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27 Top Tips On How To Open A Hair Salon: Don’t FAIL With Your New Salon

Tags: salon business

Getting good advice on how to open a hair Salon business can sometimes be a difficult task and with so much information available….

Where do you start?

Well…. to make it easy for you and give a head start, Belliata Salon Software has put together an opening salon checklist for what steps to go through when opening a salon.

It is essential that you plan your new hair salon properly, according to the US Small Business Administration only 50% of new business survive the first five years and many of the reasons for failure could be avoided.

If you have advice or tips on how to setup your own hair salon, don’t forget to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

open hair salon success

In this post your learn all of the aspects of how to open a successful hair salon

  1. Learn How To Be a Hairstylist
  2. How Is Your Salon Going To Be Different?
  3. How Will You Pay Your Salon Staff?
  4. What Is Your Salons Price Point?
  5. Develop Your Salon Business Plan
  6. How To Fund The New Salon?
  7. Choose A Great Salon Name
  8. Choose An Awesome Location
  9. What Will Your Salon Look Like?
  10. Check Out The Competition
  11. Get Your Salon Licensed
  12. Get Salon Insurance
  13. Develop Your Salon Marketing Plan
  14. Choose Your Salons Logo
  15. Get Your Salon A Website
  16. Create Social Media Profiles
  17. Get Salon Scheduling Software
  18. Open a Bank Account
  19. Credit Card Processing
  20. Recruit Salon Staff
  21. Choose Product Suppliers
  22. Health & Fire Inspections
  23. Create Review Website Profiles
  24. Plan Opening Event
  25. Look After Your Staff
  26. Look After Your Customers
  27. Keep Track Of Your Finances

Infographic: How To Open A Salon

how to open a salon

  1. Learn How To Be A Hairdresser

Well we might be stating the obvious but you might want to train to be a hairstylist before opening a hair salon…

But this is not one of the most essential requirements to open a hair salon these day.

As long as you employ a good Salon Manager or Creative Director with experience as a hairstylist then you don’t need to come from the industry and this is also how to open a hair salon without a cosmetology license.

In fact, we know hair salons which have a multi-million turnover where the owner is not a hairstylist!

  1. How Is Your Salon Going To Be Different?

number of salons usa

First of all, there are 86,000 beauty salons in the United States alone, so you need to make sure you have something different making sure salon stands out from the competition.

To create a differentiated products or services why not think of…..

  • Target specific ethnicity
  • Children only hairdresser
  • Organic / Bio only products used
  • Celebrity clients
  • Specialist in a certain service like hair straightening or hair extensions etc
  • Walk-in only

  1. How will you pay your salon staff?

There are a number of different options for staff remuneration.

  • Commission split
  • Salaried
  • Booth rental / chair rental

We will look briefly at the each one individually, but most importantly….

You must check you local employment laws to ensure compliance.

Commission split – This is a popular format in high end salons and one where the stylists and colorists are generally self employed.

A salon owner will split the revenue per booking between the salon owner and the stylist or colorist; for instance most salons will have a 60/40 split, so 40% goes to the stylist. If you start off with this level then it allows you to increase the ratio to retain stylists.

There are some legal issues around this for example….

if you have a legal minimum wage in your country, you will have to comply with this until the stylist has built their client base and earning more then the minimum wage.

The staff member would not get holiday or sick pay, but check you local laws on this. Some governments are becoming more aware of this and are reducing this employment option

Salaried – This is very common for some of the bigger chains of salons (or franchises). Staff will get an hourly wage for the hours they worked.

The staff member will usually be entitled to sick and holiday pay.

Booth rental / chair rental – this is an easy option for salon owners but in our opinion does not deliver revenue growth for the salon owner, just a fixed monthly income; for example as your booth renters / chair renters become more busy then you as a salon owner do not benefit.

There are other benefits to the salon owner; you do not need to worry about marketing to achieve success, as it is purely down to the individual renter to drive their own business.

Those salon owners choosing either commission or booth rental / chair rental must pass on the charge of the back bar and towel laundry costs to their self employed partners, this is a big cost to the business and will drive profits down.

  1. What Is Your Salon Price Point?

reasons salons fail 11

Failure to price your products or services correctly is also one of the top reasons why salons fail says the US Small Business Administration, they say you can be the cheapest or the best, but if you try to be both, you’ll fail.

Your price point must be relevant to where you have chosen your location (and obviously your staffing + rent costs):

  • High end – industry leading hair stylists
  • Low price – high volume
  • Discounts for certain groups such as military or nurses
  • Cash only

Most importantly…

When setting your prices for your salon, you need to remember to include in your pricing; the cost of back bar items, such as shampoo, conditioner and color.

You will need to roughly set prices prior to you building your business plan.

There are various opinions on whether charging backbar to your team are not, but from our viewpoint it important aspect of ensuring your run a profitable business.

On the excellent forum, there is an interesting discussion regarding backbar charges and whether they are ethical or not.

  1. Develop Your Business Plan

open hair salon business plan

This is essential when starting your business.

A business plan is a good way to focus you on what you have to deliver and it also makes sure your keep to budget when launching your new business.

It isn’t uncommon to go over budget if you’re not keeping to your business plan.

There are many websites on the Internet showing you how to start a salon business plan, you can also find business plans already written for salons; all you have to do is fill in the numbers, add your business name and some specific other information.

Make sure you get your projections right (not over exaggerated or under-played).

The advantage of this is that you will find salon start up costs for your business.

this is going to be your target for the future, especially if you get funding from a bank!

Some important things to remember when building the profit and loss section with your business plan to open a salon:

Your Salary – remember you need to eat and pay your mortgage or rent for your home. Many people only include the costs of the staff they employ but not include the salary for themselves. On the salon forum there is a interesting discussion regarding salon owners salaries.

Marketing Costs – you need to ensure you get to the top of Google, either through natural search of Google Adwords and these both cost money.

Back Bar Costs – as mentioned before; many new salon owners always overlook to put the cost of stock used in the back bar…this can be a big cost, so don’t forget it. If you are looking to use salon software in your business make sure it supports this.

Insurance – as a business with some risk, make sure you have the right insurance..things can go wrong sometimes and you want to make sure you have the insurance to cover it.

  1. How To Fund The New Salon?

reasons salons fail 23

Firstly, you need to know how much money is needed to open up a hair salon and this comes from your business plan

According to the US Small Business Administration, inadequate cash reserves are one of the main reasons salons fail. They recommend that you have at least a six-month cash reserves until your salon business starts making money.

Are you able to fund the business yourself from your own savings?

If not, you could also ask friends and family before going to ask the bank or other business finance company.

But if you are going to talk to the bank, ensure your business plan is done, nothing worse then the bank asking for financial projections and you don’t have a clue.

Some especially relevant places to get funding for your new salon:

Your Savings – Do you have enough savings to fit out the location and be without an income of several months?

Friends and Family – This is often a good source which people forget. Make sure you have contracts done properly and not on handshake, things can go very wrong with your family and friends.

Credit Union – some unions are now lending to small businesses and could be more open to support local small businesses

Your Bank – Have a good credit record and a strong business plan? Your bank could be an ideal please to get your lona

Your Landlord – Many people signing long leases on a property to start a salon often forget to ask for either a rent free period of some funds towards fit out of the salon or spa. If you don’t don’t get.

Peer to Peer Business Lending – this is relatively new but can be an economical form of business funding. Sites such as Funding Circle and Lending Club.

Grants – if you are looking how to open a hair salon with no money, you might want to see locally what grants might be available. Groups such as minorities, seniors, ex service personnel and women have more possibilities to get grants. Check out your local small business association for more information.

REMEMBER as a result of you borrowing money

you have to pay it back!

So make sure you are able to deliver your business plan.

There are other ways you can start to run your own business without huge capital outlay

One which is more common in the United States than any other country, is where you rent a ‘studio’ within a property full of ‘salon studios’. Companies such as Sola Salon Studios who have over 240 salon studio locations throughout the United States and it may be an easier way for you to open a salon.

There is one final ideas and that is to open a hair salon in your own home, many people are converting spare rooms or garages in their homes and this could another way to allow you to open a salon.

  1. Choose A Great Salon Name

open hair salon name

Coming up with a great salon name can be one the most difficult things to do for your new salon business and one of the most important decisions yo will make.

According to there are five key items which make up a great business name:

  1. Short Is Sweet
  2. They’re Functional
  3. It Tells a Story
  4. They Invent a New Language

When choosing the name of your new salon, check the following;

Check Domain Name Availability – you should check if it available. Google has a service where you can check for domain name availability, if your domain isn’t available…..

if your domain isn’t available, don’t go with your chosen salon name…

although you can also add your city or town to the domain name if the domain isn’t available, for example, a project I was involved in some years ago…

Taylor Taylor London is a leading hair salon chain in London wanted which wasn’t available, so we added London to the end of the domain and we got, the ‘London’ element has now become part of the brand.

how to open hair salon name
Taylor Taylor London added the word ‘London’ to get its domain name and which actually became its brand.

Make Sure People Can Spell your Salon Name – don’t make it too difficult to remember or to spell! Check your chosen business name with people to see if they can spell it or recall it… Don’t ask closed friends or family as they will also give a positive answer

Check No-one Local Has Same or Similar Name – this is essential; do you don’t want to be giving business to a competitor?

Have a look at Google Maps to see if anyone has a similar name locally to your choice of salon name.

Check If It Is A Trademark – there is nothing worse then paying for all your marketing materials, website and salon signage, to only find out that your chosen salon name is a trademark. Make sure you check the US Patents and Trademark office, if you are in the United States or if you are in Europe, you can carry out your search on European Union Intellectual Property Office.

  1. Choose An Awesome Location

open hair salon property

It is all about location location location but sometimes from previous experience, if you…

– Have a great product
– Superb customer experience
– High marketing visibility
– Delighted existing customers

….then location doesn’t always have to be the biggest thing.

Just make your salon easily findable online and make it the go-to salon in your area.

Here are two top tips for negotiating the lease on your premises

Ask for a rent free period, so three to six months..this allows you to build your customer base or you could also ask for assistance with the fit out of the premises,

landlords are willing to make an investment if you sign a good lease term.

And remember…

DON’T get excited by the first property you see and ensure you look at a wide selection.

Questions to ask yourself when you are looking for when finding your perfect location:

Footfall – has it got good footfall?

Public Transport – has it got good public transport links, if you are in a central area?

Access – has it got easy access, do you have to go up or down stairs?

Car Parking – if you are in a more suburban area is there car parking nearby and is it free or affordable?

Generally a location with a good footfall is always a good bet.

  1. What Will Your Salon Look Like?

Making sure your salon looks great and great design doesn’t always cost a fortune

you can do it on a budget.

There are plenty of hacks on YouTube and Pinterest on how to turn Ikea furniture for example into unique pieces which will make your salon stand out.

Don’t make your salon look like it has been chosen from a hairdressing supplies catalogue.

Try making your own chairs, choose mirrors from local flea market etc, use your imagination and be creative.

Don’t forget…

to make the exterior appealing and use the windows wisely

not too many posters etc and it isn’t always best to sit customers in from of the windows as it can make some customers feel uncomfortable.

Belliata have put together some Pinterest Boards for you to get inspired…

Salon Interior Ideas – see a wide range of salons from around the world, from the small home salon to celebrity salons.

Salon Exterior Ideas – first impressions count, make sure your salon looks good from the outside as well.

Salon Reception Desk Ideas – once they go past the front door, make sure you give a bold and striking welcome with a welcoming and sleak reception

Salon Mirror Ideas – nothing worse then a salon with small mirrors. Make you stand out from the crowd with these inspired mirrors and not a salon catalogue mirror insight!

Salon Chair Ideas – Make sure you deliver a super customer experience with a comfortable chair and one that works well for your stylists as well, nothing worse then a hair stylist with a bad back.

  1. Check Out the Competition

reasons salons fail 43

No good business person would not check out their competition;

check their website – what information does it have on it?

where are they on Google when you search for “hair salons + your location” – are they at the top, if so you need to be there as well

their Facebook and see what they are posting and the comments from their Followers

even book an appointment to see what their customer experience and product is like this is who you will have to compete against.

If you are in a larger city or town, check out who you would like to compete against, many people travel further to visit a hair salon in larger cities.

  1. Get your Salon Licensed

In some countries (or even in different states within the USA) you need to have a certain type license when you open a salon, either as an individual or premises.

If you are not a hairdresser and opening a salon, you need to make sure you employ licensed staff (if a license is needed), do some research online for this or ask on some hairdressing forums in your country or state.

  1. Get Salon Insurance

This is very important..if not essential for anyone opening a hair salon, treat insurance as an investment and not a cost!

Many things can go wrong in a salon, whether it might be a cut with the scissors or an issue with hair dye, just make sure you have the correct insurance in your business. Avoiding this investment could if something goes wrong have fundamental issues for your business.

Insurance is there for the bad times and yes they sometimes happen.

  1. Develop your Marketing Plan

Together with your business plan, you should develop a marketing plan this ensures that your salon has the maximum impact when opening.

If you do not have a marketing plan you may not be as focused as you should be.

We would suggest you look at this hair salon marketing plan template to build a great plan.

  1. Choose Your Salons Logo

good salon logo

Once you have chosen your name, make sure you get a good logo.

In an article on, Su Mathews Hale, a senior partner at the New York brand-strategy and design firm Lippincott said that “A company’s logo is its shorthand, a visual cue that tells a story of the brand’s culture, behavior, and values.”

Simple and clean logos always work best with a modern font.

Italics, handwriting type fonts aren’t good, as they are not very clear for people to read.

There are various places where you can get a logo designed…. – this marketplace can be a bit hit or miss but you can find designers who will create a logo here, don’t go for the cheap designers and make sure you brief them clearly with logos you like – this website allows you to post a brief online and get many designers pitch their ideas to you. This is a good way to get lots of designs. Make sure you invest in the design to get quality creations – your are able to post your brief online and then invite people to pitch their ideas, you then choose the designer and create it with them. A top tip is to invite European designers as we find their output better and more fresh

Local designer – this is often the best choice, because you can sit with them, give them direction and inspiration to deliver your perfect logo. Check out the superb Behance to find a logo designer by choosing clicking on ‘Worldwide’ on the left of the page.

Don’t forget….

to test your logo on people first before choosing the final version, getting feedback will ensure you have the right logo for your salon.

  1. Get Your Salon A Website

searching local business

This can make or break your salon. If your website isn’t ranking well in Google search results, you won’t be the success you dream of.

Being the top of Google search results and map results will generally ensure business success!

There are many ways to get online these days.

WordPress – you can choose such to manage it yourself and use WordPress for instance and buy a specially designed ‘theme’ for hair salons, spa, barbers etc.

Website Builders – these are becoming more common, with services like and which will get your online very quickly and easily but…..

you will be always quite restricted to the functionality of the website and you won’t be able to take your website to say WordPress when you want to leave.

  1. Create Social Media Profiles

salon social media

According to a study by The Social Habit shows that 53 percent of Americans who follow brands on social are more loyal to those brands.

People like to check out Facebook and Instagram for your latest salon selfies et…

so make sure you set up your Facebook and Instagram profiles as a priority.

Make sure that you are setting up your Facebook profile you choose the profile as a local business and not any other profile type. If you choose the local business, it allows people to rate your business and show up on Facebook maps.

  1. Get Salon Scheduling Software

This is essential for any salon, whether large or small and often forgotten when people are looking at how to open a salon.

Salon software can help you with reducing no-shows, driving more retail sales, improve customer experience and other valuable marketing ideas. Customers are expecting now to be able to book their appointment online , so make sure from day one you can do this.

When looking for salon software, make sure it can do appointment reminders, online appointment booking, works across all both Windows, Macs & iPads.

Read our guide to salon management software

  1. Open a Bank Account

You need to put all that cash somewhere!

Look around for the best banking deals when choosing your bank.

Look at things such as cost of cash handling, overdraft limits charges and is there an Account Manager to support you.

  1. Credit Card Processing

salon credit cards

Research has shown that customers who pay by debit or credit card spend more.

If you are opening a bank account then you might want to have your card processing contract with your chosen bank.

You can also sign up to credit card processing companies like

these services tend not to have a monthly fee like your bank might have, which makes it ideal for a salon starting out.

  1. Recruit Salon Staff

salon trust employees

If you come from another salon then you might be bringing some of your existing colleagues to your new salon.

There are always good places to list your salon jobs, such as – is a growing salon and beauty recruitment website offering totally free job listing website. There is a premium option also to make your job ad stand out. – the world famous free listings website carries free recruitment ads in a wide range of cities. – is a listings site like Craigslist but you have to pay for your job posting.

When posting your jobs, make sure to add in your website and any images of the salon, so people can see if they would like to work there.

Ensure you talk about career development within your salon, this will ensure you attract great stylists or technicians to your salon.

  1. Choose Product Suppliers

how open salon retail

Which suppliers are you looking to have?

You can choose from an endless list of suppliers but make sure they are at the right price point for your prospective customer. Don’t stock expensive products when you have are low price salon.

Don’t take too much time researching this, as remember you should be focusing on how to open a hair salon and not finding the latest Japanese trend in hair care products

Some of the things to should ask your supplier is:

What onsite training do they do?

Do they provide marketing materials and how often?

Is there any marketing funds available for launch of your salon?

Does their website have a salon finder, to help promote your salon?

Finally, make sure you train your staff to promote the products. According to Wella Professionals’ ‘SavvySalon’ via found that 70% of stylist do not suggest treatments or products to clients but one of the most important pieces of information is that a good salon can make 30% of its revenues from retail sales!

  1. Health & Fire Inspections

Some states in the United States requires a health check of the premises prior to opening a hair salon, where as some local government offices in the UK require a fire check and this is especially the case if the building has had some structural changes to it.

Check local rules and regulations for what you need to do, your local government planning department or local fire station can tell you what you need to have done.

  1. Create Review Website Profiles

salon reviews

This is one of the most important things you will do on our how to open a hair salon checklist!

According to the Local Consumer Review Survey by found that 95% of consumers had found a business online in the past 12 months.

So if you don’t do this properly, then you are cutting off a huge pipeline of new business when you open a salon.

The two most important places to list your business are;

Yelp – love it or hate it, its the king of online reviews and if you are not there, new clients will not discover you when they are using the Yelp app to find a salon.

Google My Business – This is the #1 priority! Make sure you show up on Google Maps etc using this tool specific for businesses.

Make sure you upload some nice photos of the salon before you open and with no people in them…

people age photographs, as fashions change.

When your customers start coming to you, make sure you ask them to leave a review for you.

Don’t bribe customers to leave good reviews, or fake your reviews

Yelp has years of experience and knows fake reviews from real ones.

  1. Opening Event

To make sure you get good coverage and create a buzz in your local community, you need to make sure that you have a big impact.

You should have an opening party and make sure you invite the following people:

Local Journalists – although newspapers are dead, they still have a strong online presence, so make sure you look online to invite these important influencers.

Local bloggers and influencers – local people that have a big following on Instagram for instance.

Local Business Associations – this could be local business womens association for instance, local associations are also a way to make good business contacts.

Local Charities – make it so you have a charitable element such as a raffle to raise money for the charity and in turn you will get some publicity from the charity to their donor base.

Create the event online – Use Facebook and the often overlooked (and excellent), which is an event listing site, where you can add the opening event for the salon and people who are on the platform are actively looking for events.

Here is a great blog post from on how to use Facebook Events for your business.

Type of things you can have at your opening party;

Local Bands – which would be aligned with your salon, so they invite their fan base

Complimentary Businesses – such as a spa or nail salon. They could invite their client base to your event

Local Restaurant – could supply some finger food, give them some PR and they may do it for free

Local Wine Supplier – to provide some wine for the event…again give them PR, it could be free

  1. Look After Your Staff

staff training

If you look after your staff they will look after you (financially).

Make sure you offer ongoing training and development

According go a survey by Jones/NCTI (a training company) they found that 70% younger respondents said that job-related training and development opportunities directly influence in their decision to stay with a company.

Here are some simple and low-cost ways to train and develop your salon staff:

Use your product suppliers to do onsite training and keep staff up to date

Enter local hair shows, great for motivation for staff and awareness of your salon

Provide soft skills training such as customer services and upselling etc.

Check out, and even YouTube for training courses, some of them free

  1. Look After Your Customers

benefit customer experience

Once opening a salon, you need to make sure you look after your customers. Remember the customer experience, which includes..

  1. How customers are welcomed on arrival to your salon

  2. Do you just wash your customers’ hair or give a nice Japanese head massage as well?

  3. Is your salon clean, including your toilets?

  4. Do you offer complimentary drinks?

  5. Send SMS appointment reminders to remind customers of their appointment?

  6. Complimentary magazines or wifi

  7. Offer online appointment booking via your website

McKinsey (a world leading consultancy firm) found that 85% of customers of a bank , increased their purchases after receiving a positive customer experience.

  1. Keep Track Of Your Finances

reasons salons fail 6

Research has shown that customers who pay by debit or credit card spend more.

If you are opening a bank account then you might want to have your card processing contract with your chosen bank.

You can also sign up to credit card processing companies like

these services tend not to have a monthly fee like your bank might have, which makes it ideal for a salon starting out.

Watch A Video On How To Open A Salon

Do you have any tips on how to open a hair salon? Share them below

The post 27 Top Tips On How To Open A Hair Salon: Don’t FAIL With Your New Salon appeared first on Belliata.

This post first appeared on Belliata Salon Management, please read the originial post: here

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27 Top Tips On How To Open A Hair Salon: Don’t FAIL With Your New Salon


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