You’d struggle to find a British high street without a hairdressing salon. This is hardly surprising - the 34,015 hairdressing and beauty salons in the UK take in a whopping £4bn between them annually.
While many other high-street sectors, such as coffee shops, have to worry about big chain competitors (an independent coffee shop would struggle with a Costa Coffee opposite), the hairdressing industry doesn’t have a single company with a dominant market share.
This means that independent hairdressing salons fare much better than their high-street neighbours. To help you get a slice of this action, we’ve gathered 11 tips on how to start a successful hairdressing business.
1. Write a business plan
Putting together a business plan should always be your first port of call when your setting up any business and a hairdressing business is no different.
Your business plan is essentially a roadmap that will guide you and your hairdressing business to success. It needs to plan out exactly what your business is going to be, how it’ll be a success and how you’ll solve any problems that will arise.
Gov.uk has plenty of advice on this as well as business plan templates and examples that’ll help you get started.
2. Find your financial feet
Once you’ve perfected your business plan, your next priority should be figuring out your finances. This might seem scary at first, but breaking it down into smaller sections will let you see exactly what needs to be paid for and how you’re going to fund it.
Costs such as hiring staff, rent, business rates, marketing costs and buying equipment should all be taken into account. You also need to figure out how you’ll receive payments (cash, debit or credit cards) as well as considering how you’ll record your transactions.
Once you’ve got an idea of how much money you’ll need to get your business off the ground, getting to grips with where you’ll find funding will really start to turn your hairdressing dream into a reality. Funding doesn’t just have to come from a hefty bank loan – peer to peer lending, equity finance and government loans and grants are all viable options.
Also, don’t forget to register your business with HMRC – you must register within the first couple of months of trading.
3. What type of hairdressing business will you be?
Are you going to be a limited company, a sole trader or a partnership? No one is better than the other, but depending on your circumstances, there will be one that suits your requirements best.
If you decide to run a limited company, your finances will remain separate from your business’. Whereas, if you set up shop as a sole trader, it’ll be more straightforward, but you’ll be personally responsible for your business’ debts. Lastly, a partnership is your best bet if you want to go into business with somebody else.
4. Choose the right salon staff
When you’re first starting out, you might be your only employee. But as your salon (hopefully) becomes a success, you might need to recruit some extra help.
It might be tempting to hire based on skills alone, but in hairdressing personality can be even more important – you can teach skills, but you can’t teach a new personality! After all, you want your clients to enjoy coming in, so they turn into regulars.
Read more: How To Recruit The Right Salon Team
5. Adhere to the rules and regulations
At a basic level, you need to make sure you’re adhering to the Health and Safety at Work Act. A salon is likely to carry more risks than most small businesses so be sure to carry out regular risk assessments.
Plus, if you’re offering hair colouring as a service, you’ll need to adhere to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations. This includes allergy tests being carried out on clients before you colour their hair.
If you’re hiring employees as part of your hairdressing business, by law you’re also required to have Employers’ Liability insurance.
6. Hunt for the right location and possible competitors
Picking the perfect spot can be the difference between your salon’s success and failure. You want to strike the right balance between high visibility, close to where your target market live, work or shop, and where suits the personality of your salon.
Laura Willis recently set up Laura Jane Hairdressing in Flintshire took the convenience for her clients into account too. “I chose the salon based on closeness to home and having a car park – people like ease”.
Once you decide on a location, seek out any competitors that are in close proximity. Make sure you know what services, products, promotions, and treatments they offer and determine what your unique selling point (USP) is.
7. Design your salon to attract your target clientele and stand out
Designing your salon around your target demographic is vital. If you want your client base to be on the younger end of the scale, make your interior bold and colourful; if you’re aiming to attract business professionals go for a more modern and sophisticated look.
It’s still important that you like your interior though, you’ll be spending a lot of time there. Willis agrees and emphasises that the interior is a great way to stand out from the crowd: “I decorated the salon with my personal taste. I also wanted to move away from the stereotypical black and white salon so I used natural woods and calm colours.”
8. Services, pricing and products
The next thing to work out is what services and products you want your salon to offer and how much you want to charge for them. Some hairdressing businesses can sell shampoo and conditioner as a nice boost to their revenue, but the money usually goes right back into purchasing more products.
Once you’ve found your financial feet at step 2, you should have an idea of what break-even point will be, and you can use this as a benchmark for your pricing. Your examination of the local competitors will come in handy with pricing too as it’s probably best to match their prices as close as you can without cutting your margins too fine.
9. Marketing and PR
You can have the best salon in the world, but if no-one knows you’re there you won’t get very far! Luckily, social media has opened up a whole new way to advertise your services. You can post pictures of happy clients with their new haircut, a photo of your services and prices or use it as a way to engage with your followers.
A website will also give your business a boost. If you have enough money, hire a professional to create one. If not, there are plenty of DIY website building platforms out there. Your website should be easy to navigate, equally as easy on the eye and include helpful information such as your opening hours, location, phone number, and prices. An online booking system also wouldn’t go amiss.
10. Maintain excellent customer service
It’s one thing getting clients through the door, but it’s quite another making sure they want to return! The easiest way to do this is by providing excellent customer service. Make the client feel as comfortable as possible Willis advises. “I give them the time they deserve to relax.”
Whether it’s a cup of tea, a friendly chat, or a head massage at the shampoo station, it’s the little touches that keep your customers coming back. “Always smile and nothing is ever too much for a client” Willis says.
11. Look for ways to save along the way but don’t cut corners
When you first established your salon, it’s hard to know what you’ll use so you may have splurged on a few things you might not have needed and now you don’t use.
Once your hairdressing business is set up, regularly review your inventory to see where you could make some money-saving cuts or changes. This could be anything from the number of products you’re buying to the internet service you pay for. Don’t cut corners though!
Setting up your hairdressing business will have a few challenges along the way, and it’ll be hard work, but there are very few things more satisfying than running your own successful salon. If you’re setting up your own hairdressing business, be sure to check out our hairdresser insurance.