How to Open a Hair Salon: A Complete Guide
When you’ve been in the industry long enough, it makes sense to start dreaming about what it takes to open your own salon! You can create a brand that speaks to you, and be your own boss. All those amazing ideas you’ve had working for other people can become a reality and you’ll be able to serve your community in a way that’s meaningful to you. Of course, the only thing stopping someone from following this dream is money! We’re going to break down the costs of opening a hair salon and take a detailed look at how much money you’ll need to start your own business.
Realistically speaking, no two salons will cost the same. The area you want to open in, what you specialize in, and many other factors come into play when calculating everything you’ll need. A cool alternative salon that specializes in fashion colors in San Francisco will be at a much different price point than a salon that caters to small towns. First, we’re going to explain the basic costs every salon needs to open. Then, we’ll talk about monthly fees and rent. If you’re interested in going big, we’ll even be talking about what you might need to open your dream salon.
Before you do anything, a great idea would be to start a spreadsheet to keep your estimates organized. When you’re scouting locations and choosing what equipment you want for your salon, you can add it to the spreadsheet as you go to get an accurate estimate.
Rent or Own?
Think about whether or not you’d like to rent or own. Owning your salon has its perks, but is far more expensive outright. Depending on where you’re looking to open, it can cost anywhere between $50,000 to $250,000 and above. Renting, however, can cost you much less upfront depending on your lease agreement. Think apartment prices, you’ll be looking at around $2,000/month and above depending on the area. You can rent based on the size of the space, per year, or per month with a security deposit.
Basic equipment to get you started like chairs, shampoo bowls, wet stations driers, POS systems, and any big things you’ll be using daily will be another big chunk of your budget. That can go anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 and beyond. Don’t be afraid to look around for used chairs or other equipment, that can save you a decent amount of money.
Overall, the very basic requirements to open a salon could leave you looking at around $40,000 to $350,000. These figures are heavily dependent on whether or not you want to rent or own and your location, so as previously mentioned, please do your research locally!
If you’re thinking big and want to open your dream salon, you have a lot more options. The sky’s the limit, you want all the latest equipment and a hot location downtown with an interior design to die for.
- Equipment. You don’t necessarily have to pay more, but if you’re going with the luxury you should expect an additional $10,000 - $20,000. You know those fancy hair driers are $400, and salon chairs can get into the $1,000 range!
- Interior Design. Hiring an interior designer to help you make your vision a reality is a worthy investment for someone looking to open their dream salon. You can look to spend around $100 to $275/hour or anywhere between $2,000 and $11,000. This will be more if you’re in a hot area, and this usually doesn’t include furniture costs. The benefit of doing this is getting an expert opinion on both what you want, and what clients will love!
Advertising. Having a managed social media page is a great option to bring clients in. You don’t have to worry about answering Instagram DMs or coming up with ideas for TikToks. You can hire someone for around 10 - 20 hours a month or more depending on your needs. The average wage for a social media manager is around $35/hr, so that would be around $350 - $750 /month or more depending on your social media needs.
- Renovations. You’ve probably seen those home renovation shows on TV, it can get costly! Everything from top to bottom should cost at least $30,000. You’ll be looking at more depending on how big you go with your interior choices, real hardwood flooring for example costs much more than its cheaper vinyl counterpart.
Operating Costs of Opening a Hair Salon
When you open a salon, you’ll have initial costs to look out for to operate. These are usually legally required. Every state has different laws and costs, so make sure you research what affects you locally.
Cosmetology Licensing. Make sure your cosmetology license is up to date and in good standing! You can’t legally open a salon without it, and it’ll be important to make sure all your stylists comply as well. It only costs around $50 depending on the state you live in.
Permits. Retail permits for selling products, business licensing, building permits for renovations, a certificate of occupancy, and a few other things may be required depending on your state to legally operate. Each of these can cost around $15 - $250 and some may require an application before you’re approved. Overall the cost will be around $500 - $750 total.
- Website. These days it’s incredibly important to have a website that’s easy to navigate for booking and information! Being able to book on your website streamlines the process for clients and gives them an easy experience. You can have a website specially built for you for around $500 and up, or you can use website creators for around $30/month.
Salon Monthly Expenses to Know About
Other than basic things like the electric bill, there are some things you’ll have to spend money on each month. Make sure you consider these costs when budgeting for your salon.
Insurance. For the safety of your stylists, you’ll be required by law in many states to pay insurance each month for each employee. This is in case anyone slips and falls, gets chemical burns, or is injured for any reason as a result of their job. You should also consider insurance for the salon itself. We never want these things to happen, but life is unpredictable! This can cost anywhere from $300 to $1500 annually depending on the number of people you have working for you. In many cases, this is split into a monthly payment.
Payroll. Depending on how your stylists get paid, this is incredibly important. Make sure you have a consistent schedule to pay your stylists. If you don’t pay them on time, not only will you lose your best stylists, it can cause you legal trouble!
Restock. You’ll need to restock your supplies each month depending on how busy you are. This includes color, shampoo, and even toilet paper. Itemize everything you use monthly, it’ll make your life easier! This can cost anywhere from $300 to $800.
- Advertising. Websites like Facebook will charge you per click, and they’ll work with any budget. You can set a daily maximum for how much money you’d like to spend per click so you never go over your budget! You can spend as much as you want here, but a budget of around $150/month would be reasonable for this.
New Salon Opening Tips
We’ve covered most of your bases for building your salon, now it’s time to open it! It’s a great idea to have some fanfare when you initially open to get the attention of the community and let potential new clients you’re here. You get the opportunity to show off everything you’ve worked so hard to create and start your new life as a salon owner, and that’s cause for celebration.
Media. Reach out to the local news or your local Facebook groups to let everyone know you’re here and ready for business! It’s free to spread the word, let as many people know as you can think of that you’re the proud owner of a brand-new salon.
Gifts! Enticing people to stop by with gifts and promotional coupons can get business flowing and people interested. Who doesn’t like free stuff? You can include samples of shampoos and conditioners (especially ones you’re selling in retail!), nail polish, and hair ties. Think of the clients you want to bring in and buy accordingly. A good budget would be around $200.
- Refreshments. Charcuterie boards, lemon water, coffee, and anything simple will work well. Wine should be at your discretion, as that may turn some people off. A budget of around $100 - $300 would be reasonable for this.
Ways to Cut Costs When Opening a Hair Salon
Now that we’ve gone over what to budget for your hair salon, here are some tips to save some money. Opening and running any business can be tough financially, so the more money you can save the better.
Buy Used. Buying used items in good condition is a great way to cut costs. You can save hundreds of dollars buying pre-owned items from wholesalers or other salons. Keep an eye out on websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
Negotiate. If you’re looking to rent a space, you can negotiate your lease terms! Consider spending a few hundred dollars to hire someone to help you negotiate your rent, it will save you thousands in the long run.
- Efficiency. Not only is learning how to save water and electricity good for the environment, but it’s also good for your wallet! You can change showerheads to water-efficient ones, or see if you’re able to recycle water waste for your toilets. Being on top of your plumbing and general maintenance keeps everything working the way it’s supposed to for the long haul too.
Is Owning a Hair Salon Profitable?
This is the big question – is it worth it to go through all this trouble? Owning a salon is no joke, it takes guts to put your money up and start a business.
Profit Margins. After all is said and done, hair salons make around an 8% profit margin on average. With great management skills, you could make it up to 11 - 12%! The hair industry is on the rise right now with more and more people going to the salon, so this could increase naturally over time.
- Pay. We haven’t talked about how much money you would be making yet. The national average is somewhere around $55,000 to $70,000 annually, but don’t let that number limit you. Some owners take home around six figures each year! It’s dependent on your location, experience, and clientele. Don’t expect to make that much in your first year of opening.
Roles and Responsibilities in a Salon
Every job has tons of working parts. Different skill sets come together to form a big machine, and every role is important to keep things moving. Knowing what everyone’s role is and how that affects the company you work for gives you a deeper appreciation for your job as a result. In the context of a salon, everyone from the salon manager to the receptionist brings something to the table. All the work we collectively do in the beauty industry is relevant and helps others feel and look their best.
Being the CEO of a salon can be tough in its own way. When you have that much responsibility it can definitely get stressful. You’re the head of the company after all, and that’s a big set of shoes to fill. An entire business is resting on your shoulders. Time management, work/life balance, communication, and decision-making skills all come together to fill this role. Being a CEO can be both exhilarating and difficult to manage, but at the end of the day, you do get to be your own boss.
Responsibilities of a Salon CEO
The Face of the Company. When you’re the CEO of a company, you represent how the general public and your employees will view every single aspect of the business. It’s your job to have clear business goals, a mission statement, and make sure everyone knows how you expect the business to be run. You’ll also be interfacing with the public with local events and putting together advertising campaigns. You’re the highest-ranking person at this establishment, so you gotta act like it!
Quality Assurance. While you’re still taking clients and doing services as most salon owners and CEOs do, you’ll want to check in on how things are running in your salon. Do sinks or bathrooms need repair? Is your air conditioning not working properly? How are your Yelp and Google reviews looking? All these little things are up to you to get fixed, whether it be physical repairs or customer service issues.
Hiring and Firing. Having a good talent pool while also picking people to hire that suit your salon’s needs takes finesse. You don’t want to hire someone who specializes in fashion colors when the majority of your clientele aren’t interested in having rainbow hair. You’ll be responsible for honing this skill and learning from past mistakes. On the same note, learning when it’s time to let an employee go is important too. You’ll be in charge of identifying consistent issues with an employee and learning how to try and remedy all types of situations. Even if you end up giving this job to someone else, you’ll still be responsible for overseeing how these hirings and firings should be going.
- Finances. When we hear “taking care of business,” many of us think of finances. The money aspects of the salon you work for will be your biggest responsibility. Taking inventory, connecting with wholesalers, making sure the lights are on and creating budgets are just a few of the fiscal responsibilities you’ll have to get good at to be a salon CEO. Without you, the business can’t run. The entire point of the salon is to make money after all!
Main Roles and their Responsibilities in the Salon
It’s not to say every other person working at a salon doesn’t have their own responsibilities, however. No one job is perfectly easy.
1. Salon Receptionist Role and Responsibilities
Salon receptionists are the first people we see when we walk into a salon. We want someone who’s friendly, helpful, and professional to greet clients. A salon receptionist can:
- Manage scheduling by checking clients in as they arrive, booking clients over the phone, completing sales at the end of a service, and scheduling additional services for clients.
- Keep retail and refreshments stocked as well as keep the front clean.
- Upsell clients on retail and educate them on products being sold, or upsell on different services.
2. Salon Assistant Role and Responsibilities
Salon assistants are usually new graduates looking for more salon experience. Salon assistants can be a great asset to your business because you don’t have to deal with bad salon habits and can teach them how you do things. A salon assistant will usually:
- Help with color formulation, blow-drying, shampooing, and any prep needed for a client’s service.
- Help with overall cleaning tasks like sweeping the floor or wiping the windows.
- Be doing tasks that help out other stylists and clients to make them feel more comfortable.
3. Shampoo Technician Role and Responsibilities
Shampoo techs are similar to salon assistants, but the focus is mainly on shampooing as the name suggests. A good shampoo tech will:
- Shampoo, rinse, and condition clients’ hair thoroughly.
- Give clients a little scalp massage and make the act of shampooing a relaxing one. (It’s hard to find people who don’t enjoy getting their hair washed and the scalp massage is a huge part of that!)
- Keep the shampoo area clean and stocked with clean towels and products.
4. Colorist Role and Responsibilities
Colorists specialize in all things hair color. Color is one of the most popular salon services, so it’s good to have experts in hair color at your salon. This job can also include any type of chemical treatment for your hair, such as keratine treatments or perms. A colorist will generally know how to:
- Mix and create formulas based on the client’s hair integrity, hair type, history of color, and current color.
- Apply well-blended highlights, lowlights, balayage, etc. that flow well with the client’s hair.
- Sometimes do a color correction. This is a difficult and expensive service for people who have a lot going on with their hair color and it can take years to become an expert.
- Educate clients about their hair, what color would work for them, products they should use to maintain their hair, and generally be a teacher for clients when it comes to their color and hair type.
- Sometimes apply chemical treatments like perms, relaxers, keratin treatments, hair gloss, etc.
5. Hairstylist Role and Responsibilities
A hairstylist is usually the full package. They often take on the role of colorist on top of their normal hairstylist duties. This is the central role of any hair salon and hairstylists usually wear many hats. Regular hairstylist duties include:
- Doing haircuts for people of all hair textures and style needs.
- Sometimes doing a colorist role with hair color, toners, and more.
- Blow-drying, styling, and up-dos.
- Building relationships with and following up with clients to gain a base of clientele.
- Keeping things clean around their station by sweeping hair, sanitizing tools, etc.
6. Salon Management Role and Responsibilities
Salon managers can be hired to help busier salons with many of the responsibilities a salon owner or CEO might have. It’s all dependent on the type of salon. Some things a salon manager might handle could look like:
- Handling licensing, permits, inspections, inventory, finances, and any of the back-end parts of running a salon.
- Reaching out to clients who’ve had negative experiences and focusing on how to get client satisfaction higher.
- Overseeing productivity and cleanliness is up to standard
- Hiring/firing employees as well as conducting training and orientation for new hires.
Other Roles and Responsibilities
Salons offer a variety of services, it’s not always just hair. Adding additional services to your salon can bring in new clients, and can give you an opportunity to upsell on other services to your established clients as well.
Makeup artists appeal to people looking for makeup for special events or people who want to learn more about makeup application techniques. Makeup artists can also coordinate with stylists to complete a look for weddings or other special events. A makeup artist will usually be:
- Applying or airbrushing makeup on clients with knowledge of skin tone, skin type, and how makeup will last throughout the day.
- Educating clients on the products they’re using and how to apply similar products to achieve a look.
- Consulting and working with clients to achieve the look they want
- Sanitizing and cleaning tools, and using good sanitary practices for makeup to avoid contamination.
A massage therapist, or a masseuse, is a popular spa treatment you can provide at your salon. Massage therapists can provide deep relaxation for clients, and this service can be appealing for people who want to have a day to relax and unwind. A typical day for a massage therapist would include:
- Utilizing extensive knowledge of the body to promote pain relief, circulation, and relaxation on different parts of the body. This can include hands and feet and involves different types of oils and creams.
- Educating clients on different techniques to stretch muscles with extra tension. Some massage therapists do acupressure and can give clients particular spots to work on for headaches and stress.
- Creating a calm, relaxing atmosphere and maintaining a clean and sanitary workspace.
Estheticians, or skincare specialists, are another great asset to your team if you’re looking to relax your clients. An esthetician will most likely:
- Provide facials and massages based on the client's concerns such as dry skin, wrinkles. Etc.
- Perform various types of waxing services such as eyebrows, legs, chin, and Brazilians.
- Educate clients on what they can do to address their skin concerns outside of the services provided
- Offer services like lash extensions or microblading. This is fairly new and popular.
- Focus on a clean environment with properly sanitized equipment.
Barbers usually focus on providing masculine services and haircuts and specialize in facial hair care. Barbers usually:
- Provide men’s haircuts, beard grooming and trimming, and basic styling services.
- Educate men on how to properly care for their facial hair and how to style their hair.
- Give professional shaves and sometimes provide waxing services for the face.
- Pay attention to the cleanliness of their workstation and sanitation of their tools.
Nail techs are another popular service. Getting your nails done appeals to a wide variety of people, whether it be for aesthetic reasons or for nail health. Nail technicians come at a variety of skill levels with many different techniques, but nail techs can:
- Give manicures and pedicures, which can include hand or foot massages and treatments.
- Apply nail polish or acrylic nails in a variety of different colors and designs according to the client’s wishes.
- Identify nail health concerns and make proper suggestions on how to address them.
- Keep their workstation very clean and sanitized to prevent fungi or bacteria from affecting someone’s nails.
Hierarchy of Salons
Overall, the power structures at play in salons are similar to any other job. The owners, CEO, and managers are at the top, and so on. This is why having a clear idea of your salon’s mission statement is so important – it sets the tone for how every single part of your salon will run. You can also interpret this hierarchy in terms of experience, as owners and managers usually have more experience than stylists do, stylists have more than assistants do, etc. Everyone’s job is important however, no one should feel like they don’t belong at their job or are less than for not being a seasoned stylist yet. Let people’s true potential shine through and you’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes!
Hair Salon Management Tips
Opening your own salon is a big step in your career. You’ve made it to the point where you get to be your own boss! Now the question is, how do you best manage your salon? In this guide, we’re going to outline some tips to help you run things smoothly.
How to Manage a Hair Salon
There are so many fun and amazing experiences that come with working at a salon. You have the privilege of making lifelong friends and having unique experiences people dream of! However, the easiest way to ruin a good time is by forgetting the essential tasks you have to cover as a salon owner. It’s best to get into the habit of doing these things early on so you never have to worry about handling your business.
- Budgeting. Coming up with a comprehensive budget is key to keeping things running smoothly at a salon. Take time to calculate everything you have to spend money on and keep it on record. This would be a great opportunity to look into budgeting software if you haven’t already.
- Communication. Getting to know your team is essential to having a harmonious salon. Making time to have group meetings and one-on-ones helps you get an idea of how to set up your staff for success. Doing this helps your stylists get to know you better too! Encouraging feedback will help your business flourish and make not just your employees happy, but your clients happy as well.
- Branding. Focus on your target clientele, envision what your dream salon looks like. It can be easy to forget what got you excited about opening a salon in the first place after the initial drama of opening your own business. Take time to assess whether or not you’re welcoming in the clients you’d be best suited for, and don’t be afraid to ask clients what you could do differently.
Don’t forget to check in on your routine regularly, there’s always room to learn more and change. As a stylist yourself, you know the importance of staying knowledgeable and learning from mistakes!
How to Manage Multiple Hair Stylists at a Salon
Your team is the backbone of your salon, and without them, you’d be very busy and on your own! Keeping up with multiple people can be challenging though, so it’s a good idea to keep in mind some of these basic tips.
- Be clear! As we’ve already emphasized, open and clear communication is key. Make sure you have an open line in case anyone has any questions or concerns. Forming a group chat through text or a team messaging app like Slack can streamline this process.
Organization. Get a website that has a comprehensive scheduling service. Clients will be able to go to your website and simply select the stylist they want to book. You can even have a calendar appear that shows availability in time slots! It’s a really great investment for your business.
- Relationships. Knowing your stylists helps you gain new long-term clients. If you have a stylist that’s amazing with color correction but they’re new to the area, you can help direct new clients in their direction. Paying close attention to and remembering your stylists’ strengths will only play to your advantage.
In no time, it’ll become second nature to keep up with appearances. Your team will feel supported and so will you.
Common Hair Salon Management Issues
Not everything can be perfect. It’s all part of the fun, right? Learning to run a business can be a humbling experience at the end of the day. Luckily you’re not alone, there are some common mistakes and problems every salon owner faces.
Favoritism. A great way to get your team to lose trust in you is by treating stylists unequally. Do you let other stylists leave with messy stations or bend the rules with dress code while others don’t? You’ll start to notice workplace politics getting worse when you do this. Try to make sure you’re being as unbiased as possible, you don’t want to be known as a salon that has a lot of gossip. How you handle coworker relations will set the tone for how the rest of the salon is running and the happiness of your staff.
- Rude customers. This is a classic problem anyone who’s been a stylist has had to deal with at some point. Everyone has a bad day, but let’s say you have a client that’s having a particularly awful one. In any instance, if someone is being physically combative or making others feel unsafe, you should always tell them to leave. If someone is just plain rude though, you have to maintain a balance between professionalism and standing up for your stylists. Especially if you’re a commission-based hair salon, you’ll want to try to wait to refuse service unless absolutely necessary. You can read more about how to handle problem customers by clicking the link to this article ( ) that expands on salon management issues and how to overcome them.
Hair Salon Management Duties List
- Positive attitude: Check your life drama at the door so you can focus on doing your best for the day.
- Check phone and emails: Dedicate a few times each day to check for inquiries or new bookings and respond to any messages or calls.
- Social media: The more engagement you do, the more you’ll get in return! Try to make one post a day, whether it be reposting clients’ hair or making a fun post about your stylists.
- Inventory: Keep on top of stock daily and make orders as needed.
- Bookkeeping: Log all money in and out for each day in your spreadsheets or budgeting software.
- Communicate: Be on top of any announcements you need to make and take time to reach out to stylists if you need to, don’t be afraid to give a daily shout-out to hard workers!
- Housekeeping: Check around your salon regularly for any messes leftover or safety hazards. Make sure things get taken care of quickly to avoid bigger problems later.
- Turn off: Don’t overwork yourself! You have to dedicate time to rest every day or you’ll burn out.
Hair Salon Management Issues and Problems
Being your own boss has its’ perks! Everything in the salon you’ve built is your responsibility now, and this includes anyone coming in or out of your salon doors. You have to properly manage the people around you to help them succeed and to make a profit. The longer you’re in this new role of salon management, the easier learning and balance becomes. Making mistakes is how we learn, but a few tips never hurt.
Management Issues in Hair Salons
Problems will inevitably arise when you’re managing a business, especially when other people are involved. Managing a salon means learning new social skills.
Doing too much. Nobody likes to be micromanaged. Being a helicopter and constantly breathing down your stylists’ necks can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress. It’s understandable to be protective of the brand you’ve created, but it’s important to show your stylists that you trust them enough to represent you well. You hired them after all!
Doing too little. On the other hand, being completely hands-off can make your stylists and even your clients feel left in the dark. If problems arise that need your attention, it can make people feel like they’re on their own. Try to make an effort to have steady, regular communication. Group chats or messaging apps like Slack are great for this!
- Not being assertive. Sometimes it’s tough making decisions, whether it be parting ways with a problematic client or helping stylists who aren’t getting along. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or come off as bossy, right? Being stern sometimes is a great way to set healthy boundaries and people will respect you for it. Softness leads people to mistrust you, and sometimes even take advantage of you.
Operating Issues in Hair Salons
Aside from social responsibility, there are a few operating responsibilities that you should stay on top of to be a good manager.
Poor budgeting. Budgeting is essential to running a business. Not staying on top of your budget and letting things get behind like stock or bills looks bad on the entire salon. Keeping a spreadsheet or using budgeting software can help you keep track of all money that goes in and out of the salon.
- Lack of maintenance. Things will eventually need fixing, but putting it off will cost you in the long run. It can be frustrating when things break or need to be replaced. Waiting to get things like leaky pipes fixed can cost you hundreds on your water bill and it’ll reflect poorly on how you run your business.
Problems Salon Owners Will Run Into Related to Customers
Clients are what run salons, but sometimes they cause more harm than good. Everyone has bad days, but how far should you expect to go with your kindness?
Rudeness. It’s easy to want to match a customer’s energy when they’ve done something rude to you, but it’s good practice to be polite anyway. At that moment, you want to represent your company first. You never have to take abuse from a client, but it’s a great idea to remain as polite and accommodating as possible. Being the bigger person shows anyone who looks at your salon that you value being respectful towards everyone.
Boundaries. Clients usually mean well but dealing with an overbearing client can make work difficult for stylists and can sometimes make other clients uncomfortable. It’s important to stick up for your stylists when they’re saying they don’t like something. This could be something like a client commenting on a stylist’s disability, race, or appearance.
- Moving on. You are completely within your right to refuse service and ban people for big offenses, such as violence. What if a client just isn’t working out? Don’t forget, it’s okay to take notice when a regular client is consistently unhappy appointment after appointment and let them go. You can plainly tell them you think they’d be happier at a different salon. In the long run, it’ll be a lot less stress for both you and the client to move on like this.
Other Hair Salon Problems and Issues
Salon drama. Cliques can sometimes form in social groups and gossip happens. It’s important to keep a close eye on this type of behavior and not get involved, even if you’re friends with some of your stylists. Being biased can cause a toxic work environment, leaving stylists feeling on edge, or getting a little too comfortable with you. You’ll quickly create a reputation for being “that” salon, making your salon uninviting to new stylists and could even make your clients wary of booking with you. How you carry yourself will set the tone for how your salon operates.
Misconduct. Things like sexual harassment and violence should always have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone that walks through your doors. Getting intoxicated on the job is also inappropriate. The last thing any salon owner would want is the reputation of having a salon that allows this kind of behavior. Make sure you have a clear list of what is and is not acceptable for your salon so there’s no confusion whatsoever.
- Ending on bad terms. Having to let a stylist go or moving on from a client can be difficult to navigate when emotions are high. Always try to end things on good terms. Even if the situation makes you angry, making the effort to put your feelings aside and acting respectfully leaves a mark. Everything you do represents your business!
Hair Salon Policies to Know
Managing your own salon leaves you with a lot of new responsibilities! It can be overwhelming to know where to begin, so we’ve got some tips for you to come up with policies that suit everyone’s needs. You’ll be able to set yourself up to succeed easily by coming up with rules that cover as much of your workload as possible, as well as everyone else’s.
The Importance of Hair Salon Policies
Policies are broad rules that act as a foundation for how you’d like your salon to be run. Everything feels a lot more organized and decision-making becomes easier when you’ve set out expectations. Think of a time you’ve been in a situation where policies were vague or non-existent. Most of the time, these situations feel chaotic and decision-making feels impossible. We’ll outline some tips that’ll help you rarely have to deal with those situations again.
Hair Salon Policies for Employees
You’ve spent a good amount of time carefully selecting stylists to come work for you, and you appreciate all the hard work they put in. Building those relationships is important, but you’ve started to notice some stylists are coming in late or getting a little too comfortable with what they do around clients. It might be time to reassess your salon rules, as clients notice this and will remember the next time they go to book an appointment with your salon. Here’s a list of some common policies that’ll help you keep everyone on the same page.
Show Up On Time. It’s one of the most important rules you can have at any job. Clients plan their day around the time that’s been blocked out for them. Wasting their time could result in bad reviews or going with another salon instead of yours.
Dress Appropriately. Aside from representing your brand, wearing clothing that’s too revealing can make clients uncomfortable. Things like open-toed shoes can be a safety issue as well.
Cleanliness. Cleaning up after ourselves shows we respect other stylists’ time and the people around us.
- Professionalism. Gossip is normal, but consistently making clients and other stylists uncomfortable with all the juicy details of a string of hot date nights or drama with another stylist is unprofessional. Workplace politics happen, it’s a good idea to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.
Another good tip is to consider setting up a strike system. We all make mistakes, and it’ll make employees more comfortable around you if they know you’ll hear them out. Use your discretion, there’s a big difference between being 15 minutes late because of traffic or 2 hours late because of a hangover. Consider what you think of as a “no tolerance policy”.
Hair Salon Policies for Customers
On the flip side of things, policies on the client end are vital because it sets the tone for how your stylists should be treated. Stylists are dedicating their time and expertise, they deserve the same level of respect. Being clear about your policies tells clients what to expect of their stylists, and it tells stylists you respect them. Here are some examples of policies for clients.
Cancellations. Life happens, and sometimes you can’t show up to your hair appointment on the day you scheduled. Setting up a timeframe to cancel without a fee gives stylists time to reschedule and fill that time slot. Having a card on file for no-shows and setting a no-show fee helps stylists so they don’t lose money.
Lateness. How late can a client be before their appointment is canceled? When a stylist has multiple appointments a day, being 30 minutes late can mean other scheduled clients will suffer. Sometimes it’s not worth it to make it work for one client.
- Rudeness. Just like the expectation that stylists should be professional, clients should have respect for their stylists. No one should be forced to feel uncomfortable at their job because of a client! Angry outbursts or anything that makes anyone feel unsafe should never be tolerated.
At the end of the day, we’re dealing with people. Not everyone is going to be a good fit for your salon. You’re showing your stylists you value them by putting rules in place that protect them. You can even employ a strike system for clients too, don’t be afraid to tell that consistently mean and unhappy client that you feel they might be a better fit at a different salon. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and that’s okay!
Hair Salon Policies for Daily Operations
Routine is important for any harmonious workplace. Daily operations help keep a tight ship and give everyone a sense of responsibility.
Sanitation. Everyone should be pitching in to complete cleaning duties each day, whether it be cleaning the toilets or watering your plants! This includes making sure everyone is on top of the sanitation procedures required by law to keep everyone’s health and safety in check.
Environment. It’s never a bad idea to have some fresh coffee or lemon water on hand to make clients feel at home. Take time every day to spruce things up with seasonal decor, music, or the latest magazines.
Scheduling. Checking in to make sure everything is scheduled correctly is important, even if you’re using a website to do that for you. Being on top of scheduling should include announcing far in advance any special hours you’ll have, whether it be for meetings or holidays.
- Oversight. As a salon manager, you should try to take any opportunity to see how your clients and stylists are doing and watch how the salon runs. You’ll learn a lot just by observing and it helps people feel like you’re present and available if needed.
There are a lot of moving parts that go into running a salon, and having a daily list of policies ready keeps everyone on track. When you break it down into small tasks it becomes a lot easier to get things done. You’ll have a lot more space to relax and truly enjoy your craft without having to worry about the details.
Salon Budget Template
Nobody has ever said they regret being organized! Running a business can feel chaotic and when you start wondering where all your money is going it starts to become a huge problem. Setting up a budget template for your salon will help you get easy-to-read insight on all the money going in and out of your salon. It can help you reallocate funds during an emergency, make small changes to increase profit margins, and help you make any business decisions you need in a knowledgeable way with little to no guesswork.
What is a Salon Budget Template?
A budget template is used to create an itemized list of every expense happening at your business and how much money is coming in. It should reflect any monetary transaction that occurs, whether it be payroll, rent, coupons, promotions, or comps if applicable.
How to Create a Budget for Your Hair Salon
To budget, you’ll want to make sure you keep records of any money moving around your business.
Revenue Model. Creating a revenue model gives you a generalized idea of what should be expected in terms of making money. You should carefully think about the needs of your clients, prices for your services, what percentage is taken out for credit card transactions, and any of the who’s what’s or why’s. What services are people getting the most often? What are your busiest days? Research how to make a revenue model and give yourself a good sense of how your business should be operating.
Spreadsheets. it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with spreadsheets. If you’ve never used a spreadsheet before, now is a great time to learn! Google Sheets is free if you have a Gmail account and there are plenty of completely free sources for spreadsheets. This is the smartest way people budget at no cost, as it does the math for you in a template so you only ever have to enter your numbers. You can even download free premade spreadsheets for budgeting.
- Budgeting Software. If doing it yourself feels overwhelming or if you find yourself swamped in information, budgeting software can help you create reliable budgets without worrying about whether or not you’ve done your spreadsheet right. This is perfect for people who don’t feel completely comfortable with using spreadsheets on their own. With some software, you can also create visual data such as pie charts and bar graphs to have different representations of your expenses and budget.
How Much do Hair Salons Spend on Products?
So what’s a normal amount to spend on chemicals and hair products each month? Of course, this is dependent on the type of salon! Salons that specialize in fashion color will obviously spend more on bleach and color than a salon that does basic services. Bulk lift cream, developer, color, shampoo, conditioner, toner, and more tends to add up to around $3,000 a month and up. There’s no cookie-cutter answer to this question though, as every salon is different.
What is Typically the Largest Expense in Running a Salon?
Depending on the salon, the biggest expense is payroll! Paying your stylists will be around half of what your monthly expenses end up being, the next being things like utilities and rent. Don’t ever try to cut corners with things like payroll though, if you’re looking to save money consider hiring less stylists to start.
Understanding Numbers in Your Salon Budget
You should have 3 main parts to your budget.
Your expenses will be a description of any and all spending that happened that month, including recurring things like rent and utilities. This can also include any amount of money that was taken off from promotions or comps.
Your income will be any money you made at all. If you’re a salon that does chair rentals, this counts in your income section.
- A summary should be the difference between your income and your expenses, and this will represent your net profit. It’s taking your income and subtracting your expenses from it.
When you create your revenue model, you should also include your projected expenses and income. Comparing your projections to your actual income and expenses can help you adjust your projections and predictability over time, or it can highlight any issues you might be having with your profits.
What are Warning Signs in Your Salon Budget
Bad Debt. Some debt is normal for any business. Bad debt usually comes in the form of loans taken out with high interest rates, or unnecessary debt that you can’t afford. Be careful to avoid incurring debt that does you more harm than good!
Excess Spending. Wanting to be prepared is great, but overspending can cause you big issues in the long run for your profits. Do you need all the latest and greatest things or should you spend a little less to make sure you have the money to spend on supplies next month? If you’re not careful, big spending now will cause you to have to cut corners when it’s time to restock inventory.
- Lost Money. If you’ve done your math right and the numbers still aren’t adding up, it’s time to check for holes in your budget. If you have a company card, look to see if there’s been a series of large coffee runs or unknown purchases. Money doesn’t just disappear, and if it happens once it’ll likely happen again if you don’t investigate it.
Most Popular Salon Services
While you’re planning to build out your salon, it’s a good idea to consider a balance between things you want to do and things that other people want to get done. You have the opportunity to cultivate a wide variety of talent around you while offering options that your community will love!
How to Decide What Services to Provide At Your Hair Salon
Deciding what services to provide at your salon is entirely up to you. Having popular options benefits your salon if you can do them well, and having options that aren’t offered as much in your community gives you a unique variety of services that can get you clients for life.
Colors, Cuts, and Chemical Treatments. This is what the average person usually thinks of when they’re considering going to a salon. Looking at your talent pool as far as stylists go can help you determine if you want to specialize in things like fashion colors, alternative cuts, or perms, and it’s always important to make sure your stylists can work on a variety of hair.
Braids, Styling, and More. This can be anything from updos for weddings to protective styles and more. Sometimes people prefer to spruce up the hair they already have or are trying to grow their hair out.
- Additional Services. Other than hair, it’s becoming increasingly popular to provide other services at salons such as lash extensions and microblading. You could become a one-stop-shop for people to get beauty services, and it would be a good excuse to upsell as well. Just make sure your stylists are properly trained for these types of services before providing them.
Most Popular Salon Services
Whether it be trendy or classic, these are some of the services that are the most sought after by clients. If you can get them done well, you’ll have clients coming back for a long time.
Colors. Whether it be fashion colors, color correcting, platinum cards, or just a simple all-over color, nothing feels better than refreshing your look with a new color! Clients want knowledgeable and realistic stylists that can get them to a new color they’ll love.
Haircuts. Most people prefer to have regular haircuts, so having an arsenal of stylists who can do a variety of hair types, as well as trendy styles, will give you a wider net to bring in return clients.
Protective Styles and Silk Presses. While the demand for these services are high, they can often be hard to come by in certain communities. Providing these services to your curly and coily clients will empower them to have more options to keep their hair healthy and feel good about themselves!
Extensions and Wig Installs. Sometimes we don’t want to wait for our hair to grow out, or maybe we have thinning hair. Having knowledgeable stylists who are up to date on the best ways to install extensions or wigs can be an essential part of your business. In some cases, it can even help change lives for people who have lost their hair due to illness.
- Lashes, Wax, and More. Basic waxing services for eyebrows and facial hair have been popular services for decades now. Lash extensions, lash lifts, eyebrow laminating, and microblading are just a few of the new popular services to get! If you have the space, being a multi-functional salon could be to your benefit.
Most Expensive Salon Services
Clients should expect in some cases to shell out the big bucks for specific services that require a lot of time, skill, and supplies. It’s well earned, your expertise as a stylist is put to the test in these situations!
Extensions. The process of installing extensions can cost thousands, color matching and blending takes time and an expert eye. Hours can be spent installing individual bundles to get a perfectly blended look. Human hair will make up a good majority of the cost as well, as human hair is expensive.
- Color Corrections and Blondes. Color corrections can get to be $100/hr or more and multiple sessions at some salons depending on the state of the hair! It takes hours, lots of product, and a lot of accuracy to get a client’s hair in good shape with a consistent color. Additionally, people going blonde can have a similar experience, everyone wants to try out being a blonde bombshell at least once! Depending on the client, it can take several bowls of lightener and several sessions over time to get the desired result.
Salon Services with the Best Profit Margins
Haircuts. Cutting someone’s hair takes little product at all, and usually less than an hour. The time spent means there’s barely any monetary loss.
- Styling. Similarly, styling updos and basic blowouts take so few products compared to color or chemical treatments that it’ll cost you a small amount to do them.
Where to Buy Hair Salon Products
As a client, we have no problems finding places to buy all the hair care supplies we could dream of. It can be overwhelming sometimes with the number of products available to us and wholesale for your salon is no exception. Learning how to source products your clients will love and your stylists will love using will be a piece of cake after learning these tips.
Understanding Products You Need for Your Hair Salon
You’re probably already familiar with most of these, but it’s easy to forget a couple things when you’re working on opening your own salon.
Shampoos and Conditioners. You’ll want shampoos and conditioners that cater to a wide variety of hair types, levels of damage, and more. If you do a lot of fashion color, tinted shampoos and conditioners are great as well.
Styling products. Showing clients how to do their hair feels counter-intuitive when you can’t let them buy the products you just used on them. You’ll miss out on sales that way, so consult with your stylists to see what everyone is using.
Toners, Developer, and Bleach. Two of the most popular services people look for at a salon are color corrections and going blonde! It’s always a great idea to stay up to date on the latest techniques, as new formulas are always coming out. Lunica Beauty offers hands-on classes showcasing how to use some of our retail items! You can contact us at email@example.com for more info.
- Makeup and More. Whatever else you specialize in, its always a good idea to research your tools. From microblading to facials and makeup, choosing cheap products will never pay off.
Where Do Salons Get Their Products From?
When you start a business, you’ll have to research wholesale companies to decide where you’d like to get your product from. You can source from multiple areas, and unlike buying things as a normal consumer, you can negotiate prices. A big part of getting the best deals has to do with building relationships with your wholesale accounts. You don’t have to go with cheap product just to save money.
How to Find a Place to Buy Hair Salon Products
Depending on your area, you can often find local salon retailers near you! Buying local and putting money back into your community is a great option that can turn into a mutually beneficial relationship. You also have the option of looking for places online. Remember, you don’t have to have one source for all your needs.
Quality vs Quantity. Once you’ve found a wholesaler that you want to place an order with, it’s a good idea to ask for a sample of some of the products they have. This is especially useful for things you’ve never tried before. You’ll want to look out for things like damaged boxes and product past expiration dates as well. Cutting corners with quality always comes at a cost.
Building Relationships. Instead of just committing to a transaction, go out of your way to call and email your wholesaler. Introduce yourself as a new salon owner and have them guide you through the process of buying from them. They’ll remember that you’re friendly and enjoyable to work with.
milk_shake is a brand specializing in shampoos and conditioners, ranging from daily use products for people who need that extra boost of clean everyday to leave in conditioning sprays that’ll leave your hair silky smooth. milk_shake products come in eco-friendly biodegradable bottles and uses natural products to bring out the best in all hair types.
Babe Hair Extensions is a brand providing ethically sourced human hair extensions in a variety of application styles, colors, and lengths up to 24 inches! Babe Hair Extensions also provides free installation classes and a variety of certification programs. There’s nothing better than having a client leave with beautiful, long, perfectly blended hair!
- Lilash is a brand for anyone looking to have long, lucious lashes or enhanced eyebrow growth. Lilash provides a collection of serums and mascaras that naturally boost the length, thickness, and overall look of your lashes and eyebrows. Formulated by physicians, you can see results in as little as 30 days!
Salon Booking Software
Computers have made many aspects of our lives much easier, from how we use phones, to how we shop, to how we run a business. Nearly every industry you can think of benefits from some form of new technology invented to streamline any number of tasks. In our case, this is software specially designed for salons! Booking software can help you, customers and stylists cooperate and communicate much easier than before.
What is Salon Booking Software?
Salon booking software is software specifically designed to help clients book appointments and to help stylists and salon owners keep track of their schedules. Depending on the software, you can select a type of service, choose a time slot from a calendar, pay a deposit for a scheduled appointment, and more! Some of this software even comes at no cost at all, and others are bundled with salon management software.
Management Software vs Booking Software
While the two types of software often come bundled together, management software and booking software are a little different. Knowing the differences can save you from headaches later on and prevent you from overpaying for services you might not need.
Booking Software. Booking software mostly centers around appointment making and scheduling. If you just want help with keeping your schedule organized and giving clients the ability to book whenever they want, this is an excellent option for you.
- Management Software. Management software tends to be more all-inclusive for your business. You can have payroll, inventory, budget reports, and more when you go with management software. This can also cost more, usually per month in a subscription. This is a great choice if you’re looking for all-in-one software.
How Much Does Salon Booking Software Cost?
Depending on your needs and the size of your business, booking software can be anywhere from $0 to $100 or more per month. Simple booking software with few features can be free while booking software bundled with management software tends to get more expensive. Don’t be afraid to shop around to see what’s best for you and your business!
The Benefits of Salon Booking Software
Especially if you’re paying for booking software, it may feel a little silly to spend money on something that feels as simple to do as booking. When you’re running a salon, however, those little things really help make running your business a lot smoother.
For You. Having an easy-to-use visual representation of how your salon is running makes it simple to check any information you need at any given time. You can confidently check information when clients call in and move things around without having to worry about spreadsheets or stepping on toes. You can have clients on file and store notes about their services, formulas for hair color, and more!
For Customers. Clients will have 24/7 access to your online booking with an easy-to-use calendar that shows them what times are available for the services they want. You’ll never have to worry about double booking, clients can add notes, and specifying what type of service the client is looking for will block out different timeframes.
- For Stylists. Some software will allow clients to pay a deposit ahead of time for specific services and stylists can leave information on what to expect during an appointment. Other software can also send text reminders to clients so they don’t miss their appointments! Stylists will be able to book at any time, and you can easily add links to book on social media.
Salon Booking Software Examples
There are hundreds of types of booking software out there, so don’t be afraid to research what works best for you. What might work for one business won’t work for another, and the fact that there are so many kinds out there only works to your benefit.
Most Popular Salon Booking Software
Vagaro. (https://sales.vagaro.com/) Doubling as a website for consumers to search and review all types of salon and fitness businesses, Vagaro sells software via subscription to business owners for their booking and management software. For as little as $25/month depending on the size of your business, you can have access to almost everything you could think of to help you run your salon.
Salonist. (https://salonist.io/) Similar to Vagaro, Salonist doubles as a management software with plenty of features to make your life easier at around $29/month for their basic package. Salonist also offers an option that’ll host a small website for you!
- Flexbooker. (https://www.flexbooker.com/) If you’re looking for booking software and nothing else, Flexbooker is available starting at around $49/month. While it may have a higher price point, Flexbooker specializes exclusively in booking and scheduling. You can track everything you need from this software and try it completely free for 14 days before you commit to paying.
Free Hair Salon Booking Software
Fresha. (https://www.fresha.com/for-business) With unlimited bookings, clients, team members, and more, Fresha is a popular free booking software. Fresha is perfect for newer businesses and offers paid features to advertise on their website or send marketing emails.
Appointy. (https://www.appointy.com/) This software has tiers and starts at no cost to you! The downside of this software is they max you out at 100 appointments per month, however, Appointy boasts a high customer satisfaction rating and if you like the free version you can upgrade to their paid version for only $20/month.
- Setmore. (https://www.setmore.com/) Allow clients to book anytime and add your branding with Setmore. You get unlimited appointments and email reminders with a custom booking page under their free option, and if you need to have staff meetings you can make it easier through their video calling! If you like Setmore, you can upgrade your plan to handle additional users for $5/month per user.
How to Introduce Your Clients to Your Hair Salon Booking Software
Once you’ve decided on your software, how do you show your clients how to use it? You’ll want to make sure it’s accessible to everyone and not overly complicated.
Become a Pro. Pretend you’re a client and book some appointments! Get a feel for every aspect of what goes into using the booking software of your choice from a customer’s angle. Doing some big test runs will make you an expert so you can confidently guide clients on how to do it themselves.
- Word of Mouth. When clients come in, you can let them know you’re using a new booking system. You know how to upsell all that retail, use your upsell skills for your new booking software! Encourage stylists to spread the word about booking online and show them how to add links to book on their social media pages.
How to Grow Your Customer Base
When you open your new salon, it can be a challenge to get new clientele. Drawing in people who want to come back and give you their business is essential to a thriving salon. It’s not as hard as it seems, but patience is the key! We’re going to give you 4 tips on how to grow your customer base and get new people coming back consistently for your services.
Free Consultations and Add-On Services
Who doesn’t like free things? Just getting people in the door to see what you’re about is a great opportunity to show off what you’re capable of. A free consultation encourages people to come in, check out your salon and stylists and put the word out about your services. You can give people free add-ons as well, like a free shampoo or blow-out for your first haircut with you. Incentivizing people to give you a try creates a customer relationship that you can nurture and turn into a long-term one!
Discounts are great too based on how your salon pays your stylists, it’s always important to check with stylists about how discounts would work for them or if that’s something they’d be interested in doing. Always check in with your stylists, it builds a good relationship with them and makes for happier employees, which means happier customers too!
Specialize in Something Others Can’t Compete With
Look at the market around you, is there something missing? Being an expert in something is a great way to get reliable clients and become the talk of the town. It’s especially good if you’re the only one doing it! Whether it’s being an artist with fashion colors or a pro at color corrections, put yourself out there as the best choice in your area.
Offering services as an all-in-one package is another good idea too. Have you noticed a lack of legitimate lash technicians or microbladers in your area? Consider offering those types of services at your salon, it can encourage people to get more services done with you or get the interest of people looking for those services.
Referral Incentives and Bringing Your Friends
Incentivizing people to bring their friends or family for rewards is a great way to bring in new potential long-term clients. You can offer a discount, free haircut, gift cards, and pretty much whatever you want for referrals. Rewards programs for multiple visits or multiple referrals can get people to continue coming to you. This recruits your clients to go out and help you get more clients, and people are more likely to listen to their friends and family when it comes to suggestions.
When you start to get multiple clients that know each other, it creates a sense of community and your salon can become a hub for people. Getting to know your community this way is a fulfilling experience and an example of a successful salon! You’ll have clients for life.
Invest in Your Studio or Salon and Let Your Personality Shine Through!
Building out your salon to be a paradise for clients is good, but don’t lose who you are in the process. People are interested in investing in people these days, think about your core values and the things you love most about what you do. If you want to represent your culture or if you’re just a plant lover, make your space represent that! You’ll give people insight into who you really are and they’ll love you for it. This salon is yours, you can make it however you want.
This includes services and refreshments you offer as well. Have you ever thought about how nice it would be to have a glass of wine while you get pampered? Getting your hair done or having a spa day should be relaxing, you can put your own personal touches based on how you like to relax. Give people the option to have the experience of your dreams!