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Setting Up Shop – The Basics of Salon Ownership

If your dream is to open a hair salon, you’re in luck… the salon industry is growing. Since the most recent recession, the industry has rebounded and is expected to continue growing for several years.

While the timing might be right, you’ll still face a lot of competition, as there are nearly a million salons across the country. However, don’t let that number deflate your ambition…those salons are generating over $40 billion a year in sales.

If you’re committed to opening a salon, you’ll need more than determination to get started. Here are a few things you’ll want to do before you open your shop:

Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan

Business Plan
The point of a solid business plan is to figure out what your business is, how it will be successful, and how you’ll troubleshoot problems. If you need a little help getting started, here are some great resources for you including free business plan templates and business planning software called LivePlan that can get you on the right track.

Whether you’re borrowing money through a traditional bank loan or have teamed up with investors, you need to figure out how much money you need to get started, and where it will be coming from.

Find a Mentor
As you’re planning your business, it’s a great time to find a business mentor. It’s best to find someone in the salon industry that can answer questions for you as you start and grow your business.

To keep track of your money, inventory and project growth, you’ll want to implement an accounting and inventory program. On the accounting side, you’ll need a program to track your revenue and expenses. You’ll also need to figure out how you’ll pay Uncle Sam. You should sit down and chat with an accountant to help you get started.

The right location makes all of the difference in the world. You want to select a spot with good traffic and high visibility that is located where your target demographic shops or lives. Enlist a realtor for help or drive around and look for vacancies in areas you are considering.

Know the Area
Know the demographics, the local competitors, and think about how your customers will get to your salon. How is the parking situation? Is a construction project planned on your block? You want to know everything you can about the area before you select a place.

Step 2: Implement

With the planning stages complete, you’ll move on to details of actually opening your salon.

Design to Your Market
Before you start painting the walls and picking out furniture, make sure that your design matches the kind of clientele you want to attract.

If your customer base is the younger generation, go with fun, bold colors and furniture. For a higher-end vibe, go for a modern and sophisticated look. In other words, tailor your look to your intended client base.

Customer Service Standards
After you’ve created an environment that your clients will love, you have to follow through by offering excellent customer service, which will make them want to come back.

To be successful, you need clients. To attract clients, you need a marketing plan, so set aside a budget to promote your business. Without it, you’ll struggle.

Consider hosting an event like a ribbon cutting or a small charity event to attract more customers. For example, sponsor a school play or have the staff volunteer at a local baseball game. You want to get the word out about your salon, and getting involved in your community is a great way to do that.

Web Presence
Before you dive into a design for your website, take a look at the sites of your competitors and try to design something that sets your salon apart. Your site should be attractive, easy to navigate, and ideally include helpful information for your customers, such as hours, location, contact info, and pricing. If you have the money, hire a professional to create your site, but if you’re tight on cash, there are plenty of DIY website platforms to consider.

Get Social
Social media is an important component to your marketing plan. You can use as many platforms as you’d like, but make sure you post regularly and engage with your customers.

As an owner, you’ll need to select products to retail. Consider one to three lines that take care of all needs for your various clients. Don’t expect it to be a big moneymaker right up front, as you’ll need to buy inventory and it will take time to sell it, let alone you’ll need to reinvest in the next batch.

Now that the planning stages are over, new salon owner, it’s time to get to work….

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