One of the questions I get asked time and time again is, “what do you wish you knew before opening your beauty salon?”. Well, after twenty years in the industry, I have learnt all kinds of things that I wish I knew when I started! Here’s just a few…
1. Deciding who my ideal clients were
When I first opened my beauty salon, I offered EVERYTHING I could! I went all in, before properly deciding who exactly my target audience were!
This meant I was often finding myself here, there and everywhere, one minute I would be hosting a bridal pamper party, in my salon (and even sometimes at the request of a hotel or home), and the next day I could have 10 screaming little girls in my salon having a princess pamper party… I was trying to be THAT salon for everyone, and certain parts of my business were starting to suffer from it.
As time went on, I realised something, (not long after I had invested a small fortune to exhibit at a wedding exhibition to meet potential brides/clients):
1: I didn’t really have a true skill set to be offering make-up services to brides and their girl gang
2: I actually hated doing it!
Once I Made the decision to NOT offer bridal packages, I was more available to my everyday clients, and in turn I was more reliable to my returning clients (because they could actually get an appointment!), and actually, I made more money!
2. Don’t buy every single thing that the beauty market launches!
We are all guilty of this one! Like a true magpie, I bought everything that I was offered by reps dropping by my salon. I was like a kid in a candy store, and I NEVER really thought about what my plan was to encourage clients to try my new machine or product. Once I had bought it – I had NO STRATEGY in place, I just bought with my ‘nail eyes’ and well, that wasn’t always the right thing to do.
Over time, I learned how to say no, or better, watch a competitor buy in, and see how it impacted their business. I was also then in a much better position to negotiate when it came to expensive equipment.
3. Take care of technology!
Back in 2008, there was no Facebook to advertise and attract local, ideal clients, there was no salon software for me to manage my client lists, it was just me, and my good old diary!
Having said that, salon software was starting to creep in, and the first piece of technology I remember introducing to my salon was an online booking system, called Booking Bug, and it did the job, it had big right buttons and I was excited to use it. But something happened that I’ll never forget… I lost all my data on there and I didn’t have it backed up or saved anywhere. This created lots of unnecessary work on my side, and pretending I was expecting to see clients walking though the door, when actually, I didn’t have a clue who was going to walk in for their appointment!
4. The key word is ‘BEAUTY’
This is going to sound really vain, but, make sure that your employees are well-groomed, and have a bubbly personality.
In the past I have had a member of staff that in her job interview looked really lovely, but after a while, she was starting to make less and less effort the more comfortable she was becoming in the workplace. It’s never a nice thing to have to do, to tell another girl that she is starting to look ’sloppy’ , but I did. Why? Because it was MY salon, MY reputation, and MY standards were high- we are a BEAUTY salon after all!
5. Hire slow, fire fast!
I’m sure you’ve heard this saying by now? Well I wish someone told me all those years ago! I am no hippy, but I do think what ‘energy’ one brings to the business is extremely important. Take your time to read someones personality, as it is YOUR clients that they are being paid to serve. Are they approachable? Are the willing to help the clients without you having to encourage them? In short, look for someone who’s a ‘people person’.
6. Expect to have no social life… for a short while anyway!
To build your client base, you really need to be willing to be at your salon, both day and night.
Often the first slots to go in my diary was anything after 5 pm, because people were coming after their work. It’s not a nine-to-five job at all. The more you make yourself available, the faster you’re going to build up your client base, and at one point I remember NEVER taking lunch breaks. Sure! it had its benefits, more clients got in, therefore I made more money, but at what cost… I slowly realised that my mind needed some time in the day to shut off, or at the very least, to catch up on a few things non-client related, and more related to the running of the business. I actually got rather good at saying no to clients! And they were willing to wait for their turn, and in a weird way, that made me feel more valued as their therapist as they were willing to wait.
Hope that helps, for more support come and join us over on our Facebook group! ????
Until next time, keep bossing it!