While sitting in the barber chair having my hair (what’s left of it) cut and styled, I had an epiphany. The next subject for the Clash blog would be about start up secrets to help you in opening your own hair salon or barber shop. After putting the word out, a successful young salon owner named Monica contacted me. Following is a Q & A session we had over a couple of acai bowls.
Describe Your Hair Salon Start Up Experience
“That’s a big question. It can actually be answered in four parts which led up to the grand opening of my salon. Inspiration, training, business plan, and courage were the principle factors leading to my successful salon opening and its longevity since.
Inspiration — As a child, mom and dad gave me a ton of stuffed animals and dolls. Armed with a pair of kiddy scissors, I went to work cutting and grooming all of the hair on all of them. As I grew older, it dawned on me that their “hair” never grew back (chuckling), but our hair never stops growing or changing. We will always have a need for barbers and stylists. That moment and realization was the turning point in my life. I knew my calling was in the beauty industry.
Training — For a barber or stylist, certification and experience are vital components to their careers. For the salon or shop owner, certification, experience, business administration, financial administration, marketing, and investing must all be accurately mastered and employed to secure and maintain a successful venture. These skills can be improved over time, but hiring and training the right people is a tremendous shortcut and advantage.
Business Plan — The guiding light of your vision is your business plan. As simple or complex as it may be, this plan is the blueprint of how your business will look and operate. Some of the necessary components of a business plan are a set of operational values and mission statement, acquiring proper training, skilled persons, a timeline targeting specific goals and deadlines, location scouting, pricing, furniture and supply cost, financing opportunities, filling key positions, and when to fill them. The core structure and outline of this plan can prevent the haphazard operation and failure that many proprietors face.
Courage — You cannot quantify the amount of courage, hard work, and persistence needed to start your own business. There are numerous “unknowns” that come with a start up, and your ability to remain committed and adapt to circumstances is crucial to your success. Meeting any and every challenge, with the ability to modify your plan accordingly will get you through the toughest of times.” Business IQ takes experience to learn, but success is attracted to fearless leaders that take bold action. If you need coaching or consulting, ask for help, but never ask for permission.”
How Did You Choose Your Salon Furniture and Equipment?
“The beauty industry is well populated with successful business models, as well as not-so-successful ones. When I was developing my business plan, I visited many salons and barber shops. I spoke with barbers, stylists, owners and customers to get first hand knowledge of what worked and what could be improved.
An interesting aspect of the salon vs. the barber shop became very evident. Most of the furniture, equipment and products were virtually the same. Decades ago, the setting of a barber shop was dramatically different from that of a salon. Now-a-days, the core structure is not very different, in fact, in many cases, they are nearly identical.
With my vision firmly laid out, I also scoured the internet looking for salon equipment suppliers and comparing their prices and financing opportunities. I broke the materials needed down into four segments; Salon equipment, salon furniture, hair products, and the reception area.
Salon Equipment — The selection of quality equipment, tools, and supplies is fundamental in creating an excellent work environment, leading to fantastic styling and customer experiences. Once you have decided on the brands, colors, quantities, and varieties, start shopping local and online stores for the best prices and terms. For example, salonca.com will offer or create a “package deal” offering discounts and special financing.
You really need to look at everything. Whether it’s brushes, combs, clippers, appliance holders, appointment books, towels, aprons, and hair dryers, be detailed in what you want, expect, and need from each piece of equipment.
Salon Furniture — The selection of salon furniture is another tremendous ingredient of the decision making process. The question here is “What theme/era are you planning for the salon?” Whether it be a contemporary, luxurious, goth, pastel, or posh theme, the quality and comfort of your furniture can set you apart from the competition.
The comfort of your salon chairs, barber chairs, cushions, styling stations, shampoo chairs and bowls will impact and can determine whether or not you win over and attract repeat customers.
Before choosing your location, these equipment and furniture details should be ironed out. It is imperative that you compare companies for pricing, warranties, and financing. Strategic planning and knowing how much you are going to spend in your start up is a key factor in determining most other aspects of your business plan. After the location has been chosen, the interior plan can be modified to accommodate the size and physical limitations of the space.
Hair Products — The hair products that are used and available will speak volumes about your salon. The better the quality of shampoo, conditioner, gel, and coloring products, the better the result for the customers. Having reached this stage in your profession, you have probably already chosen a favorite line of products. Find a reliable supplier that will keep you stocked up without breaking the bank.
Reception Area — The first impression! Having visited hundreds (yes, hundreds) of barber shops and salons, I can attest to the absolute necessity of a comfortable, well lit, relaxing environment for your customers to comfortably wait in. Offer them the opposite and you are asking to wave goodbye to your clientele.
It should always begin with a warm greeting, but there’s much more to it from that point. The reception desk, displays, pictures, chairs, tables, magazines, television, etc. all play a role in the vibe and customer’s experience. Always keep in mind that customers are shopping with more than their budget restrictions. Most often consumers patronize businesses where they feel respected, appreciated, and part of the community.
Given its impact, this area within your business should be well planned, researched, and budgeted beforehand.”
How Does Location Impact the Business?
“Quite frankly, location is everything. You will need to ask yourself, (pause) here let me ask you, it will be easier;
- How much money have you projected for rent?
- What demographic are your skills best suited for?
- Can you communicate and interact well with a diverse clientele?
- Is this going to be a permanent location or will you eventually expand and move?
- What types of businesses do you want in the vicinity of your salon?
- What are the city and/or county taxes on business income?
- Are there grants, tax breaks, or financial assistance for new businesses at the city, county, or state level?
With those questions in mind, let’s now switch gears and take a look at three typical locations for a barber shop or hair salon.
Retail Area — The cost for this type of location may be a bit higher than average. However, this can easily be offset in revenue generated with the right marketing and advertising campaign that turns passerby’s into paying customers .
A core benefit of this type of location is the visibility and traffic created by businesses surrounding it. What anchor stores are in the vicinity or nearby strip malls? Will they help promote your business? Popular grocery stores and restaurants help to attract large volumes of people, furthering your exposure and growth opportunities.
Strip Mall — In this scenario, you will likely end up with a neighbor on either or both sides of your salon. There will also be a list of rules regarding the use of the facade, hours of operation, trash and dumpster location, etc.
You can add a property, maintenance, or building administration fee to the rent. And depending on the affluence of the neighborhood, that rent may be a hard cookie to swallow.
Again, location is everything. If there is a popular anchor store in the strip mall, foot traffic resulting in walk-ins will increase. Are there schools or community centers in the vicinity? Reaching out in the surrounding community offering promotions or even sponsoring events will attract great press and increase your visibility.
Shopping Mall — Locating a hair salon or barber shop start up in a shopping mall can get extremely expensive very quickly. The rules and guidelines for store operations and advertising are extensive and may be limiting, so get full disclosure of all policies and regulations.
Quite frankly, the idea of opening a start up in a shopping mall is way too risky. Once your business has established itself, accumulated significant capital, and a stable customer base, this may then be a viable option.”
Target Customers and Demographics of the Immediate Area
“Most salons and barber shops serve a particular customer base from a certain geographic area. Ease of access and convenience are major factors, so it is important to consider the area surrounding your location, and survey:
- Where are the surrounding competitors?
- Is there sufficient density of the market segment your salon is catering to?
- What are your prices and the wealth or affluence of the homeowners in the area?
Your location is a major decision in the success and outcome of your salon. Be mindful and extremely considerate before making a commitment to your business location.”
How do You Go About Financing Salon Equipment?
“As I mentioned earlier, salon and barber shop supply stores will typically offer financing for larger purchases. In many cases, they are willing to bundle equipment, furniture, and all the supplies into a single salon equipment package.
In many cases, banks and credit unions will offer low interest loans to help get your business started, in return for your banking business. A little research here goes a long way. Online there are a number of resources, such as Kabbage which offer short term business lines of credit. With Kabbage, you can obtain a business line of credit up to $150,000.00 with 6 or 12 month terms (subject to approval of course). You can read more about them here kabbage.com/hair-beauty-salon-equipment-loans/
Your success or failure in receiving financing hinges on your personal and business credit worthiness. Be vigilant with your credit scores, how you use your credit cards, and more importantly, make your payments on time. Late and missed payments reported to the credit bureaus can heavily impact how lenders see you, dissuading them from offering you loans or further credit.”
What Advice Would You Leave Us With?
“Do it right the first time. Make a plan, do the research, educate yourself, get the proper training, acquire the proper licensing, get your website up and running, start a social media campaign, acquire a good location, get your salon equipment and furniture, hire amazing people and train them well, watch videos like this one:
This list can go on and on. Ultimately, your business will reflect the amount of energy, education, and passion you are willing to invest in it. As with any other business start up, make sure you have a plan and have fun as it comes to life.”
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