I remember when I first opened my salon, someone suggested it wouldn’t make any money because ‘sitting around all day painting nails is a hobby and not a business’. Well, I proved them wrong. After growing a 9-treatment room spa which I sold in 2020, I now coach salon owners daily and regularly see that actually, owning a salon or hair and beauty business, is probably more complex than most other business models.

We build our businesses from a place of passion, you see. Most people in our industry operate their salons as an outlet for helping people to look and feel good. This is what makes our industry so wonderfully magical.

The negative side to this however is sometimes we let the emotional connection we have to our business overrule the decision we should make as a business owner.
So here are my most powerful tips for growing a salon that will fulfill you and stay profitable.

Get online

This might be a blog posted in partnership with a software company, but don’t let that undermine the gravitas of this key factor in business. We live in a digital age. An age where people are more likely to find you online, review you online, research you online and ultimately book online.

I recently spoke at a large beauty conference in London and from asking the audience how much of them used online software I was shocked to see only a small percentage of hands raised. Without software, you are simply falling behind. I remember converting from pen and paper so clearly. It was 1st February 2016, we’d signed up to Timely and it was time to get online. But my team had been resistant throughout, fearing loss of control. However, as soon as it was live, we had insane results. Our no shows dropped considerably, our turnover increased dramatically, our white space was reduced, and my reception team weren’t quite so run off their feet.

Online booking software is essential and extremely affordable whether you’re running a one-man band or many rooms. It’s like having a digital receptionist 24 hours a day who runs reports for you and takes booking fees. It’s a no brainer. Do it.

Know your market

One of the biggest errors I see in our industry is the mindset that everyone is your potential client. They. Are. Not. We all need to get clear on who our market is. Every business that exists in the world should have clarity around this. Why? Because when you can identify your client, you can work out how to talk to them, help them and keep them. For example – a salon that deals with tanning and lashes will attract a different clientele to a salon that specialises in high end anti-aging treatments.

So the way these two salons present themselves, advertise, market and differentiate themselves will all be focused on who they are trying to get to walk through the door.
Be very clear on who you want in your business, so you can attract the right ones to keep your business healthy.

Know your worth

Undercharging is a common theme in industry. I so often see people totting up the product cost of a treatment and thinking this is the only cost incurred when it comes to delivering services. It’s not though. A business costs more than its products. So firstly, it’s imperative you know your actual costs – including rates, rents, bills, product costs, software costs, staff costs, printing, cleaning, accounts, everything. And that’s just to begin with. These figures should merely form the basis of your pricing strategy. Beyond that, you need to consider your years of knowledge, skills, ability, confidence and expertise. When you go to a solicitor they may charge £250 to write a simple letter. But you’re not paying for a letter – you’re paying for a lawyer’s communication. The same applies to our industry. The skill set that is required to delicately deliver the perfect balayage, or a massage that deeply releases tension, doesn’t come from a box or a YouTube tutorial.

Own your expert status

In addition to my point above, never EVER forget that you are an expert in your field. Far too many salon owners believe that if there is just one person in the country who is more skilled than them at a certain treatment or service, that they could never pitch themselves as an expert. However, that person is not your dream client. It’s the thousands of others that have none of your knowledge and expertise that are.
Despite me being a qualified therapist, I always go to professionals to do my nails, tan, waxing, facials etc, simply because I value their expertise and I am happy to pay.
Don’t underestimate the value of knowing your stuff.

Go ‘high ticket’

We only have so many hours in the day. Those hours need to count in business.
And we want those hours to do a few things:

  1. Be booked up
  2. Be booked up with clients we like
  3. Be booked up with clients we like doing treatments for who pay us well

The concept of high tickets is sweeping its way through the industry now because it allows us to get bigger results for our clients and increase profit levels for our businesses. Creating unique experiences, investing in technology and creating something that packs a powerful punch when it comes to getting our clients to where they want to be, is huge right now.

Make it clear for your clients

A confused client simply won’t buy. If you overwhelm them, make things too complicated or chuck too many possibilities at them, they will choose exactly the option we want to avoid. The ‘nothing’ option. If you’ve ever watched Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you’ll notice how he consistently cuts a menu down to around 8 dishes, delivered well. This gives the clients fewer options to choose from, meaning an easier sale. Ultimately a client wants to come to you to receive a quality treatment that will get them the results they are after, and giving them too many avenues to choose from without a clear direction of which path they should take, will always confuse and lose business. Make your solutions crystal clear.

I believe these are some of the most important fundamentals you can have in our industry. Without charging the right prices and finding the right clients, you’ll always be financially challenged and dreading clients. Get clear on this, deliver impeccable service, believe in your abilities and make it easy for your clients to become your customer with defined menus and easy to book software, and you’ll find success in your salon.