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There’s no question about it, the beauty industry has undergone a major transformation in recent years. From what was once part of the luxury space, to what is today considered by most to be an essential service, the industry is valued at an incredible $42.76 billion in the US.

In fact, according to a McKinsey report, businesses in the beauty sector have shown a tremendous amount of resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s even more impressive is how countless beauty salons have adapted to the new normal by quickly integrating digital offerings into their business model. So, if you’ve been thinking about opening a salon business, now is a great time to make that dream a reality.

Getting started takes some work, but once you’re set up you can enjoy being the owner of a business that is fun, creative, and rewarding. In this blog, we’re sharing nine things you need to do to become a successful salon owner and beat the competition.

Smiling confident owner turning open sign on glass door of spa

1. Craft a Winning Salon Business Plan

Draw out your broad business idea into a solid, workable plan that outlines the specific actions that you need to take. Consider questions such as:  

  • Are you targeting a particular niche?
  • How will you stand out from the competition?
  • How are you funding your salon?
  • Will you employ your own staff or rent out your columns?
  • What will you call your salon?

The goal of kicking off with an exercise like this, is to help you identify your target market, estimate costs, secure funding sources, prepare for pitfalls, and ultimately, figure out the big picture. This will help you meet your goals and create a successful beauty salon business.

Tip: Keep these five beauty & wellness trends in mind.

2. Work Out the Legalities

There are plenty of perks to running a salon, but it’s also no walk in the park. As a salon owner, you’ll need to obtain a business license and other permits to operate in your chosen location. It’s a good idea to apply for tax IDs or consult a certified tax professional to guide you on the operational requirements of setting up a salon and registering it as a legal entity. Along with this, consider procuring a legal seller’s permit if you plan on selling beauty products. Some of the common licenses that you’ll likely need are:  

3. Create a Budget

Whether you’re funding your own business or relying on multiple sources, be sure to have a solid understanding of where the money is coming from. Create a detailed plan for how much of your budget you should allocate to things like rent, staff and equipment. Make sure to factor in some margin, as you may come across unforeseen costs.

4. Identify the Right Real Estate

Zero in on a location and identify a space to either rent or buy, depending on your financial circumstances. It’s a wise idea to locate your beauty salon in an area that’s densely populated and easily accessible by car or public transport.

Don’t forget that you’ll likely have to provide a security deposit upfront if you choose to operate on a monthly lease model. Once you’ve chosen a space and signed the lease, it’s time to lay the groundwork for running your day-to-day operations.

5. Invest in Equipment

When getting into the details of running a business, it’s important to not lose sight of the basics. Investing in the right kind of equipment without compromising on quality is essential for ensuring guest satisfaction.

Purchase high-quality salon furniture, face and body machines, nail stations, and more to create a functional and sleek space. Don't forget to check other essentials off your list at this time, like a POS system, computer, and a business phone system.

Modern beauty salon interior with couch and armchair

6. Hire the Right Team

When you interview stylists, designers, and other support staff for your beauty salon, be sure to reflect on your brand’s philosophy and the experience you’d like to offer your guests. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re set up for a smooth start with a payroll system and employee benefits in place.

Before making any big hiring decisions, check qualifications and references and ensure that the prospective employee shares your values. Look for staff who are dedicated to offering a high-quality service and who want to grow with you and your new salon business.

Considering that the beauty industry is a personal one, it’s crucial that you nurture and establish a strong working relationship with your staff. This will in turn go a long way towards building a strong and satisfied customer base. Keep morale up through incentives or a staff reward system.

Here are 7 tips for motivating your salon team

7. Get Your First Guests

And now for the big M: market your business extensively. It’s important that you put yourself out there and let people know that your brand-new salon is ready and waiting to help your guests feel and look their absolute best.

Consider advertising in local media to announce your grand opening and promote your services. Next, search for any relevant local events that you could participate in to improve your visibility.

Ads on platforms like Facebook and Google can be a great way to reach people looking for businesses like yours. Consider what phrases a potential customer might use when searching for their next beauty salon experience. For example, “beauty salons in [town]” or “microblading in [city]”.

Craft creative ad copy around these phrases to help your business stand out. If you’re advertising on social media, include some great photos of your work to inspire people to try your services. Once you have a website, you can also retarget website visitors with ads to encourage them to take action and book an appointment. If digital marketing is completely new to you, Google is your friend! There is a ton of helpful tutorials online to help you get started. You can also hire a local expert to support your marketing plan.

Discover ten marketing strategies to drive salon success.

8. Ensure a Smooth Business Operation

When creating your salon business plan, making sure your salon offers a relaxing and frictionless experience is essential. Streamline and simplify your everyday operations by investing in a robust salon management software. From automating guest communications to tracking staff performance, having a software that takes care of day-to-day tasks will save you time so that you can focus on the big picture.

Another great time-saver is managing your salon inventory digitally. Take stock of your supplies in real time and avoid any last-minute hassles in procuring and storing them with a comprehensive and efficient inventory management system.  

Business owner checking her online presence during the pandemic

9. Grow Your Salon Business

Once you’ve got guests coming through the door, leverage their experience to promote and grow your beauty salon. Encourage them to leave reviews on Google or other platforms. Be open to feedback and welcome change. With social media use at an all-time high, it’s only natural for consumers to look for online reviews when they are considering your services. Be sure to address and acknowledge every review you receive, to build trust in your brand.

Get help managing your reviews and delight every guest with Zenoti.

Showcase your team’s expertise by sharing inspiring photos of their most stunning transformations. Encourage them to take before and after photos of happy guests, and don’t forget to teach them the best lighting and angles for a great shot. This will help create visual appeal and have prospective guests think “I want that!” - not to mention double up as trustworthy customer testimonials.

Finally, high retention can massively contribute to the long-term success of your salon business. A couple of great ways to show your appreciation to loyal guests and encourage repeat bookings is through memberships or a loyalty program.

The Secret to Running a Successful Beauty Salon

To summarize: while setting up the salon may seem like the hard part, running a business requires a whole new set of skills. For one, managing a beauty salon is a full-time job. The ability to sustain it and stay ahead of the competition is no easy feat. You’ll need to think about tracking inventory, gathering insights from customer data, marketing your business, ensuring that guests continue to walk through your doors, and much more!

Having said all this, the bottom line is that there is no hard and fast approach or cookie-cutter method to becoming a successful salon owner. It’s a mix of several factors that will have to come into play at the right time.

Effectively communicate with your staff, build a nurturing relationship with your team and guests, stay true to your passion, remember to delegate when you know you can’t be everywhere, and count on diligence and resilience as two magic qualities that will get you through the bad hair days.

Are you ready to launch your beauty salon business? Ensure you’re set up for success with an all-in-one salon management software for that does what others can’t. Book a demo today.


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Emily Martin
Zenoti Copywriter
A self-confessed bookworm with a passion for languages and weaving together words. Happiest when immersed in nature, either on horseback or skis, or curled up with a good thriller. Emily's writing focuses on sharing trends and insights impacting the beauty and wellness industry.
Cullie Poseria
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Fitness
Coming from a healthcare family, growing up as a competitive athlete, and being trained as a filmmaker, and MBA, Cullie brings diverse experience to her storytelling and digital business-to-business product marketing. Her writing focuses on sharing trends and insights from her experience in software, entertainment, wellness, and fitness.

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