How to Open Your Own Beauty Salon

For many independently-minded cosmetologists or estheticians, opening their own salon or spa is a long-held dream. It's easy to fantasize about freestanding shampoo bowls or automatic waxing tables and soothing music, but what are the real issues you have to face when starting your own salon?

Paperwork Comes Before Groundwork

A number of permits are required to open a salon in any state. Business establishment licenses, resale permits, and building plans must be obtained and approved. If you wish to build a salon from the inside out, the proper building or remodeling permits must be signed. Once the salon is ready for operation, all employees must be licensed to perform their duties (and an unlicensed receptionist, even if she is in beauty school, should never be allowed to shampoo a client).

Hiring, Firing, and Personnel Management

Many hairstylists are known for moving from salon to salon, subsisting on walk-ins and shampoo or blow dry duties. It's important to consider the structure of your salon. Will stylists rent their chairs and provide their own color and supplies? Or will the team work on a commission structure that benefits the salon as a whole? Each business plan yields different results and a different feel to the salon, so interview applicants carefully and visualize the team you want. And make sure to think carefully about your own duties as owner!

Salon Location and Design

The most important aspects of opening your own salon are location and clientele. These two factors can directly influence each other. What kind of neighborhood brings the best clientele? For hip and funky salons, an urban setting on a popular street with lots of foot traffic should bring in walk-ins. For salons with an already established clientele, a floor in an office or downtown building gives the impression of luxury, class, and privacy. Finally, consider your product line and retail area. The kind of products you plan to sell--price range, packaging, and product quality--will all be important to your clients.

The best way to make your own salon succeed is to offer the best possible customer service. Regardless of all of the other variables, a client wants to feel cared for, listened to, and respected. By treating every client the way you'd like to be treated, you can keep them coming back.

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