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An all-time classic and always a good idea is to open a hair salon. You, of course, need the proper experience combined with a passion for the beauty industry. If you’re reading this, chances are you are in that position.

In this article by our team at Amelia (the best booking plugin for salons), we’ll let you in on how to open a salon business and share with you exactly what it takes to make it successful.

How to open a hair salon, and why?

The services provided by a hair salon will be in demand, always. Looking at the figures is reassuring. They show us this evergreen niche will never be the wrong business choice. With 86,000 hair care locations in the U.S. alone, it remains the largest representative of the beauty industry.

And it’s not only women who are willing to keep a large chunk of the household budget ready for regular visits to the hair salon. More and more men give attention to grooming.  Nowadays your clientele will be a mixed party. But even so, as ever women will be in the majority. They are your priority marketing targets.

People will keep wanting to look good. It gives them the confidence to thrive, reach their goals, and feel respected. In a way, it makes them who they are. So it will be always a good time to start a salon —but why wait?

Why wait, indeed… But be prepared. Like any business, to be successful you need to know what you are doing. There are requirements for opening a salon.

This guide to opening a hair salon will make it easy for you. Just follow these steps:

Before opening a hair salon

A dream is what we all need to have the drive to move forward in life. This is the fun part.

  • What kind of business do you have in mind? Will it be a totally new hair salon or will you take over an existing salon? Maybe you are thinking about joining a franchise? There are different models that each come with a different approach, so pick one and explore the concept.
  • Get creative. Come up with a catchy name for your hair salon business. The name is closely connected to your customer segment and will identify you as the place to go for a certain type of people.
  • How will your salon look? Nowadays we see a lot of cross-over places. Many coffee shops have books, many hair salons offer coffee and pie. Maybe this concept doesn’t appeal to you and you prefer to keep things simple.

As you noticed, even at this stage we are already getting a bit serious. One step leads the way to the next step.

Once you’ve decided on the overall concept, it’s a matter of writing down and working out your idea. Also, make sure you anticipate possible hindrances and problems. Let’s now get serious about how to open a salon business.

A business plan is the first step salon owners can’t skip

To those who feel they’re not extremely business-minded, a business plan may sound scary. Luckily, you don’t need a degree in business to come up with one.

A salon business plan describes in further detail how your new salon will make money.

The business plan includes:

  • Who will your customers be?
  • What are the start-up costs?
  • How will you promote/advertise your new hair salon?
  • What business connections do you already have?
  • What is the money you put in and expect to get back? Costs and revenue…
  • When do you think you will break even?

These will be the start-up costs that you will also have to add to the business plan

  • Accounting and business software
  • Client management and scheduling software
  • Website
  • Chairs
  • Furniture for waiting area and workstations
  • Create the salon design with your desired clientele in mind
  • Ample lighting
  • Basins, plumbing, and electrical work
  • Haircare products
  • Towels and smocks
  • Salon equipment

These costs add up. We have a dream but we need to make money. Before the revenue kicks in several months will go by. First of all, we will need financing. So, we will pay a visit to:

  • A local bank or credit union for a small business loan
  • An accountant. We all need to pay taxes
  • Online alternatives, for fewer requirements and faster funding

Get your licenses

Talking about opening a salon includes the discussion of licenses. You will need a lot of them and they can vary depending on your location. Do you want to open a hair salon only or you wish to offer services such as facials, massages, nail care, or something else?

The permits any hair salon will need are:

  • a business operation license
  • a certificate of occupancy
  • a license to sell retail
  • a building permit
  • a fire department permit
  • a state cosmetology license
  • with a resale certificate, you may buy goods intended for resale without paying sales tax

Check with your town, city, or county clerk’s office for more local requirements. Get help from one of the local associations.

Business entity

A good way to protect your personal belongings is by choosing your business entity. You don’t want to risk losing everything you own if things don’t work out!

In the USA a limited liability company (LLC) keeps the owner safe. It ensures they aren’t liable for the company’s debts or liabilities. How about Europe?

A European LTD has similarities. LTD stands for limited, as in limited liability company. It separates liabilities from the owners and the business. As an owner, you are a shareholder who is or who isn’t part of the daily operations and management.

Only the LTD company owns all assets and debts of the business. Shareholders are paid as employees and thus pay personal taxes on their earnings. Only the business assets can be used to settle any insolvency responsibilities.

In this way, an LLC or LTD prevents salon owners from being personally liable.

Choose your best business location

It speaks for itself that your business should be easy to find and to access. No point in setting yourself up in the middle of nowhere.

  • If you are a former employee and now want to start out for yourself, try not to locate too far from your old customers. They may want to keep coming to you for their familiar haircut. Stay in touch!
  • New customers must find their way to your salon. Make sure you are visible to them. A busy shopping street with lots of foot traffic is a gem.
  • Consider parking possibilities in your area. If there’s limited parking, how will people stop there?

You invested a lot in your space. Be visible!

Note: Don’t forget to get a Certificate of Occupancy. It proves that you respected the building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations.

Time to build your team

Certainly after time and when business increases, you may want to hire stylists to help you out. More customers mean more work, but also more variation in expertise. You will need to put more haircuts and services on the menu.

Your team will be your flagship. Your reputation will depend on their qualities. They should be:

  • Talented and passionate
  • Friendly and social

Salary and benefits costs

You will be on your own payroll. Then there is the salary of your staff. Stylists and administrative personnel may be paid per hour — they need to be time-efficient.

Next is brand-building and getting (more) clientele

Okay, it’s getting clearer on your plan to start a hair salon. Your business plan is in place. Your brand new hair salon is insured, and you found an excellent location. Now let your new and old customers come to you.

  • Your old clients must know that you’ve started your own salon
  • Both you and your team spread the word!
  • Reward your clients for their loyalty and make sure they also praise you to their friends, family members, and acquaintances.

The client is king or queen in most cases. By keeping them happy, you will get a great reputation. You’ll get the edge when you compete with other salons in the neighborhood. People will know what your brand represents and will keep coming back.

Make it a piece of cake for existing and potential clients to come to your hair salon…

Now build your professional website

You need a good website to build your brand and attract clients. It’s not one of the requirements to open a salon, but an informative website is the best marketing tool in your arsenal. Benefits of a website include:

  • Introducing your company and the services you provide
  • Presenting your salon in an attractive way to your target market
  • Customers can instantly find your opening hours, location, contact info, and pricing

Another good reason to have your own website is that most salons use an online booking system. You will want to implement this on your site. Stay competitive!

Use your online toolkit

Amelia – the booking system to use

Amelia is a WordPress booking plugin created by our team at TMS Outsource. It includes all of the features that a salon needs.

Amelia is an excellent option for any business in the fitness industry because it is easy to install and does not involve a steep learning curve. After installation, users enjoy free and complete booking functionality.

It doesn’t matter what type of salon business you have. Amelia is so versatile that it can match any expectations.

It can be fully integrated with WooCommerce so that you can accept payments via PayPal or Stripe. You also get calendar sync, whether you use Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar.

With Amelia, it’s easy for your clients to book appointments. It’s a perfect booking system and a simplified solution to online booking.

Plus, the settings can be highly customized to suit your needs. Not only the settings but you can also customize the booking page so that it fits your brand.

Making appointments and subsequently managing them is a breeze with the integrated capabilities.

It sends SMS reminders to both the client and the relevant employee. It also includes functions for canceling and rescheduling appointments.

You can do a test drive on the demos page where you can see how it looks both on the frontend where the booking page is and the backend where you have your dashboard.

In this way, you’ll have a good idea of how your booking website will look both on the front end and the backend.

If you plan on opening a salon, a booking option like Amelia is a necessity. Especially at this price.

… And don’t forget Social Media after you open your salon

About visibility, there is more to say. There is your online presence to consider. It’s great that you have a website, but how are people going to learn about it? For hair salons, social media presents an amazing opportunity to spread the word about your business.

It shouldn’t be hard to know through which social media channels you can reach your clients. Future potential clients are on the same platforms, just waiting to see you. Market research was never this easy. Chit chatting in the chair is part of getting a haircut ritual.

From talking about the weather to the latest interesting tweets…

Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to post before and after pictures on your Instagram.

Be extra visible by listing your hair salon on community profiles. Go to Yelp, Google Places for Business, and the Yellow Pages.

Our final thoughts on opening a salon

If you follow the steps in this guide, you are destined for success. Minimize the risk of failure and make your dream come true. Owning your business gives you independence and more freedom compared to working for an employer.

But all the responsibilities inherent to a business are yours too. In summary:

  • Start with a sound business plan and stick to it
  • Think about your customers and choose a good location
  • Get insured, get licensed
  • Choose a safe business entity
  • Promote your business by serving your clients well and by using a strong online presence
  • Make it easy to get a fully booked hair salon. A booking plugin like Amelia will do miracles
  • Work with a professional team that shares your values

Set an atmosphere that is recognizable. A personal touch is what makes customers keep coming back. That and good service. To create this community feeling your business must have a solid base. Only then you can focus on delivering a great customer experience in your dream-turned-reality.

Good luck!

If you enjoyed reading this article on how to open a hair salon, you should check out this one on how to open a spa.

We also wrote about a few related subjects like hair salon websites, hair salon names, how to upsell salon services, beauty salon names, salon bookers, salon promotion ideas, salon booking app examples, a guide to salon pricing, salon management, spa websites, spa advertisements, spa scheduling software, spa WordPress theme examples, and salon booking systems.