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So You Want to Open a Salon?

For many people the thought of starting a small business in tough economic times can feel more than a little bit daunting. The majority of Americans have severely limited their discretionary spending and small businesses of all types are feeling the crunch.

However, there are a few types of businesses that have still managed to stay in the black over the last few years — and one of these is the hair salon. It seems as if the vast majority of consumers are not willing to save a little money by cutting their own hair, and this is profitable news for those savvy entrepreneurs who see an economic downturn as a challenge.

If you think that you have what it takes to open and run your own successful hair salon or barbershop, make good use of these tips that can help you get started.

Experience and Licensing

Whether you’re a long-time stylist with the credentials and clients to make opening your own salon a seamless project, or you’re a business person simply looking for a profitable investment, working with experienced professionals is a great way to begin. As you’re bringing employees or partners on board you’ll need to be sure that the people you’re working with have the necessary experience and the licensing to back it up.

Another option would be to buy an existing salon that is fully staffed and maintains current licenses. The added benefit to this is that the salon has a roster of existing customers that will save you the hassle and expense of drumming up business. Franchise opportunities are another choice that can help make the start-up costs more affordable, and the parent company can offer assistance in obtaining the licenses necessary for your state and you have their well-known brand to rely on.

Products and Supplies

As with any business you’ll need to maintain a proper inventory of the supplies necessary to run your outfit in a reasonable manner. These supplies include durable and bleach-safe salon towels, shampoos and coloring products, salon chairs and sinks, and standard office machines. Many of the larger items such as sinks and chairs can be readily sourced at auctions and wholesale outlets, which can save you a great deal of money.

Much of a salon’s profit comes from the sale of specialty products to their customers. If you carry exclusive, high-end products and market them successfully to your clients, there is great potential for profit. This is where your stylists come in. It is ultimately their job to push these products and make the sale. Therefore, it is in the owner’s best interest to ensure that each stylist is up to date on the chosen product line and has the knowledge to sell them successfully.

Staffing Your Salon

If you’re not already an experienced stylist with intimate knowledge about the inner workings of a salon you’ll need to hire a salon manager. This person can be your right hand as you navigate the procedures necessary to get your business off the ground. He or she can also help you interview and hire stylists and receptionists, as well as estheticians and nail technicians if you want to offer those services.

Many salons choose to hire stylists as independent contractors. The stylist rents his or her booth space from you, the owner, and he or she then receives the payment from the customers. This can be a very simple and profitable partnership and it also spares the salon owner many of the headaches associated with payroll, and as the stylist is usually tasked with purchasing his or her supplies it can save money on inventory.

You may also hire stylists and offer them an hourly or annual salary. This can work well for larger operations as employees such as receptionists and managers will be paid in this manner already. This type of staffing requires all of the same payroll and tax attention as any other business does, so it’s vital to have people with this kind of experience on your team.

Even when times are hard people still like to look good, and this is where the salon comes in. A well run and well-staffed salon not only serves as an immediate profit center for its owner and staff, but it is also a business that can stand the test of time if run properly. If you think that you have the skills and the know-how, and you’d like to open your own business, a salon that’s a cut above the rest is a fantastic choice.

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