Opening your own salon and building a salon business can be hugely exciting and fulfilling, but it can also be daunting. The birth of a new venture is a risk as well as a joy, and it involves an enormous amount of hard work. But a bit of foresight can ensure you get the fundamentals right and sidestep the many pitfalls. Let’s explore six mistakes to avoid.
1. Location: Don’t Choose Blindly
Shops and venues exist in particular places for good reasons. This may sound obvious, but when hunting for the right location, it’s vital to appreciate that a gap in the local market when it comes to salons could mean you’ve spotted an opportunity others have missed, but equally, the location could simply be wrong for a salon.
Research is a vital business process. It’s really important to set aside enough time for fact-finding when you’re deciding on a location for your salon.
Consider the curb appeal, and check social media. Is the location popular with local residents? Is it a destination favored by out-of-town visitors? Look at the level of footfall. Is it a high-traffic area or a low-traffic area? Remember to have a good look at adjacent businesses. Are there complimentary local shops, cafes, boutiques, and other outlets that could help send a flow of customers your way?
Have a look at the frontage of the premises. Is the entrance tucked away in a side street or in a prominent position? This is important because having your signage and logo clearly visible and well-lit is free advertising.
Travel and Transport
It’s good to consider how potential clients will get to your salon. Can they park easily? Is it a long walk from a car park? Are there good public transport links? You could try some test journeys to and from the location to put yourself in your potential clients’ shoes.
Who Are the Locals?
If you want to guarantee a steady stream of clients, finding out who the local customers are likely to be is important. What kind of people live in the area? What do they enjoy? Where do they shop? What’s missing that might appeal to them? Would the type of salon you have in mind fit into this picture?
Who are the Competitors?
It’s worth taking the time to thoroughly check out the competition from other salons in the area. Take note not only of the number of salons, but also the type. Are they fashionable and upmarket? Traditional or budget? Don’t assume your direct competitors will all be salons. Are there any hotels, shops, or private practitioners offering treatments and beauty services? It’s also useful to find out what your competitors are charging.
2. Business Planning: Don’t Neglect It
When it comes to any startup business, the failure rate is high. But there are reasons new businesses don’t succeed, and poor business planning is certainly a factor.
Have a Business Plan
A sound business plan is a must for any new venture, no matter the size or sector. This needs to be in place to apply for loans, cost your staffing, materials, building expenses, and insurance. A business plan is also a blueprint for handling the business once it’s up and running. In fact, it’s an essential tool for new business management.
3. Staff and Equipment: Don’t Make the Wrong Call
Stylists: Make the Right Hires
It goes without saying that when it comes to running a salon, your stylists are your business. A great stylist is a reason a customer will come back to your business again and again. But support staff are just as important when it comes to creating the right experience for your clients. If you’re aiming to give outstanding customer satisfaction, you must get the hiring right.
Visiting a salon is an emotional uplift as well as an opportunity for personal grooming or physical pampering. It’s important to bear this in mind during the hiring process. The personality and people skills of your staff, as well as their skills, will play a huge role if you want to increase client loyalty.
Consider applicants’ soft skills as well as their technical know-how, and get them talking about themselves and their approach. Give them scenarios to respond to. For example, ask how they might deal with an elderly customer who needs patience. Ask how they would go about pinning down what style an uncertain or shy customer wants. How would they deal with a complaint?
Equipment: Get the Tools You Need
It can be tempting, with the high cost of setting up a business, to cut corners when it comes to materials and equipment. But customers these days are brand conscious and know when they are being offered a cheap version rather than a high-end product. It’s worth getting the best products and tools you can afford. This will add to the look and feel of your salon as well as the customer experience.
Not all equipment is related directly to styling and beauty. Investing in the right tech for your business is also key. Software and hardware that allow you to manage bookings, customer information, accounting, staff rotas, and salaries could make your life a whole lot easier. Don’t neglect this area. It’s as important as scissors and hair products.
4. Branding: Don’t Make It an Afterthought
With everything there is to think about and plan for, branding can often get neglected or left to a late stage. But your business is your brand, and the look and feel of your salon are incredibly important.
It’s important to choose a strong and coherent theme for your salon. The theme is essentially a set of coherent style choices that set the scene and tone for your salon. Ask yourself if your vision for the business is contemporary, cool, elegant and classic, budget but bright and welcoming, or luxurious. Don’t send mixed messages. Show clients exactly what you’re about. This signposting is an essential step in the buyer’s journey.
Don’t focus so much on the practicalities that you forget the vision. Ask yourself what kind of salon you want to have. What kind of customer do you envision attracting and why? What colors, style of furnishing, and even music or plants do you need to create the desired impression? Each aesthetic choice helps create the mood and vibe of your salon and will help you slot into a particular market sector or help you stand out from the crowd.
5. Publicity and Marketing: Don’t Be Invisible
An Online Presence
We’ve talked about the importance of curb appeal, branding, and location, but having an online presence is just as important to your visibility as a salon. Although a lot of new business, when it comes to salons, comes through word-of-mouth recommendations, many customers begin their journey to your door by looking online. This means you’ll need a top-notch website that’s clear, on-brand, and has a booking button for appointments.
Look at your competitors. Which sites do they advertise on? Where do their business names appear in searches?
Some social media platforms are better for certain types of businesses or for reaching a particular demographic. Again, check out the competition. Which platforms do they use? What type of information do they post? What style of interaction do they have with customers?
A mistake many businesses make when using social media is making all their posts promotional. In other words, their posts are nothing more than adverts. The clue to using social media effectively to build your brand is in the title, “social.” Be friendly and engaging on your salon’s feed, ask clients to interact, post quizzes and photos, and tell stories.
Social media is also a great way to collect and share customer reviews. Be sure also to incorporate a booking button so that clients can directly access appointments. Engage in the best exploratory testing techniques to make sure all your online platforms and apps help your customers engage with and reach you.
6. Clients: Don’t Take Them for Granted
This may sound obvious, but your customers are why your business exists in the first place. Put them at the center of all of your thinking and planning. Remember to create ways to keep in touch with them via email or text as well as through social media and newsletters. Personalize your interactions as much as possible, and make customers feel valued and known as individuals. By doing this, you’ll effectively combine customer service and marketing.
It’s important to assess how long you are taking to respond to contact or questions from customers via channels such as social media, your website, phone, or email. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, take the time to learn about first call resolution best practices.
Keep in mind that a new customer’s first few interactions with your business will decide if the relationship will continue or fizzle out fast. Never neglect customer service. Make the time to look at your customer interaction, however busy or stretched you are.
Good Care Includes You!
Finally, remember that a vital part of your new business is, of course, yourself. Make time for self-care and avoid burnout. New businesses sometimes fail because of stress and fatigue. Treat yourself like a valued staff member because that’s exactly what you are.
Jenna Bunnell – Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Jenna has written for domains such as Air Droid and Agility. Check out her LinkedIn profile.