How to Start a Salon

by Sean Ross

2 min read

A hairstyling salon can be a very profitable small business. Top salons such as the Figaro in Toronto or Moods in Vancouver regularly charge $50 to $100 for basic hairstyling.The hairstyling industry is very competitive. There are dozens of salons in any sizable city for customers to choose from, and salons tend to come and go, so starting one is a risky venture.If you can successfully establish your salon as a top-rated destination, it can be a very lucrative business. Your customers have regular need for your services. When people find a hairstylist they like, they tend to be extremely loyal and willing to pay premium prices for the services of a stylist they trust.Getting off to a solid start with a well-thought-out business plan makes a significant difference in the odds of your hairstyling business being a success.

Choosing Your Business Model

One fundamental choice to be made is the basic structure of your business. You can purchase a franchise operation, buy an existing salon, or start your own. Franchise or existing salons offer the advantage of existing name recognition, but starting your own operation affords you the opportunity to craft a unique brand image.There’s also a key decision to make in regard to staffing – having stylists who are independent contractors paying a monthly rental fee for space in your shop, or hiring employees who are paid salary and/or commission. The independent contractor model offers income security, but it also limits income. Having paid employees carries greater risk, but it also offers greater profit opportunity.The acquisition of space and equipment may require you to obtain significant financing. You should address that issue before you actually begin launching your business. The salon business entails a wide variety of expenses, so detailed budgeting is important.

Licencing and Certification

Licencing requirements vary throughout provinces and cities. At minimum, you need to obtain a business licence. Hairstyling is a professional trade covered by the Red Seal Program. Hairstylists who obtain Red Seal certification are certified nationwide. The Beauty Council also offers certification.Hairstylists generally build up their professional reputations by completing courses at industry schools such as the Sassoon Academy or the Aveda School of Haircutting and Colour. If your brand image is going to be an upscale salon, select stylists who have such credentials, and encourage them to pursue more.

Brand Identity

Establishing a loyal clientele requires a clear brand identity. You can aim for recognition as an upscale salon commanding premium prices – or as a discount salon offering low prices.Location is an important issue, such as how convenient your location is for your target customers. Customers expect a high-end salon to be located in luxurious office space downtown as opposed to being next door to a dollar discount store.If you’ve purchased an existing or franchise salon, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding your first customers. If your salon is new, you’ll need to craft a good advertising campaign to get people excited about your grand opening. Set up a website with profiles of your stylists and that offers customers the ability to set appointments online. Social media marketing can be critical in attracting new customers by, for example, offering discount coupons for first-time visitors.Keys to a successful salon include a clear business plan and careful budgeting, which will significantly boosts your chances of success.

References & Resources

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