How is it possible for a service sector like the beauty industry to grow, given the state of the economy? Is it really a good time to start a hair salon even though the stock market has been in a free fall and the economy has been in the doldrums? No doubt it is, because many of the services offered by salons cannot be duplicated at home, or at least not duplicated well enough and also because the services are needed by any average person desirous of looking good.
Starting your own business is an enormous responsibility and it should be carefully planned. This serious planning involves a thorough knowledge of the business principles behind that particular venture, book keeping, salesmanship, and even some psychology, before you can take on the role of a salon owner. To have a successful salon business, some key points would have to be considered.
The business can be funded in several ways. You can get funding from:
- local banks through loans available to small businesses
- lease critical tools and equipment
- personal savings
- friends and family who may want to invest in the business.
Location is critical to the success of your business. You need a location that is strategically situated on one of the busiest streets in your area, in a mall, or next to locations which people visit often. A good location has the visibility and accessibility to attract a high volume of customers. Your location should reflect your target market. If your target is high income clients, head for a high income area. If you plan to open a high volume operation, you will need a high traffic area with convenient access to public transportation. It is also important that the location must have adequate parking. Another thing to seriously consider is to stay away from competition. It is advisable not to situate the business directly next to another salon; you will probably cancel each other out. Try to stake out a place where you will be the only salon for a few blocks.
EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS NEEDED
Many clients prefer to have their hair, nails and face done in one place instead of going to three different places. Offering a wide range of services in one setting will give you a distinct advantage over those who offer one or two types of services. The typical equipment and tools needed for a successful salon business will range from hand dryers to flat tongs and oven tongs, hooded dryers, styling chairs, work stations, washing units, to combs, brushes, scissors, towels, capes, manicure tables, pedicure chairs, and many more. The services you decide to render will determine what tools and equipment to buy.
One of the more challenging aspects of owning a salon is hiring and retaining good employees. It is important that you hire only qualified and well trained staff because their ability and talent as well as their attitude and work ethic will influence every aspect of the business, from client retention rate to the bottom line. Experience may give the employees expertise to render treatment but without proper training they would be unaware of the merits and demerits of certain important procedures. Training classes should be organised on a regular basis to improve employee product knowledge and skills. It is extremely important as well to keep the staff motivated by offering employees a benefit package which includes health and vacation benefits, payment for extended hours, as well as having occasional fun nights for the staff.
The employees needed for day to day functioning of the salon business will include a salon manager, hair stylists/ cosmetologists, braiders, salon/shampoo assistants, a receptionist, a customer service officer/marketer and cleaners.
A salon’s best and most important marketing tool is the word of mouth. If a client is happy with the results, he or she would come back to the salon. A satisfied client leaves the salon with a new look and he or she would broadcast the name and the quality of salon services to their family, friends and colleagues. Most of the clients are referrals from existing clients. Some other means of marketing can also include advertising on radio, TV, newspapers and magazines. Also, special offers as well as discounts on certain services would help in promoting the salon. Having an attractive website would also help in reaching a wider audience.
Another important part of salon management is the appropriate pricing of services. Prices set too high would limit the number of people who can afford them. If prices are set too low this might limit the profit potential and probably put the business at risk.
In conclusion, salon business can be a profitable venture if the focus is on customer satisfaction and if attention is paid to the key points mentioned above.
Kehinde Omoni is the MD of Brushes and Clippers Unisex Salon, 4 Mabinuori Dawodu Street, Gbagada Phase 1, Lagos.