Waiting Area
A significant amount of focus will need to be placed on the waiting areas of your building. This will be the first impression that people get of your business. When we think of designs for waiting areas in beauty salons, we love to spice things up a little bit. Of course, make sure that you have comfortable chairs, quality lighting, and a decent table or two. On top of this, you should have something that will take the customer’s attention, or at least make the area seem a little bit different from the norm. Sure, you can have your magazines and books for people to read, and you are encouraged to do so, but you should also include some art work, maybe a couple of collectibles etc. One thing that really seems to be working right now is adjustable lighting, which you control (maybe of different colors), although do not go overboard with the adjustable lighting because if the area is constantly changing color then this is just going to be distracting to everybody. Keep it nice and relaxed.
We have seen some of the ‘higher class’ beauty salons even go as far as including computers in the waiting room, although you may wish to limit what the customer can do with that computer. The main goal of the computer is to advertise the various treatments you offer, not in an ‘in your face’ way, just to give the customer a bit of a hint about what they can expect from you and it may tease them about some of the other treatments that you have available.
Obviously, you can’t just open a beauty salon and expect people to come through the door. It does not work like that. You would need to get an exceedingly lucky. If you want custom, then you need to market yourself. It is as simple as that. I can’t give a complete guide to marketing on this page, but I do want to share a couple of ideas. Remember; the way in which you carry out your marketing will ‘make or break’ your business, so do make sure that you do a good bit of research beforehand.
For the most part, your advertising is going to be kept local. You do not need to do anything majorly complicated here. Your best ‘plan of attack’ would be to get a website for your business up and running as soon as possible. This is how most people will find you. It is unlikely that you will need to advertise anywhere else, to be honest. You may wish to put some adverts in your local newspaper or have something on local radio, but this should play second fiddle to your website.
Website, Digital & Social Media Marketing
It is important that you do not put any old website up online. Remember; your goal is to create the best impression possible. It is suggested that you work with a professional web designer who will be able to build a website for you. Take the time to search for a web designer who can do the job properly. Do not skimp in this area, mostly because people will be deciding whether to work with you based upon your website or not.
Once your website is up and running, then you will wish to start working closely with a search engine optimization company (SEO). Do not do your SEO on your own because you will get it right, plus you have a beauty salon to run anyway. SEO is the process of getting your company listed at the top of the searches for your local area. Imagine how much business you could get if you were listed at the top for ‘Manicurist in your town’!
Couple this with some social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) and you are well on your way to picking up a significant amount of business, mainly because many companies out there do not do any form of marketing at all, which is a touch annoying.
Perhaps the best way to get people through your door initially is by offering a discount. You don’t need to do anything too crazy, maybe 10-20% is all that you need to do. Remember; if you are able to do a good job for your customers and clients, then there is a decent chance that you will have secured them as a customer for life, so it does not matter too much that you will not be making a lot of money on their initial beauty treatment, you will make everything back (and a little bit more) when they keep coming back.
Perhaps one of the best forms of marketing you can offer to your customers. Remember; beauty salons and other businesses like it are built upon the back of customer loyalty. Most of your business will come from repeat customers and those who talk to their friends and family about you.
You do not need to do anything too crazy here. Maybe offer a discount after a certain number of treatments. Some companies will offer a free treatment for their most loyal customers, but this is not a route that we tend to go down as offering a completely free treatment can be quite costly considering how much effort, equipment, and materials are required to carry out the treatment. Therefore, a steep discount which at least covers your ‘costs’ should be more than fine.
We suggest that you look at how other loyalty offers from beauty salons in your area are done. Try to ‘improve’ on them.
Check Out the Competitor Salons
If there are other beauty salons in your local area, then you should look into how they are marketing themselves. Obviously, if they are marketing, then it means that whatever they are doing is working. You should not copy their marketing directly but instead look into how you can improve upon it for your own business. The improvement is important. You want to stand out from the crowd, right?
Talent is everything
I know that we have spoken a considerable amount about the design of your beauty salon here, and that is fine. The design is important. However, you should always ensure that the talent that you employ is the main focus of your business. After all, it does not matter how good the place looks, if you are not carrying out beauty treatments to a high standard then nobody is going to come back. Nobody is ever going to feel comfortable in your property which is really the last thing that you want.
If you are the only employee at the start, which you are likely to be, then ensure that you go through as much training as possible in order to pick up the skills that you need. You absolutely should never offer a service to your patrons unless you are confident that you can do a good job.
If you are not ready to take on employees but still wish to offer certain treatments, then you may wish to ‘outsource’ some of the work i.e. you have somebody come in and perform the treatment for you. They may even bring their own equipment. You must inform the person that you bring in that they work for you, though. Sure, there is not much profit in doing this, but at least you are going to get more customers through the door!
It won’t be easy, but it will be satisfying
Finally; I want to tell you that starting up a beauty salon and running it successfully is not going to be easy. It is going to take a lot of hard days and hard nights. Many sleepless nights, in fact. However, I promise you, that once things start to work out, everything becomes satisfying. You will start to make money. You will enjoy the presence of your customers. You will have a lot of fun! It may take a couple of years to get there, but the journey is worth it.