How to Start a Salon and Spa
With practical business advice and the right financial foothold, starting a spa can be a great way to realize your entrepreneurial dreams.
If you’re employed in hair care, nail care, or with a spa, then you may be thinking about starting your own business in the beauty industry. The good news is that the professional services industry – including hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, and spas – are always in demand. No matter how the economy does, people still need personal grooming services. With practical business advice and the right financial foothold, starting a spa can be a great way to realize your entrepreneurial dreams.
Narrow Down Your Niche
The first step in the process of delving into the world of professional services is to determine what type of services you’ll offer. There’s a broad range of hair salons, from high-end colorists to down-home barber shops. Think about your prospective clients; both whom you’d like to cater to – families, women, men? – and the array of services your shop would provide.
If you’re leaning toward a nail care salon or a spa offering massages and similar treatments, you’ll want to explore existing local businesses in the same genre. Doing some market research can tell you about the current market for this industry, as well as what the local price points are, since the costs for such services can vary widely.
Structure Your Business
One of the most important decisions any small business owner can make is how the business will be structured. As a salon or spa owner, you have three main options:
- Buy into an existing franchise;
- Buy out a business from a current salon or spa who’s selling their business; or
- Create an entirely new business from the ground-up, either as a sole proprietorship or with partners.
Each option has pros and cons. A franchise will likely be the most expensive business to get off the ground, but it comes with a pre-set formula for how to run your business and the benefit of a well-known brand name. A current salon may be selling because of financial troubles, so you may get a better buy-out price, but you you’ll need to examine why they’re closing. You don’t want to get stuck with a failing business! Starting a salon on your own allows the most creative possibilities, but also requires you to hit the ground running and make many major decisions right out of the starting gate.
Take the time to survey your options and weight the pros and cons before you get started.
While there’s some latitude in pricing, the amount you can charge clients will largely depend on your physical location – a city salon will be able to charge higher prices than a Mom-and-Pop barber on a rural Main Street. The second largest factor in setting your prices is how “high-end” your salon is. If you’re offering expensive services, such as hair coloring, and hiring experienced stylists, then you can justify the higher cost.
Take a look at similar businesses in the area – that will give you a sense of the price point that people in that neighborhood expect. Then, adjust the price lower or higher depending on the types of services you’re offering.
Cultivate a Soothing Environment
Set up your physical space to be as inviting as possible. You don’t have to spend tons of money starting out but make the effort to convey relaxation. Throw pillows, soft lighting, aromatic candles, and pleasant music go a long way to enhance your client’s experience. You can find those little touches at a discount and they’ll create the kind of peaceful, relaxing atmosphere that you want in a salon.
Health and Safety Regulations
No matter which facet of the beauty industry you’re in, at a minimum, your clients will expect a clean and hygienic space. Each particular industry has specific laws and regulations regarding health and safety, so research the necessary requirements in your area before you open your doors. Violation of any laws can result in hefty fines, or worse, loss of your business.
Create a Menu
Just as a restaurant menu describes dishes to entice diners, you’ll want to use your creative talents to entice your potential clients about your services. Marketing savvy comes into play here, since you’ll want to build your brand as well as inform your clients what they’ll be paying for. Your prospective menu should include descriptions of all services, as well as a list of prices.
You can have fun with this part – maybe your salon has a theme that you can work into the menu. For example, you could open a salon called Olympus and name your services after Greek goddesses.
Invest in a Professional Website
Before you open your doors, invest your time and energy in a professional, mobile-adaptive website. You’ll want to include your menu of services, profiles of all your stylists, and high-quality photos of your business. Your clients will expect to be able to connect with you and learn more about your business online; they’ll also appreciate the ability to schedule appointments without having to call. That’s easier for you, too – no need to keep appointments by hand!
Get Into The Beauty Industry
Starting a salon or spa is a dream within your reach. Setting up your own business can be challenging, especially in the first few months, but it can also be richly rewarding. With our tips, you can be well on your way to taking the leap toward salon or spa ownership.